By Jennifer DeCamp

If you’ve vacationed in Jacksonville, congratulations! Please come again. 

Most visitors view the Sunshine state’s first major city on Interstate 95 as an afterthought, a mile marker to check off on their journey to see Mickey Mouse, Harry Potter, and Winter the dolphin.

We’re inviting you to stop and smell the … coffee. You didn't really think we were going to say roses, right? It’s Maxwell House, by the way.

And spend a day in the city that was once known as Cowford, birthed the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, is home to the annual Florida/Georgia football game (aka The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party) and serves as the occasional port of call for Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s yacht

But back to Cowford.

Before the city was known as the “Bold New City of the South” and had five bridges spanning the St. Johns River, (one of which is known as The Green Monster,) settlers needed a means to move their cattle between the region’s north and south banks. Near downtown Jacksonville, the St. Johns has one of its narrower stretches, making it the prime spot to ford the cows across. Hence, Cowford.

We’re only asking for 24 hours of your time. But we hope that once you check out our itineraries, you’ll understand why Jax remains a hidden gem and that quick stop might turn into one night or five.

We are the largest city in the U.S. of A. — by landmass. Please don't hold it against us when it takes you more than an hour to drive from one end of Duval County to the other. Better yet, we’re going to keep most of our itineraries downtown centric to eliminate too much time behind the wheel.

So, whether you’re an animal lover, have five kids spanning 10 years in age, love to shop local, want to spend the day on the water or hope to be artistically inspired; we have you covered. Consider these itineraries a rough outline for your journey…

Feel free to mix and match but keep in mind these three simple requests during your stay:

1.     Smile. Jacksonvilians are about as Southern-mannered as you’ll find in a state that’s a melting pot of transplants. Our tea is sweet, we think biscuits and grits deserve a spot in the food pyramid and country music rocks.
2.     Remember to tell all your friends about the little, big city called Jacksonville that you visited. Tell them it’s sandwiched between Amelia Island and St. Augustine. If they want to plan a trip to our fantastic neighbors to the north and south, that’s fine. But visit Jax first.
3.     If someone says to you “Duuuval.” Your response is “Duuuval.” And “Go Jags!” 

Welcome to Jacksonville. Enjoy!