A Beach Town Escape
Jacksonville combines the best of a cosmopolitan city with the laid-back attitude of a village on the coast.
Water. In Jacksonville, it's everywhere. Perched next to the vast Atlantic Ocean, this Florida city is split in two by the St. Johns River. With the following pointers, you'll have more than enough to keep you busy, and hopefully plenty of time to stick your toes in the ocean.
Friday--Unpack Your Flippers
Like any big city, Jacksonville offers many lodging selections downtown. Because you're in a beach town, however, we suggest staying by the beach. When in town, John Grisham bunks at the Sea Turtle Inn, where much of his thriller The Brethren was staged.
Located directly on the oceanfront, the Sea Turtle is sparkling from a $6.5 million renovation. Rates start at $109 in off-season and increase to $169 in high season; (904) 249-7402, 1-800-874-6000, or www.seaturtle.com.
Check-in starts at 4 p.m., giving you just enough time to freshen up for dinner in the hotel's restaurant. Not all eateries are worth remembering. This one is. Specializing in Floribbean cuisine, a combination of Caribbean spices and traditional fare, Plantains is an award-winning establishment.
The well-deserved title of Plantains' Specialty goes to the Lobster Brûlée, a seasoned truffle mash with truffle oil, lobster nage, and tarragon. Save room for the Kit Kat, a dessert with three layers of flavored chocolate--one with peanut butter and wafer, another with hazelnut and semisweet chocolate, and a third of mousse topping. This will start your weekend vacation off just right.