Lifestyle & Retirement / Simply Smart Travel

Visiting Casa Marina and Jacksonville Beach!

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Jacksonville Beach’s pier is visible from the Casa Marina. (Credit: Jeff Orenstein)

Jacksonville Beach’s pier is visible from the Casa Marina. (Credit: Jeff Orenstein)

Jacksonville Beach and its neighbors, originally a town named Ruby, is where Greater Jacksonville (pop. 1.5 million) goes to enjoy the Atlantic Ocean. The beautiful Atlantic beaches on this barrier island with no official name stretch 40 miles from Mayport on the North to Vilano Beach on the south and include Atlantic beach, Neptune Beach Jacksonville Beach and Ponte Vedra.

The Casa Marina as seen from the beach. (Credit: Jeff Orenstein)

The Casa Marina as seen from the beach. (Credit: Jeff Orenstein)

Since 1924, the Casa Marina, a classic artifact of the great Florida Land Boom of the 1920’s one of the Historic Hotels of America, has been the grand old lady of the beach. It has welcomed legendary characters like Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly, Dwight Eisenhower, The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, hordes of Hollywood Stars and wealthy Easterners taking the train to Florida. It was used for military housing during World War II, hit hard times after the war and was remodeled and re-opened in 1991 with 24 large rooms. It remains popular for those seeking classic elegance on the beach, a great view from the Penthouse Lounge or a tony venue for weddings and parties.

Before You Go

Getting There

Jacksonville Beach is accessible by car, rail, airplane and local public transportation.

  • Jacksonville International (JAX) airport is 28 miles away and is served by several major airlines.
  • The nearest major cruise port is Port Canaveral, 165 miles south.
  • Amtrak’s Jacksonville station is 29 miles away No car rentals available at the station.
  • By car, Jacksonville Beach is not far from I-10 and I-95 and has good roads and adequate parking

When You Are There

  • Enjoy the beach and the historic pier.
  • Eat breakfast at the Metro Diner, lunch at Joe’s Crab Shack (on the beach), visit the ZETA Brewing Company (good food too) and dinner at Ocean 60 on Atlantic Beach.                                                        

Only Have Two or Three Days? Short-stay must-sees:

  • A beautiful beach drive to Sawgrass and upscale Ponte Vedra, just south on A1A.
  • Exploring the many good restaurants and shops on the island.

Have Several Days?  Then enjoy:

  • A visit to Mayport and a casino cruise from there.
  • Touring St. Augustine, 30 miles south, the oldest city in America.
  • Shopping at the tony St. John’s Town Center.
  • Jacksonville’s sights and destinations.


Ginny O’s Tips – Dressing For The Destination

Sunglasses and a big hat – a must!

Summer-cool loose clothes: sundress, shorts, cutoffs, loose fitting tops.

Winter-weather can vary considerably so bring a lightweight jacket and something to layer under it.

Always- bring resort casual outfit for going out to dinner, etc.

Bathing suit for the beach and/or the pool.

Sandals for walking on the beach and comfortable walking shoes.


At A Glance

Mobility Level:. Good. Most places on the barrier island are handicap-accessible.

When To Go: Summer is hot, winter can be cold, so the best times are spring and fall..

Where To Stay:  The Casa Marina is an excellent choice because of its historic elegance. Many national chains are available too.

Special Travel Interests: Florida history, beaches, deep sea fishing.


Editor’s Note:  Orenstein is a syndicated travel writer who lives on Florida’s West Coast. He and his wife Virginia enjoy simply smart travel and writing about it. They can be reached at Check out their travel ideas, articles and blog at

Jeffrey Orenstein, Ph.D. and Virginia Orenstein are husband and wife travel writers from Sarasota, Florida. Their Simply Smart Travel column appears in newspapers and magazines in nine states and online.

Reach them at They publish travel ideas, articles, photos and blog at and at

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