GREEN COVE SPRINGS, FLORIDA

By  Mike Miller   Updated June 6, 2023

Green Cove Springs, Florida Things To Do, Lodging, Dining, & Real Estate At End Of Article

Green Cove Springs is a small city of about 9,125 people on the west bank of the St. Johns River.  It is the county seat of Clay County and is about 28 miles south of Jacksonville

It's a nice little town of shaded streets and fine old homes in quiet neighborhoods on either side of busy U.S. 17, the main north-south highway through town. 

Street scene in Green Cove Springs, Florida with houses and flowers and shrubs, St. Johns River beyong.Green Cove Springs, Florida Street Scene

HISTORY OF GREEN COVE SPRINGS FLORIDA

Native Americans were the first settlers in this area.  They were attracted by the warm mineral spring that ended up being the inspiration of the town name.

When Florida was still a Spanish possession, George J. F. Clarke was given a land grant in 1816 to establish a sawmill.

Green Cove Springs - The SpringGreen Cove Springs - The Spring in the 1870s
State Archives of Florida

The original town that grew up around it became known as White Sulfur Springs in 1854 but was renamed Green Cove Springs in 1866.

Vintage Postcard of Quisisana HotelVintage Postcard of Quisisana Hotel

The town grew in the late 1800s because of its agriculture including many citrus groves.  Tourism was also an important industry. 

Visitors to the Springs came down from Jacksonville by river boat to stay in the hotels and enjoy the springs.

Mohawk Hotel Green Cove Springs 1910Mohawk Hotel Green Cove Springs 1910

The "Great Freeze" of 1895 destroyed the citrus crops and the town dwindled and few tourists visited the area.

Tourism began to pick up in the 1920s because of new highways and railroads popping up in Florida, but the Great Depression put a stop to that.

Vintage Postcard Green Cove Springs PoolVintage Postcard Green Cove Springs Pool

It was not until World War Two that the town began to grow again.

This quiet little town seems like an unlikely place to have located one of the U.S. Navy's largest mothball fleets at the end of World War Two.

By 1947, about 600 destroyers, destroyer escorts and fleet auxiliaries were the most prominent sight in this riverfront town.

Aerial view of U.S. Navy large mothball fleet of World War Two battle ships berthed at docks on the St Johns River in Green Cove Springs.Green Cove Springs, Florida - U.S. Navy Mothball Fleet Circa 1960

The Navy built huge concrete docks projecting out into the river to dock the ships.

By 1962, the fleet was largely gone, parceled out to other U.S. Navy locations and foreign countries for their navies.

GREEN COVE SPRINGS TODAY

The docks remain from the days of the mothball fleet, but with only a few modern yachts in a small marina setting along with older ships waiting to be purchased or scrapped.

Green Cove Springs, Florida 2014 - Arctic Discoverer

Only a few old timers like me remember when the huge fleet dominated the town and was the first sight you saw when coming from the east on the Shands Bridge over the St. Johns River on State Road 16.

Green Cove Springs, Florida 2014 - Sea Voyager

I like to ride my bike in Green Cove Springs. The neighborhoods between US-17 and the river are very quiet and have plenty of sidewalks and safe streets for riding.

I park my car downtown in a riverside park, take my bike off the rack and ride all over the place, including to the old Navy base for a look at what ships are currently there.

There is a sidewalk along the busy highways that allows you to ride safely to the docking area on the river.

St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Green Cove SpringsSt. Mary's Episcopal Church, Green Cove Springs

The church above is on St. Johns Avenue, a quiet street that parallels the river and goes through neighborhoods with many beautiful and well maintained homes in the neighborhood along the St. Johns River.

It's one of my favorite bicycle routes.

Recommended Green Cove Springs Restaurant

SWEET SENSATIONS

25 North Orange Avenue (U.S. 17)
Green Cove Springs, Florida 32043
Tel: 904-529-8554

Sweet Sensations is in an unassuming corner building on busy U.S. 17 in downtown Green Cove Springs.

It is a very popular place for lunches, and is open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 3pm.

It has a small parking lot, but a city parking lot right next door has plenty of spaces if the restaurant lot is full.

Sweet Sensations, Green Cove Springs

When you enter Sweet Sensations, you will see a board with the daily specials printed out in magic marker. There is a batch of menus there for you to read, then you place your order at the counter.

READ MORE ABOUT SWEET SENSATIONS


THINGS TO DO IN GREEN COVE SPRINGS, FLORIDA

Spring Park - 106 St. Johns Ave, Green Cove Springs, FL 32043, (904) 297-7500 - Spring Park is a lovely park with a natural spring, picnic tables, a playground, and a splash park. The park also hosts various events throughout the year.

Military Museum of North Florida - 1 Bunker Ave, Green Cove Springs, FL 32043, (904) 531-9579 - The Military Museum of North Florida is a fascinating museum that showcases the military history of the region. The museum has an impressive collection of artifacts, including uniforms, weapons, and equipment.

Clay Theatre - 326 Walnut St, Green Cove Springs, FL 32043, (904) 284-9010 - The Clay Theatre is a historic theater that was built in 1937. It still shows movies, and it has been renovated to include modern amenities while still retaining its classic charm.

Clay County Fairgrounds - 2497 State Road 16 West, Green Cove Springs, FL 32043, (904) 284-1615 - The Clay County Fairgrounds hosts various events throughout the year, including the Clay County Agricultural Fair. The fair is a great opportunity to experience the local culture and enjoy some delicious food.

Magnolia Point Golf and Country Club - 3670 Clubhouse Dr, Green Cove Springs, FL 32043, (904) 269-9276 - The Magnolia Point Golf and Country Club is a beautiful golf course that offers challenging holes and stunning views. The club also has a restaurant and bar that serves delicious food and drinks.

Shoppes of Historic Green Cove Springs - 1007 N Orange Ave, Green Cove Springs, FL 32043, (904) 284-5904 - The Shoppes of Historic Green Cove Springs is a collection of charming shops and boutiques that offer unique and handmade items. Visitors can stroll the streets and find something special to take home.

Walter Jones Historical Park - 11964 Mandarin Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32223, (904) 268-0784 - The Walter Jones Historical Park is a living history museum that showcases the pioneer life in the region. The park has several historic buildings and hosts various events throughout the year.

Ronnie Van Zant Memorial Park - 2760 Sandridge Rd., Green Cove sSprings, FL 32043, (904) 284-6378 - The Ronnie Van Zant Memorial Park is a lovely park that honors the late Lynyrd Skynyrd lead singer. The park has a playground, picnic tables, and a stage that hosts various events throughout the year.

Spring Park Pool - 106 St. Johns Ave, Green Cove Springs, FL 32043, (904) 297-7500 - The Spring Park Pool is a public swimming pool that is open during the summer months. The pool has a diving board and a water slide, and it is a great place to cool off on a hot day.



GREEN COVE SPRINGS GOOGLE INTERACTIVE MAP




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