TravelMay 8, 2014

Unofficial Guide: Tacos and turrets in Jacksonville, Fla.

By Matthew Rudy

__Say Queso__Jacksonville's eastern suburbs (including Ponte Vedra Beach, where the Players takes place this week) sit on 20 miles of pristine Atlantic sand. It makes sense, then, that some of the best food in North Florida can be found at a relaxed beach-food stop called TacoLu. Situated on the beach side of the Intercoastal Waterway in Jacksonville Beach, TacoLu offers a simple formula—baja fish tacos created with house-made tortillas and salsa, and more than 100 varieties of tequila.

Afterward__,__take a left turn at the ocean and head up to Atlantic Beach, where a string of bars line Atlantic Boulevard. Poe's Tavern is an offshoot of the original in Sullivan's Island, outside Charleston, S.C., with a similar charm and deep craft-brew menu. The whole naming-burgers-after-Edgar-Allan-stories thing is a bit, um, cheesy, but so is the Black Cat, which comes with grilled onions, chili, bacon and pimento cheese. You can get it on a veggie patty, too, but why?   __

____Rock Solid__If the Alamo in San Antonio ranks as one of the biggest letdowns in American architectural artifact history (Here's the outline where the fort used to be! Buy a t-shirt!), the Castillo de San Marcos in downtown St. Augustine is one of the most impressive. The oldest standing masonry fort in North America, the Castillo started life as a Spanish stronghold in 1677, when Florida was property of the Spanish Empire. Built from a form of primitive concrete made out of shells, its walls are 33 feet high and 16 feet thick. You can still see the marks where English cannonballs bounced off harmlessly during a two-month siege in 1702, the first time anybody tried to take the fort by force.

It's much easier to get inside now. The National Park Service runs the fort , and a ticket costs $7. The displays on site chronicle the fort's life under Spanish, English, Confederate and American flags, and its unfortunate role as a holding prison for Native Americans relocated from Florida in the 1870s. It's absolutely worth the 25-mile drive down scenic A1A from Jacksonville, especially if you pair it with a visit to the World Golf Hall of Fame. There's more to see than just 2013 inductee Colin Montgomerie's old driver. Promise.

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