For the AJC
What’s the best way to get to Jacksonville, Fla., for the Georgia-Florida game? Where should you stop along the way? What are some things to do if you arrive early? Here’s your ultimate travel guide to the Sunshine State for this classic football match-up:
How to get there
By car: Head south on I-75 (I-475 around Macon), then east on I-10. That’s the straightest shot to Jacksonville. The trip should take about five hours. For a more scenic route, take I-75 south to I-16, then take I-16 to I-95 and go south. This route will tack on an additional 45 minutes to the trip. Careful – some of Georgia’s worst ticket traps fall along the way.
By air: A flight from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta to Jacksonville International Airport is one hour.
By bus: Megabus goes from Atlanta to Jacksonville. The trip takes about eight hours, depending on your departure time.
By rail: Atlanta and Jacksonville are both Amtrak destinations.
Where to stop along the way
A road trip is a great excuse to explore parts of Georgia you normally might pass. Just off I-75 in Warner Robins is the Museum of Aviation (478-926-6870, http://www.museumofaviation.org), which features aircraft from World War II, the Vietnam War and Korean War, along with a special Thunderbird exhibit.
Just across the Georgia-Florida border on I-75 south is the Welcome to Florida sign. It’s a great spot to take a picture in all your Bulldog or, ahem, Gator gear.
If you’re traveling down I-95 near the Atlantic Coast, stop and stretch your legs at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island (912-635-4444, gstc.jekyllisland.com). If you want some beach time, leave home early and visit Amelia Island, just north of Jacksonville.
If you plan to arrive early
Before you hit Jacksonville, spend some time on Jekyll Island for the 36th annual Georgia-Florida Golf Classic from Oct. 28-30. Stay at the Holiday Inn Resort at Jekyll Island (912-635-2211) to get a special $99 rate per night.
After you arrive in Jacksonville, plan to hop on the Jax Ale Trail. This self-guided tour of eight local craft breweries and beer attractions features Aardwolf Brewing Co. (www.aardwolfbrewing.com), Bold City Brewery (www.boldcitybrewery.com), Engine 15 Brewing Co. (engine15.com), Green Room Brewing (www.greenroombrewing.com), Intuition Ale Brewery (www.intuitionaleworks.com), Pinglehead Brewing Co. (www.pinglehead.com), Veterans United Craft Brewery (www.vubrew.com) and Zeta Brewing Co. (zetabrewing.com).
Check out the Elbow, Jacksonville’s downtown entertainment district. This walkable area boasts award-winning culinary destinations, live music and performance venues all surrounding the historic Florida Theatre.
And while you’re in Jacksonville, be sure to enjoy the water. Amelia River Cruises (ameliarivercruises.com) takes visitors out for a two-hour trip, cruising by shrimp boats, the wild horses of Cumberland Island and historic towns.
Getting around in Jacksonville
Jacksonville has a bus service as well as river taxis, the 2.5-mile Skyway, trolleys, Lyft and Uber. Jacksonville is also bicycle-friendly and has relatively flat terrain.