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Gay Friendly Jacksonville

Jacksonville covers 848 square miles - the largest city in the lower 48 states and its activities are as wide and diverse as the landscape itself. From a Downtown that rose from the Great Fire of 1901 and is now an urban core with a vibrant arts and culture scene to pristine, peaceful beaches and preserved salt marshes and creeks only reachable by foot or kayak, Jacksonville has something to offer everyone - gay or straight.

Jacksonville’s warm Southern hospitality creates an inviting destination too. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) visitors will feel welcome immediately and be taken in by our passion for the outdoors, the arts, cuisine and so much more. Gay friendly business are dotted throughout the Jacksonville region, and just outside of Downtown, the historic district of Riverside and Five Points is one of the most gay-friendly neighborhoods in Jacksonville with an annual gay pride festival, gay friendly inns and restaurants, gay and lesbian nightlife, antique and boutique shopping and family-friendly attractions. www.VisitJacksonville.com

Getting Around in Gay Friendly Jacksonville

Situated along the east coast in North Florida Jacksonville is a hub of activity and travel. Interstate 10 and Interstate 95 form a crossroads in Jacksonville, creating a gateway to Florida. Northeast Florida air travel is supported by the Jacksonville International Airport with direct flights across the country daily. Jacksonville is “Where Florida Begins”.

Downtown Jacksonville offers many unique, affordable options to get from point A to point B and back again. Three historic trolleys serve Downtown, providing free transportation around the Downtown area, including transportation to the Sports Complex. A 2.5 mile skyway is an automated transit system operating on an elevated track with ten two-car trains to the North and Southbanks of Downtown throughout the week and during special events and the S.S. Marine Taxi provides transportation across the St. Johns River in the heart of Downtown. The water taxi also offers breathtaking views of the Jacksonville skyline. For more information about the S.S. Marine Taxi call 904-733-7782 or visit www.jaxwatertaxi.com.

Cruising from Jacksonville –
The JAXPORT Cruise Terminal is conveniently located off I-95 on Heckscher Drive. The Carnival Fascination sails from Jacksonville to the Bahamas and Key West. For schedule information call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit www.carnival.com. For JAXPORT information call 904-630-3006 or visit www.jaxport.com.

Where To Stay - Gay Friendly Hotels in Jacksonville

The Radisson Jacksonville Butler Boulevard is Jacksonville’s first TAG-approved accommodation, and it offers a comfortable, relaxing stay with full-service amenities. Hotel features include an outdoor pool, health spa, café and lounge, and it is in the heart of the Southside neighborhood with excellent shopping and dining minutes away at the newly opened St. Johns Town Center

Guests can also take respite at The Inn at Oak Street, a historic bed & breakfast with all the desired modern amenities. Five elegantly furnished guestrooms with a king or queen bed and amenities such as plush robes, wireless Internet, TV with DVD and wine refrigerator will make you feel right at home. Guests may savor their gourmet breakfast in the formal dining room or on the sunlit enclosed porch. For true restoration enjoy a spa treatment like a hot stone massage in a quiet treatment room.

What to See and What to Do in Gay Friendly Jacksonville

One of Jacksonville’s most popular and gay-friendly attractions in Jacksonville, The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, rests on the banks of the St. Johns River. The museum reigns as the largest fine arts museum in Northeast Florida and is noted for Old Master and American paintings, beautiful formal gardens and renowned collection of Meissen porcelain. Bring the children for hands-on art experiences at Art Connections or stay for lunch at the Tree Cup Café. www.cummer.org

Five Points in historic Riverside is a funky, urban neighborhood with festivals and entertainment throughout the year and coffee shops, antique stores, restaurants and boutiques. The recently opened Flux Gallery and Studio features local, contemporary artists. Works of art include sculpture, paintings, jewelry, textiles and photography. Flux also emphasizes the local music scene, partnering with a local record label, 5 Points Records, and featuring local bands at gallery openings and other events. The 5 Points Theatre recently re-opened as a movie house after years spent as a nightclub. The historic theater opened in 1927, showing “talkies” and today, features single-screen presentations of new releases and indie films. The theater serves beer, wine and food. On the first Friday of each month, experience First Fridays in Five Points, a street party where shops stay open late and restaurants serve samples on sidewalks. www.5pointsjax.com

Stroll or bike through the Riverside and Avondale neighborhoods. Lounging oak trees, draped in moss create shade as you walk past historic homes and locations for many films. The architecture in the neighborhoods creates a lively expanse of design style and offers the largest collection of Prairie-style homes outside the Midwest. Henry J. Klutho and other students of Frank Lloyd Wright created these simple and elegant bungalow homes, inspired by the “Arts and Crafts” movement, along the riverfront following “The Great Fire of 1901.” Other architects designed in the Mediterranean Revival style, which became very popular in South Florida in the 1920s. Side by side these majestic, historic homes still stand today. www.riversideavondale.org

This vast collection of Prairie-style homes has created an excellent location for shooting period films. Movies such as John Travolta’s Lonely Hearts were filmed in these streets. A vast natural landscape, minutes outside Downtown has brought other films here as well, including G. I. Jane starring Demi Moore. The Devil's Advocate starring Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves and recently Recount, staring Kevin Spacey and Denis Leary were also shot here. Movie magic in Jacksonville began in the early years of the 20th century when New York City film producers set out in search of a winter headquarters. The warm climate, striking natural surroundings, inexpensive labor and easy rail access attracted the movie industry to Jacksonville, earning the city the title of “Winter Film Capital of the World.” Discover Jacksonville’s reel past and get insight into the future of films at the annual Jacksonville Film Festival, held each October in various venues through the city. The upcoming festival is scheduled for Oct. 13-17, 2010. www.jacksonvillefilmfestival.com

In late July or early August, the annual First Coast Gay Pride Festival & Parade, is held in Five Points. The First Coast Pride Parade kicks the event off and passes through the First Coast Pride Block Party, featuring live entertainment, great food and dancing long after the sun sets. A family-friendly festival takes place throughout the weekend at Riverside Park. There’s live music, food vendors and booths of local Jacksonville gay and lesbian -friendly businesses and organizations.

Popular with both the gay and straight communities of Jacksonville, a festive marketplace also takes places every Saturday, tucked beneath the Fuller Warren Bridge. Along the St. Johns River is the newly opened Riverside Arts Market. With over 150 booths for vendors, local artists display and sell art, produce and fresh baked goods. The market also features an amphitheater with live entertainment and a kids’ area for family fun. Discover the vast talent of local artists and purchase a unique piece to remind you of your visit to gay friendly Jacksonville. www.riversideartsmarket.com

Get Outdoors! As home to the largest urban park system in the country, Jacksonville is proud of its green spaces. With over 111,000 acres of parks in the city, there are plenty of ways to leave the urban city behind and take advantage of the natural scenery and recreational fun offered in Jacksonville. There are so many to choose from, but here are four favorites:

Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park:
Hiking, biking, surfing and swimming options are abundant in Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park. A 450-acre nature lovers’ paradise, Hanna Park is considered by many to be the crown jewel of the city’s park system. Located along the Atlantic Ocean, the park features nature trails perfect for hiking or biking, gorgeous beaches, picnic areas, a water play area for children, the premiere spot for surfing in Northeast Florida and campgrounds. Sleep under the stars, in a tent or in one of the many "cozy cabins." Campsites, nearly 300 of them, nestled in the woods along winding, paved roads, appeal to individuals with a real desire to get back to nature. 904. 249.4700 or www.coj.net

Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve:
The 46,000-acre Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve was established by the National Parks System to protect one of the last unspoiled coastal wetlands on the Atlantic Coast and to preserve historic and prehistoric sites within the area. The estuarine ecosystem includes salt marsh, coastal dunes and hardwood hammocks, all rich in native vegetation and animal life.

The Timucuan Preserve truly is a historic site as archaeological evidence indicates 6,000 years of human habitation in the area. The park is the site of Kingsley Plantation, the oldest plantation house still standing in Florida, whose grounds includes slave quarters, a barn and garden. Overlooking the Fort George River, the Ribault Club is a former playground for the wealthy and is now a unique setting for bird watchers as migratory shorebirds tend to nest near the house. Fort Caroline Memorial marks the site of the first attempt at colonization in the United States by men and women seeking religious freedom. 904.641.7155 or www.nps.gov/timu

Talbot Island State Parks:
There are seven islands that make up the Talbot Island State Parks; however the Big Talbot Island and Little Talbot Island are the largest and most well-known of the set of islands. Big Talbot Island is primarily a natural preserve, where visitors can study nature, bird watch, hike the trails and picnic. The unique beach is famous for the salt-washed skeletons of live oak and cedar trees that once grew near the shore.

There are plenty of options for the active traveler on Little Talbot Island with great surfing along the five miles of beaches, fishing, beachcombing, hiking and camping in one of a number of campsites. Kayak Amelia, located on Little Talbot Island, offers guided tours for beginners and experts to witness the plant and animal life while respecting the natural surroundings of the island. To get a unique perspective of the island, take an eco-history tour by Segway with EcoMotion Tours. These eco-friendly, battery-operated modes of transport, designed to minimize visitors’ environmental footprint, will allow for an off-road experience to witness wildlife. 904.251.9477 or www.floridastateparks.org

Huguenot Memorial Park:
Enjoy a spectacular view of the sunrise each morning and clear waterfront views from more than 70 primitive campsites at Huguenot Memorial Park, a 295-acre horseshoe-shaped peninsula surrounded by the Fort George Inlet, the St. Johns River and the Atlantic Ocean. Outdoor enthusiasts flock to the park for the rich fishing environment, perfect windsurfing conditions and incomparable wildlife watching as one of the Great Florida Birding Trail sites. Visitors will enjoy an observation deck, picnic pavilions and the only stretch of coastline in Northeast Florida that permits driving on the beach. Here, cars are still welcome on the sand, allowing visitors to park and pick their favorite spot for soaking up the sun. 904.251.3335 or www.coj.net

Gay-friendly Jacksonville Dining

Culinary enthusiasts linger along sidewalks at trendy bistros in Riverside, Avondale and nearby San Marco. Moderate evening temperatures invite patrons to sit al fresco with a crisp glass of wine and incredible food. Orsay Restaurant is a new French bistro located in Avondale. A dark wood interior creates a cozy atmosphere to sample oysters from the raw bar or order succulent, seasonal cuisine from the innovative menu. Classic items include Cassoulet, lamb shank and Bouillabaisse.

Orsay’s sister restaurant, Chew, is located in the heart of Downtown. Chew is a hip eatery perfect for a lunch outing. Enjoy a daily soup selection or entree, or sample southern favorites with modern twists like the Fried Green Tomato BLT, cheese grits or macaroni and cheese gratin. Seasonal dinner selections are available, including Braised Short Rib, Stuffed Quail and other delicacies.

Bistro Aix Restaurant and Lounge in San Marco has an inviting atmosphere with an open-air kitchen in the main dining room where James Beard Award-nominee Chef Tom Gray creates seasonal dishes. Start your meal with gourmet thin-crust pizzas from the wood-fired oven and continue with patron favorites, like steak frites or risotto. Finish the evening with a selection from the restaurant’s extensive wine menu or grab a cocktail at the adjoining Onyx Bar and Lounge.

Jacksonville’s gay-friendly businesses and warm southern hospitality will draw you to this undiscovered Florida destination. Comfortable accommodations, outdoor activities, family-friendly attractions, miles of pristine beaches and so much more will have you staying longer than expected and returning soon for more. www.VisitJacksonville.com

In Cahoots

711 Edison Avenue - Jacksonville, FL - 904-353-6316

Open Wednesday - Sunday, In Cahoots features Hip Hop Nights, Ladies Nights, and the In Cahoots Divas performing on Sunday nights.
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616 Bar

616 Park Street - Jacksonville, FL - 904-358-6969

616 Bar is THE cruise bar in Jacksonville. Head here if you're looking for action!
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Bo's Coral Reef

201 N 5th Avenue - Jacksonville, FL - 904-246-9874

Serving Jacksonville and the beaches since 1964 - Bo's Coral Reef is a gay beach club with a huge dance floor. Stop in Thursdays for the All You Can Drink Special!
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The Metro

2929 Plum Street - Jacksonville, FL - 904-388-7192

The Metro is Jacksonville's Epicenter of Gay nightlife. With seven bars under one expansive roof - there is something for everyone here - from drag shows to a tiki bar - and the metro's dick dancers - it's all here at The Metro.
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Reader Reviews
Bars / Nightlife

616 Bar

clarisonic mia clarisonic mia beats by dre beats ... more
By: feng on July 2, 2012

616 Bar

Many youngs here, many twinks. I went early and were a little shy with the environment, since I just moved to Jax. Later the crowd was more diverse and all were very friendly. Good vibe, good drinks a... more
By: Carlos on February 6, 2010

In Cahoots

Looking to get your groove on or meet a hot guy on a Friday night? I suggest In Cahoots- one of the best clubs in Jacksonville!
By: JaxGuy78 on February 13, 2010

In Cahoots

In Cahoots is a great dance club in Jacksonville. Big complex with multiple bars. Great DJs spin some hot music!
By: Jay on February 13, 2010
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