Although I am not native to Jacksonville, we have lived here for 15 years, which is the longest I have lived anywhere. My daughter was born here. (The boys were born in Tampa.) I have adopted Jacksonville as my own.
The city is divided by the St. John’s River. On the south bank lies a popular neighborhood, San Marco, which is also the one closest to where we live. We often come here for a stroll, a bite to eat or for a drink. It’s also fun to see what is going on in the square. Often there are hoola hoopers or fire jugglers performing in the gazebo. The Grape is where we celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary, Taverna is where we surprised my mother-in-law for a birthday dinner, Starbucks is conveniently located for grabbing a latte after a downtown run and the Cork and Keg is a fun place for a drink (especially if you pass through the bookcase to the speakeasy in the back.) My daughter likes to visit The Wardroom for cute Lily Pulitzer paraphanalia. There is also a small independent theater and an independent bookstore.
Downtown is so beautiful, especially at night, with five illuminated bridges spanning the river, tall buildings and boats docked along the waterfront. There’s a long boardwalk that runs along the river on both sides, called the River Walk, that is a popular place to run or walk. Often runners will “run the bridges” for a little “hill workout.” The River Walk passes by Freedom Fountain, located on the south bank next to the Museum of Science and History and right next to it is a great local restaurant overlooking the water called the River City Brewing Co. We like to catch a symphony or show at the Times-Union Performing Arts Center, also located along the River Walk. Jacksonville is also home to the Gate River Run, the US National Championship 15k, which attracts many runners, elite and novice alike. The course includes running over two of Jacksonville’s seven bridges: the Main Street Bridge, the blue one seen below, and the Hart Bridge, which is green and affectionately called “the Green Monster!”
Crossing either the Fuller Warren or the Acosta bridge brings you over to the Riverside/Avondale neighborhoods. The Five Points area (named because five streets come to a point in an intersection), located in Riverside, is popular with the hipster crowd.
Over the last few years we’ve enjoyed getting to know some of the restaurants, coffee houses and breweries that are popular with that crowd. There’s still plenty to explore around there!
Also in Riverside is the Cummer Museum which is also home to lovely gardens with a stunning view of the river and the downtown skyline.
Further south you run into the Ortega area, home to Chamblin Book Mine. It is truly like walking through a mine with tunnels winding all around, yet amazingly very organized. They have also opened up a downtown location near the Main Library (also very cool!)
Another thing I love about Jacksonville is its location along the Atlantic Ocean. There are several communities that run along the shoreline beginning with Atlantic Beach on the north end, then Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach and ending with Ponte Vedra on the south end. We often go to Jacksonville Beach since it is the closest beach to our house, but we really like Atlantic Beach for its more neighborhoody feel. The Donna Marathon takes place here and both my husband and I have run it. It is also home to my favorite Bold Bean Coffee location as well as our new Trader Joe’s. Lots of good reasons to make the 30 minute drive down Butler Blvd!
Jacksonville doesn’t feel like most Florida cities. It doesn’t attract the same amount of tourists as other cities and it feels more like southern Georgia than it does Florida. (We jokingly say that Florida is not part of ‘the south’ since we have so many retirees (mostly Yankees) and hispanic people (mostly Cuban although some Puerto Rican.)
Honorable mentions, but not really part of Jacksonville, are Amelia Island (home to Fernandina Beach) and St. Augustine (just 30 minutes south of me.)
I hope you enjoyed the short tour of my city! I look forward to learning about where my Style Me Blogger friends live. Click the links below to find out!
Shoes to Shiraz | Two Teens and their Mama | A Lovely Little Wardrobe |
R Squared | Confessions of a Frumpy Mommy