Disclosure: I received complimentary accommodations in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed here are 100% my own.
If you’re searching for a charming boutique hotel with beachfront views, world-class dining, and history to boot, look no further than the Casa Marina Hotel, located in Jacksonville Beach, FL. Alicia, my BFF of 10 years, and I had been scheming up a road trip for several weeks, and when I happened to stumble across the Casa Marina online during the planning stage, I just knew we had to stay here. The Casa Marina originally opened it’s doors in 1925, serving as a hot spot for residents to come dance the night away in the grand salon. The two-story Spanish-Medittaneian style building was the first of it’s kind in Jacksonville Beach, and it’s prime placement served as a convenient locale for anyone visiting the area. During World War II, the Casa Marina was designated as military housing, and was later bought by a private owner and remodeled into private residences and businesses, including a tearoom, a clothing store, and a 37-room apartment building and restaurant. Eventually a third story was added to the structure, and the Casa Marina became the extraordinary hotel that it is today.
With such a unique backstory, I was naturally intrigued about this place from the start. Upon arrival, one of the first things I noticed about the hotel was its stunning details. Although the establishment has been renovated several times, the owner left the most pertinent delicacies in place, including the gorgeous front doors leading into the foyer, a grand staircase, and cast-iron gates leading out back to the beach. Alicia and I were cheerfully greeted by a lovely woman at the front desk, handed a packet of recommendations, and made our way upstairs to our suite.
I was elated to find that our bedroom window offered up splendid views of the Florida coastline. The room was enormous — it indubitably reminded me of a beachfront condo rather than a hotel room. In addition to the cozy bedroom, we had a separate living area with a couch, a TV, a Keurig coffee maker (they really know how to win me over), and a separate sink, because two high maintenance girls sharing a single bathroom is a recipe for disaster.
By now, the two of us were starving, so we quickly called a meeting to assess our food options. When you’re on a mission for sustenance, you typically don’t want to walk long distances in the scorching hot sun. Therefore, we opted for the closest place we could find, which was the Jacksonville Pier.
Nothing beats eating lunch on the beach, except for maybe eating and drinking on the beach. I ordered a cheese quesadilla from the kid’s menu, because I’m 5, while Alicia opted for some exotic variation of a taco, as seen above. Essentially 90% of the menu consisted of Mexican food, so it’s safe to assume that every single dish they serve here is probably wonderful.
Next up on our itinerary was what we made the two-and-a-half hour trek from Orlando for: the beach. The Casa Marina Hotel offers a private one located directly in front of the resort, so we grabbed our gear and headed down the boardwalk. I kid you not when I say that the sand felt like something from an actual dream. IT WAS SO SOFT. On this particular day, there was a warning flag up for rip currents, so we spent most of our time on land. However, I did assess the water temperature at one point and it felt like a bathtub. Just amazing. I grew up in Melbourne, FL, (which is a small town on the East coast of Florida for those of you who don’t know), and every single time I step foot on a beach I get this euphoric feeling. It was like I was back home again — if only for an afternoon.
For dinner, we mosied on upstairs to check out the renowned Penthouse restaurant. Between the phenomenal food, colorful cocktails, live music, and impressive views, a wonderful time was had by all. When nighttime finally rolled around, Alicia and I decided to check out the local bar scene since downtown Jacksonville was a good 30-minute drive away. Our first stop was the Green Room Brewery, and I was delighted to discover that this place was very dog-friendly. After petting every single puppy I could get my hands on, I ordered a glass of wine (who does that?) at the bar and headed to the back room where my friends and I spent the better part of the evening dominating at table tennis. We also stopped by the ZETA Brewing Company and the Wine Bar, which were both equally enjoyable.
The next morning, we awoke bright and early (10am – early by our standards) to grab breakfast at one of my favorite breakfast restaurants, Another Broken Egg. Yes, I know it’s a chain. No, I don’t care. The rest of the afternoon was spent laughing, shopping, snapping pictures, and perusing various historical landmarks. What more could a girl ask for?
The Florida Theater was established in 1927 and hosts a variety of shows and plays. I loved how retro the building was!
Of course, no road trip is complete without an impromptu photo shoot. I feel compelled to give a shout out to Alicia, who is an amazing photographer, for taking these shots. You da best.
If any of ya’ll are planning an upcoming trip to Jacksonville Beach, I highly recommend you check out the Casa Marina Hotel. Seriously, you won’t regret it. Happy Labor Day weekend!