Author: Laken Chaney, Downtown Vision Marketing and Events Intern
One of our favorite ways to experience Downtown Jacksonville and the Southbank is to take a ride on the JTA Skyway. The Skyway is a 2.5 mile long, elevated monorail system that stretches across the St. Johns River and connects the North and Southbanks of Jacksonville. It features eight stations (five Downtown and three on the Southbank), and is a great way to travel throughout the city of Jacksonville. We highly recommend taking a ride to see all that our city has to offer, but best of all – it’s completely free!
To make things easy, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite spots that can be found around each station. The JTA Skyway trains arrive every four to eight minutes so utilizing the Skyway can be a great and efficient means of transportation. Although the Skyway only operates Monday thru Friday 6 a.m. – 9 p.m. (and some Saturdays and Sundays if there are any special events), we hope you take an opportunity to see our city in one of our favorite ways!
Tip: Passengers on the JTA Skyway are allowed to bring bikes onto the Skyway at no cost so feel free to bring your bike along for the ride!
Kings Avenue Station
Whenever the Skyway is involved, we like to start and park at a nice centralized location. The Kings Avenue Station (located near San Marco) is a great station to start a Downtown/Southbank adventure. The Kings Avenue Station features great parking and gives passengers super easy access to the Skyway.
One of our favorite spots near this station is BB’s Restaurant and Bar. BB’s has great food, great drinks, and amazing dessert selections. We highly recommend stopping in for lunch, brunch or Happy Hour!
Eats: BB’s Restaurant and Bar – 5 minute walk from the station.
Clara’s Tidbits – 6 minute walk from the station.
The Treaty Oak tree is definitely worth visiting if you want to see the oldest living thing in Jacksonville. The live oak tree is estimated to be around 250 years old and the park surrounding it is one of our favorite parks on the Southbank.
Parks and Sights Worth Seeing:
Treaty Oak – 4 minute walk from the station.
Southbank Riverwalk – 5 minute walk from the station.
San Marco Station
This stop is the best station to stop if you are looking to visit one of the best museums in the Jacksonville area. This station is by far the best and closest station to MOSH (Museum of Science and History) and is coincidentally, also the best stop to visit Friendship Fountain. The Fountain and the museum are right next to each other and we encourage visitors to visit both! This area is particularly great for families and children, and River City Brewing Company is also within walking distance if you want to experience some waterfront dining.
Additionally, Ruth’s Chris is also near the station and is another great spot to visit if you are around. They have a great happy hour and we highly recommend stopping by if you are in the mood for good food and drinks.
Parks and Sights Worth Seeing:
Eats: River City Brewing – 4 minute walk from the station.
Great Drinks: Ruth’s Chris – 8 minute walk from the station.
The first stop in the Northbank area that we recommend visiting is the Central Station. Central Station has a lot of spots worth mentioning and is also the closest station to the Riverfront Plaza (formerly known as “The Landing”). Additionally, Central Station is the location of choice if you want to catch a live show at the Times-Union Center, or if you want to stroll along the Northbank Riverwalk.
There are quite a few dining options in this area, but some of our favorites are Urban Grind, Cowford Chophouse, Bellwether, Spliff’s Gastro Pub, The Bread & Board Provisions (open May 27th) and Estrella Cocina, which is located on the rooftop of the Vystar building (open May 27th).
Also worth mentioning in this area is 1904 Music Hall. Located directly next door to Spliff’s Gastro Pub, 1904 is a great spot to catch one of Jacksonville’s local bands. Spliff’s and 1904 share an outdoor area out back and it’s a fun spot to hangout with friends. The spot out back also features a really fun mural so definitely check it out if you are in the area!
Parks, Places and Sights Worth Seeing:
Northbank Riverwalk – 11 minute walk from the station.
Times Union – 5 minute walk from the station.
Riverfront Plaza (previously The Landing) – 5 minute walk from the station.
Florida Theatre – 10 minute walk from the station.
Eats: Bread and Board Provisions – 3 minute walk from the station.
Estrella Cocina – 3 minute walk from the station.
Urban Grind Coffee – 4 minute walk from the station.
Bellwether – 4 minute walk from the station.
Cowford Chophouse – 8 minute walk from the station.
James Weldon Johnson Park Station
(formerly Hemming Park Station)
When it comes to downtown, the James Weldon Johnson Park Station is the best station to stop. Some of downtown’s best spots are located well within walking distance and this station offers passengers the ability to experience the authentic and distinctively cool parts of Downtown with great ease.
Many of our favorite spots at this station border the oldest park in Downtown Jacksonville. James Weldon Johnson Park (formerly known as Hemming Park) is a 1.45-acre park and was the very first park to exist in the city. If you really want to experience Downtown Jacksonville, we highly recommend making a stop at James Weldon Johnson to visit the park and all the cool spots and places that lie along the border.
Along the park’s edges, sits MOCA, The Volstead, the Main Library, City Hall, and Sweet Pete’s, and a short walk away is Chamblin’s Book Mine, The Happy Grilled Cheese, Back to The Grind, Gili’s Kitchen, Mag’s Café, and Jumpin’ Jax.
Places and Sights Worth Seeing:
Chamblin’s Book Mine and Café – 2 minute walk from the station.
MOCA – 2 minute walk from the station.
Main Library – 2 minute walk from the station.
Eats: Back to The Grind – 1 minute from the station.
Happy Grilled Cheese – 1 minute from the station.
Gili’s Kitchen – 2 minute walk from the station.
Mag’s Café – 2 minute walk from the station.
Jumpin’ Jax – 4 minute walk from the station.
Great Drinks: Volstead – 2 minute walk from the station.