Getting Around Jacksonville
The best way to get around Jacksonville is by car. The greater Jacksonville area encompasses 840 square miles, and the nearby beach towns of Amelia Island, Ponte Vedra Beach and Atlantic Beach are roughly 30 miles away from the downtown area. You'll find several big-name car rental agencies located in the Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), which sits roughly 15 miles north of the downtown area. However, if you aren't a fan of heavy highway traffic, you can rely on several different public transportation methods to get around. You'll also find a number of taxi services operating in Jacksonville that offer rides between downtown, Amelia Island and the airport.
You will need a car if you hope to make the most out of your time in the greater Jacksonville area: Many of the city's top attractions sit outside the downtown area. The city acts as an intersection for many state and interstate highways, making it fairly easy to find your way around. However, traffic can be dense, especially along the routes between the city and the beaches (like Route 90, also known as Beach Boulevard) during the summertime. So be prepared to get an early start.
The Jacksonville Skyway (an elevated monorail operated by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, or JTA) offers free transportation around downtown Jacksonville, stopping at such points of interest as the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Science & History. The Skyway operates Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.; it only runs on weekends during special events.
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority also operates two trolley routes daily: The Riverside Trolley services downtown Jacksonville and the Riverside district, while the Beaches Trolley runs between Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach and Jacksonville Beach. The fare to ride the Riverside Trolley is 75 cents per person, while the Beaches Trolley costs $1.50. The Riverside Trolley runs from around 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the Beaches Trolley runs from 5 or 6 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m.
Thirty different bus routes throughout the greater Jacksonville area are offered by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority. One-way fares are $1.50 per person. If you're planning on using the bus as your primary means of transportation, consider getting a STAR Card, which offers day and week passes for $4 and $16, respectively. For information on schedules, visit the JTA website.
There are several different taxi companies servicing the greater Jacksonville area, including Gator City Taxi (904-355-8294), Checker Cab and Yellow Cab. Hailing a cab off the street may not always be easy outside of the downtown area, so you'll want to keep a number on hand. If you choose to take a cab from the airport into downtown, expect to pay around $40; if you're heading from the airport straight to the beach, you can expect to pay about $60 to get to Amelia Island or Atlantic Beach and about $80 to get to Ponte Vedra Beach.