The secret about northeast Florida, and all it has to offer, is starting to get out.
If the last time you remember seeing or hearing anything about Jacksonville, FL, was during the 2005 Super Bowl, it may be time to take another look. Since Bill Simmons gave the entire city a black eye more than a decade ago, Jacksonville has emerged as a destination for dining, the arts, sports and exceptional outdoor recreation.
And people are starting to take notice.
The Most Misunderstood City in America
Writing for Thrillist.com, Matt Meltzer begins by recapping a few of the reasons Jacksonville got such a bad rap back in the day. The unpleasant smell from the pulp mills. A dearth of entertainment & dining options compared to other mid-size cities. And a perception of residents as “rednecks firing rifles at refrigerators” in the pine forests. (For the record, I have fired a rifle at an old, rusted out Jeep Willys—not a refrigerator—but it was a lifetime ago, and it wasn’t even in Jacksonville…it was about 40 miles southwest of Bristol, Connecticut, where Mr. Simmons was working at ESPN at the time he filed his infamous treatise on the city that hosted Super Bowl XXXIX.)
That said, Mr. Meltzer’s article highlights what many of us in the area have known for a while now:
- Jacksonville has a dining scene that’s gaining real recognition nationwide
- There’s a thriving artistic community
- Opportunities for outdoor recreation abound in a city that offers access to the St. Johns River, Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean
- The PLAYERS Championship, unofficially known as golf’s 5th major, is a weeklong party/social event for the area, and a great attraction for golf fans everywhere
Read the full Thrillist article here.
A Boom in the ‘Burbs
If that’s not enough, look to the south and east of Jacksonville proper to find one of the nation’s fastest-growing suburban areas.
Ranked on Realtor.com’s 10 Fastest Growing Suburbs, Ponte Vedra is home to Nocatee, one of the most popular master planned communities in the nation. It sits just west of the Intracoastal, across from the slightly tonier Ponte Vedra Beach (where The PLAYERS Championship is played and PGA Tour headquarters reside). It’s just a quick 10-minute drive to the beach, and the central location means commuting to Jacksonville or St. Augustine is quick & convenient.
Of course, there’s much more to Jacksonville and the surrounding area than what’s mentioned in these two articles. But these are a nice start. In a future blog post, I’ll try to outline even more reasons why northeast Florida is becoming so popular, from music venues like the St. Augustine Amphitheatre to smaller, under the radar food and drink establishments like Valley Smoke and The Ice Plant.
In the meantime, I don’t think we’ll see the Super Bowl come back to Jacksonville anytime soon. But have having the Jacksonville Jaguars get to the game will be satisfaction enough.
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