The City of Jacksonville ranks as the 11th largest city in the United States in population but its land mass is number one. It lines both banks of the St. Johns River, the state’s longest river, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean about 20 miles from downtown. When the city was consolidated with Duval County in 1968, Jacksonville became the largest city in land area in the contiguous United States, covering 841 square miles. Below is a brief overview of some of the major residential areas in Jacksonville.
This community has abundant waterfront property, surrounded by the St. Johns on the west and north and the Intracoastal on the east. Fort Caroline National Park overlooks the site of a former colony of French Huguenots. Jacksonville University, Jones College and a small airfield are located in Arlington. There are many apartment complexes; homes come in all styles and price ranges. Arlington has easy access to schools, churches and downtown.
Jacksonville’s beach communities are comprised of Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, and Jacksonville Beach. Located within one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country, beach residents enjoy all the amenities and modern infrastructure of a large city and all the hospitality of a small hometown. All three beaches offer a diversity of neighborhoods, each with a unique coastal Florida personality. Atlantic, Neptune and Jacksonville beaches are bordered by the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. Atlantic and Neptune beaches are made mainly residential with single-family homes and public beach access. Look for entertainment, shopping and dining along Atlantic Boulevard and A1A. Jacksonville Beach is further south and offers a mix of residential, commercial, retail and light industrial sites. With miles of white sandy beaches and a mild, breezy climate, residents and visitors enjoy year-round golfing, boating, fishing, tennis, and other outdoor sports. A variety of festivals offer music, food, and fun throughout the spring and summer. Although tourism is a major economic generator, there are no spring break crowds at Jacksonville’s beaches, only family-oriented tourism which includes events like Friday night Moonlight Movies and the Summer Jazz Concert Series. Although Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, and Jacksonville Beach are part of Duval County’s consolidated government, the three beach cities voted in 1968 to maintain their own identity and city governments. Each beach city has established a government that includes a city manager, a mayor and a city council.
Located south of the city on the west side of the St. Johns River, Orange Park’s rural pastoral qualities and proximity to Jacksonville make it a popular residential area. Orange Park is home to St. Johns River Community College, one of the region’s major shopping malls, the Orange Park Kennel Club, country clubs, golf courses and medical facilities. Waterways are plentiful and easily accessible for boating, fishing, kayaking or jet skiing. Clay County has three other incorporated municipalities: Green Cove Springs, Keystone Heights and Penney Farms. Middleburg offers rural areas for hunting and bird watching as well as quaint communities and picturesque neighborhoods.
Just down the road from Orange Park are expansive communities like Fleming Island and Eagle Harbor. These communities bring a “whole town” experience. Replete with amenities, residents here know that whatever they need truly is…right around the corner.
Primarily rural until the end of the 1960s when developers discovered this area, Mandarin has grown steadily since. The Mandarin Community Club works diligently to maintain the community’s architectural integrity. Mandarin is rich in history, and for years different preservation groups have sought to maintain that history either in family holdings, trunks, church and school archives or through Mandarin Community Club involvement. Mandarin homes range from estates on the St. Johns River to small country homes with stables.
Nassau County / Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach
Just north of Jacksonville on I-95 is Nassau County, where Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach are located. This area is known around the globe as a resort destination with exclusive oceanfront properties and intracoastal waterfront property. Year-round residents have a variety of single family homes, apartments and condominiums to choose from at varying prices. Downtown Fernandina is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for late Victorian architecture preservation. The area features bed and breakfast inns, restaurants and recreational activities, historic Centre Street and Fort Clinch State Park. Fernandina is the home of the annual Shrimp Festival. Amelia Island Plantation hosts the annual Bausch & Lomb Championship tennis tournament. Visit the world famous Ritz-Carlton Resort or take a day cruise from downtown Fernandina.
North Jacksonville runs roughly from 20th Street north to the county border and from Interstate 295 on the west almost to the Atlantic Ocean. This is a vast area with waterways, new housing developments, and attractions, including the Anheuser Busch Brewery, the expanding Jacksonville Zoological Gardens, Huguenot Memorial Park and Little Talbot Island Park. Growth is due in part to the opening of the Dames Point Bridge in 1989, the expansion of the airport, and business activity in Imeson Industrial Park and the International Tradeport. North Jacksonville has convenient shopping, restaurants, medical facilities, schools, churches, and residential communities, and is only minutes from Downtown.
Bordered on the east by the St. Johns River, to the north and west by the Ortega River and south of Riverside, this community is a peninsula on the river. Convenient private schools, area churches, and small parks along the river contribute to Ortega’s charm. The Florida Yacht Club and Timuquana Country Club offer private social and recreational opportunities. Worth Magazine ranked Ortega 46th among the nation’s top 50 wealthiest neighborhoods. The area offers just about any style of architecture and homes range in size from average sites to stately, sprawling estates. The 1920s Ortega River Bridge is one of the oldest functioning drawbridges.
If beautiful beaches, world class tennis, and professional golf appeal to you, then Ponte Vedra is your neighborhood. For tradition, variety, quality and year round enjoyment, there is no other geographical area that compares, but it is the people that make Ponte Vedra Beach so special. You will find the ambiance of a small town here, but with the flavor of sophistication found in larger cities.
The beaches are among the prettiest in Florida. Here seaside resorts and private escapes are crested in the twisted oaks and hammocks of wild palmettos. Miles of freshwater streams, creeks and lagoons course through the natural environs accentuating the natural beauty of the beaches.
Just inland, some of the most prestigious and scenic golf courses in the world attract professional tournaments including the PGA TOUR’S “fifth” major, THE PLAYERS Championship, with a 6 million dollar purse. Ponte Vedra Beach, with its 135 professional caliber holes, is acclaimed as the Pebble Beach of the East Coast. Our signature course, acclaimed “the seventh best resort course in America by Golf Digest, is the 6,857-yard TPC at Sawgrass Stadium Course with its notoriously difficult island green, one of the “World’s Most Photographed Holes.”
After having your fill of golf, grab your racquet and play a few sets at one of the 44 professional caliber tennis courts. The ATP headquarters tennis center has eleven courts emulating the surfaces of the Grand Slam tournaments, including red clay and fresh grass. The Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Spa, and The Lodge & Club at Ponte Vedra Beach also have courts.
Other activities available nearby include deep sea and freshwater charters for those interested in fishing, as well as sailing, wind surfing and jet-ski rentals for the more active vacationers. On nature walks, the careful eye may glimpse a loggerhead turtle or one of the 177 species of birds. Of course, elegant shopping and fine dining are available throughout the area, after a day filled with excitement and appreciation for the natural wonders of Ponte Vedra Beach.
Riverside and Avondale
This community is bordered to the west by Highway 17 and the river to the east, between Interstate 10 to the north and the Ortega River to the south. These are well-established, historic neighborhoods on the west bank of the St. Johns River. There are five public schools located within walking distance of both neighborhoods. Riverside has become an attractive spot for young professionals who want a short commute to work. Homes include modest duplexes to elegantly restored historic residences and waterfront estates. Riverside is a medical hub with the St. Vincent’s Medical Complex and private medical offices scattered along the river. Avondale is a traditional neighborhood with small boutique-type shopping, quaint streets and small-town charm. There are over a dozen parks with tennis courts, softball fields, and paths for jogging, walking or biking. Its close proximity to downtown makes it a great location for short commutes.
The nation’s oldest city, St. Augustine was founded by the Spanish in 1565, some 55 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, and 42 years before the English colonized Jamestown. Rich with history, the city has more than 50 attractions, including the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, the Spanish Quarter, the Fountain of Youth and Flagler College, and cobblestone streets. Single-family homes, condominiums and apartments are available. Features include fine dining, cafe-style eating, shopping and touring. On the outskirts of town are shopping malls and retail centers
Halfway between Jacksonville and St. Augustine nestled on the east bank of the St. Johns River is the unincorporated area of St. Johns. Despite the fact that it is located in St. Johns County, for many years the communities comprising it were simply known as Jacksonville. In 2005, residents had their way and the area officially became recognized by the U.S. Postal Service as St. Johns. It includes the massive communities of Julington Creek Plantation, the tiny hamlets of Fruit Cove and Switzerland and a variety of magnificent riverfront mansions along with miles of protected wetlands. Lauded for its school system, golfing and shopping St. Johns often attracts families drawn to its many attributes.
San Jose and San Marco
San Jose and San Marco are bordered to the west by the St. Johns River and by U.S. 1 to the east. A popular area for young professionals, San Jose and San Marco are close to the river and downtown. The area features boutique shopping and entertainment in San Marco Square, and private country clubs and private schools along San Jose Boulevard. Spanish architecture is most common in this area. A number of public schools are within these neighborhoods, enabling students to walk to school.
Centrally located, the Southside is bordered by Arlington to the north and east, St. Johns County to the south and San Marco and I-95 to the west. This is literally the southernmost area of urban Jacksonville and is in the middle of all other Jacksonville communities. Southside has the area’s largest grouping of apartment communities. Many new developments are less than a year old. Commuting, shopping and recreation are convenient. Housing includes single-family homes, condominiums and apartment complexes. Residents enjoy local golf courses, abundant dining and entertainment, and easy access to the beaches via J. Turner Butler Boulevard.
Downtown and Springfield offer opportunities for entertainment and the convenience of living near Jacksonville’s business district. Downtown’s borders are the St. John’s River to the south, the Stadium District to the east, I-95 to the west, and 1st Street on the north. Historic Springfield is bordered by Hogan’s Creek at the south, railroad lines at the east and north and Boulevard Street at the west. Springfield, founded in 1869, is Jacksonville’s first and oldest subdivision. Its wide streets and blocks of architecturally distinguished houses have acted as a catalyst to preserve and revitalize the neighborhood.
The Westside is a large community starting just north of I-10 to Clay County, bordered on the east by I-295 and stretching west to Baker County and east to Riverside. Four small incorporated towns make up the Westside: Baldwin, Marietta, Maxville and Whitehouse. Other neighborhoods on this side of Jacksonville are Ortega Forest, Ortega Hills, Argyle, Lakeshore, Venetia, Cedar Hills, Hyde Grove, Murray Hill and Normandy. Much of the area is wooded, offering hunting and outdoor activities. Both NAS Jacksonville and NAS Cecil Field are located here, as well as Herlong Airport, a small, general aviation fixed base operation. Homes and apartments are available in all sizes and price ranges.