This week is Christmas to a Georgia fan, even if it’s that Christmas that you didn’t get anything you wanted but damnit you’re going to enjoy it anyway. Georgia Florida is that weekend where you can escape the real world, enjoy the Golden Isles or Amelia and the last chance to soak in the sun at a football game and say “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Clause and if you don’t believe me ask Joe Cox”
Who: University of Florida
Where: Jacksonville, Florida
Stadium: EverBank Field, seats 84,000, natural grass
Distance: 307 miles from Sanford Stadium but it’s a lot hotter down there
How to get there: 441, 15, or US-1 to I-16 and or I-95. If you’re reading this you’ve done it enough that it’s personal preference but let me say that taking US-78 to Thompson and then US-1 from Wrens will let you miss a metric ton of county mounties and a lot of traffic and headache.
Along the way: Well Lewis would say to grab some greens for only $3 but I’d much rather have an empty belly ready for Bourbon and branch. Who are we kidding, we put this out Wednesday so any God fearing Georgia fan can get south as quick as they can. Corbin, Uchee and myself all prefer Saint Simons but we have tried out Jacksonville, Kingsland, and Jekyll before. The Landing in Jacksonville is fun if you like Florida fans and waiting in line for a drink, Kingsland is great for the convince, Jekyll is a laid back family atmosphere but St. Simons is our choice.
Granite: I’m blessed/cursed with going to SSI multiple times during the year so as much as I love going to Crab Trap it’s the little things that stand out to me. Southern Soul has amazing ribs and if it’s not too crowded it’s worth BS’ing with the staff cause they know their stuff. Also if you have access to a bike head north for a very relaxing ride or toward the pier to Palm Coast Coffee for a very good beer. On Friday it’s worth heading out to East Beach just for a look at what we used to be. Near the Beach Club will be a packed beach of college kids with the rest of us on the edges and it’s worth a look. Also, you’re at the beach so get out and enjoy it, walk from the King and Prince to 15th Street and enjoy the sand beneath your toes, football ain’t everything. As for Saturday, read below and after the game I always stop by Sal’s Pizza on the way home for a simplistic greasy overly good for being on an island slice of pizza. That’s my weekend and as Lewis would say, God bless those not as fortunate as I.
Uchee: The Golden Isles are my favorite place on earth. Being able to go to SSI is a large part of the allure of Georgia-Florida. My favorite things include:
-World class golf. You have golf courses available to play all over the Golden Isles. They will be crowded this week, but you can probably find a tee time somewhere. For the money, my favorite courses are the 3 on Jekyll Island: Oleander, Indian Mounds and Pine Lakes. This is the site of the annual Georgia-Florida Classic, so finding a tee time on Thursday or Friday will be impossible before 3:30, leaving little time to play. If you’re in the Amelia Island/St. Augustine area, there are hundreds of courses that are home to some of the best golf in the US. If golf is your thing, the Georgia coast and NE Florida is the place to be.
-Food. Great food is abundant. Rather than spell out all the options, I’ll give you my favorite dish on the Golden Isles. Crabdaddy’s runs a special several nights a week: Blackened grouper over a bed of fried cheese grits, covered with shrimp etouffee. Finish with bread pudding for dessert and there’s no need for after supper drinks. Don’t miss a stop by Crabdaddy’s, but don’t go on Thursday, I want my table at 7:00.
-My wife loves the Gulf Coast for the white beaches but for my money, I’ll take the natural beauty of the Golden Isles any day of the week. I enjoy crossing over to Jekyll Island and driving the loop around the island, then stopping by Driftwood Beach for a walk. From this point, you can get a great view of SSI from across the bay. Nothing is more beautiful than the Georgia coast in my opinion.
-The Game. There’s not a better football game each year than Georgia-Florida. Regardless of records, this is the game of the year. I’ve sat in the endzone and was the last person in red, and I’ve sat on the 40 and seen the UF side painted in their orange and blue. The coming together of these two teams and their fan bases is incredible. It’s the kind of hate that you enjoy. I hate UF with every fiber of my being. But I enjoy spending this one day wallowing around with the swamp lizards in Jacksonville every year. It’s a weird feeling, but I’m sure most of you can understand.
Corbin: My favorite place to eat on SSI during GA FL is Bubba Garcia’s in the Red Fern Village. Good Mexican food, and even better margaritas. I’ve had too many GA/FL weekends where I spent too much time and money here but when you’re surrounded by great friends it’s worth it. Of course, parking in the ghetto trailer park and getting a chicken biscuit at Church’s Chicken off the Jekyll exit are highlights to any weekend.
In Jacksonville: On you’re way down to the game I’d recommend a stop at the Church’s chicken off exit 29 for lunch Saturday or at least a biscuit that morning. Lord know Georgia plays better when we all have chicken before the game. Once you get into Jacksonville you have a couple of choices depending on what time you get into town. If you’re there before 10:00, don’t worry about it, parking is anywhere you want around the stadium. Now if you come later or hate crowds, take 8th Street off MLK east or west to the stadium. You will miss all the traffic and that is the most efficient way out of any college football game I have ever attended, Athens included. Now I’m sure you have an opinion this weekend and I’d love to hear it below. Please let me know and for anyone who’s making the trip, travel safe and Go Dawgs.