The Northeast Florida area is famous for its small town feel but big city activities, and boasts a multitude of indoor and outdoor activities to please everyone. From professional sports teams to top tier musical groups, the Jacksonville area is bursting with exciting things to do. The Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens, Cummer Museum of Art, and the Museum of Science and History are just a few of the many fun things to see and do. Or take in the Riverside Arts Market for a fun day of local shopping and entertainment.
With temperate weather year-round and multiple waterways, the Northeast Florida area is a boat lover’s paradise! From the weekly Whitey’s Working Man’s Bass Tournament to shrimping on the St. Johns River, anglers and pleasure boaters can all find their perfect activity. And miles of Atlantic ocean shoreline await you!
Schools in Northeast Florida are among the best in the state. St. Johns County and Clay County have consistently earned A-rankings form the Florida Department of Education, and features several high-ranking individual schools. For additional school information, go to these websites:
Northeast Florida is also home to many unique and wonderful neighborhood, and there is one that is perfect for you! Here’s some information to get you started, along with links to explore the area.
Downtown Jacksonville combines big-city offerings with small-town charm and Southern hospitality. Today, Downtown Jacksonville boasts 1,100 businesses with three Fortune 500 headquarters, more than 49,000 employees, 4,000 residents and more than 9 million visits annually.
Downtown Jacksonville hosts more than 50 event days annually, including the award-winning First Wednesday Art Walk, One Spark, Jacksonville Jazz Festival, and many more. Downtown Jacksonville is a thriving metropolitan city with an unparalleled pedestrian-friendly environment and spirited community.
The HISTORIC NEIGHBORHOODS
Riverside is located south of downtown Jacksonville on the St. Johns River. It comprises an area roughly bordered by U.S. Route 17 (Roosevelt Boulevard) and the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad to the west, Interstate 10 to the north, and the St. Johns River to the east. To the south is the adjacent neighborhood of Avondale, though the boundary between them is not clear cut.
Riverside is known for its eclectic architecture and artistic character. The neighborhood is mostly residential, but it contains some commercial districts, notably the Five Points area. Five Points is the location of the Five Points Theatre, one of the first three movie theaters in the United States to show sound films. Riverside also contains the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens and St. Vincent’s Medical Center.
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.
The community of Avondale, located along the St. Johns River, was established around the year 1920 as an upscale neighborhood, and was the most extensively planned community Jacksonville had ever seen. The architecture of the area is uniform in its Mediterranean Revival style, contrasting the architecture of the area around it. Because of this, Avondale sticks out as a unique neighborhood, filled with beauty and history.
Avondale’s history gives it a very distinct personality, and its many features are exclusive to the residents of Avondale. Enjoy the outdoors at Boone Park or Fishweir Park located on the beautiful Fishweir Creek. These parks, and others, are filled with tennis courts, softball fields and paths for jogging, walking or biking. Not the outdoorsy type? Experience shopping centers built in the early 1900s such as Five Points, The Shoppes of Historic Avondale, or the Park & King area where there are local boutiques and tons of options for dining and entertainment.
Avondale is in a convenient location, close in proximity to public and private schools, downtown Jacksonville, and many major highways such as I-10, I-95, and Roosevelt Boulevard. Its small-town charm, accompanied by its tradition and convenient location, is the perfect place to settle down and escape the hustle and bustle of Jacksonville.
Ortega is a neighborhood of Jacksonville, Florida. It is located south of downtown Jacksonville on a peninsula off the western bank of the St. Johns River. It is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Jacksonville and is among the wealthiest in the United States, and is the location of many historic homes and buildings.
Ortega is located on the St. Johns River just south of Riverside and Avondale area. It lies on a peninsula jutting into the St. Johns River, separated from the mainland by the St. Johns River to the east and the smaller waterway known as the Ortega River to the north and west. It was formerly an island until a land bridge was constructed on the southern end; this now carries U.S. Route 17, or Roosevelt Boulevard. Ortega is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Jacksonville and one of the wealthiest in the United States; it was listed as the 46th wealthiest area in Worth magazine.
On the southeast side of Jacksonville Florida is San Marco a quaint neighborhood with a robust downtown and some of the nicest homes in Duval County.
San Marco has some of the most beautiful, architecturally significant homes in Jacksonville. And many of the homes are within walking distance of San Marco Square where you will find several different restaurants, trendy shops, a theater and more!
The San Marco Theater has a long history as a movie house dating back to the 1940’s. It was the place where young ladies would put on their best new dress for movie premiers. The theater has that classic movie theater look and serves fresh pizza, sandwiches, beer and wine.
San Marco Square is one of those small downtowns where you can eat, go for a walk, browse in interesting shops and see someone you know.
Fleming Island is an area south of Orange Park located on the western side of St. Johns River, just 15 miles southwest of downtown Jacksonville.
Fleming Island has been built with the communities continuing the family-oriented character of the early settlements. The Clay County School District has long been a top drawing card in the area with a ranking in the top 14 percent in the nation, test scores above national averages and one of the state’s highest graduation rates. Communities such as Pace Island, Eagle Harbor and Fleming Island Plantation donated land to the school system for new schools, many of which were built before the neighborhood homes. Many private schools and academies are nearby, as well as St. Johns River State College.
Amenities such as water parks, soccer fields, swimming pools, golf courses and tennis courts add to the appeal of the area. Numerous boat ramps and a bike trail stretching from Doctor’s Inlet to Black Creek are open to the public. Perhaps the biggest lure of Fleming Island is its sheer beauty. Hundred-year-old oak and magnolia trees have been carefully preserved and the many waterways have been kept clean and clear. The developers in the area have taken a clue from the generations who came before and have nestled their homes into the trees, along the rivers and creeks, and next to preserved wetlands. Even the names of many communities like Hibernia Plantation, Margaret’s Walk and Fleming Island Plantation, honor those who originally settled the area.
Fleming Island is bounded on the north by Doctors Lake, and to the south by Black Creek, it is named for the Fleming family, who first settled on the island. Patriarch George Fleming, who had left his native Ireland and settled in St. Augustine, established Hibernia Plantation in the late 1700’s (on what is now Fleming Island) after receiving a land grant of 1,000 acres from Spain. He raised cattle and grew cotton, indigo and citrus on Hibernia, which is latin for Ireland. The plantation was rebuilt once more, though today the only surviving structure is St. Margaret’s Chapel on Old Church Road. Construction began in 1875 and was complete in 1878. The first service held in the chapel was Margaret Seton Fleming’s own funeral.
Orange Park is a suburb of Jacksonville located just south of the city. The name “Orange Park” is additionally applied to a wider area of northern Clay County outside the town limits.
Orange Park is now Clay County’s largest city, with about 10,000 residents. Orange Park sits on a high and dry area featuring beautiful oak trees and splendid vistas along the St. Johns River. Convenient to Interstates 10, 95 and 295, many residents have chosen Orange Park to live and raise their families, but work elsewhere. Wells Road has been dubbed “Restaurant Row” for all of its dining options. Jacksonville International Airport, downtown Jacksonville and the Beaches are also all within a 45-minute drive.
Another big draw to Orange Park is Clay County’s top-rated school system. The area also has many recreational activities. Project Playground, a new park funded by private donations and built by volunteers, has 15 acres of playing fields and playground equipment for Orange Park residents. There is also a brand new skateboard park a half-mile north of Kingsley Avenue. There are many private and public docks and marinas on the St. Johns River. Orange Park also boasts a nine-mile jogging and mountain biking trail, which winds parallel with U.S. Highway 17, and a newly built 1.5- mile concrete river walk along the St. Johns River.
In the last thirty years, numerous residential developments have been built including, but not limited to, Eagle Harbor, Loch Rane Estates, Orange Park Golf and Country Club (developed by Taylor Woodrow communities of the United Kingdom), Eagle Landing Golf and Country Club, Laurel Grove Plantation, Margaret’s Walk Plantation, Foxridge, Heritage Hills, Grove Park, Harbor Island, Oakleaf Plantation, Fleming Island Plantation, Stonebridge, Spencer’s Crossing et al.
The land where Orange Park Golf and Country Club, Eagle Landing Golf and Country Club, Spencer’s Crossing and other communities in the Argyle area used to be part of the massive Spencer family real estate holdings, whose first initial foray into residential homesites was Loch Rane.
Lake Asbury is a community in the Green Cove Springs/Middleburg area of Northeast Florida. It features many lakefront properties as well as separate communities within the Lake Asbury area. Students attend Lake Asbury Elementary, Lake Asbury Middle, and Clay High, all a part of the impressive Clay County School System.
Lake Asbury offers beautiful scenery as well as plenty of room for boating activities. The area
is close to larger cities such as Orange Park, Jacksonville, and St. Augustine, Florida, all
offering different environments and forms of entertainment. The breathtaking St. Johns River
is a short distance away, as well as the sandy beaches of the Atlantic Ocean.
Mandarin, named for its once plentiful orchards of Mandarin oranges, is located in the southernmost portion of Jacksonville, in Duval County. It is bordered by the St. Johns River to the West, Julington Creek to the South, Phillips Highway to the East, and the Beauclerc area to the North. With the consolidation of our city and county governments in 1968, Mandarin became a part of the city of Jacksonville.
Today, Mandarin offers residents a suburban, family-focused lifestyle in an area that is quaint, charming, and filled with history. Winding roads lined with majestic oaks put nature’s beauty on display. Mandarin is a wonderful place to live, and there are plenty of choices for homebuyers. There are single family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and riverfront estates.
Mandarin has a variety of shopping facilities. Just about every merchant, service, or restaurant imaginable can be found along San Jose Boulevard or Old St. Augustine Road. Mandarin offers abundant recreational activities. The community has many parks, several marinas, docks for fishing, nature trails, historical sites, and more waterfront views than any other area in Jacksonville!
PONTE VEDRA BEACH
The rich history of the area and its pristine natural resources helped shape Ponte Vedra Beach. Years of conflict between Timucuan Indians, the Spanish, the French and the English persisted until around 1821, when Spain sold Florida to the United States and it became a territory. Nearly 100 years later, in 1914, two young chemical engineers, Henry Holland Buckman and George A. Pritchard, discovered that Ponte Vedra’s beaches contained industrial minerals, including components necessary for the production of titanium and zirconium. The National Lead Co. bought out the partners in 1916. The mining settlement, named Mineral City, played a crucial role in World War I, as titanium was a key component in the manufacture of poisonous gas. In 1928, the National Lead Co. rechristened Mineral City in honor of what was believed to be the birthplace of Christopher Columbus — Ponte Vedra, Spain. City founders later learned that Columbus was actually born in Genoa, Italy. The name Ponte Vedra stuck and today has come to symbolize sophisticated beach-style living. Modern-day Ponte Vedra began to take shape when National Lead built a 9-hole golf course for its employees along with a log clubhouse and polo field in 1922. In 1937, the complex became the world-famous Ponte Vedra Inn & Club.
Today, Sawgrass is home to The Players Championship golf tournament and is world headquarters for the PGA Tour, thanks to a now-legendary 1978 deal in which developers Jerome and Paul Fletcher sold PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman 415 densely wooded acres for one dollar. The area offers other championship golf courses against a backdrop of natural charm, world-class tennis facilities, breathtaking marshlands abounding with wildlife and of course, miles of beautiful, unspoiled white sand beaches. Surrounding the island are the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, tempting windsurfing, boating and fishing enthusiasts into its surf and inlets. All this in a climate which invites year-round enjoyment. Although synonymous with luxury, Ponte Vedra Beach does have affordable housing away from the ocean. Most of all, Ponte Vedra Beach offers low-key living with delightful and diverse opportunities for beach, golf, tennis and cultural activities.