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What Is Jacksonville, Florida Known For?
Whether you plan on moving to Jacksonville or you would like to take a vacation, the city offers a lot of options. It is perfect for just about anybody, no matter whether it’s families, lovers, or retirees. Also known as Jax, the city is ideal for you if you are looking for a rich mix of culture and music, beautiful coastlines, hiking trails, and incredible architecture.
Jacksonville is famous for having attractions on both water and land. It boasts over 850 square miles (2,201 square km) of beaches and canals. St John’s River offers numerous recreational and commercial activities, and the city is also home to the nation’s largest system of nature park trails.
The rest of this article will focus on explaining some of the beautiful attractions that Jacksonville, Florida, is known for. Read on to find out more.
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It’s Near Stunning Beaches and Other Bodies of Water
Jacksonville is a water lover’s dream with miles and miles of beaches, waterways, canals, and large piers. There are many exciting adventures to choose from, including kayaking, surfing, fishing, and simply sinking your toes in white sandy beaches and getting a tan.
Some water activities the city is known for include:
If you’re an angler, you’re sure to love dropping a line in one of the many bodies of water in Jacksonville. You can decide to head to the piers, bridges, and shorelines to fish, or you can rent a kayak or boat and drop a line out in the deep sea to fish.
If you’re a newcomer, it’s always best to get the help of an expert fishing guide. Additionally, make sure to get your fishing license if you don’t already have one. Jacksonville hosts several fishing tournaments you can consider entering.
Some best known places to fish in the city include:
- St John’s River provides several waterfront parks and reserves to fish in.
- With their creeks and wetlands, the Intracoastal waterways have several docks and piers you can fish from or decide to fish from a boat or kayak in the canals.
- The Nassau Sound Fishing Bridge is a long fishing bridge (several miles long) that is quite popular.
- The Guana River Wildlife Management Area includes several lakes that offer attractive fishing opportunities and a variety of fish.
- Jacksonville’s beaches offer you the choice of fishing from the shorelines or in several artificial reefs with a wide variety of fish.
You can charter a boat or follow a local tour to explore the local marine life and cruise through the St Johns River or the Intracoastal waterways. You can easily explore the Caribbean on cruise ships that sail out of Jacksonville’s port.
Additionally, Jacksonville’s abundant waterways allow you to indulge in a range of watersports. This includes kayaking, diving, reefs, paddle boarding, surfing, and more.
Enjoy the Beaches and the Rest of the City
Neptune, Atlantic, and Mayport are Jacksonville’s best-known beaches, and you can access them via a short ferry ride. If you are a lover of water life, you can also access other smaller beaches around Jacksonville.
BlackRock and Boneyard beaches are also fascinating places to unwind after a busy workday. Additionally, you have the chance to tour Little Talbot Island and Huguenot Memorial Park on the city’s north side as well.
You can explore little beach boutiques, seafood restaurants, casino boats, and camps that offer camping and hiking.
Jacksonville is known for its Breathtaking National Parks
Among the best parts of Jacksonville are the beautiful parks you’ll get to experience with your family and loved ones. The city boasts three national parks, seven state parks, and over 400 city parks, making it the city with the most extensive park system in the nation.
Jacksonville boasts three national parks:
- Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve: This preserve offers visitors the opportunity to glimpse what old Florida looked like. While there are numerous activities, I recommend exploring the fort exhibit in the heart of the park. This exhibit recalls events of the 16th-century colonial period. You can also check out the wildlife observation platform that offers visitors a clear view of the park’s wildlife.
- Kingsley Plantation: Spending a sunny day at Kingsley Plantation is the perfect family getaway. The park is an ecological and historical preserve that gives you a glimpse of what the precolonial era looked like. It also offers visitors numerous fascinating views, including a view of the city’s oldest residential home.
- Castillo de San Marcos National Monument: This monument is one of few standing military constructions from the 17th century still around. Here, you can explore the fortress that once withstood two sieges against British forces in 1702 and 1740. The gundecks bring you within touching range of a rich military history.
Each of these parks does a great job of preserving and commemorating important events in the nation’s history. Not only do they tell the story of the creation of each park, they also combine history with nature to provide you with an exciting and scenic experience.
State parks in Jacksonville cover about 46,000 acres (18,616 hectares) of land. You can go kayaking & canoeing, camping, hiking, rare bird watching, and wildlife sighting, enjoy walking trails, spend time in children’s playgrounds, and more at these parks.
State parks include Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve, Talbot Islands, Yellow Bluff Fort Historic Park, Fort George Island Cultural, George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier, and more.
Jacksonville packs several city parks, over 450 of them with side attractions on the oceanfront and St John’s River. Visit some popular city parks, including Hanna, Huguenot, Castaway Island Preserve, Dutton Island Preserve, Jacksonville Arboretum, Fort Family Regional, Losco Regional, and Memorial Parks, among others.
The beachside parks in the city are perfect for family picnics. They offer kids’ playgrounds, cabin rentals, and farmers’ markets. Jarboe and Kathryn Abbey Hanna are two of the most popular beachside parks in Jacksonville.
The City Is a Top Art and Music Destination
Jacksonville boasts several arts and cultural attractions that make it among the top destinations in the nation. If you are moving to Jacksonville, you’ll easily discover that there’s so much music and art everywhere. We know that the city is the birthplace of Southern Rock.
However, many people do not know that it is also home to a solid blues and rock tradition. You’ll also find that the entertainment options are limitless, from classical shows to music festivals.
Ready to explore the boundless art world of Jacksonville? Here are some things to try while in the city.
Museums and Art Galleries
Jacksonville is home to numerous famous museums and art galleries, all of which boast extensive exhibits. These include the Cummer Museum of Arts, the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, and the Museum of Science and History.
- The Cummer Museum of Arts and Gardens is the largest fine art museum in Northeast Florida. It boasts some of the most delightful and important gardens in the city and boasts a history that stretches back over 100 years. The gardens stay ablaze throughout the year, with rare horticultural specimens well arranged under a canopy of beautiful oak trees.
- The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (also known as MOCA) is home to a popular art walk. The museum features over 700 works of contemporary sculptures, prints, and photographs.
- The Museum of Science and History (MOSH) features both local Florida history and science exhibits. It is home to the Bryan Gooding Planetarium, which was built in 1988 and can seat 200 people.
The city boasts of a rich rock and jazz music culture. For example, the Jacksonville Jazz Festival is one of the biggest festivals in the nation. It is free and offers live performances from several artists, local food, and jazz brunches lined over several blocks of beautifully decorated streets.
Major names, including Kenny G, Sheila E., Tony Bennett, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, etc., have performed at Jacksonville Jazz Festival. Jacksonville also boasts popular hip-hop acts, and the Ritz Theatre features an active music scene.
Learn more about the history of Jacksonville’s music scene in the book Jacksonville and the Roots of Southern Rock here.
Riverside Arts Market
You can enjoy several displays from artists, fresh farm produce, food vendors, music, and live entertainment every Saturday at the riverside arts market, held under the Fuller Warren Bridge. A view of the St. Johns River adds a great ambiance to the event.
It’s an Ideal Destination for Foodies
Jacksonville is a haven for foodies. It features a thriving food culture and many signature dishes every newcomer must try. Shrimp and grits are a culinary staple, and newcomers shouldn’t miss out on their signature Mayport Shrimp dish. You’ll also be able to find a range of American eats and food trucks to satisfy your cravings for sandwiches, burgers, biscuits, gravy, etc.
There is an abundance of seafood options in Jacksonville. You can also opt for farm-to-table options to satisfy your cravings for local dishes. It doesn’t matter what you’re craving – this city has a wide range of restaurants that are sure to satisfy your cravings.
If you are in Jacksonville, here are 7 of the well known restaurants for quality dining in Jacksonville, according to Jacksonville Magazine’s 2021 rating:
- 1928 Cuban Bistro specializes in Cuban favorites, including the Cuban sandwich.
- ABBQ provides an open and airy dining experience.
- Aqua Grill has a voluminous seafood menu.
- Azure at One Ocean Resort is perfect for delicate and sophisticated dining and offers both fine dining and Oceanside eateries.
- Barrique Kitchen & Wine Bar is perfect for a night of wining and dining.
- bb’s Restaurant & Bar offers a cozy dining experience.
- The Bearded Pig offers a casual barbeque experience with outdoor seating.
The City Has Numerous Career Opportunities
According to real estate news from News4Jax and many other reliable news platforms, Jacksonville is buzzing with career opportunities as follows:
- The financial sector boasts a range of top employers, including Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase, Fidelity Investment, and Deutsche Bank.
- The health sector offers employment opportunities in hospitals, including Baptist Health, Ascension St Vincent’s, and UF Health.
- The hospitality industry is buzzing with retail and commercial real estate opportunities to cater to many restaurants.
- Military and civilian job opportunities from the NAS military base, which employs over 17,000 military personnel and civilians
- The logistics and transportation industry has top employers that include CSX, Crowley, and Fanatics.
It’s Home to Several Education Opportunities
Jacksonville offers numerous educational opportunities in primary, secondary, and university education.
According to US News & World Report, the city is home to four of the 25 best-rated high schools in Florida.
There are plenty of options for higher education that include the University of North Florida, St Johns River State College, Florida State College, Jacksonville University, and First Coast Technical College.
Jacksonville Has Unique Historic Architecture
The great variety of architecture ever-present in Jacksonville reflects the variety of cultures resident in the city. Jacksonville’s architecture combines modern and historical styles, all coming together to reflect the position served by the city in the past as a regional business hub.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation reports that Jacksonville boasts of more buildings built earlier than 1967 compared to any Florida city. After the Great Fire of 1901, prominent architects like Henry J Klutho and M.H Hubbard were responsible for rebuilding the city.
Here’s a list of some of the must-see architectural designs in Jacksonville:
- Atlantic National Bank
- Bethel Baptist Church
- St Andrew’s Church
- The Carling Hotel
- The Laura Street Trio
- The St James Building: This historic building is home to Jacksonville City Hall and was designed by Henry James Klutho after the Great Fire of 1901.
- The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
- Friendship Fountain: Located in St. Johns River Park, the fountain (and the park it stands in) was designed by Taylor Hardwick, who also designed the Jesse Ball duPont Center.
- Jessie Ball duPont Center: This building was previously known as the Haydon Burns Library.
Jacksonville boasts over 850 square miles (2,201 square km) of white sandy beaches, Intracoastal waterway canals, and the most extensive urban park system in the country with world-class attractions, exciting cuisines, and architecture.
If you appreciate a rich cultural background, Jacksonville is also home to several museums and art galleries, all of which make it a great city for both visitors and residents.
If you’re planning a trip to Jacksonville be sure to check out 100 Things to Do in Jacksonville Before You Die here.