Kathryn Hanna Park - Atlantic Beach (Jacksonville)
If you’re looking for a relaxing, get away from it all, vacation that is near the Atlantic Ocean but yet is fairly inexpensive then you’ve found a great spot with Kathryn Hanna Park in Jacksonville. The camp sites are well within walking distance to beautiful beaches of the Atlantic Ocean. There are great big dunes protecting the land from the water and they’ve done a great job of this park in keeping it natural.
That said, we were here during a rainy three days and it felt somewhat like a rain forest at times. Hot, humid and steamy feeling surrounded by lots of high trees and vegetation. It was a great getaway and felt a lot like something different which is often what you’re looking for when you select a long weekend getaway.
Jacksonville itself appears to be a city that has turned the corner and is starting to see more residential development in its urban core. There are great wide swaths of land still to be re-developed and there is some infrastructure to support it such as a monorail type light transit vehicle that connects sections of the downtown. The main bus terminal oddly is up on the north side of the downtown but connects with the monorail style system.
I paid attention to the bus system because it was my intent to take the bus from the beach to downtown. Alas, the bus passed me up as you cannot flag them down and the section of road I was on didn’t have a bus stop. Yes, the driver happily zoomed by me. So I ordered an Uber vehicle which was quick and painless.
In the downtown area there are lots of museums including the incredible Museum of Science and History, the Jacksonville Contemporary Art Museum as well as the Cummer Museum. Nearby is a zoo and some other attractions to keep you busy should you want to get out and have some fun in Jacksonville.
This is a well off the beaten path type of historical attraction that is well worth visiting. It is down a windy twisty turny wooded road that is often dirt but once you get there it is an interesting piece of the region’s history. Do not go at twilight as the mosquitoes are not fun.
The site was home to a man, Mr. Kingsley, who owned a slave that he married and set free and she in turn would help run the plantation and own slaves as well. The story is fascinating and takes part in the early part of the 19th century. You can still view many of the buildings including the former slave quarters. For a full history of Kingsley Plantation you can go to the National Park Service web site on the subject.
It is a government facility so it isn’t reliant on admissions and therefore is well preserved with adequate signage to explain the history of the plantation and the story of the family. There are great water views from the back of the plantation and the staff are very happy to give you more information should you need it – and I would suggest speaking to the staff because they are very knowledgeable and help bring the history of the plantation to life.
This is a charming little beach town with some great little shops and bars/restaurants around and you can easily walk the town in a short while but worth the poke around. You’re guaranteed to find some place you want to slink into whether it is for food, drink or both. We found a great place with indoor and outdoor seating called the Flying Iguana Taqueria and Tequila Bar. The food was fabulous and the drinks were perfect – you can’t go wrong here. Some historic structures are here too. It is an easy drive here from Kathryn Hanna Park in a car.
In all, this makes for a great long weekend away and you can cover a lot of things or you can just lounge at the beach and campground and have a great time. The camp store was not open when we were there and it didn’t look like it would open any time soon so come prepared. Otherwise, its a great getaway.