Tailgating in Jacksonville for the Florida-Georgia Game!
GatorTailgating.com is doing a series of articles on where and how to tailgate at all of the Gator Football away games. This is the fourth part of our series detailing where and what to look out for in Jacksonville, Florida for the annual Florida-Georgia Game. Go Gators!
1. Where are the good and bad areas of town for motels to stay in the night before/after the big game?
Don’t stay in the hotels on Lane Avenue and Normandy Boulevard. They are old, run down, and trashy. Avoiding the Westside hotels altogether is a fairly good idea. Hotels over in Ponta Vedra and on Jacksonville Beach aren’t too bad, but be sure to do your research before reserving your room. There are some older hotels over on the beach too that aren’t that nice. Staying in Amelia Island (north of Jacksonville) is always really fun, but be aware that it will be packed with Georgia fans due to being north of Jacksonville.
2. What are some attractions in Jacksonville that a visitor shouldn't miss?
For the family travelers, you’ll enjoy the Jacksonville Zoo (JaxZoo.org) and Jax Beach if you go up Friday or earlier. As for family attractions on game day, they have the annual Florida-Georgia bash right outside the stadium with tents, live bands, games, and other things. They give away temporary tattoos and even have a UF-UGA hall of fame to walk through. RV City is fun to walk through too and SHOULD be safe for families as most RV owners are older, but I don’t make any promises. It is the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party after all. If you don’t want your kids to hear cussing or to see any drunk people, I’d recommend taking them to another football game.
The younger groups that are looking to party need not look any further than the Jacksonville Landing (JacksonvilleLanding.com) on Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday after the game. I have to warn you though, if you don’t like crowds or are claustrophobic at all, you will not enjoy yourself at all. It is packed to the maximum capacity at the Landing every time I go up for Florida-Georgia, but has never let me down when looking for some fun either. They have live bands, multiple bars, and a few clubs too. Some secrets about partying at the Landing are that you can get away from the crowds in some of the less popular bars when you need to. Most of them are upstairs and kind of hidden, but they're great for a good time away from the masses.
The Landing party atmosphere has a club named Mavericks (mavericksatthelanding.com). It is a country club that is located upstairs and never disappoints for a good time. If you decide the Landing isn’t your place due to the crowds, you can always go to Bourbon Street Station (bourbonstreetstation.com) for a good variety of clubs and bars.
3. Where should a fan go to eat before leaving Jacksonville?
You will love River City Brewing Company (rivercitybrew.com), Cross Creek Seafood & Steaks (crosscreeksteaks.com), and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse (ruthschris.com) on the St. John’s River are all phenomenal places to eat.
4. Is there an area or a part of Jacksonville that Gator fans usually congregate/tailgate?
Not really…..other than NOT in Bulldog Alley. If you'd like to tailgate with GatorTailgating.com for the Cocktail Party, follow the link for maps and FAQs. Gator fans have always seemed to be less organized in Jacksonville than Georgia fans, which is probably because Georgia fans have to make a weekend trip and Gator fans usually drive up the day of the game and return home the night after the game.
The only way to make sure you are surrounded by Gator fans is to buy your parking passes with your tickets from the UF ticket office, or by purchasing parking passes from the local Jacksonville Gator Club (see this link for more information). Just remember that you may want to buy 2 or 3 spots if your friends are meeting you up there or if you want a lot of room to tailgate. Other than that, you’re left to driving around searching for a lot with lots of Gator flags in it.
5. How much should we expect to pay for a parking spot (preferably unblocked so there's enough room to setup tents, tables, and a grill to tailgate)?
6. $40-75 is the usual range for parking in Jacksonville. Parking for this game is expensive, so be prepared with plenty of cash. Also, come prepared for different tailgating sites. What I mean by that is that you have about a 50-50 shot of being parked on grass or asphalt, so be prepared for both. You may think there really isn’t a big difference, but if you have tents there is a big difference. Jacksonville usually has a lot of heavy winds coming off the river and if you have a tent that is not staked down to the ground, it will be flying through the parking lot. So, remember to take some sand bags or something to the weigh the tent down just in case you get stuck in an asphalt lot. We usually take rope and tie our coolers to the different tent legs to weigh them down.
Here is a map of the parking lots around the stadium.
7. Are there any special rules we should know about tailgating, open-container policies we should be forewarned about, or anything of the sort?
Jacksonville is the perfect place for tailgating. There are no open-container laws, for that weekend, whatsoever. That means that you can walk down the street carrying a 12 pack of beer and have one open and be drinking it right in front of a cop and he won’t say a word about it. They really couldn’t care less about it. (Gainesville: take note!)
8. Any game day traditions we should not miss while in Jacksonville?
You probably will want to go to the Florida-Georgia Bash outside of the stadium. It is fun to spend a little time in, but nothing extremely amazing. As described above, they will have a band, lots of sponsor tables, and the UF-UGA hall of fame. The boats on the St. Johns River and people tailgating on them is pretty fun to see once. It will remind you of the song by Craig Morgan, “Redneck Yacht Club.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsGOX7DMVCg)
Other than that, the only other tradition is for Bulldog fans to yell “Gators wear Jean Shorts!” at Gator fans, even though they aren’t wearing anything that resembles jean shorts. You will also encounter tons of “Herschel for Heisman” hats and shirts. Please refrain from reminding them that we actually have a couple Heisman winners that are more recent than the early 80’s. This will crush their spirits too quickly.
9. Is there anything else you would advise fans of before heading to Jacksonville to tailgate for the big game?
Prepare for bad weather. Every year it seems that it is either raining or freezing cold. Even though it may not be cold in Gainesville, it probably is in Jacksonville due to it being farther north and the wind chill factor rolling in from the river.
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