Although despite using the JAX station frequently for trips I am not that familiar on sights within the city. The ocean beaches are nice but they are probably a 30-45 minute drive from the station itself. St. Augustine (about 40 miles to the south) is a personal favorite of mine and a trolley tour of the city is must. The ocean is not too far away as well and is equally as nice as the JAX beaches.Doing WAS - JAX on silver star soonish -- most of trip will be night - anything to look out for on trip -- or in JAX where I'll be staying a day or two?
To add to an accurate, good, and informative description from jphjaxfl, once you get to Downtown Jax there are riverwalks along both the Northbank (the Downtown side where the Jacksonville Landing festival marketplace is) as well as along the Southbank, via the aforementioned water taxi or the Skyway automated transit system.JTA buses leave and return from the Amtrak Station every 35 min on weekday, every hour or so on Saturday and every 90 minutes on Sunday and holidays. The K7 route goes downtown and then directly to Jacksonville Beach. Its about 25 minutes to downtown JAX and 90 min to the beach.
http://www.jtafla.com/schedules. The most interesting place downtown is Jacksonville Landing by the St. John's River which has restaurants, some shops and entertainment at times. There is a water taxi downtown that goes to various points on the north and southside of the river. Unfortunately, no public transportation from Jacksonville to St. Augustine, but that may change whenever service on the FEC line begins. As the previous poster pointed out, you really need a car to see the sights as JAX is not a transit friendly city.
And if you do decide to go check the Terminal out, an excellent suggestion in my opinion, then don't overlook semi-preserved Atlantic Coast Line steam passenger locomotive 1504, a P-5 USRA design Pacific type. She's sitting quietly in the parking lot behind the building.Jacksonville's former (and future?) Amtrak station, the old Union Terminal is on the west side of downtown. It is now part of the Osborne Convention Center, though there were (maybe still are?) plans to return the old terminal to its original use as a passenger rail station.
Anyway, it's worth getting a glimpse of it if you're a fan of railway architecture or history. Listed with the National Register of Historic Places, the passenger terminal opened in 1919 and serviced trains for FEC, ACL, SAL, Southern, and GA Southern & FL, and later their successors until its last, lone tenant, Amtrak left in 1974. The building is not hard to spot, known by a distinctive front facade which features a row of massive columns beneath three identical peaks, side-by-side, which define its roof. Train tracks still pass in the distance to the south of the building.
In relation to Jacksonville Landing, the Convention Center/ex-Union Terminal is directly to the west about nine city blocks, at the opposite end of Water Street. If you're there during the week, you can ride the free JTA Skyway to the Convention Center. You'll pass the west-facing "Jacksonville Terminal" building on your way to the Skyway station, which sits just north of the Convention Center.