When my husband and I moved to Jacksonville two years ago we found the choice of neighborhoods overwhelming. My husband grew up in town but left after high school in the mid-1990s, and the city amazed him with the growth that has occurred in the past two decades. While we were originally befuddled at what made different parts of town stand out as the right fit for us, we now realize that Jacksonville’s neighborhoods are each unique and offer their own charm to residents. It is a large city with a lot of diversity, spirit, and character. We are growing to love calling Jacksonville our home.
We have been renting in the Mandarin area, and we will move within the next year once we can decide on which fabulous neighborhood to plant our roots. Researching this post has been helpful for me as a newbie, and I hope you can find it helpful too if you are moving here or are just wanting to be amazed by the city’s growth and development.
I contacted Hover Girl Properties to find out to the top five most popular, growing Jacksonville neighborhoods, then reached out to our JMB Neighborhood Facebook Groups to find out why each resident loves calling their neighborhood “home.” If you haven’t joined our groups now, check them out today. They are full of helpful tips from other local moms, recommended resources, and play dates to connect with local parents. There are also groups for working moms and for parents of children with special needs.
Let’s take a peek!
Northside: Yellow Bluff Landing & Oceanway
Photos: Sheffield Park, The Ribault Club, Kayaking Northside Salt Marshes
Jacksonville’s Northside is bordered by downtown to the south, the airport on the west, and the Beaches on the east. Major transportation hubs include the cruise terminal, Jacksonville International Airport, and Amtrak, along with convenient proximity to major highways I-95 and I-295. Growing residential communities include Yellow Bluff Landing and Oceanway, and the Northside offers many nature preserves, historical landmarks, and state parks. Yellow Bluff Landing residents love living there because the neighborhood children have tons of other kids to play with, a pool, and it’s bike-friendly. Oceanway homeowners love their small, quiet community with access to Sheffield Park, shopping and the airport.
I feel like the north side still feels like “Old Florida”. There are so many outdoor activities we can easily do, from hiking to boating to beaching to fishing, it’s all at our fingertips! We are also so close to so many historical sites, however, we still have the modern day luxuries of a great Town Center with numerous restaurants and shops for us to enjoy. Getting to other parts of the city is a breeze with easy access to I-295 and I-95. –Stephanie C.
Parks and Play:
Sheffield Park, Fort Clinch, Fernandina Beach, Fernandina Pirate’s playground at Egan’s Creek Greenway, Fort George Island, hiking and kayaking at Pumpkin Hill, Kingsley Plantation, The Ribault Club, Catty Shack, North Creek playground, and the Jacksonville Zoo.
Dining with Children:
Local favorites include Florida House Inn, Fujiyama, Green Papaya, Junior’s Seafood Restaurant, and Grill, Millhouse Steakhouse, Cleo’s Sandwich Shop, and BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse.
Beaches/Intracoastal West: Pablo Bay & Jacksonville Golf and Country Club
Photos: Pablo Bay Living, Jacksonville Golf and Country Club, Jacksonville Beach
The Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) runs north-south inland, parallel to the coastline, creating an area nicknamed Intracoastal West to the west of the ICW, and the Beaches neighborhoods to the east. Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, and Ponte Vedra Beach are the four major communities that are between “the ditch,” the local nickname for the ICW, and the Atlantic Ocean. The Beaches areas consist of 22 miles of coastal residences, parks, beachfront homes, apartment complexes, hotels, and a vibrant beach community. If you live “across the ditch,” you are considered to be a Beaches resident. Intracoastal West includes growing communities like Pablo Bay, Crosswater at Pablo Bay, and Jacksonville Golf and Country Club (JGCC), along with with longer-established neighborhoods such as Marsh Sound, Osprey Pointe, and the canal lifestyle of Isle of Palms. Pablo Bay is a development of 450 homes, offers many family-friendly amenities like a pool, walking trail, parks, and is conveniently located to the Mayo Clinic and popular shopping areas. Crosswater at Pablo Bay was built in 2016 and offers a splash park, swimming pool, playgrounds, bi-weekly food truck nights, and frequent community get-togethers at the amenity center including movie nights and holiday parties. The exclusive, gated community of Jacksonville Golf and Country Club, offers Equity memberships to the club for residents, and a desirable lifestyle with ample social and recreational opportunities. Residents there love the central location in town–close to the beach, parks, St. Johns Town Center, and the club itself.
We live in Isle of Palms off of San Pablo. We love it so much. When we needed more space, we bought one of the last empty lots and built a bigger home. The best part of [it] is canal living and Intracoastal access. We spend the summer on the boat with all of our neighbors! You never know who might show up in your back yard on any given summer day! My kids love waking up and looking off the dock. You never know what you might see.. Ducks, fish, and even manatees! My 5 year old loves catching crabs in his crab trap and my 2.5 year old loves eating them! –Johanna K.
Parks and Play:
Sunshine Park, Jarboe Park, the beach, Tall Pines Park, Bay and Bee, the Green Market, JGCC parks, Pablo Bay parks, and Rotary Park.
Dining with Children:
Cruisers, Delicomb, Angie’s Subs, Lillie’s Coffee Bar, Maple Street Biscuit Company, Mellow Mushroom, Nippers Beach Grille, TacoLu, and Flying Iguanas.
The Nocatee Community
Photos: Nocatee Events, Shopping, Trails, and Water Park
Nocatee is one of the best-selling master-planned communities in America. Located southeast of Jacksonville, Nocatee is located in the desirable St. Johns County school system. The neighborhood’s
The Nocatee park is pretty incredible with great fields to run and cool equipment! I love that it feels like a community and everyone is friendly, helpful and looking out for each other and the kids are outside having fun. There are so many parks inside the neighborhood that the kids meet to play together. I also love that everyone goes to school with their neighborhood buddies! It is a wonderful place to raise my kids. There are events all the time for kids and adults through the community center. I really love it! –Kristen B.
Parks and Play:
Nocatee playground, Davis Park, the paddling canoe and kayak launch, hiking trails, Splash Water Park, and neighborhood play dates.
Dining with Children:
Dick’s Wings, Amaretti Desserts, Chow Down Alley, Barbara Jean’s, and Palm Valley Fish Camp. This area is growing rapidly and will have many new options soon.
St. Johns County/South Duval: Durbin Crossing & Bartram Springs
Photos: Bartram Springs and Durbin Crossing Amenities
When we first moved back to Jacksonville, my husband and I took a drive down Racetrack Road, heading east from Fruit Cove, and he kept muttering, “this all used to be woods” under his breath. That phrase has become a common one as we drive around St. Johns County since the region has seen tremendous growth in the past decade. Julington Creek Plantation, Durbin Crossing, and Bartram Springs are just three examples of large, planned development communities which offer tons of perks for their residents. With the excellent, public-school system in St. Johns County, these neighborhoods have become a huge attraction for young families. New schools, parks, playgrounds, pools, and shopping all offer Durbin Crossing and Bartram Springs families an instant feeling of community. Activities and events are held frequently and neighbors are often found outside mingling while children play in the yards.
We don’t have a glitzy nightlife or the hottest mall. What makes this area the best are the people. You will find a great lifestyle here for families. I love my neighbors, they are helpful, fun and social. We have family dive-in movies at the pool, dances, poker nights, bunco, book clubs, ladies who lunch, storytime for children, and newcomers breakfasts. The families on 210 are committed to making it a safe and wonderful place to grow up. We have the best-rated schools in the county and Florida. The proximity to I-95, Racetack Rd, Durbin Creek Parkway and now the new 9A and B connectors make this residential secluded area more accessible than ever. –Nicole E.
Parks and Play:
Alpine Groves Park and their dock, Veterans Park (and their popular spider web lookout pinnacle), swimming with tower slides, golf courses, and St. Johns Forest lighted hockey rink.
Dining with Children:
Taps Bar and Grill, Sumo Sushi, Japanese Hibachi Grill, Hurricane Bar and Grill, La Nopalera, Sonic, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and the new Maple Street Biscuit Company location. This area is also growing rapidly and will have many new options soon.
Orange Park: Oakleaf Plantation
Photos: Oakleaf Plantation, Orange Park’s Riverfront Marina views
The Westside of Jacksonville is made up of some of the older, waterfront mansions, Tudor-style homes, and early-1900s-style wooden-framed homes. Marinas, St. Johns River views, and the Naval Air Station Jacksonville dominate the riverfront areas of Ortega and Fleming Island. South of I-295 is Orange Park on its west side is the growing Oakleaf Plantation. Oakleaf is a great community with many new residents who are always open to meeting other people with many stay-at-home-moms that host play dates. There are playgrounds, sports, monthly activities with food trucks and Movies on the Greens, churches, and, coming soon, a large, new movie theater.
I love this area!! Middleburg has its farm charm-great to drive around before nap time to look at all the horses and scenery. Fleming Island is awesome-safe, family oriented, and there are so many different options for fun within close proximity. Oakleaf is perfect for shopping, with many neighborhood parks to enjoy afterward. Orange Park’s town square is always having events, as well as Green Cove Springs. My favorite would be Spring Park Coffee in Green Cove-gorgeous, cozy, eclectic atmosphere and a nice respite for mommies. –Victoria J.
Parks and Play:
Clarke House Park, Eagle Landing Park, Moccasin Slough Park, Oakleaf neighborhood parks, Ronnie Van Zant Memorial Park, Crystal Springs Road Park, the private piers at Doctors Lake, Green Cove Springs’ riverfront park, and the Moody Avenue Park.
Dining with Children:
Farmers in the Deli, Mellow Mushroom, LaNapolera, Sweet Tomatoes, and Spring Park Coffee.
NOW. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to pack up my boxes and move to one of these communities!
Looking for a Historic Neighborhood? Check out this post: Moving to Jacksonville? 6 Historic Neighborhoods We Love.
What do you love most about YOUR neighborhood?
If you are interested in more information about the neighborhoods above, and more around town, please contact Hover Girl Properties, a Full-Service Real Estate and Property Management company. Co-Founders and Real Estate Agents Lara Yehl and Joy Doyle are both spouses of career military members, which involved frequent relocations with their families, so when they founded Hover Girl Properties their goal was to make others’ transitions to the Jacksonville area as seamless as possible. With millions sold in real estate transactions since its inception in 2007, Hover Girl Properties offers a full range of Real Estate services to include Buying, Selling, and Property Management. Joy, Lara, and the Hover Girl team of Real Estate Professionals are excited to assist you with your transition to and within the Jacksonville area.
Beaches intracoastal west and the north side are not very good options for families using the public school system with the exception of the wonderful Chets Creek elementary – other than that there are not any middle or high schools in those areas that are acceptable
Really very happy to say, your post is very interesting to read. I never stop myself to say something about it.You’re doing a great job.Keep it up
My name is Steve Rodgers and I reside in Richmond Hill Georgia. Ten years ago I moved into a community that was 90% developed and the developer had originally promised several amenities to potential buyers. One of these promised amenities was a baseball field but it had not been constructed and with most of the home sites already completed, he lost incentive to make this a reality. At that point in time, I had three small children who were involved in athletics so it was important to us that the baseball field was completed. I approached the developer about my concern and he said that if I were to take on this project he would supply the funds. I proceeded to build a very modest baseball field basically by hand with no help from any of the other residents but it served it’s purpose and it was used a great deal and considered an asset to most who lived there.
One year later the same developer moved on to the adjacent property with the same goals in terms of amenities and asked if I would be willing to build this field as well. I accepted but this time we agreed on a form of payment and the scope of the project was much more complex. The result was a very nice complex with a grass/clay infield, irrigation, pitcher’s mound, batting cage, dugouts, soccer goals and football goal post. At the time, Richmond Hill was one of the fastest growing cities in Georgia and as more communities were being built, many saw the advantage of having this type of amenity to offer along with tax advantages for setting acreage aside for green space or recreation.
Since then I have built two more community fields, one for a local church and a softball field for a local high school in Savannah. I have also participated in the renovation of two high school baseball fields as well as reconstructing high school pitcher’s mounds to professional dimensional specifications.
I am a Mechanical Engineer and have worked in the Pulp and Paper Industry for all my professional career but continue to consult on baseball field projects when they come available and maintain my communities’ baseball field weekly.
I still very much enjoy baseball field construction and have decided to reach out to other areas to look for opportunities. If you or anyone you know feel that this is something you would like to consider, please feel free to contact me at: [email protected] or call me at 912-508-6668.
Where did you end up moving ??
I’m a mother of three looking to move to jax from Wichita KS. One income and on a budget of course. I make 30-35k annually and will be selling my condo. I just got back from my visit to see if this is what I really wanted to do and my word I’m more ready to move now than before!! I need help though? I will rent if there’s something affordable in the area of Englewood high school. But I’m not limiting myself to just that area. I enjoyed orange park area and just about everything east of the river except the inner parts or Arlington.. I would LOVE to be able to move by the end of this year.. I will accept all help I can get.
What is Fleming Islsnd like to live in? I read it has high crime yet the homes seem huge and decent, well the ones online for sale/rent do. If you’d like to
help, please drop me an email.
Hi. I’m a mother of 3 wonderful boys and an awesome husband. Their ages are 11, 14 and 20. The 20 year old is currently in college and seem to be having a blast with his internships. They currently indulge his love of travel. From Richmond Virginia to Des Moines Iowa. He is living the college life to the fullest and enjoying the journey. We are thinking of moving to the Jacksonville area of Florida in the next couple years. We are now living in Maryland and would like to be closer to Dad who is in Athens Georgia.(Trying to also convince him to move with us.) Can anyone suggest a nice diverse school district. Large older community with outdoor activities and nice restaurants. Bike trails, parks etc.
Any luck? I’m
A mother of three looking to live there this year .