By Chandler Stroman
October 06, 2015

Did you know Jacksonville, Florida, is the largest city by landmass in the continental U.S.? Yeah, me neither, until I paid a little visit to this East Coast beachfront and riverfront destination. And I have returned to tell you why it needs to be added to your beach bucket list. ASAP.

Reason #1: This resort

Look no further than One Ocean Resort & Spa, where every room has a view, the beach is your backyard, and shopping is a short walk (along adorable brick-pavers) away. It’s peaceful. It’s pet-friendly. It’s oceanfront. It’s everything you want in one charming escape.

And while I loved my retreat (and view), I also adored the food (and those banquettes!) at One Ocean's Azurea restaurant. Five courses of coastal dining? I'm all yours, Chef Ted Peters.

Reason #2: This breakfast

With maple-infused coffee and biscuits served up as southern as they come, Maple Street Biscuit Company delivers a must-have meal, and the most important one of the day at that! May I suggest The Squawking Goat? Fried chicken, goat cheese, and pepper jelly = heaven on a biscuit.

Reason #3: Playtime

If you’re anything like me, you’re in search of some adventure when on vacation. The answer: Jax Surf & Paddle. Local instructors will teach you how to ride the waves or walk on water (otherwise known as paddle boarding), and whether a rookie or a veteran, you'll feel like a pro by sunset.

Reason #4: Beer

A cold one at the beach? Yes, please! Good news: Jacksonville’s brew scene is booming. Aardwolf Brewing Company (shown here) and seven other craft breweries combine forces to make up the Jax Ale Trail. Hit the trail, grab a brewery passport for stamping, and make your rounds. Happy hopping!

Reason #5: Sweets

Swing by the colorful Candy Apple Café for a bite (or a candy cocktail!), but don’t leave before topping off the meal with a sweet treat from Sweet Pete's. With 23,000 square feet of almost 1,000 different candies to choose from, it’s safe to say that Pete knows a thing or two about satisfying our sweet teeth!

Reason #6: This beach

The beach! How could it go without mentioning? Jacksonville has a whopping 22 miles of gorgeous coastline. Now all you need is a little vitamin D, a refreshing cocktail, and a broken-in beach chair (maybe an umbrella too!) for lounging back, unwinding, and listening to the waves crash into the sandy shore. Suddenly the large city shrinks back, and the ocean wins again. Simple, blissful, peaceful music to the ears--I can attest.