When one of the major rivers in the southeast United States bisects your city, then drains into the nearby Atlantic Ocean, you’re living a coastal lifestyle whether or not you intended it.
Chances are you intended it! Jacksonville’s booming economy, superb location and residential and business growth, make it a bulls-eye for folks elevating their careers, seeking their dream retirement home or simply moving their families to a vibrant, outdoorsy community.
The water is a big part of it — 22 miles of Atlantic beaches, the St. John’s River, the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, and innumerable creeks, marshes and freshwater springs. On the business side, Jacksonville supports a large U.S. Navy base and one of Florida’s largest commercial ports. On the non-business side, the “River City’s” natural resources make it easy to “put in,” swim or cruise the water from almost anywhere.
If you’re a new resident or considering becoming one, read on for a water lover’s guide to living in Jacksonville.
Start big, then branch out
The St. John’s River is a bit unusual because it flows from south to north. Its headwaters are more than 300 miles south of Jacksonville, in Indian River County. It’s also the state’s largest river.
In Jacksonville, it’s a major feature in the city’s 840 square miles and its more than 10,000 acres of urban park system. Not all those acres border the river, but enough do to make it difficult to “lose” the St. John’s.
If you’re a boater, explore your new city that way. Start with marinas, restaurants that provide dockage for diners and plentiful guidance from local boating communities. One you’ve figured out how other the St. Johns feeds smaller waterways, you can branch out and explore those.
Cast a line
Fishing is another major past-time of Jacksonville residents. The historic fishing village of Mayport, located north of Jacksonville near where the St. John’s meets the Atlantic, is home to a seafood industry (and lots of tasty restaurants).
Freshwater and saltwater options are everywhere, from beach-casting to dropping a line or two off a bridge. Visit a marina or bait shop and talk with the locals. Online resources are handy, too.
Learn to surf
Jacksonville has long been home to an enthusiastic surfing community that also supports annual amateur and professional competitions. Surf shops are plentiful in the beach communities of Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach.
One reason is that the Atlantic can be vigorous. Good swells and storms’ approach prompt a lot of “Gone Surfing” signs posted on beachside businesses. One of the top surfing spots in Florida is located at an area known as “The Poles,” in Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park — a state park located north of downtown Jacksonville, just south of Mayport.
Take some lessons, rent a board and tame the waves yourself!
Suggestions for non-participants
Not into boating? Personal watercraft? There are plenty of ways to enjoy the River City’s wealth of water without getting wet, smelly or spending tons of cash.
Take a dinner or sunset cruise. Cross the St. John’s downtown from Northbank to Southbank, or vice versa, in a water taxi. Drive all nine of Jacksonville’s major bridges that span the St. John’s, and admire the lofty views. Walk for miles on wide, hard-packed sand beaches.
You get the idea!
Ready to live your Jacksonville lifestyle? Talk to ICI Homes here.