SOURCE: Visit Jacksonville

Visit Jacksonville

February 03, 2015 10:07 ET

What's New in Jax: Spring 2015

The New Events, Attractions, Meeting Venues and Hotel Renovations in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, FL--(Marketwired - February 03, 2015) - While parts of the country are dealing with an extra cold winter, Jacksonville is coming into the new year extra hot! From new dining options, new festivals, new hotels, new meeting venues, and a major revitalizing of the Downtown district, 2015 is shaping up to be quite the year to visit Jacksonville.

NEW IN JAX

Hotel Renovations:

  • MAJOR RENOVATION: Embassy Suites is undergoing a full renovation of guest suites, the meeting space and conversion for a new restaurant.
  • MAJOR RENOVATION: Renovation currently happening at Jacksonville Airport Hotel which will become a Doubletree Hilton by August 2015.
  • MAJOR RENOVATION: Renovations are currently underway at the Crowne Plaza Jacksonville Riverfront which will become a Doubletree Hilton by August 2015.
  • NEW PROJECT: At the popular intersection of Beach and Hodges boulevards, in Jacksonville's Southside, developer Kirit Patidar is planning an 88-room TownPlace Suites by Marriott. The new hotel will be located next to a Hampton Inn & Suites.
  • NEW PROJECT: Courtyard by Marriott is expected to open late in 2016 in Downtown Jacksonville's Laura Street Trio. The owner of the Trio has signed a contract with Winegardner & Hammons of Cincinnati to manage the Courtyard by Marriott hotel planned for the buildings.
  • NEW PROJECT: In Jacksonville's Arlington neighborhood, a 70-room La Quinta is being developed. The hotel will be located near Merrill Road and the Southside Connector. The 1.2-acre site is next to a Candlewood Suites.
  • JUST IN: An unnamed buyer has put the Wyndham Jacksonville RiverWalk under contract. The deal would include the hotel and about 10 acres of land around the site.

New Meeting Venues & Meeting Venues Renovations:

  • NEW: The Jessie Ball DuPont Center (formerly the Haydon Burns Library) in Downtown Jacksonville is expected to open in June 2015 as a nonprofit hub. After $21 million in renovations, the building will also house a conference center, a lecture hall, 12 meeting rooms, reception spaces, a catering kitchen and more, including plans for a green roof garden that will be available for special events.
  • NEW: Meet where the NFL action takes place! EverBank Field, in Jacksonville's Sports Complex, now has a unique feature no other NFL stadium has. EverBank Field's pool cabanas are available to use as meeting space. Book them during a game day for an incredible team building experience, or rent the space when the team is away and own the stadium. Your choice.
  • NEW: Sweet Pete's, Jacksonville's own Candy Factory, has a new Downtown location in the completely renovated historic Seminole Club. The new Factory offers flexible event space on the top two floors, perfect for a board meeting, after-hours event, or group candy-making class. There is also a restaurant on site, The Candy Apple Café on the first floor, and candy shops on the first and second level.
  • NEW: BestBet Poker, located in Jacksonville's Arlington neighborhood, now offers free flexible meeting space, with onsite food and group programs available.

Convention News:

  • In 2014, Visit Jacksonville assisted over 350 groups and associations as they hosted their conventions, meetings and events in our city.
  • The top Meetings and Conventions coming to Jacksonville this Spring:
  1. American College Dance Festival Association (ACDFA) held at Wyndham and JU. 500 attendees, March 17-22.
  1. Most Worshipful Union Grand Lodge PHA Annual Session held at Hyatt. 800 attendees, April 9-17.
  1. Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance Workshop (CVSA) held at Hyatt. 500 attendees, April 11-17.
  1. Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) Conference held at Hyatt. 600 attendees April 17-25.
  1. Independent Medical Co-Op Inc. 2015 National Convention at Hyatt. 600 attendees, May 1-7.
  1. Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Track & Field Finals State High School Championship Event at UNF Hodges Stadium. 6,000 attendees, May 1-2.
  1. 2015 NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Outdoor Track & Field Preliminary Round Championships-EAST at UNF Hodges Stadium. 2,200 attendees, May 25-31.

Transportation & Airlift:

  • NEW: Allegiant Air is coming to Jacksonville. They will begin flights on Thursdays and Sundays from Cincinnati to Jax beginning Feb 12th and flights on Fridays and Mondays from Pittsburg to Jacksonville beginning Feb 13th.
  • NEW: Hertz is returning Downtown and intends to open a new location in the Police and Fire Pension Fund building at 1 W. Adams St. early this year.
  • NEW: In response to customer demand, Silver Airways is launching nonstop service between Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) and Pensacola International Airport (PNS). The flights operate on weekdays Monday through Friday, beginning March 19, 2015.
  • NEWS: The JTA Skyway monorail in Downtown Jacksonville will remain free for another year. The Jacksonville Transportation Authority voted to extend the free service until September 30, 2015. The Skyway connects Downtown's Northbank to the Southbank and the Downtown full service hotels with the Prime Osborn Convention Center.
  • NEWS: The Omnibus Appropriations Bill for the next fiscal year is expected to benefit the Jacksonville Port Authority and military bases in Northeast Florida. The $3.15 million in the Omnibus to complete the Preconstruction, Engineering, and Design Phase (PED) of the St. Johns River dredging puts JAXPORT in the strongest position ever to begin construction.

New in our Parks:

  • MAJOR RENOVATION: The Southbank RiverWalk is currently undergoing a complete renovation and being rebuilt with brick and concrete. The project is expected to finish in February 2015.
  • MAJOR RENOVATION: Hemming Park is undergoing revitalization efforts that include the opening of Charlie's Café and a stage for live music daily.
  • NEW: A key part of the Timucuan Trail that will connect Duval and Nassau County by bike trail is set to be completed by March of this year.

Things to Do in Jax:

  • NEW: The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (MOCA) is now offering free Thursday evening admission and tours throughout 2015.
  • NEW: Jacksonville's new soccer team, The Jacksonville Armada, will play its inaugural game on February 7 at EverBank Field. The Armada will also be playing at the Baseball Fields of Jacksonville which will be converted into a soccer field for the team.
  • NEW: Unity Plaza, an urban park and public amphitheater, opens in February in the new 220 Riverside development in the revitalized Brooklyn section of Downtown. Unity Plaza already has a packed daily event calendar including concerts, festivals and live music performances.
  • NEW: The Jacksonville Ale Trail Craft Beer Passport is a hit! Jacksonville's eight local breweries have partnered with Visit Jacksonville to launch the Jax Ale Trail, turning Jacksonville's hopping beer scene into an attraction in its own right. Visitors can pick up a passport at any of the local breweries and collect a stamp from each one to win prizes.
  • MAJOR RENOVATION: Hemming Park, Jacksonville's first public park, has been undergoing major renovations and is looking better than ever. With Charlie's Café open for lunch, live music on their newly built stage and a giant chess set, Hemming Park is a great spot to spend an afternoon.

Food Scene & Libations:

  • COMING SOON: "Alewife" will be opening soon in the Historic Five Points area of Riverside. The new craft beer establishment will feature retail craft beer sales, a tasting bar, and craft beer focused classes.
  • COMING SOON: "Wicked Barley Brewery" will open a waterfront location, it will be one of the first craft breweries in the city that patrons can travel to by water, complete with its own dock.
  • COMING SOON: Acclaimed chef Scott Schwartz will lead a full service restaurant and bar named "The Bullbriar" in the Laura Street Trio's historic Marble Bank building, which is slated to open in 2016.
  • COMING SOON: Also in the works for the Laura Street Trio: a bodega and a rooftop bar (yet to be named).
  • COMING SOON: Building is underway at Super Food Truck's new restaurant at the 11 East Forsyth Building. "The Super Food & Brew" restaurant is expected to open in spring 2015.
  • COMING SOON: Celebrity chef Kenny Gilbert is negotiating a lease to open "Gilbert South" next to the Florida Theatre in Downtown Jacksonville. The restaurant would specialize in modern Southern food. Gilbert hopes to start construction in early 2015.
  • COMING SOON: Chef Kevin Sbraga, the celebrity chef and winner of Bravo's "Top Chef" season seven, will launch his first restaurant outside of Philadelphia at 220 Riverside in the burgeoning Brooklyn neighborhood. The project is yet to be named.
  • COMING SOON: Intuition Ale Works announced plans to move Downtown by September 2015. The popular brewery will be moving from its Riverside location into the former Boland co. Building near the Sports Complex. With plans for a tap room, rooftop beer garden, event space, a restaurant element and their production facility -- this should be a welcome expansion of Jacksonville's already hopping beer scene.
  • COMING SOON: Jacques Klempf, CEO of Dixie Egg Company, plans to transform the historic Bostwick Building in Downtown Jacksonville into the "Cowford Chophouse." Plans for the building include a modern, upscale steakhouse restaurant and rooftop terrace and is expected to be completed by December 2015.
  • COMING SOON: The "Bearded Buffalo Brewing Co." will offer craft beer, a broad liquor selection, food, bowling and more -- all under the same roof!
  • COMING SOON: The Brooklyn Station shopping center along Riverside Avenue in Downtown's Brooklyn neighborhood will soon have quite the delectable group of restaurants including Burger Fi, Zoe's Kitchen, Hyppo Gourmet Ice Pops, and Burrito Gallery.
  • COMING SOON: The Happy Grilled Cheese, a popular Jacksonville food truck, will be opening a brick and mortar restaurant in 5 Points in 2015.
  • COMING SOON: Vagabond Coffee, currently located in Hemming Park, will soon open the doors of its first brick and mortar coffee shop in the lobby of the soon to be renovated Barnett National Bank building in Downtown Jacksonville.
  • COMING SOON: Work is underway at Laveranues Coles' Downtown "Levels Nightclub", with a possible opening in early 2015.
  • NEW: "Olio" will be opening for dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings, from 5pm-10pm and will offer their full lunchtime menu, plus the addition of more dinner entree items over time.
  • NEW: Downtown lunchtime staple "Burrito Gallery" is now open for breakfast. Zesty breakfast burritos abound!
  • NEW: Engine 15 has opened a new location in Downtown Jacksonville, moving their production to a historic building on Myrtle Avenue with ample room to grow and ambitious plans to use the space -- including a unique beer garden/tap room.
  • NEW: Jacksonville's 8 local breweries have now united to create the Jax Ale Trail Craft Beer Passport, making Jacksonville an ever greater destination for craft beer lovers.
  • NEW: The "Candy Apple Café" opened in Sweet Pete's new location in the historic Seminole Club building, offering French food with Southern influence.
  • NEW: The Jax Food Truck Food Court is now open for lunch during the week featuring dozens of different trucks each day. The Food Court is located in Jacksonville's Southside neighborhood.
  • NEW: This January an outdoor cafe opened in Downtown Jacksonville's Hemming Park where patrons can buy lunch at the park from 11am to 2pm every day during the business week. Right now it has a rotating line-up of caterers, restaurants and food trucks serving food each day, soon it will be a permanent fixture known as "Charlie's Café."

Shopping & Retail:

  • NEW: "Brew, Bottle and Tap" has opened at 835 Park Ave. in Orange Park, with supplies and classes to make your own beer, wine and cider.
  • NEW: The newly bourgeoning Brooklyn neighborhood is now home to 220 Riverside set to be complete early this year; the $30 million project will feature 18,000 square feet of retail space and 294 apartments. Construction on 200 Riverside, the next phase of the development is expected to break ground in late 2015 and is projected to cost $42 million and includes another 18,000 feet of retail and 223 apartments.
  • NEW: Sweet Pete's has opened a new, sweeter location in Downtown Jax, converting the 111 year historic Seminole Club building into a candy wonderland, with candy shops on the first and second floor, the Candy Apple café, a dessert bar, and plenty of event space. From eye candy in every corner, to the good old fashioned sweet stuff -- Sweet Pete's has plenty to offer.

Golfing:

  • NEW: Atlantic Beach Country Club is now open with a newly designed golf course and a new 16,000 square foot clubhouse with all of the amenities. The 18-hole golf course, designed by Erik Larsen, measures approximately 6,850 yards from the back tees.

Visit Jacksonville Updates:

  • We have plenty to celebrate! 14 consecutive months of growth in our occupancy and rate levels for Duval County hotels (and the trend continues!).
  • Visit Jacksonville successfully launched the "Jax Ale Trail" and the "Jax Ale Trail Craft Brewery Passport", a great addition to our existing Jacksonville attractions. Learn more on www.JaxAleTrail.com
  • Our social media is on fire! Visit Jacksonville's Twitter account now has 19,000 organic followers (we are just shy of 20,000!). Help us get more by following us at @Visit_Jax
  • Visit Jacksonville and partners completed a successful "Kids Free November" promotion where participating attractions saw relevant gains in both visitation and income, the program is expected to grow next November. Partners who participated this year: The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, The Museum of Science and History (MOSH), The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Adventure Landing, Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary, The World Golf Hall of Fame, and Amelia River Cruises and Charters.

Destination Awards:

  • Visit Jacksonville made the short list for a Routes Americas 2015 marketing award! This is highly regarded as the most prestigious awards in the airline industry as they are voted for and judged by the airline network planning community.

Want more info? * VisitJacksonville.com * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * YouTube

About Visit Jacksonville

Visit Jacksonville is a nonprofit marketing organization contracted by the Duval County Tourist Development Council (TDC) to champion the growth of business and leisure tourism in Northeast Florida. Along with its nearly 400 tourism partners, Visit Jacksonville supports a vital and growing component of the local economy -- with tourism generating $2.2 billion in direct and indirect economy impact annually and supporting 22,000 jobs that span every sector of the economy. For a closer look at all there is to see and do in Jacksonville, go to www.VisitJacksonville.com or contact 800-733-2668.

Contact Information