20 Top Boating Excursions You Should Take from Beautiful Jacksonville, Florida
Ready for an excursion on the water in your favorite boat, but aren’t sure where to point your bow?
That’s okay. We have you covered.
Sit back. Relax. Let your imagination drift along this list of top destinations that are just right for day trips and overnight stays to suit every Jacksonville boating enthusiast, pocketbook, boat type and personal taste. Jump in your boat and...
1. Join fellow Jags fans at the City Marina and tailgate at a Jaguars game. Feel free to dress in your best game-day attire! Lots of your fellow boaters do it. Why not share in the festivities and fun tailgating on the water?
2. Stay overnight at the St Augustine Municipal Marina and explore the old city by foot. Be sure to watch out for sea turtles while you’re at it! That’s one of the fun perks you’ll find in the area.
3. Boat to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, where it’s free if you come by boat! Once there, you’ll find the only walking safari in northeast Florida. You might even spot a graceful giraffe with its head in the trees.
4. Cruise to Whitey’s Fish Camp on Doctors Lake for some of the best seafood around (at an affordable price) and great live music on the weekends. This is a dining experience you won’t soon forget. But you don’t have to take our word for it; read the reviews!
5. Head your boat to Silver Glenn Springs for a relaxing day enjoying the natural freshwater springs that stay a consistent 72 degrees year-round. The water’s clear and the swimming is excellent. Be sure to bring a towel.
6. Boat to Fort George Island where lots of fun activities await. From fishing, canoeing and kayaking to bicycling, birding and hiking, there’s something for everyone in Fort George. (Fishing license may be required.)
7. Do lunch at the Jacksonville Landing! There are lots of different dining experiences at the landing. All you have to do is bring your appetite, dock your boat and choose.
8. Boat to the Palatka City Marina and walk to Angel’s Diner, the oldest diner in Florida. If you Google it ahead of time, you’ll learn that Billy Graham was baptized in Palatka and ordered burgers from Angel’s! The food gets rave reviews and so does the service.
9. Cruise to Cumberland Island, but be sure to grab your backpack, because you’ll want to hike the island. A lot of boaters travel there in summer because that’s when Mother Nature is at her best. You’ll see green foliage in the ancient trees that tower above you. Cumberland is also known for its wild horses, so keep your eyes peeled.
10. Boat to the Blue Angels Air show in Pensacola in November. Whether you’re an aviation buff or not, you won’t want to miss this memorable air show featuring the famous blue jets and amazingly talented pilots who make seemingly impossible maneuvers over the heads of the crowd.
11. Skip work and head your powerboat to the Boater’s Skip Day and Jacksonville Poker Run this June . Due to a few logistical issues, the Poker Run may be replaced with a Fun Run this year, so be sure to Google it before you schedule your “sick” day at work. Either way, this event is a lot more interesting than the paperwork sitting on your desk.
12. Head to Clark’s Fish Camp Seafood Restaurant on Julington Creek for a fresh seafood dinner with all the sides and lots of fun Christmas lights that will put you all aglow. There’s even a menagerie of stuffed animals to keep you company while you dine. The atmosphere has been called “kitschy” by many a diner who boated up to the place. There’s even a live alligator and turtles for you to see after you’ve had your fill of some of the best fresh seafood around.
13. Float your boat around Bird Island... and don’t forget your binoculars. You’ll find a variety of birds and wildlife that inhabit this small island. When you’re done, turn your boat to Nassau Sound to see more wildlife. Then dock at a nearby restaurant. Prepare to spend a couple of hours taking in all the sights and sounds.
14. Cruise to Georgia’s Jeckyll Island State Park, nestled between Savannah and Jacksonville. What used to be a millionaire’s retreat is now an island ecosystem for all to enjoy. With plenty of nature-focused attractions, biking, hiking, camp grounds, Segway tours and boat ramps, you won’t run out of things to do here!
15. Take a boating day trip down the St. John’s River to Lake George and take in all that old Florida has to offer along the way. Some people take houseboats while others prefer faster boating options. Know your boat etiquette before heading out on this river to enjoy the floodplain forests, Cypress trees, water wildlife and hidden springs found along this 18-mile river.
16. Cruise to Savannah where you can dock your boat and head into the old city. Experience the Garden of Good and Evil on one of Savannah’s many walking tours, or tour the city on your own to admire the historic architecture and old Savannah flavor that can only be found in a city like this. If you like ghost hunting, you’ll find that there, too!
17. Boat to Hilton Head where fellow boaters abound. Due to the busy waters, be sure to stay at least 50 feet away from other boats, go slow and use your horn to show your intentions. If you intend to stay a couple of nights, you’re in luck. Dock your boat and head over to one of the many hotels you’ll find on Hilton Head.
18. Cruise to Charleston in coastal South Carolina where the coastline is dotted with outer bank islands with lots to do and see. If you’re headed there in October, why not take in the Beaufort Shrimp Festival on your way? Truth is that there’s so much beauty and so many things to do between Jacksonville and Charleston that you won’t know what to do first. Grab a map and plan the trip out along this “First Coast.”
19. Hop in your boat and head to Halifax Harbor Marina in the heart of Daytona Beach. Whether you’re planning a day trip or want to stay a couple of nights, you’ll find plenty of docking choices to suit your needs. A short ride to the open water of the Atlantic, this marina is huge and has a lot to offer. Considered one of the finest marinas in America, you won’t want to miss this unique boating destination. Every boater should find his/her way to this marina to experience the fineries of boating life.
20. Cruise to Camachee Island and the Cove Marina just two miles from the old historic district in St. Augustine. There are lots of places to stay in Camachee Cove, but take a look at The Inn at Camachee Harbor, voted as one of the most romantic marina hotels in St. Augustine by boaters and land lovers alike. The hotel stands above all the other waterfront hotels, so if you want to make memories on and off your boat, this is a great place to do just that.
Truth is, whether you do the things on this list or not, when you’re sitting at the helm of your boat and you head it out to open water, you’re sure to find plenty to do and see all along the coast and the different lakes and waterways. It is a true boater’s paradise here in Jacksonville, which you’ll learn as soon as you hit the waters and catch the wave of exploration.
Did you know that we love when our readers share pictures from their boating adventures?! If you head out on any of the excursions listed in this article, we hope you’ll email us pictures showing us the fun you had! We may even use them for an upcoming article. Email them to us at Brad@YMCJax.com.