January 23, 2023
National Plan a Vacation Day: Your ‘Must Do’ List for Clay County, Florida
Let’s make 2023 the year of travel! Clay County, Florida is an undiscovered destination that should be on your travel to-do list for the new year. From overnight stays underneath the stars to exploring Northeast Florida’s rich military history and our never-ending community of local eats, we want to help you plan a vacation – to visit us here in Clay County!
Here’s a look at some ideas for planning your own perfect Clay County itinerary!
Get ready to eat during your time in Clay County, as we’ve got plenty of local seafood, international cuisine and a variety of comfort foods to keep you full during your visit.
Start your day off with a cup of coffee, served with a unique twist. Try the freshly roasted onsite brews at Spring Park Coffee and the Brass Tacks Roasting Room or stop in at FirePower Coffee Roasters for fresh organic and fair-trade coffee and espressos. For a healthier menu option, stop by Urban Bean Coffeehouse Cafe for baked donuts and enjoy a laidback vibe to start the day.
If you are in the mood for bold Greek flavors, stop in at Fresh from Yianni’s Kitchen in Fleming Island. From made-to-order gyros, fresh Greek salads with the option to add-on grilled fish and of course, there’s spanakopita on the menu too. Other Greek items include Moussaka served w/ Greek Salad and pita sandwiches, shawarma and Avgolemono soup.
There’s no better place for barbecue than the South and in Clay County, we’ve got options for you! G’s Slow Smoked BBQ in Orange Park, features great side dishes and award-winning barbecue. In Keystone Heights, Johnny’s Bar-B-Q features all you can eat specials throughout the week.
At Whitey’s Fish Camp along Swimming Pen Creek, diners can enjoy fresh seafood of all kinds including fried and raw oysters, whole catfish and even a traditional shrimp boil with corn, mushrooms, sausages and more. A local favorite since 1963, Whitey’s is also home to live music and waterfront views – you can even arrive by boat!
Support the local arts scene and enjoy a night out seeing a one-of-a-kind production. In Fleming Island, The Island Theater features a season of shows throughout the year along with acting workshops and summer camps. For more community theater, the Orange Park Community Theatre highlights shows ranging from musicals to dramas with season ticket packages available. The theatre celebrates its 49th season this year. From national touring shows to Broadway productions, you’ll see it all at Orange Park’s Thrasher-Horne Center for the Arts and Conference Center.
At the Get Air Trampoline Park in Orange Park, you can try your best gymnastics moves as you dive into the oversized foam pit and play a game of trampoline dodge ball with friends. If you need to take out some anger, look no farther than Just Smash That Rage Room in Orange Park. Rage rooms are all the rage where guests gear up in protective equipment, grab a sledgehammer or a crowbar and safely break items throughout the room.
Classic arcade games, pinball machines, craft beer and a menu of great food is waiting for you at the Leaderboard Arcade Bar & Pizzeria in Orange Park. This family-friendly venue takes you back in time with old-school gaming consoles and arcade favorites with an ever-changing leaderboard.
If military history is your thing, then you are in luck.
The Camp Blanding Military Museum & Memorial Park highlights Camp Blanding’s role during World War II. A weapons collection, photo exhibits and other military artifacts are on display as part of the museum experience. The adjacent Memorial Park honors nine Army infantry divisions and all who trained at Camp Blanding. Other monuments at the park honor recipients of the Medal of Honor, Purple Hart and former Prisoners of War.
In Green Cove Springs, the Military Museum of North Florida is housed on the grounds of World War II’s Benjamin Lee Field which once served as the main training base for the F6F Hellcat fighter. The museum celebrates Clay County’s and Green Cove Springs’ support of the WWII effort with the airfield and the Moth Ball fleet.
Annual events include the Military Museum of Northeast Florida’s Military Vehicle Preservation Association’s Rally and Swap Meet with antique military vehicles on display. At Camp Blanding Museum’s Family Day at the Museum visitors can enjoy a special lunch at the museum – with prices marked down to World War II pricing, in addition to touring the museum.
Let’s Go Outside
Spend time outdoors in Clay County exploring the 35 miles of trails throughout the local and state parks, conservation areas and Florida trailways during your time in Northeast Florida. As home to three sites along the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, there’s no shortage of wildlife sightings in Clay County.
Located just south of Green Cove Springs, the Bayard Conservation Area features 10,371 acres of conservation land with seven miles of river frontage along the St. Johns River. A variety of wildlife calls the area home including gopher tortoise, bald eagle, little blue heron, deer and turkey. Hikers can enjoy 15 miles of trails through inside the John P. Hall Nature Preserve located within the conservation area.
Dating back to 1933, Green Cove Springs’ Camp Chowenwaw County Park was once Florida’s first Girl Scout Camp. Today, the public park offers 150 acres, a swimming pool and numerous trails for exploring and pristine conditions for overnight camping too. From one of the many onsite cabins to a night in one of the nine treehouses, campers can sleep under the stars at this historic campground. Go for a hike on the Jungle Trail, make your way to the observation deck on Black Creek and stop in at the new PawPaw Nature Center to learn about the area.
Known as one of Florida’s First State Parks, Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park in Keystone Heights is home to 2,000 acres with 5.44 miles of trails along the Florida National Scenic Trail. As a full-facility campground with 73 camp sites, overnight accommodations are available for RVs, tents and cabin rentals.
At nearly 24,000 acres, Jennings State Forest is home to 15 different biological communities offering hiking, bicycling, canoeing and horseback riding throughout the land. There are three hiking trails ranging from 1.7 miles to 5-mile loops along with overnight camping and primitive campsites are available at the Hammock Campground.