Aerial view of the buildings and the turquoise water at the Jacksonville Beach, one of the best areas to stay in Jacksonville

Where to Stay in Jacksonville (9 Best Places, by a Local)

👉 Jump to: Best Places to Stay in Jacksonville | Neighborhoods & Areas | Tips | FAQ

As a Jacksonville local, I’m here to tell you exactly where to stay in Jacksonville during your trip.

Whether you’re traveling alone or in a group, this guide will help you find the best places to stay in Jacksonville, Florida. 

We’ll start by covering my top recommended hotels, then do a deep dive into the pros and cons of each of Jacksonville’s top neighborhoods. Lastly, I’ll give you some crucial tips for having the best stay.

Hopefully, I can help you discover a few hidden gems along the way!

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Best Places to Stay in Jacksonville

Just looking for a quick answer on the best places to stay in Jacksonville? Here are my top picks: 

Ok, let’s do a deep dive of the best areas and neighborhoods in Jacksonville: 

9 Best Neighborhoods & Areas to Stay in Jacksonville

Jacksonville covers almost 850 square miles. The Riverside Avondale neighborhood, San Marco, and Downtown Jacksonville are all within a short drive of one another. Most of the trendy bars and restaurants in Jacksonville can be found in those three areas.

Jacksonville Beach and the surrounding neighborhoods are closer to St. Augustine. Areas like Fernandina Beach are a 40+ minute drive. 

Deciding where to stay in Jacksonville will vary by person. Below I’ll share nine of Jacksonville’s most popular areas to stay.

Downtown Jacksonville

View of the buildings around Downtown Jacksonville
Downtown Jacksonville, near the James Weldon Johnson Park

👉 Best Area For First Time Visitors | ✨ Best Downtown Jacksonville Hotels: Marriott Jacksonville DowntownHyatt Regency Jacksonville RiverfrontHomewood Suites by Hilton Jacksonville-Downtown/Southbank

Downtown Jacksonville is the heart of Jacksonville, situated just minutes from the St. Johns River. Downtown Jacksonville is the most popular part of the city, along with Jacksonville Beach. Downtown is the area most first time visitors choose when looking for where to stay in Jacksonville.

Adults looking for nightlife will find dozens of bars and nightclubs in Downtown Jacksonville. There are also many local parks for more family-friendly outings. Everbank Stadium, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, is also located Downtown.

Downtown Jacksonville is also home to several of Jacksonville’s top attractions. Staying in Downtown Jacksonville means you will be within walking distance of the Museum of Contemporary Art, the James Weldon Johnson Park, the Museum of Science and History, and the Florida Theatre.

The Marriott Jacksonville is a particularly well-located hotel. In seconds, you can walk to the Jacksonville Center for the Performing Arts. 

Overall, Downtown Jacksonville is the best place to stay for first-time visitors. Downtown is within half an hour of Jacksonville Beach and only minutes from the Riverside Avondale Historic District.

Pros of Staying in Downtown Jacksonville:

  • Central location to stay in Jacksonville
  • Local businesses and restaurants
  • Fun art scene
  • Monthly events

Cons of Staying in Downtown Jacksonville:

  • Difficult to find parking
  • Business heavy
  • Not as much nature as in other areas of Jacksonville

📚 Downtown Jacksonville Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for First-Time Visitors
Google Map

Jacksonville Beach

View of the calm Jacksonville Beach at sunset
Jacksonville Beach

👉 Best Area Near the Beaches | ✨ Best Jacksonville Beach Hotels: One Ocean Resort and SpaMargaritaville Beach HotelCasa Marina Hotel & Restaurant

Jacksonville Beach is perfect for adding that tropical touch to your stay in Jacksonville. As you walk near the beach, you’ll pass colorful houses and local gems like the Caffeinated Cat cafe. Jacksonville Beach is known for its lively bar scene and restaurants, and outdoor activities like surfing, fishing, and parasailing. 

One Ocean Resort and Spa is eleven minutes from Jacksonville Beach and right on the sands of Atlantic Beach. It’s more expensive than other options, but the view and amenities are top-notch. If that’s not in your budget, Margaritaville Beach Hotel is a great budget hotel.

The major downside to staying in Jacksonville Beach is the 20+ minute drive to most of Jacksonville’s attractions. 

Jacksonville Beach might be on the pricier side, but there are budget-friendly food options and activities. Walking the Jacksonville Beach Pier is an inexpensive activity, and Angie’s Subs is a budget-friendly place to eat. For families, Adventure Landing is a great place in Jacksonville Beach to bring kids. 

Pros of Staying in Jacksonville Beach:

  • Easy access to the water
  • Lots of great restaurants and bars
  • Lively nightlife

Cons of Staying in Jacksonville Beach:

  • Expect busy nights and lots of traffic
  • Hotels can be expensive
  • A drive from most Jacksonville attractions

📚 Jacksonville Beach Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay Near Beaches
Google Map

Jacksonville’s Southside

Picturesque view of the sky during sunset over St. Johns Town Center in Jacksonville
The St. Johns Town Center (photo: Lynne Neuman / Shutterstock)

👉 Best Area For Shoppers | ✨ Best Southside Hotels: Sheraton Jacksonville HotelHyatt Place Jacksonville St. Johns Town CenterHampton Inn & Suites Jacksonville Deerwood Park

Jacksonville’s Southside is the home of the St. Johns Town Center, the most popular place to shop in the city. The Southside is the perfect place to stay in Jacksonville if you’re a traveler looking to shop or traveling with a family.

Hotels like the Sheraton Jacksonville are fifteen minutes from Jacksonville Beach and just five minutes from the St. Johns Town Center. 

Jacksonville’s Southside provides convenient access to cultural attractions, stores, and restaurants. The Jacksonville Arboretum and the Alhambra Theatre are both within ten minutes of the St. Johns Town Center.

The Southside is popular and crowded, and construction is commonly ongoing in the area. Like most of Jacksonville, you’ll need a car to get around. But, if you have access to a vehicle, Jacksonville’s Southside is within thirty minutes of the Jacksonville Zoo, the Jacksonville International Airport, and trendy areas like San Marco.

Pros of Staying in Jacksonville’s Southside:

  • Family-friendly
  • Over 180 retailers to shop from in the St. Johns Town Center
  • Several fitness centers
  • Near Jacksonville Beach and Atlantic Beach

Cons of Staying in Jacksonville’s Southside:

  • Other than the St. Johns Town Center, the Southside isn’t walkable
  • There seems to always be construction in the area
  • Crowded
  • Lots of traffic

The Riverside Avondale Neighborhood

View of the greenery around the Memorial Park in Riverside Avondale Neighborhood
Memorial Park

👉 Best Area For Art & Culture | ✨ Best Riverside Avondale Hotels: Residence Inn by Marriott Jacksonville DowntownHilton Garden Inn Jacksonville Downtown SouthbankSouthbank Hotel by Marriott Jacksonville Riverwalk

The Riverside Avondale neighborhood is my personal favorite part of Jacksonville. Riverside showcases the art and culture of the city better than anywhere else. If you’re looking for where to stay in Jacksonville to feel like a local, Riverside Avondale is the neighborhood for you.

Check out historic Five Points, with its eclectic restaurants and vintage shops. Visit bakeries and comic book shops on King Street. Both Memorial Park and the St. Johns River are within a short walk or bike ride. 

The Riverside Avondale neighborhood is more walkable and bikeable than most areas of Jacksonville. Park Street, King Street, and Herschel are all relatively easy to traverse without a vehicle. The area is also fairly central, ten minutes from San Marco and Downtown, and less than thirty to Jacksonville Beach.

One downside to Riverside is that most of the hotels in Jacksonville are closer to Downtown than the Riverside Avondale Neighborhood. Residence Inn by Marriott Jacksonville Downtown is the closest to the Cummer Museum of Art and Five Points. 

Southbank Hotel by Marriott Jacksonville Riverwalk is over the Fuller Warren Bridge and near MOSH and San Marco. The hotel is also nicely situated right along the St. Johns River.

For shopping, I recommend Five Points Vintage and the Shoppes of Avondale. For food, Restaurant Orsay is a French bistro perfect for a date night. If you’re looking for a drink, both River & Post and Hoptinger have roof-top bars. Keg and Coin has darts and arcade machines for anyone interested in retro games.

Pros of Staying in The Riverside Avondale Neighborhood:

  • Artsy
  • LGBTQ+ Friendly
  • Diverse
  • Walkable
  • Events and concerts
  • Local food and trendy shops
  • Vibrant nightlife
  • Historic

Cons of Staying in The Riverside Avondale Neighborhood:

  • Busy on weekends
  • Hotels are closer to Downtown than in the heart of the neighborhood
  • Loud
  • Older buildings have poor ventilation
  • Floods easily during rainy weather

📚 The Riverside Avondale Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Art & Culture
Google Map

San Marco

View of the statue of lions surrounded by shops and parked cars in San Marco Square
San Marco Square in the Winter

👉 Best Area For House Rentals | ✨ Best San Marco Hotels: Hilton Garden Inn Jacksonville Downtown SouthbankHampton Inn Jacksonville – I-95 CentralDoubleTree by Hilton Jacksonville Riverfront, FL

San Marco is a historic Jacksonville neighborhood only minutes from Downtown and Riverside-Avondale. There are fewer hotels in San Marco, but there are plenty of charming house rentals here, perfect for any traveler looking for local comfort.

San Marco Square has become one of the trendiest shopping and dining areas in Jacksonville. Restaurants like Taverna, Oceana, and the Town Hall Restaurant line one side of the square. Unique shops like The Write Touch, San Marco Bookstore, and The Spice & Tea Exchange line the other. In the middle of it all is the Three Lions Fountain.

San Marco is a great area to take pictures and see local art. You’ll also find the St. Johns River and multiple small parks within biking distance of San Marco Square. 

Pros of Staying in San Marco Neighborhood:

  • Historic area of Jacksonville
  • Several restaurants and stores
  • Views of St. Johns River
  • Multiple nearby parks

Cons of Staying in San Marco Neighborhood:

  • This area can be expensive
  • Limited parking
  • Fewer hotels
  • Only a somewhat walkable area

📚 San Marco Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Food and Beverages
Google Map

Ponte Vedra Beach

Scenic view of the sunrise over Ponte Vedra Beach with seashells on the sand
Sunrise on Ponte Vedra Beach

👉 Best Area For Calmer Beaches | ✨ Best Ponte Vedra Beach Hotels: Ponte Vedra Inn and ClubThe Lodge & Club at Ponte Vedra BeachHilton Garden Inn Jacksonville/Ponte Vedra

Ponte Vedra Beach is an area of Jacksonville known for seashells, luxury, sunny Florida beaches, and local food. Ponte Vedra is the perfect place to stay in Jacksonville if you’re looking for fine dining before you go kayaking.

The Ponte Vedra Inn and Club is right on the coastline and highly rated by couples. Ponte Vedra Beach is close to Mickler’s Landing and Jacksonville Beach, but not quite as loud.

The Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve is also in this area and a great place to visit for animal lovers. 

Ponte Vedra Beach is expensive when compared to some other neighborhoods in Jacksonville. But, if amenities and beaches are priorities for you when looking for where to stay in Jacksonville, you can’t go wrong staying in this neighborhood.

Pros of Staying in Ponte Vedra Beach:

  • Stellar beach
  • Luxury hotel options
  • Near other Jacksonville beaches

Cons of Staying in Ponte Vedra Beach:

  • Expensive
  • A vehicle is needed to get around

Atlantic Beach

View of the deck at the Atlantic Beach
Atlantic Beach

👉 Best Area For More Beach Access | ✨ Best Atlantic Beach Hotels: Salt Air Inn & SuitesBest Western Mayport Inn and SuitesQuality Inn Atlantic Beach-Mayo Clinic Jax Area

Atlantic Beach’s golden sands and quieter atmosphere make it a great place to stay in Jacksonville.

Atlantic Beach is four miles north of Jacksonville Beach and makes for a short drive to the same attractions. It’s closer to the airport, at only a little over a thirty minute drive. 

Salt Air Inn & Suites is close to the waters of both Atlantic and Neptune Beach and offers 5-star accommodations. It’s also near the Jacksonville Beach Golf Club. 

Note that Atlantic, Neptune, and Jacksonville Beach are all situated one after the other. It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish whether your favorite restaurant or shop is in one area or the other.

Visit Poe’s Tavern if you’re looking for a unique atmosphere to eat. The Local and Coop 303 are pricier, more date-oriented options for dinner.

Pros of Staying in Atlantic Beach:

  • Quieter than Jacksonville Beach
  • Short drive to Mickler’s Landing or Jacksonville Beach
  • Good waves

Cons of Staying in Atlantic Beach:

  • Not as many luxurious options as Fernandina Beach or Ponte Vedra Beach
  • Difficult to find parking

📚 Atlantic Beach Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for More Beach Access
Google Map

Amelia Island

Picturesque view of a bird flying over the pier on Amelia Island at sunset
Pier on Amelia Island

👉 Best Area For Luxury | ✨ Best Amelia Island Hotels: The Ritz-CarltonHampton Inn & Suites Amelia IslandElizabeth Pointe Lodge

Amelia Island is a gorgeous place to stay in Jacksonville if you’re looking for a luxurious vacation. Just note it is a forty minute drive to Jacksonville. But there are many pristine beaches and opportunities for outdoor activities or fine dining around Amelia Island.

The Ritz-Carlton ocean resort is directly on Fernandina Beach. The Golf Club of Amelia Island is directly on-site. The luxury hotel offers a hot tub, an outdoor pool, and five restaurants. Rooms come with a 37-inch flat-screen TV, and some rooms have views of the Atlantic Ocean.

The Elizabeth Pointe Lodge offers a private beach and rooms with a large marble soaking tub and TV.  The Amelia Island Museum and the Fort Clinch State Park are both within three miles of the lodge, the park being only a five minute walk. 

Pros of Staying in Amelia Island:

  • Beautiful beaches
  • Opportunities for fishing and boating
  • Golfing
  • Quiet, local town

Cons of Staying in Amelia Island:

  • If you’re visiting Jacksonville, it’s roughly an hour away with traffic
  • Hotels are expensive
  • Duller nightlife

📚 Amelia Island Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Luxury
Google Map

St. Augustine

Aerial view of the neighborhood of St. Augustine
The view from the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse

👉 Best Area For Tourism & History | ✨ Best St. Augustine Hotels: The Collector InnDoubleTree by Hilton St. Augustine Historic DistrictCasa Monica Resort & Spa

St. Augustine is a great place to stay for tourists looking to take photographs or explore its buzzing downtown area. The Castillo de San Marcos and the Fountain of Youth offer interesting exhibits and programs. Vilano Beach, north of downtown, is an underrated and gorgeous beach to spend the day on.

The Collector Inn is a fantastic, adults-only hotel in St. Augustine. It offers historical tours provided throughout the week and a heated outdoor pool to relax in. 

Both The Collector Inn and the DoubleTree are within a couple of miles of Flagler College and St. Augustine’s historic district.

Staying in the historic district means you’ll be within walking distance of many restaurants and shops. You can also easily walk from the historic distance and over the Bridge of Lions, sightseeing and shopping wherever your trip takes you.

Pros of Staying in St. Augustine:

  • Great area for history lovers
  • Several different museums and attractions
  • Great food
  • Walkable downtown

Cons of Staying in St. Augustine:

  • Almost an hour from Jacksonville
  • Tourist heavy
  • Most restaurants and attractions will have lengthy wait times on the weekends

Tips for Staying in Jacksonville

Look Up Parking Before Visiting Somewhere New

View of the sunset over the Orange Park with vehicles around
Sunset in Orange Park

Parking in Jacksonville can feel near-impossible, depending on where and the time of day. Sometimes events on the opposite end of the massive city will disrupt whatever’s happening where you are. 

Parking is especially an issue in Downtown or the Riverside Avondale Neighborhood. You can easily spend twenty minutes looking for a place to park that doesn’t block someone’s driveway. 

My best advice is to plan ahead. Google is helpful for checking restaurant or museum busyness / wait times. If you’re not shy, ask a local. We’re normally more than willing to point someone in the right direction of where to find parking.

Pack Sunscreen

Scenic view of the calm Vilano Beach on a sunny day
Vilano Beach in St. Augustine

If you’re looking to stay in Jacksonville and go to the beach, you’re probably leaving with a sunburn. That’s the way it is. 

Pack sandals, and always pack sunscreen. 

Jacksonville’s beautiful beaches are great fun, but the heat can be unbearable. If you aren’t prepared, the beach and sun will make sure they leave a lasting impression in more than one way.

Think About What Season You Want to Visit Jacksonville

View of the trees around St. Augustine illuminated with string lights at night
St. Augustine goes all out during their yearly Night of Lights

Where to stay in Jacksonville is important, but don’t forget to think about when you want to visit. 

Summer in Jacksonville can reach 100°F. The humidity can be particularly intense. If you’re a beach-goer, this shouldn’t be too big of a problem, but keep the heat in mind if traveling with children or pets.

Unfortunately, Autumn in Jacksonville is very brief, and the temperature only starts to drop around mid-October.

Winter still has 80°F days, but can also get down into the 30°F region. I love going to the beach on the colder Florida days. The beaches in winter are a little more gray and a lot less swimmable, but they are still beautiful to look at. Taking long walks on the beach during the winter is one of my favorite activities in Jacksonville.

Despite the brief winters, don’t make the mistake of thinking there aren’t things to do during the holidays. Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, the St. Augustine Night of Lights, and the Blackhawk Bluff Christmas Lights Display on Girvin are all fantastic winter attractions in Jacksonville, especially for families.

For more, see my full guide to the best time of year to visit Jacksonville.

Avoid the Seagulls on the Beaches

A group of seagulls walking along the sand with the people enjoying Jacksonville Beach in the background
A gang of seagulls at Jacksonville Beach

I know this sounds silly, but seriously, the seagulls will try to get your food and attack you. They are not shy. I’ve tried every tip to get them to go away, and avoiding them entirely is the only thing that has worked!

👉 Read Next: Best Places to Visit in Florida

Check the Weather

The author Ethan Thoren, posing at Jacksonville Beach during sunset
On this December day, I started my day in a t-shirt and ended it in a coat

The weather in Jacksonville can be erratic. Some days will cycle through rain and sunshine multiple times before nightfall, and the temperature changes with it. Especially during the winter, you can go from a coat to a t-shirt and back to a coat before you settle in for the day. Pack accordingly.

👉 Read Next: Best Day Trips from Jacksonville

Stay Sharp

Like anywhere in the world, be aware of your surroundings in Jacksonville.

Jacksonville has some wonderful places and I’ve only had a few concerns for my safety in the 20+ years I’ve lived here. But the crime rate in Jacksonville is 65.8% higher than the Florida crime rate and 52.1% higher than in the rest of the United States. 

While Jacksonville is safe for travel overall, you need to use common sense. Especially in areas like Downtown Jacksonville or Jacksonville Beach, make sure you’re being careful and staying sharp.

It’s best to be with friends or family if walking around the city at night. Keep your wallet or purse near you and be aware of what’s around you.

FAQs About Where to Stay in Jacksonville

What are the best areas to stay in Jacksonville for first-timers?

Downtown Jacksonville is the best area to stay in Jacksonville for first-timers because the area is central and close to most of Jacksonville’s best attractions. Jacksonville Beach and the Southside are other great areas to consider staying in during your first visit to Jacksonville.

Where is the best place to stay in Jacksonville for families?

Jacksonville’s Southside is the best place for families to stay in Jacksonville. The St. Johns Town Center has plenty of shopping and dining, and the beaches are a short drive away.

What are the safest areas to stay in Jacksonville?

The Southside has newer suburbs than most of Jacksonville and is a relatively safe place to stay in Jacksonville. 

What is the best area to stay in Jacksonville without a car?

The Riverside Avondale Neighborhood is the best area to stay in Jacksonville without a car because it offers a lot to do and frequent access to Uber drivers.


Thank you for reading my guide on where to stay in Jacksonville.

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