A Peek in Jacksonville Beach

July 8, 2011 19 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Jacksonville's Atlantic coastal city is a sun-beaming hideaway for visitors and a transit-friendly, all-inclusive community to its residents. An 8-square-mile mix of housing, hotels, retail, dining, nightlife, and outdoor recreation is enough reason for those who live there to "never cross the ditch" - and enough for guests to follow. MetroJacksonville takes a photo tour to see just why.

Jacksonville Beach Boardwalk

The boardwalk between the beach and the backside of buildings and residences on 1st street draws large crowds of all ages, from all around town, as well as tourists. Infused with typical beachwear shops, bars, restaurants, beach rentals, and hotels, the long stretch stays occupied by beach-goers and vacation-stayers.

Looking North on the boardwalk.

Looking South on the boardwalk.

The Atlantic Oceanfront Bar & Lounge back patio sits along the boardwalk. The owners also own Square One in San Marco.

Office space is visible above the club level.

Live music on the patio attracts an all-day crowd each Sunday.

Looking to the right of The Atlantic.

An open park area sits adjacent to the boardwalk, with the Sea Walk Pavilion to the left of the backdrop.

The "Beach Bars" - 1st and 2nd Streets

A 10-block stretch along 1st and 2nd Streets is home to numerous bars, pubs, nightclubs, and lounges - sitting in one perfectly-named bubble: "the beach bars." All offer a decent amount of both indoor and outdoor seating/standing space. Bar patrons can be seen all hours of the day, into the wee 2 a.m. last-call time. Traffic in the area picks up significantly on the weekends, but the bars stay busy Tuesday-Sunday nights from about 9 p.m. until close. The amount of room, variety, and appeal of open-air patios, paired with nightly drink specials and the absence of uber-competitiveness or difference among establishments, attracts people to the small, compact setting. There is a little something for everyone, from relaxing grotto The Wine Bar, to your standard Irish pubs, to the reggae-themed Jamrock. There are family-friendly restaurants, dance clubs, beach hangout bars, and Duval County's first gay bar Bo's Coral Reef.  

On 1st Street looking towards 2nd Street.

Looking North on 1st Street.

Looking South on 1st Street.

Fionn MacCool's patio alley sits between its walls and to the right of The Atlantic's.

Outdoor Dining

Like the bars, almost all of the restaurants in the area have outdoor seating that is just as popular as its enclosed counterpart. Access to views of beachfront and pedestrian activity is a large reason why.

Chicago Pizza and Sports Grille has a large outdoor patio along 1st Street.

Snapper's Seafood directly across from a Best Western. Other dining and bars sit beside the hotel.

Backside of new restaurant The Pier along the boardwalk.

Nighttime view of The Pier from a walkway down to the beach.

View of the upstairs outdoor deck at Casa Marina Resort. A dining courtyard sits to the left.

Restaurants Salt Life and Mellow Mushroom off 3rd Street have large outdoor patios that are filled at all hours.

Rita's Italian Ice off 3rd Street is a walk-up frozen treats joint that stays slammed.

Anything But Cars

The extreme walkability and layout of Jacksonville Beach makes for a very noticeable scenery. Call it a pattern, deja vu, or the scary fakeness of a summer postcard - if you come to the beach be ready for the oncoming speedy sea of bicycles, skateboards, rollerblades, joggers, and dogs. Moving aside for an inanimate object may seem bothersome, but the curb appeal of bike racks is unparalleled for those who live at the beach.

A dark night scape shows bike traffic strolling down car lanes.

Bike racks filled looking to the left of The Atlantic.

An infamous annual Fourth of July party shows the spike in bicycle transit use on holidays and special events.

The Beach and Pier

The beach access walkways and the pier are perfect for sightseeing, lounging, and fishing.  

Fast Facts

- Total Population(2010): 23,077 (Male - 10,891/Female:12,186)
- Median resident age: 39.8 years
- Estimated median household income: $65,068
- Walkability: 62 out of 100, according to walkscore.com

New Name For The Beaches?

6/29/11 -- JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- The community that is "the beaches" has been known by several names in the past: Diego Plains, McQueen's San Pablo, Dewees' Naranfil Plantation, and many more. Even the Native Americans had a name for it: "Cachti" meaning "part of the islands," and that was before it actually was an island.

In 1912, the national defense team made the beaches area an island by dredging a 10-mile channel between the San Pablo and Tolomato Rivers. The result was the Intracoastal Waterway, and a 30-mile long island that is now home to 81,000 residents of eight communities: Mayport, Atlantic, Neptune, Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra Beaches, Palm Valley, Guana, and Vilano Beach. While each town has a name, the island they sit on does not.

With the island's 100th birthday just a few months away, Jacksonville Beach resident and marketing guru Kurtis Loftus thinks giving it a name could be an easy and inexpensive way to attract tourists and boost local business. While the idea isn't new, Loftus thinks 2012 will be a big year for the area overall, and that it should be revisited again. Over the next few months, he'll host a series of meetings to collect feedback and ideas from the community.

"I see it as a way to unify the communities," he told Action News. "What's most important is that we just let people know that there is an open conversation about this."

Although dates have not been confirmed, Loftus plans to publicize each future meeting so as many residents as possible can be attend.  

Article by Sarah Gojekian.