Latino Travel Guide

Jacksonville, or JAX as the locals call it, offers so many exciting things for Latino travelers.

Jacksonville was ruled by the Spaniards until the end of the 19th century, as you visit you will notice many Spanish street names are still used honoring the first Spanish-speaking inhabitants in the area. Jacksonville offers wonderful weather year-round, with over 220 days of sunshine per year and more than 20 miles of beaches. The coastal area is an instagramable paraiso featuring natural panoramic, unforgettable moments and recreational amenities for people of all ages.

Jacksonville is the largest city in Duval County, which is one of the biggest counties in the USA, consisting of more than 840 miles of parks, beaches and lakes creating a perfect getaway for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

If you’re looking to relocate, JAX offers low cost of living compared to many other states. The boom of thriving new businesses and shopping centers offer many opportunities for entrepreneurs and shoppers. The downtown area streets and architecture offer a new vision of art and history taking travelers on a journey in time, new construction merges the old with the new.

Among the many must see places in this area, The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is one of those perfect experiences of old and new. It is rich with history, stemming from Ninah and Arthur Cummer. Before Ninah passed away, she donated their estate, later becoming The Cummer Museum. Ninah’s skills and hobbies were inspirational for the creation of the museum.

While living in Jacksonville, Arthur developed wood working skills, which are now represented throughout the museum in the form of wood panels surrounding the walls with decorative motifs. Ninah developed an interest in gardening - her vision was to beautify the world with gorgeous gardens inspired by what she saw in other places. She was a firm believer in green preservation, which is why the gardens in the museum are such a big part of the entire experience.

Ninah also collected art from around the world and her first piece of art is proudly displayed in the museum. Not only does The Cummer feature beautiful, breathtaking manicured gardens and thought-provoking art, but it also features a section for kids of all ages to experience, touch and create art - a must visit for the entire familia.

Some other must-experience places while visiting JAX are:

Kingsley Plantation – Zephaniah Kingsley owned and operated the Plantation in the early 1800s. It was a unique plantation for its time. Zephania understood that his workers would be more loyal if he provided them with resources. His slaves could study and develop trades after they were done with their daily tasks. Zephaniah’s wife Anna, who was originally purchased as a slave, was in charge of administering the farm and the workers, which also meant the purchase and sale of slaves, something largely unheard of for its time. The house and many of the enslaved people quarters are still standing. The plantation is the oldest plantation house in Florida.

• Catty Shack Ranch – This is especially great for families. The sanctuary is for endangered big cats, such as: tigers, lions, bobcats, pumas, leopards, lynx and even bears. With the help of the Catty Shack sanctuary staff, volunteers and donations from people like you and me, these animals are given a second chance at life, living in a safe natural environment.

The beaches – If your enjoyment is to watch the endless waves come back and forth and lay in the beach absorbing the sun and salty breeze, then you will have no shortage of options in Jacksonville. Let the sun hit you and you will feel rejuvenated and let go of your worries.

• Fort Caroline National Memorial –The Timucua were a group of Native Americans who lived in what is now southern Georgia and northern Florida on over 19,000 square miles of land. When the French attempted to colonize in the 1800s, the Timucua were wiped out. In 1953, the National Park Service established the Fort Caroline National Memorial, to preserve, remember and honor the Timucua. Besides being able to experience life in the Fort, there are samples of what a village looked like along with plenty of nature trails to walk around and experience what the Timucuans would have experienced.

Latino Community

A 2017 study created by the Hispanic Health Council of Jacksonville, the Mayor's Hispanic Advisory Board, and The Duval County Department of Health, found that one out of every 11 people in Duval County are Hispanic, which is an increase of 32% from 2010.

The First Coast Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (FCHCC) offers its members and guests monthly networking events and workshops, promotional opportunities and more. New or seasoned entrepreneurs and business owners work with the FCHCC to positively impact the local economy by promoting and training Hispanic-owned businesses.

The Puerto Rican and Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hosts several events throughout the year, among them: educational events for startups and networking events. Their most popular event is the yearly Puerto Rican Parade, which usually occurs in November and is attended by around 3,000 people. If you visit JAX in late September, you will most likely find yourself immersed by the sounds of our music, the scents of our food and more in a fun atmosphere celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, usually taking place in James Weldon Johnson Park.

The Jacksonville Taco and Tequila Festival is a new event, launched at the beginning of May 2021 to coincide with Cinco de Mayo. Although Cinco de Mayo is not a Latino holiday, it has found a willing embrace in the USA market and is often associated with all things Latino, including food and drinks. The new festival features Mexican cuisine from over 10 restaurants, as well as tequila stations, craft margaritas, music and more. The success of this event will surely secure a return for many years to come.

In 2018, Eugenio Maslowski, CEO of the nonprofit Art Museum for Private Collections launched the Hispanic Culture Film Festival, featuring films from Spanish-speaking countries. Now known as The Toro Film Festival, COVID forced it online in 2020 and 2021 , mainly through its YouTube channel.. Currently, they are presenting Alfombra Roja Hacia el Futuro series, which are videos and clips introducing Hispanic film makers. The festival is scheduled to return in person in 2022.

The World of Nations Festival: This festival is a compilation of different countries coming together in Jacksonville to celebrate their individual culture, music and food, and among them are several Spanish-speaking countries. Each booth is a specific country, usually offering a variety of typical foods, bringing music to the streets and offering original arts and crafts at a low cost for the public to enjoy. Normally this event takes place at the end of February and is a must attend event, where you can experience the sounds, food and culture of our richly diverse Latino cultures.

If you cannot attend the World of Nations Festival, here are other great places to bring Latino flavors to your palates:

Visitors can start their morning with Empanada Llama, which offers delicious Peruvian empanadas and cafecito, located in the Southside on San Jose Boulevard. The restaurant offers a variety of distinctly flavored Peruvian cuisine in the empanadas, so feel free to be adventurous and order one of each.

Empanada Llama
Empanadas, Peruvian Restaurant
9965 San Jose Blvd., Jacksonville, FL (904) 672-7527

Another great choice for breakfast or lunch is Arepa Please, located in the Brooklyn area near downtown Jacksonville, right across from the St. Johns River. The menu consists of Venezuelan arepas, featuring the iconic La Reina: classic Venezuelan shredded chicken with homemade avocado mayo, and local flavors like The Jax Blonde: shredded beef slow cooked in pomodoro sauce with South American herbs in a bed of melted cheddar cheese. There are also grilled options, wraps, salads and more.

Arepa Please
Venezuelan, South American food
474 Riverside Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32202 (904) 356-8055

Some other menu options:

Lola's Burrito & Burger Joint
Mexican Restaurant
1522 King St, Jacksonville, FL (904) 738-7181

Puerto Plata Restaurant
Cuban Restaurant
2045 Bayview Rd, Jacksonville, FL (904) 388-5888

Salento Colombian Steakhouse
Colombian Restaurant
11018 Old Saint Augustine Rd, Jacksonville, FL (904) 374-5882

Bahama Breeze
Caribbean Restaurant
10205 River Coast Dr, Jacksonville, FL (904) 646-1031

Empanada’s Factory Latin Fusion
Latin American Restaurant
8060 Philips Hwy, Jacksonville, FL 32256

El Taino Bar and Restaurant
Puerto Rican restaurant
4347 University Blvd S, Jacksonville, FL 32216

When you visit JAX, don’t forget your sunblock and bathing suit. As there are no nude beaches, leave your worries at home. Nuevas aventuras await you.

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