I recently visited Jacksonville, FL to escape to that warm sun! While exploring the area I found a few hidden gems that made the visit worth a travel guide post. Below you’ll find my recommendations for food, drinks, places to explore and also where not to go!
This elegant tree lined neighborhood was the first place I ended up finding when looking to explore. All on one street, St. Johns Avenue, you’ll find local boutique shops and delicious french & seafood bistros as well as a fun BBQ joint! I recommend The Brick Restaurant they have a delicious grain bowl you wont be able to get enough of. Barrique Kitchen & Wine bar has a great happy hour, and outdoor seating where you can enjoy the sun. For dessert I recommend this adorable French bakery French Macarons It was super sweet & completely delicious. I really enjoyed walking around this area, popping in and out of the local boutique shops. They have some truly great styles and accessories!
Another historic neighborhood, with a few local boutiques & yummy local dining. They also have a movie theater if you find yourself needing a rainy day activity. If you are looking for southern fried chicken & biscuits, which I always am, then I recommend Maple Street Biscuit Company. Another spot I am often searching for is a good French restaurant and found that at Rue Saint Marc. They have all the classic dishes from Pâté de Campagne to Duck à L’orange and all delectable! If you are looking for a good cup of coffee or espresso then head to The Bold Bean, it’s a great local coffee Roaster with a comfortable environment to sit and enjoy.
Five Points/ Riverside:
Five points is located right in the center of Riverside, here you’ll find a more eclectic & artsy scene. I ended up at the Bold Bean again, its second of three location found just a few blocks from the main center of Five points. I had a lovely walk through the neighborhood and ended up at the Black Sheep, one of Jacksonville’s trendiest rooftop bars. The weather happened to be just perfect, so I enjoyed dinner on the roof taking in the view of the sun setting in the background. I recommend their Korean beef short ribs, out of this world! Five points is also where Sun Ray Cinema is located, Florida’s first movie theater!
This is where I will recommend avoiding Downtown Jacksonville. While visiting, most of the area was under construction and many of the places I tried going to were not actually there any longer. This became very frustrating, it was like a ghost town, I found myself ubering to the above recommended locations for dining and exploring. I also received apologies from locals when I mentioned I was staying downtown, as if they felt bad I was stuck there. That wasn’t a good sign. With the exception of Olio on Bay Street, which is known for their duck grilled cheese featured on Travel Channel’s Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America. I would recommend staying on the other side of the bridge. I wasn’t a fan of my hotel either, The Omni Jacksonville. I felt it lacked what usual Omni hotels offer. I did also spend time at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville, and if you are stuck staying in the downtown area, then I recommend staying at the Hyatt instead.
Beaches Town Center:
When in Florida you should find the beach! This was a bit further from downtown than the above neighborhoods, but if you’re looking for water then this is a fun spot to be. You can head to either Neptune or Atlantic Beach or you can explore the great restaurants, bars and shopping the area has to offer. It’s a perfect way to enjoy a sunny afternoon! A few of my favorite spots were Coop 303 or Hawkers. Both have amazingly delicious food and relaxing atmospheres for a cocktail in the sun or dinner with your friends. Places I didn’t make it to but was recommended to try was Flying Iguana & North Beach Fish Camp, they were both very busy so that must mean they are also great stops! When it came to shopping I like Fig & Willow as well as Drift, they had styles & brands I love!