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    A trip to and around Jacksonville

    Home to the beautiful St. Johns River and the longest coastline of any city in the United States, Jacksonville is one of the most popular cities in the Sunshine State of Florida - and easily one of the most charming. It is also one of the most populated.

    There is no shortage of thrills in this riverside coastal city between countless urban parks, world-class cuisine, and thriving nightlife.

    Jacksonville is also ideally located in proximity to the various neighboring gems, including everything from national coastal beaches populated with wild horses to ancient natural springs.

    With most of these world-class destinations located less than an hour from the city, you'll find it easier than ever to enjoy Florida's breathtaking attractions in the space of one day.

    Here are 5 of the best day trips from Jacksonville.

    1. Blue Springs State Park

    Easily one of the most beautiful and popular stretches of the St John River, the waters of Blue Springs State Park encompass a stunning 2,600-acre pristine, unspoiled and tantalizing landscape.

    Just two hours from the hustle and bustle of Jacksonville, the springs are also home to West Indian manatees that are visible during the manatee season and add to the beautiful blue pull of the warm waters.

    Unsurprisingly, the summer months see many locals and visitors arriving to swim and kayak through Blue Springs and embark on guided eco-tours throughout the area.

    2. Ichetucknee springs

    Just a couple of hours from the bustling city, you'll find one of Florida's most beloved and popular natural attractions, the irresistible Ichetucknee Springs.

    The magnificent network of sun-spattered springs is a refreshing playground for children and adults alike, with countless people visiting each year to enjoy the crystal clear waterways.

    The most common pastime is swimming or tubing downstream, which is accessible to all thanks to the abundance of nearby stores that sell affordable tubes.

    Cave diving is also offered, the main location being Blue Hole Spring, the largest of the Ichetucknee springs.

    3. Amelia Island

    Just 30 miles from Jacksonville is serenely beautiful Amelia Island, an Atlantic barrier island with sprawling white sand beaches and a lush, forested interior dotted with swamps.

    The urbanized area of the island offers fascinating art galleries, historic halls, and a relaxed and charming small-town atmosphere.

    Another highlight on Amelia Island is Fernandina Beach, an area nestled in the northeast corner of the island that boasts a fine collection of pristine beaches, luxury resorts, and fantastic golfing opportunities.

    Here you will also find popular festivals ranging from music to foodies throughout the year.

    4. Palatka

    For a fascinating glimpse into a historic Florida settlement, take an hour-long drive to the traditional town of Palatka, where you'll find a healthy dose of Old Town charm.

    With perfectly preserved houses and churches dating back to the 19th century, a visit to Palatka can seem like a step back in time, not to mention offering an intriguing alternative to the streets of Jacksonville.

    The thriving art scene in galleries and on the street only contributes to the vibrant and culturally rich atmosphere. It is best enjoyed on an excursion like the Palatka Mural Tour.

    For a nature excursion, you can venture to Ravine Gardens State Park, home to two massive ravines and an abundance of beautiful gardens.

    5. Ocala

    Another pristine escape from metropolitan life is the sunny region of Ocala, which boasts mile after mile of an intact nature reserve, the Ocala National Forest's most attractive.

    Here you will find a mix of charming glens flanked by weeping willows and calm springs with crystal clear waters.

    Juniper Run and Silver Glen Springs are particularly popular for a refreshing dip in pools and tubing trails, while Silver Springs State Park offers land-based activities like horseback riding.

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