ESCAPE TO JACKSONVILLE BEACH: FLORIDA’S ROMANTIC HIDEAWAY

This article originally appeared on WanderWithWonder.com.

View from the rooftop at the Casa Marina Hotel & Restaurant.
Photo by Lara Dunning

What images come to mind when you think of Florida? Alligators? Hip-swinging dancers? Disney characters? What if I told you that a 50-minute drive from the city of Jacksonville is a dreamy place with miles of pristine beach and a 1920s boutique hotel with a rooftop terrace and an endless starry sky. As a guest of Casa Marina Hotel & Restaurant, I discovered that Jacksonville Beach is one of Florida’s romantic hidden gems.

Drinks on the rooftop terrace at the Casa Marina Hotel & Restaurant.
The rooftop lounge is the place to take in the view with a cocktail. Photo by Lara Dunning

It’s mid afternoon, and a friend and I are enjoying drinks and tapas on the rooftop of the Casa Marina Hotel & Restaurant. From our perch, we can see for miles up and down Jacksonville Beach.

The Jacksonville Pier in Jacksonville Beach, FL.
The Jacksonville Beach Pier is almost a quarter mile long. Photo by Lara Dunning

Earlier in the day, sky gazers dotted its white sand as the U.S. Navy Blue Angels practiced their weaves and curves over the Atlantic Ocean. Now, as late afternoon slips into the balmy evening, the beach is almost empty and slowly turning from white to pinkish, to blue.

The Casa Marina Hotel & Restaurant entrance.
In 2005, the hotel was recognized as one of the Historic Hotels of America. Photo by Lara Dunning

A Hotel on the World’s Finest Beach

Casa Marina Hotel makes quite a first impression with its Spanish-Mediterranean architecture that speaks of a by-gone era of glamor and gangsters. Both were part of Jacksonville Beach’s roaring 1920s past, and the celebrity guests rumored to have stayed at the 60-room hotel include Jean Harlow, Al Capone, and John D. Rockefeller. During WWII, the hotel was used for military housing, and after a few decades, it closed its doors.

The Casa Marina Hotel along the beach.
Guests can walk from the hotel right to the 22 miles of beach. Photo by Lara Dunning

In 1991, the hotel reopened, and today, it offers 23 bedrooms and parlor suites (six have direct ocean views) with individually appointed antique furniture and decor inspired by various eras.

A guest room at the Casa Marina Hotel & Restaurant.
Room decor highlights different hotel eras. Photo by Lara Dunning

We stayed in a second-floor two-room parlor suite with a partial beach view, wood floors, soothing green walls, floral and palm pictures and wood furnishings. The bedroom featured a queen bed with leopard patterned bedding, and the sitting room a cozy queen hideaway bed.

Click here to read the rest of the article on WanderWithWonder.com.

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