By Matthew Winship, DVI Intern
Below is the first in a blog series highlighting our Downtown itineraries to help you see and experience the heart of our city. Check our our other itineraries for more great activity ideas!
Sometimes the best way to discover Downtown Jacksonville is with a little help from organizations that know it through and through. With these guided tours of Downtown, you’ll be sure to find old historic haunts and unearth some Downtown gems you didn’t know were there.
Top to Bottom Walking Tour (904-827-1845)
Let Downtown expert Gary Sass be your guide, and hear the stories of the River City from the Great Fire to the First Hollywood. You’ll gaze across the city on a rooftop and explore the secret underground tunnels beneath Downtown. Cost is $20 per person, with seasonal discounts also available. Tours run every Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Tour attendees meet at The Jacksonville Landing escalators.
“River City Haunts” Walking Ghost Tour (904-827-1845)
Guided by lantern light, let “local ghosts” take you on a tour through streets, alleyways and haunted buildings throughout Downtown. You’ll get to explore the city, while also learning about the hair-raising histories that took place here. Cost is $20 per person, with seasonal discounts available. Tours run every Friday from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tour attendees meet at The Jacksonville Landing escalators.
Jacksonville Kayak Tours (904-999-4919)
Looking for a little adventure? Tour Downtown from the St. Johns River with a kayak and guide from the Jacksonville Kayak Company. This kayak tour of Downtown Jacksonville included both natural and man-made scened. Get a unique perspective on some of Jacksonville’s bridges while taking in iconic downtown landmarks such as The Jacksonville Landing and Friendship Fountain. If you time it just right you’ll be able to to tour McCoy’s Creek through a secret passage under the Times Union building. Tours are $65 for single rider, and $130 for tandem. Call for more information.
Florida Theatre Tour (904-355-5661, ext. 232)
Get up-close and informed on this historic Jacksonville cultural venue that opened in 1927 on Forsyth Street. The tour is approximately 30 to 45 minutes offered Monday through Friday. To schedule a tours (groups are welcome), call 904-355-5661, ext 232. Complimentary tours are also available on select First Wednesday Art Walks.
Jacksonville Historical Society (904-665-0064)
The Jacksonville Historical Society, the area’s leading source of information on First Coast history, offers custom outdoor and indoor tours for individuals and groups, including tours about Downtown that include the Merrill House and other Downtown landmarks. Call the Society’s office for more information.
Sally Corporation (904-355-7100)
For more than 30 years, this Downtown animatronics corporation has hosted thousands of visitors for tours of its robot factory. Tours are offered on Tuesday and Thursday hourly from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. free of charge to groups no larger than 30 people (no tours in July or August). Tours are by reservation only and the minimum age of attendee is seven.
SELF-GUIDED TOURS AT YOUR OWN PACE AND TIME:
Northbank Historic Walking Tour (East)
Produced by DVI, this tour takes you on a journey through the heart of Downtown with 27 stops that highlight unique buildings, historic churches and more. Download the PDF.
Southbank Historic Walking Tour
To round out the Downtown walking tour experience, DVI also offers a walking tour of the Southbank, where you’ll get great views of the Jacksonville skyline and discover lovely Treaty Oak Park and the Acosta and the Main Street Bridges. Download the PDF.
- Parking meters are free weekdays after 6 p.m. and all day Saturday and Sunday. Or if you prefer, check out parking garage and lot options.
- The Skyway, free, operates Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and during special weekend events. More information.
- The Jacksonville River Taxi hours are Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m and Friday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. For a one-way ticket, fares are $5/adult and $4/children ages 3-12. Children younger than age 3 ride free. Round-trip fares (not including special event or game days) are $7/adult and $5/children. Check out their website for more information and special events fare.
- If you need assistance Downtown, our Downtown Ambassadors are here to help. Look for them in their orange polo shirts or call 904-465-7980.
For more information on Downtown destinations, check out our online directory. Many Downtown destinations also hold various special events throughout the year. Be sure to check our events calendar often, or sign up for our weekly events e-newsletter.