5 Great Neighborhoods in Jacksonville
Here are some of Jacksonville's top-rated communities, from Northside to Orange Park.
Once primarily an industrial area, residential development has taken hold here. Proximity to the airport, Jacksonville Zoo and Huguenot Park — and the convenience to downtown — have converted this sleepy section of town to desirable riverfront living in neighborhoods like Yellowbluff and Oceanway. Lot sizes may be upward of an acre, with new home developments ranging from modest ranch styles to Mediterranean villas. But while downtown is mere minutes away, you're still a good bit outside the rest of the city, and the Northside remains the most rural section.
The neighbors: Families with children, retirees building a dream home on the river, first-time homebuyers
By the early 1900s, Riverside Avenue had a reputation as being one of the most beautiful streets in America. The oak-shaded streets are lined with homes from the early 20th century, bungalows, brownstones and Mediterranean-revival gems. It’s a short commute to downtown and the St. Johns River is nearby. St. Vincent's Medical Center is here, along with a lot of doctors' offices housed in early 20th-century houses converted into professional space. There are trendy restaurants and clubs and funky shops, giving Riverside a fun, youthful vibe that’s popular with the young professional crowd.
The neighbors: Young professionals who work downtown, doctors and nurses who work at St. Vincent
Growth in this area has exploded in the last two decades. A low crime rate, good schools, access to Interstate 95 and the presence of an extensive network of parks and recreation areas have made the Southside ripe for development. Neighborhoods range from tracts of working-class, single-family homes to upscale, gated golf communities. The area’s architectural mix includes bungalows, Tudors, Mediterraneans and Cape Cods, nearly all built after 1990. Traffic can be frightful at rush hour around Baymeadows, Southside and San Jose boulevards.
The neighbors: Families with young children, young professionals buying their first condo or home
San Marco Square is an artsy shopping, dining and entertainment district just south of downtown and north of Mandarin. The area was built in the 1920s to resemble the Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy. Shops and restaurants stretch along the Y-shaped intersection of Atlantic and San Marco Boulevard. Area streets are lined with historic estates, charming mansions and trendy bistros.
The neighbors: Single professionals, young married couples, gays and lesbians, creative types and artists
Some of the most desirable and priciest neighborhoods in Jax are the Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach and Jacksonville Beach areas. The median price of a single-family home at the beach is north of $300,000. That’s not oceanfront, mind you, but no one lives far from the water here. The locals spend their weekends biking, surfing, running or rollerblading. First Street is the main drag and it runs through all the beach communities. Outdoor life is huge here, and everyone from families to retirees to young professionals in condos and apartments are living what they call the “salt life.”
The neighbors: Families, young professionals, retirees, anyone who wants to be a seashell’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean
Orange Park (Westside)
Orange Park is known for reasonable housing prices in more rural settings. Neighborhoods like Fleming Island and Doctors Inlet offer convenient dining and shopping. The Naval Air Station is here and there are many undeveloped wooded areas. If you’re looking for a two-acre lot and a place for horses, this is your side of town. A commute to downtown or the Southside for work is only a 45-minute drive.
The neighbors: Navy families, horse people, families, anyone who wants a big spread of land and a reasonable commute to their job