Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach and Jacksonville Beach are the three communities between Mayport Naval Station and the area around Butler Boulevard (J. Turner Butler Blvd.). South of Butler Boulevard, Ponte Vedra Beach, Vilano Beach and St. Augustine Beach are beaches in St. Johns County.
In addition to ocean access, the Beaches boast a variety of housing styles from cottages to condominiums and mansions, as well as outstanding public schools including a National Blue Ribbon school located in Jacksonville Beach.
There are many restaurants, from upscale to casual, and the area boasts a vibrant nightlife and venues featuring live performances, festivals and cultural events. Recreational opportunities including camping, hiking and biking, water sports such as surfing and swimming, and terrestrial activities like golf and tennis. They are in season nearly year round thanks to the moderate climate.
Bordered by Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park to the north, Atlantic Boulevard to the south and the Intracoastal Waterway to the west, Atlantic Beach offers a small-town atmosphere with easy access to the ocean. The town-center, located near the former Sea Turtle Inn, is a popular gathering point with many quaint eateries and boutiques.
You may not know it, but Jacksonville Beach was called Pablo Beach until 1925, when it was voted to change the name to Jacksonville Beach to attract more tourists. Every summer a free Summer Jazz Series is hosted at the Sea Walk Pavilion, 75 North 1st Street. Jacksonville Beach Golf Club at 605 South Penman Road, has newly re-designed greens. Memberships are available, as well as public play.
Jacksonville Beach has everything from beach cottages to condonimiums and many homes off the water all the way to the Intracoastal Waterway. Yards are small at the beach, and prices are not cheap, but when you can go to the beach every day of the year, isn't it worth it?
The newest and smallest of the Beaches neighborhoods, Neptune Beach has defined itself as the closest thing to peaceful suburbia at the beach. The ocean seems to cast a magical spell to calm and relax its nearby residents. Neptune Beach public schools are highly regarded.
Ponte Vedra Beach
Not technically a 'Jacksonville community,' but always associated with Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra Beach in St. Johns County was renamed in 1928 when the company that ran the mines built a golf course and clubhouse for the employees. From that beginning, the reknowned Ponte Vedra Inn & Spa was founded.
Ponte Vedra Beach is an upscale area with mansions on the ocean, gated communities and other single family and multi-family neighborhoods. Ponte Vedra schools are some of the best in the Northeast Florida area.
Most of the beach is private - Sawgrass, home of the TPC, the Ponte Vedra Inn and Beach Club and homes on the ocean lay claim to most of the waterfront. Mickler's Landing and the Guana River State Park are public options for area residents.
Visit Ponte Vedra Beach for trendy shopping and restaurants. We liken Ponte Vedra to the "Buckhead" of Jacksonville (that's for all you Atlantans!).
Convenience and location make Jacksonville's Southside a popular place to live. 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.
Surrounded by San Jose, Arlington, Mandarin and the Beaches, Southside has the area's largest grouping of apartment communities. Many new developments are less than a year old. Neighborhoods range from working class, single-family homes, condominiums and townhomes to upscale gated and golf communities with many amenities. Various parks offer a mix of playgrounds, swimming pools, trails, picnic and cooking areas, sports and multi-use fields, lighted tennis courts, concession areas and community centers. Commuting, shopping and recreation are convenient.
Bordered by both Julington Creek and the St. Johns River, Mandarin is rich in history and has been a popular family community for more than 20 years. Primarily rural until the end of the 1960s when developers discovered this area, Mandarin has grown steadily since. Harriet Beecher Stowe lived in and wrote about the natural beauty of Mardarin, which is still around if you drive along the river on Mandarin Road.
Quality education is a priority and real estate experts agree that Mandarin has excellent public and private schools. The community has several parks, marinas and more waterfront views than any other area in Jacksonville. Mandarin homes range from estates on the St. Johns River to small country homes with stables. There are homes for all price ranges.
San Jose/San Marco
Another historic area, San Marco was developed by Telfair Stockton in the 1920s. He modeled the Square after the Piazza di San Marco in Venice, Italy. The trendy shopping and dining around the square makes for a vibrant community. The historic San Marco Theatre (1931) and Theatre Jacksonville are both located in San Marco. Theatre Jacksonville is Florida's longest running community theatre, celebrating its 91st year in 2010-11.
San Marco's architecture is diverse, having been developed around the same time as Avondale, so some of the same Mediterranean and Tudor designs can be seen on both sides of the river. There is everything from affordable bungalows to mansions on the river.
Leaving San Marco, you enter the San Jose area on San Jose Blvd. Epping Forest, former home of the duPont family and now a gated Yacht Club community, San Jose Country Club and the Bolles School are also down San Jose Blvd.
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.
Arlington 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.
Fort Caroline is located 15 miles east of downtown Jacksonville on the southern shore of the St. Johns River. It's a glimpse of old Florida with breathtaking views of the river, rolling terrain and stately oaks. Families that live in Fort Caroline take advantage of the natural surroundings by hiking, kayaking and fishing.
Historic Springfield and Downtown are defined by I-295 to the west, the Trout River to the north and the St. Johns River to the south and east. Downtown and Springfield offer opportunities for entertainment and the convenience of living near Jacksonville's business district.
Preservation has been a catalyst in the revitalization of Springfield, located just north of the Downtown business district. Springfield is the largest residential historic district in Florida with wide streets and blocks of architecturally distinguished houses. There is renewed interest in living in the historic district of Springfield. Many are drawn to the charm of homes, circa late 1800s, that feature wrap-around porches, grand staircases and warm fireplaces. These homes are being bought and restored to their original glory.
Westside is a wide area that includes a collection of established neighborhoods: Argyle, Riverside, Avondale, Ortega and Normandy. Many homes have been in families for generations. The area is close to downtown and has easy access to interstates, the airport and Beaches.
Argyle is a relatively new neighbood on the westside that saw rapid growth in the mid-1980s. Originally ranch land, Argyle has become a popular and affordable choice for middle class families settling in Jacksonville. Just south of Argyle is the popular Oakleaf Plantation community in Clay County.
In the early 1900s, Riverside Avenue already had earned a reputation for being one of the most beautiful streets in America. Much of that distinctive architecture remains today in this historic district. The riverfront mansions still make a strong statement, but the neighborhood has been through a decline and is back on its way up. Many of the Victorian homes have found other uses as professional offices, Bed & Breakfast and Restaurants.
Little Five Points shopping area in Riverside is home to some of Jacksonville's more hip shops and scenes. The Riverside Arts Market is held under the Fuller-Warren Bridge on Riverside Avenue each Saturday from April-December. The Cummer Gallery of Art is also on Riverside Avenue, and houses a large collection of local art as well as works from around the world. Touring exhibits are constantly changing.
South of Riverside, historic Avondale features homes that reflect the middle-to-upper income tastes in residential architecture of the 1920s. St. Johns Avenue is home to trendy shops and some of the city's best restaurants, including the new Blue Fish in the building where Sterling's was, Orsay, The Brick and Biscotti's, to name a few. Boone Park runs through the middle of the neighborhood between Park Street and St. John's Avenue.
Known for the quiet, tree-lined streets, Avondale is home to hundreds of quaint bungalows and large gracious homes that retain their original gentility. Identifiable building styles include Prairie School, Art Deco, Classical Revival and Craftsman, among others. Henry John Klutho, a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright, designed and built many homes here.
An historic settlement just south of Avondale, Ortega is bordered on three sides by water - the St. John's River, the Cedar River and the Ortega River. Ortega was given as a land grant in 1791, and is home to some of Jacksonville's wealthiest families. McGirtt's Creek (part of the Ortega River) was named after cattle rustler Daniel McGirtt. Tree-lined streets with parks and mansions on the river characterize this lovely neighborhood. The Winn-Dixie of Ortega serves the founder's family, so you know it has to be great! Area schools have a good reputation. It is said that William Bartram visited the area.
If you like historic homes, large trees and walking to shopping and dining, the Riverside/Avondale/Ortega areas just may be the perfect match for you!