Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida (Illustration by Mark Todd)

Beyond the Bowl

On February 6, some 100,000 football fans will invade Jacksonville, Florida's Alltel Stadium for Super Bowl XXXIX, making this the worst day of the year to go there. Thankfully, most will depart the next day, leaving behind an oceanside city with 65-degree winter days and fast access to sporting pursuits that don't involve 350-pound men in tight pants. Here's o

Jacksonville, Florida
Illustration by Mark Todd

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1.) PADDLE the wildlife-rich salt marshes of the 46,000-acre Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, 20 miles east of downtown. Kayak Amelia provides half-day naturalist-led tours that feature big birds—herons, egrets, and bald eagles—plus the occasional dolphin sighting. $55 per person; 888-305-2925, www.kayakamelia.com

2.) KITEBOARD off Huguenot Park, where shallow, typically waveless waters provide an ideal classroom for novices. Ocean Extreme Sports offers a half-day lesson/rental. Or try a kite buggie—basically a wind-powered big wheel—and rip along the beachfront. Kiteboard: $250; kite buggie: $150; 866-790-7873, www.oceanextremesports.com

3.) CYCLE down pancake-flat, tree-lined streets on the 32-mile Tour de Jax route, which crosses the St. Johns River and buzzes Alltel Stadium. A moderately competitive peloton of eight to 15 riders leaves from Lakeshore Cycling and Fitness, in the south-side suburb of Mandarin, Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. 904-260-1126, www.bike4fun.us

4.) TREK across Cumberland Island National Seashore. The 55-square-mile island is home to forests of moss-draped oaks, some 200 wild horses, armadillos, and one commercial enterprise: the plantation-style Greyfield Inn. Reach it via a 40-minute ferry from Fernandina Beach, 35 miles north of Jacksonville. Doubles, from $395, ferry included; 904-261-6408, www.greyfieldinn.com

5.) EAT like a local at Clark’s Fish Camp by ordering the $18 Swamp Fest Platter: gator tail, frog’s legs, conch, crab, squid, and catfish. Twenty minutes’ drive south of downtown. 904-268-3474, www.realpagessites.com/clarksfishcamp

6.) JAM at Freebird Live, a bar and shrine to local heroes Lynyrd Skynyrd. 904-246-2473, www.freebirdlive.com

From Outside Magazine, Feb 2005 Lead Photo: Illustration by Mark Todd

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