Jacksonville’s regional nickname, The First Coast, has a double meaning…the region was the location of the first European settlement (St. Augustine), AND it was the “ first coast ” encountered by travelers along the Atlantic Seaboard upon entering the state of Florida. Counties on the First Coast include Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns. The major cities/municipalities are Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach, Orange Park, St. Augustine, and Fernandina Beach. The city of Jacksonville is the largest city by land area in the continental U.S.
Sections of unspoiled natural landscape are peppered throughout the First Coast. The region offers more than 90 miles of beaches and is the perfect home for the outdoor enthusiast with its natural unspoiled marshes and wildlife preserves, the St. Johns River, the Intracoastal Waterway the Atlantic Ocean, abundant golf courses and more than 131 square miles of city, state and national parks. First Coast locals have a talent for tailgating and a passion for sports as Jacksonville is home to the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars and the minor league baseball team, the Jacksonville Suns.
More than 1.3 million people call Northeast Florida home. The region has a culturally diverse workforce of 750,000 with a median age of 37. Northeast Florida is a place where businesses are thriving, natural resources are preserved and the quality of life is exceptional. The future has never been brighter for the First Coast. With a cost of living below the national average and several Fortune 500 companies, Northeast Florida is attracting a young dynamic work force.
Jacksonville, often referred to by locals as “The River City by the Sea”, offers abundant sunshine, soft sand beaches, vibrant business and cultural centers and many appealing residential neighborhoods. The First Coast offers excellent health care services as well as choices of providers and facilities just a couple of which include the esteemed Mayo Clinic and Wolfson’s Children’s’ Hospital which is ranked among the best children’s hospitals in the U.S. for the treatment of diabetes as well as endocrinology, urology and neurology/neurosurgery specialties.
Our public school systems are dedicated to providing students a solid education in a safe learning environment. There is also an array of highly regarded private schools throughout the city as well as several impressive institutions of higher education.
Sitting just southwest of Jacksonville’s downtown, the Riverside and Avondale neighborhoods date back to the late 1800s, when wealthy residents began building impressive abodes along the picturesque St. Johns River and amid the expansive Florida oak trees. Today, the Riverside-Avondale area is just as charming and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This area has a distinctive mix of history, culture, charm and modern design and is considered the “hip” part of town with its young population, waterfront homes and posh apartments. There is nothing pretentious about Riverside and Avondale. The ambience here is that of community, urban living and “keeping it local”. These two neighborhoods characterize a vibrant and artsy pocket of the city that offers an urban lifestyle on a livable scale. The neighborhoods are home to many parks and green spaces, which often host art shows, farmer’s markets, and cultural celebrations on the weekends. In the Five Points area, which is becoming known as Jacksonville’s “Food District,” you will find an impressive spread of local restaurants, craft breweries, and funky cafes. The impressive eateries are coupled with antique shops and quirky boutiques. Located nearby in Riverside on the St. Johns River is Jacksonville’s world- class Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens.
Just south of Riverside, the charming neighborhood of Ortega is a peninsula bordered by the banks of the St. Johns River on the east and the Cedar River on the north. Another of the city’s historic districts, Ortega features many impressive historic homes and riverfront mansions, built in the early 1900s by Jacksonville’s prominent citizens, which reflect Mediterranean and Tudor Revival architectural style. It is marked with a distinctive southern culture and is almost solely residential. The neighborhood is graced with massive oaks and a series of parks and is widely considered one of the most beautiful neighborhoods of Northeast Florida. In Ortega’s quaint square, known as “Old Ortega”, you will find a small collection of boutiques, restaurants and businesses offering a meet-and-greet place for joggers, dog walkers and neighbors.
Across the river from Ortega, San Marco lies just minutes from downtown’s Southbank. San Marco is one of Jacksonville’s four historic districts and offers residents an array of housing including small enchanting bungalows, riverfront homes and mansions as well as quaint brick apartment and condominium buildings. This area consists of gently curving tree-lined streets, charming homes, parks, and the popular San Marco Square with its fountain of lions, which reflects the neighborhood’s association with the Venice, Italy business district. In the square you will find local art galleries, upscale trendy clothing boutiques, some of the best restaurants in the city and the historic San Marco Theatre, restored to reflect its golden years, where you may enjoy dinner, a drink and a movie. The San Marco dinner theatre and Theatre Jacksonville is the oldest continuously running community theatre in Florida dating back to 1938. San Marco is emerging with many nightlife hotspots and local breweries that attract folks of all ages.