Jacksonville  and Jacksonville Beach are often mentally intertwined, and many visitors often assume that the beaches, like many other cities along I-95 in Florida , are just a mile or so from the downtown core. That’s not the case; the beaches here are half an hour’s drive and a world away from downtown Jacksonville.
Jacksonville Beach was one of four municipalities that didn’t take part in Jacksonville’s 1960s consolidation, a streak of independence that nicely defines the tiny beach town’s attitude. There’s not much to do in “Jax Beach” besides go to the beach, and one gets the feeling that the residents and long-term visitors like it just fine that way.
The beaches here are reasonably wide but are often quite crowded and noisy. The soft beige sand and muddled rip-current-prone water are typical of most of the northern Florida coast. There is ample public beach access in town and a good amount of parking available. The two easiest places to head to are the centrally located Front Park (1st St. S. between 5th Ave. S. and 6th Ave. S., Jacksonville Beach) and farther south, Hanna Park (500 Wonderwood Dr., 8 a.m.–8 p.m. daily, $1 per person 8–10 a.m., then $3 per car).
Unsurprisingly, Ocean Front is the busier of the two, but visitors will find more nearby facilities; Hanna Park, however, is pet-friendly, if a little more remote. Be advised that weekend crowds during the summer are enormous; your best bet is to arrive early if you want any hope of finding a parking place or an empty bit of sand.