With its unique and diverse neighborhoods, including an old citrus colony and home to author of Uncle Tom's Cabin and a neighborhood dubbed the "Harlem of the South," Jacksonville is the largest city in area in the contiguous United States. Mecca of suburbia, this town gives you a little bit of everything from its French roots, Spanish influence, frontier days and mass urbanization and corruption during the post WWII boom.

WHAT TO DO

In downtown Jacksonville, visitors can go to the banks of the St. John’s river and enjoy the waterfront walkways, dining, nightclubs and shops in a maritime setting. The Landing is also home to largest Christmas tree in northeast Florida.

Hemming Plaza is a park in the center of downtown and is surrounded by City Hall, the courthouse, a museum of contemporary art, a church and the new library as well as several restaurants and bars.

The Bohemian neighborhood of Riverside, located on the banks of the St. Johns river about a mile southwest of downtown, is a great place for travelers to visit. There is an eclectic mixture of shops, bars and restaurants in the Five Points, historic homes, churches and apartment buildings from the early days of Jacksonville history.

If you want to get a feel for Jacksonville's southern vibe, head to the Kingsley Plantation and see a little bit of Florida before the Civil War.

GETTING THERE

Jacksonville's International Airport (JAX) is serviced by major U.S. carriers such as Delta, US Air, Continental, American and Southwest, which should make getting a cheap flight to Jacksonville pretty easy. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to get around Jacksonville without a car due to the enormous sprawl. If you are driving to the airport, you can save both time and money by reserving your airport parking at Jacksonville in advance.

WHERE TO STAY

Due to Jacksonville's sheer size, there is a immensity of hotels in Jacksonville, including everything from budget to high-end luxury to bed and breakfasts. Those backpackers or shoe-stringers can also find super budget lodgings and a few hostels in Jacksonville. However, it might be worth it to try to stay near the waterfront in downtown, as there you will be in the nicest area of the city and centrally located.