Jacksonville is a thriving metropolis in which historical landmarks, skyscrapers and the ambiance of the Old south blend. It is one of the oldest and largest cities in the United States. Jacksonville manages to grow and still sustains its charm and heritage. It is known as "Florida's Business City" and is considered one of the banking and insurance capitals of the South. Southern charm merging with advanced technology make this locale a place of intrigue.
Greater Jacksonville is well known for its great climate and great communities. The beaches throughout the Jacksonville area's coastline have created some of the best communities in the country.
Jacksonville offers an excellent quality of life, with a low cost of living, abundant recreational opportunities and moderate climate. The city offers many opportunities for shopping, from the artsy and urban to the quaint and country. And in between, there are several excellent malls and a large outlet center. No matter what your tastes, the First Coast has something for you.
St. Johns Town Center, Jacksonville's newest mall is located between Gate Parkway and St. Johns Bluff Road. More
The Avenues Mall, located at the intersection of I-95 South and US1. More
Regency Squares Mall, in the Arlington area, is one of the largest shopping malls in the Southeast, with 157 stores. Regency Square is located at 9501 Arlington Expressway. More
Orange Park Mall, located at 1910 Wells Road at Blanding Blvd., has 91 stores, including branches of most of our department stores. More
St. Augustine Outlet Center, a favorite spot for bargain shoppers with 95 stores is located at exit 97 of I-95, 30 minutes south of Jacksonville. More
The Jacksonville Landing, modeled after the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, is part mall, part festival marketplace, part amphitheater, located on the banks of the St. Johns in downtown Jacksonville. From North Florida and around the United States, millions of people enjoy The Jacksonville Landing's festive mix of shops, restaurants and eateries and its hundreds of entertainment events annually. More
Roosevelt Mall, 4400 Roosevelt Blvd., in the Ortega section, attracts shoppers with branches of large department stores and fine specialty shops.
Gateway Shopping Center, on the Northside, is located at 5320 Norwood Avenue, near I-95 North, with 112 stores. More
Normandy Mall, on the Westside, is located at 5205 Normandy Blvd. and Lenox Avenue, with 63 stores.
Grande Boulevard and Deerwood Village, at Baymeadows Road and Southside Boulevard in the Southside area, offer a wide selection of quality merchandise.
Fort Clinch State Park
This state park is located on the northern end of Amelia Island in Nassau County. Its 1,153 acres include a brick and masonry fort begun in 1847 but never completed. Today park rangers in Union uniforms teach visitors about the history of the fort and the area's part in the Civil War. Daylight and candlelit tours are available. The park also includes picnic grounds, campsites and a fishing pier.
Kingsley Plantation is the oldest plantation house in the state of Florida, built in 1792. The plantation, located on Fort George Island, was owned by eccentric slave trader Zephaniah Kingsley from 1813 to 1839 and produced crops of cotton, sugar cane, sweet potatoes and citrus fruits. The main lodge and remains of 23 slave cabins are visible.
Jacksonville Zoological Park and Gardens
Jacksonville's 61 acre zoo has undergone a massive transformation in recent years, taking it from ordinary to extraordinary. While some improvements continue, a majority of the construction is done, including a raised boardwalk that provides great views of the animals in open habitats. The zoo features over 800 animals, including giraffes, zebras, lions and rhinos. The zoo boasts a large elephant exhibit, with a swimming pool, which is a favorite play spot of baby Rani, the female elephant born at the zoo in 1997. One of the newer exhibits is Great Apes of the World, where zoo officials hope to develop several families of apes. The petting zoo, outdoor aviary and miniature train are popular attractions. The zoo also includes picnic grounds, several restaurants and a gift shop.
Museum of Science and History (MOSH)
This popular museum is located across from downtown Jacksonville on the Southbank, near Friendship Fountain. It is a favorite among children, who enjoy the hands on exhibits and shows in the Alexander Brest Planetarium. On the first floor is "Kidspace", a separate area for children under age 4, which includes a mock tree playhouse, a water table, and many hands on science "experiments". Other MOSH exhibits include local Civil War history, Native American tribes and ecology of the St. Johns River. Other exhibits change regularly.
Located just 30 minutes south of Jacksonville in St. Johns County, St. Augustine is a favorite spot for day trips. The historic town was named after the feast day of Saint Augustine in 1565 by Pedro Menendez de Aviles, the Spanish governor of Florida. Although none of the original buildings remain, the area is rich in history from the 17th and 18th century, including the Castillo de San Marcos, a Spanish fort from the 1600s.
Tour and lectures of historic sites are everywhere, as well as more modern attractions such as the Lightner Museum. This museum, housed in what was once a 19th century luxury hotel, features exhibits of the decorative arts, including a beautiful display of Tiffany and Venetian glass. St. Augustine also has a thriving arts community, and the pedestrian shopping zone is populated with street musicians and artists. Charming bed and breakfast inns and many excellent restaurants make St. Augustine an excellent get-away weekend locale. The town celebrates its history throughout the year with many special events and festivals, including fireworks over Mantanzas Bay at the Castillo each Independence Day. See St. Augustine video here.
About 40 minutes north of Jacksonville is another charming, historic village - Fernandina Beach. Located on Amelia Island in Nassau County, Fernandina Beach was a fishing village centuries ago, but today enjoys its heritage with restored Victorian houses, an abundance of bed & breakfast inns and a thriving shopping district. Unique shops, restaurants and cafes line the town's picturesque Centre Street, which dead ends into the water. A landmark in Fernandina is the Palace Saloon, built in 1878 and reputed to be the oldest in the state. The Palace features a handcarved 40 foot mahogany bar, punched tin ceiling and hand-painted wall murals. Fernandina celebrates Spring each year with the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival in May.
First Coast Beaches
Just 12 miles east of Jacksonville are what locals refer to as "The Beaches" -
Mayport, Atlantic Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach.
The First Coast's Beaches stretch for more than 50 miles along the Atlantic coast from Amelia Island to St. Augustine.
From J.T. Butler Blvd., SR A1A follows the picturesque coast south through the towns of Ponte Vedra, South Ponte Vedra Beach, and Vilano Beach, to St. Augustine. Going North, A1A passes through Jacksonville Beach, Neptune
Beach and Atlantic Beach. Here, a Ferry Boat connects A1A with Fort George's Island and the road continues on up to Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. This scenic route affords access to many state parks, white sand public beaches, historic sites, shops, bars, and restaurants.
Atlantic Beach is a fully developed residential community featuring oceanfront homes that are a mix of early 1900s New England-style wood shingle frame houses and more modern pricey construction. Home prices vary depending on proximity to the beach. Beach access is maintained on many streets that run into the ocean.
Where Neptune and Atlantic beaches meet, referred to by locals as "The Corner", are some of the most popular restaurants, including a brewery, and entertainment spots residents love to frequent. Along Atlantic Blvd. and A1A is an abundance of restaurants, strip malls, hotels and Churches. Neptune Beach shares many of the same attributes of Atlantic Beach. Many of the oceanfront homes that line the beach are rented for summer months. Like Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach is fully developed with some light retail services located mainly along A1A. Home prices vary again according to the proximity to the ocean.
Jacksonville Beach is the oldest and, with a population of more than 20,000, the largest of Duval County beach communities. It has a greater mix of residential, commercial, retail and industrial areas than other areas of the beaches. Much of the beach's commercial area is located on Third Street and while the bustling business environment adds to the atmosphere and economic well-being of the city, it offers a myriad of shopping, dining and entertainment options.
Activities abound in Jacksonville Beach; various festivals and fairs take place in the downtown area where you you can find professional and semi-professional volley ball tournaments on the beach; and of course, cycling, surfing, wind surfing, beachcombing and sunbathing are favorites for those who find the easy beach access appealing. South Jacksonville Beach, just north of J. Turner Butler Boulevard on A1A, offers a calm residential atmosphere and although beach access is more limited there are those who prefer this area just for that reason.
Ponte Vedra Beach
Nestled in the northeast corner of St. John's County, just south of Jacksonville Beach, is the growing community of Ponte Vedra Beach, convenient to both Jacksonville and St. Augustine. From the beautiful Ponte Vedra Boulevard, lined with trees, to the natural marshlands alongside A1A, to the sea coast covered sand dunes and white sandy beaches, Ponte Vedra is a beautiful blend of neighborhoods and nature.
The community is able to retain its remarkably attractive neighborhoods stretching along five miles of oceanfront and lagoons, through carefully preserved zoning regulations. Some of the area's most beautiful homes line the ocean along Ponte Vedra and South Ponte Vedra beaches. Well known are neighborhood communities like Marsh Landing, Sawgrass and The Plantation which offer outstanding lifestyle with affordable elegant homes and home sites.
Locations are available on the Intracoastal Waterway, tucked among the natural marshes, or along the many lagoons and lakes in this area. Many new apartment communities have been built in this area during the last few years. The posh resorts of the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and Lodge at Ponte Vedra boast coveted four-star and four-diamond awards year after year for accommodations, service, food and ambiance.
Point Vedra is the home of the International headquarters for both the PGA (Professional Golf Association) TOUR and the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals). Annual golf and tennis tournaments attract thousands of fans and professionals to the spring events. Among the Internationally acclaimed clubs offering more than 150 holes of golf, 60 tennis courts and miles of secluded beaches is the Tournament Players Club with its well-known Stadium course.
In addition to the beautiful neighborhoods and sports attractions, this area offers fine dining, unique and exclusive shopping as well as shopping centers offering an array of services and entertainment options. Unless you own one of the homes along the oceanfront or belong to one of the resorts and country clubs along the ocean, beach access is very limited.
Jacksonville communities offer an
assortment of activities such as swimming, tennis,
golf, concerts, dining, biking,
shopping, fishing, water sports and many types of
family oriented interests.