It’s ok, we understand. If you haven’t been here before you can’t possibly understand our unique, diverse and sometime a little quirky destination. Now if you have found this blog, it’s time. Plan the trip. I’ve got the insight. I think I’m just the expert to be your guide to “The Flip Side of Florida.” So, here’s what first timers to Jax need to know and do.
First off, Jax is a casual place, so be comfortable, no one will judge your shorts and flip flops – we actually encourage them. Also, the food scene here is incredible and you might need some room for all the amazing seafood, southern food, treats, etc. that you will try.
The second thing you need to know, Jacksonville is BIG – like largest city by landmass in the continental USA – over 840 square miles. Accept that if you are staying less than 7-10 days, you won’t be able to see everything, but even two days are enough to explore and see so much. I will mention our size, because if you do want to see everything, you are probably going to need a car. Or a friend with a car…
Next on the list, people in Jacksonville are nice, like super friendly. As a formerly super sarcastic, recovering New Yorker, it was unexpected and a little shocking when I moved here, but now it’s one of my favorite things about living in this city. It probably won’t be hard to make some friends throughout your trip, don’t be surprised when random conversations just happen. For the biggest city it’s kind of crazy how small town and homey it can feel.
Jax is also young, we have a median age of just 36, the youngest major city by age in the state. We are not full of retirees and snowbirds, though we welcome them to come!
Jacksonville is in the South and it’s Florida. It makes for a unique cultural destination built around water and southern hospitality.
Like most major cities, Jacksonville is broken down into neighborhoods. This is important to know for movement purposes and vibe purposes. First off, we do have beaches, over 22 miles worth and a perfect surfer town vibe to go along with it. There are three cities at the beach – Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach, but you probably won’t notice moving from one to the next, so don’t worry too much about which one you are in at any given time - unless you have a dog. Each welcome dogs but has different rules and you can check those out here. Fun entertainment areas to check out in the area are Beaches Town Center and Jacksonville Beach Town Center. Great restaurants, bars, and shops can be found in both places.
Moving west, Downtown Jacksonville and the surrounding historic neighborhoods are really worth exploring for visitors. Riverside Avondale, San Marco, Springfield and Murray Hill - not only do they all house fun entertainment districts and strips of shops and restaurants, but they also all offer unique architectural styles in their homes. Be sure to drive along the St. Johns River and into the different neighborhoods. My husband and I love the variety you can find, each of these neighborhoods is a little different but offer wonderful areas to explore. Read about each one in our neighborhoods section.