By  Mike Miller  Updated January 23, 2024

Jacksonville, Florida things to do, lodging, dining, real estate at end of article.

Jacksonville, Florida is in the northeast corner of Florida at the intersection of I-95 and I-10.  It is on the magnificent St. Johns River 20 miles west of the Atlantic Ocean.

Its population is almost 900,000, which makes it the most populous city in Florida.  Jacksonville is also the largest city in the contiguous United States by land area.

View across the St. Johns River to Downtown JacksonvilleView across the St. Johns River to Downtown Jacksonville

The river is navigable for large ships all the way from the ocean to downtown Jacksonville.  This makes Jacksonville one of the largest commercial ports in Florida.

Jacksonville is about 25 miles south of the Georgia border, and 340 miles north of Miami.  It's proximity to its northern neighboring state has given it the moniker of "The Capital of South Georgia."

Many natives of Jacksonville came from that region or their parents and grandparents did.



Jacksonville, Florida has a long history that goes back to the Timucuan Indians who lived in the area along the banks of the St. Johns River 6,000 years ago.

The first Europeans came in 1562. French Huguenot explorer Jean Ribault explored and charted the St. Johns River. 

Fort Caroline National Memorial on the St. Johns RiverFort Caroline National Memorial on the St. Johns River

René Goulaine de Laudonnière established the first European settlement at Fort Caroline two years later.



Jacksonville today is a wonderful place to live or visit.

There are more than 500 individual neighborhoods and numerous shopping districts.  There are many activities like festivals and art shows along the banks of the St. Johns River.

Jacksonville San Marco NeighborhoodJacksonville San Marco Neighborhood

Jacksonville, Florida and Duval County Consolidated Governments

Duval County and Jacksonville consolidated their governments in 1968.  Only four communities in the county elected to keep their own governments:

Baldwin, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, and Jacksonville Beach.

People who live in Jacksonville typically refer to where they live in the general terms of location such as Northside, Westside, Southside, Arlington, and the Beaches.

Then they can narrow that down to individual neighborhoods like Avondale, Lakeshore, Ortega, Riverside, Springfield and more.

Jacksonville is very much a city of neighborhoods spread over the sprawling huge area of Duval County.

The neighborhoods north of downtown - Northside - are typically the most rural and laid back.  Some of these Northside places are Dinsmore, Garden City and Oceanway.

Communities on the south side of the St. Johns River include Arlington, upscale San Marco, Mandarin and Sunbeam.

Beach communities include Mayport, Atlantic Beach, Jacksonville Beach.

West Jacksonville neighborhoods include Normandy, Ortega, Riverside and Panama Park.

The urban core includes LaVilla and Springfield.

Everbank Field on the St. Johns RiverTIAA Bank Field on the St. Johns River

Jacksonville is home to the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League.  They play in TIAA Bank Field in the downtown area.

This stadium is also home to the annual Florida-Georgia football game between the University of Florida and the University of Georgia.

In years past is was known as "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party", but the nickname has fallen out of fashion except among a handful of old timers.

Jacksonville, Florida Is A Military Town

The city's strategic location on the deep water St. Johns River and Atlantic Ocean has made it an important location for military installations.

Some of these include Mayport Naval Air Station at the mouth of the river, Naval Air Station Jacksonville on the river, the Blount Island Command of the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Port of Jacksonville on the St. Johns River has become Florida's third largest seaport.

Most areas of Jacksonville are safe, but like all big cities it's best to have some local advice before wandering around in some neighborhoods.

Each neighborhood has its own special restaurants, hotels and bed and breakfast inns, museums and theaters.

There are more than one thousand motels, hotels and inns in Jacksonville and Duval County.

There are probably two or three times that many restaurants.

In addition to regional shopping malls, many neighborhoods have their own small "downtown" areas with interesting places to visit.

Alhambra Dinner TheaterAlhambra Dinner Theater

The Jacksonville Southbank Riverwalk is located on the south bank of the St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville. It is a 1.25 mile promenade along the river with art displays, benches, and a great view of the city skyline.

On a sunny day, the view from the walk epitomizes what Florida is all about: blue water, sunshine, modern buildings and beautiful boats.

The Riverwalk is among the most popular and well-used attractions in the downtown area.

Many Movies Made in Jacksonville, Florida 

A lot of modern movies have also been made in the Riverwalk and other areas of Jacksonville since the end of the silent movie area in the early history of Jacksonville.

Some of these include:

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
G.I. Jane (1997)
The Devil's Advocate (1997)
Why Do Fools Fall In Love (1998)
Forces of Nature (1999)
Sunshine State (2002)
The Manchurian Candidate (2004)
Monster House (2006)
Moving McAllister (2007)
The Year of Getting to Know Us (2008)


The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens
829 Riverside Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32204 | (904) 356-6857

This cultural gem showcases an impressive collection ranging from ancient artifacts to contemporary pieces. What makes the Cummer truly special, though, are its stunningly landscaped gardens that overlook the St. Johns River, offering a tranquil escape in the heart of the city.

Each garden has its own unique theme and history, perfectly complementing the art within. It's our favorite spot for both art lovers and those looking for a peaceful retreat amidst nature.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
370 Zoo Parkway, Jacksonville, FL 32218 | (904) 757-4463

This isn't your typical zoo; it's a sprawling sanctuary for over 2,000 animals and a lush botanical garden that features plants from around the globe. Read my article on it at this link: 
Jacksonville Zoo Is More Than 100 Years Old (florida-backroads-travel.com)

The zoo's immersive exhibits, like the Land of the Tiger and the African Forest, allow you to get up close with some of the planet's most fascinating wildlife. It's an experience that combines education, conservation, and fun, making it perfect for families and wildlife enthusiasts alike.

Florida Theatre
128 E Forsyth St #100, Jacksonville, FL 32202 | (904) 355-5661, Box Office: (904)355-2787

This beautifully preserved 1920s venue is the cultural heart of Jacksonville, hosting a wide range of performances from concerts and ballets to stand-up comedy and classic film screenings.

The theatre's ornate interior, complete with its original Wurlitzer organ, transports you to a bygone era of elegance and charm. Whether you're seeing a national touring act or a local production, a night at the Florida Theatre is guaranteed to be unforgettable.

Little Talbot Island State Park
12157 Heckscher Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32226 | (904) 251-2320

This natural paradise is one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier islands in Northeast Florida. With over five miles of pristine beaches, dunes, and maritime forests, it offers a perfect backdrop for outdoor activities like hiking, surfing, fishing, and kayaking.

The diverse ecosystems provide a habitat for a variety of wildlife, making it a great spot for bird watching and nature photography. Little Talbot Island is our go-to destination for those seeking to connect with nature and enjoy some of Florida's most beautiful landscapes.

Jacksonville Jaguars football game
1 TIAA Bank Field Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32202 | (904) 633-2000

Nothing captures the spirit of Jacksonville quite like cheering on the Jaguars on a Sunday afternoon. The energy in the stadium is electric, with fans of all ages coming together to support their team.

Beyond the game itself, the stadium offers a variety of entertainment and dining options, making it a fun outing for the whole family. Even if you're not a die-hard football fan, experiencing a live NFL game here is a must-do.

Museum of Science & History (MOSH)
1025 Museum Cir, Jacksonville, FL 32207 | (904) 396-6674

MOSH isn't just any museum; it's a place where curiosity comes to life through interactive exhibits, planetarium shows, and educational programs.

Whether you're exploring the mysteries of the human body, gazing at stars in the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium, or learning about Jacksonville's rich cultural heritage, there's something here to spark interest in minds of all ages. It's our go-to spot for a fun and enlightening day out.

Riverside Arts Market
715 Riverside Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32204 | (904) 389-2449

Every Saturday, local artists, farmers, and artisans gather under the Fuller Warren Bridge to showcase their creations. From fresh produce to unique handmade goods, browsing the stalls is an adventure in itself.

The market also features live music and street performances, adding to the lively ambiance. It's our favorite weekend destination for supporting local businesses and discovering new treasures amidst the buzz of the community.

The Alhambra Dinner Theater
12000 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville, Florida 32246 | (904) 641-1212

Read my article on this attraction at:
Alhambra Dinner Theatre: Jacksonville Tradition Since 1967 (florida-backroads-travel.com)

Jacksonville is also a great place to explore Northeast Florida using our website at JACKSONVILLE FLORIDA DAY TRIPS


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