A huge part of what draws people to Jacksonville is the lifestyle the city offers. As is the case throughout much of Florida, the pace of life in Jacksonville is somewhat slower than elsewhere in the US. Jacksonvillians ‘work to live’ rather than ‘live to work’.
Jacksonville has a wide range of options when it comes to making good use of leisure time. Sports fans, outdoor enthusiasts, and culture vultures alike are bound to find plenty to keep them busy in the city.
Sports and outdoor activities in Jacksonville
Sports enthusiasts will be in their element in Jacksonville. The city is something of a sports hub and residents will find a local team to support no matter which sport they choose to follow. Football fans can take their picks of the Florida Gators, the Seminoles, or the Jacksonville Jaguars. Those who follow baseball can get behind the Jacksonville Suns.
For those who are looking to participate in sporting activities, rather than just cheering from the bleachers, living in Jacksonville provides endless opportunities.
Jacksonville also proudly boasts the USA’s largest urban park system where visitors can hike, bike, or take a jog along miles of dedicated trails. With pleasant weather all year round, a day at one of Jacksonville’s many beaches is always a great option. Whether its surfing, swimming, fishing, boating or simply catching some rays on the beach, Jacksonville really does have it all.
Arts and culture in Jacksonville
Jacksonville is a real treasure trove when it comes to arts and culture. From the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Science History to the annual Jacksonville Jazz Festival, live performances at the Everbank Stadium, or catching a show at the historic Ritz theatre, there’s never a dull moment in Jacksonville.
Prospective residents planning a move to Jacksonville with the kids in tow will be pleased to learn that most of the city’s attractions have a child-friendly element to them. Come November kids are spoilt rotten as the city’s museums and galleries put on special events with families in mind, most of which are free for children under 12.
Nightlife in Jacksonville
For night owls looking to let their hair down, Jacksonville’s diverse nightlife options won’t disappoint. Head to ‘The Elbow’, a cluster of bars and clubs in downtown Jacksonville, for a fun night on the town where revellers can indulge in local beers and craft cocktails while enjoying live music.
Jacksonville has a long-standing tradition of vibey beach bars where one can take in a view of the ocean while sipping a tropical cocktail. At Beaches Town Center, visitors will find a range of nightlife venues from upscale champagne bars to historic waterholes.
Eating out in Jacksonville
A melting pot of cultures and tastes, foodies won’t be disappointed with Jacksonville’s culinary offerings. The food scene is eclectic; from a wide range of international fare to classic Southern soul food, Jacksonville residents will always find something to satisfy a craving.
Newcomers should be sure to test the Jacksonville staple, Mayport Shrimp – a dish made up of the four types of shrimp found off the Jacksonville coast. Whether paired with date pepper in ceviche, served over grits or deep-fried on a po'boy, seafood lovers are sure to be in for a treat.
See and do in Jacksonville
New arrivals and expats in Jacksonville will find a wide-ranging mix of attractions that appeal to all kinds of tastes and interests. Exploring the city like a tourist is a wonderful way to get acquainted with one’s new home.
Here is a list of just some of the noteworthy attractions and activities in Jacksonville.
The city’s best known attraction – the beach – draws thousands of holidaymakers to Jacksonville each summer, while the city's residents are lucky enough to enjoy the Atlantic coast all year round. Fishing along Jacksonville Beach’s 1,000-foot pier is a popular pastime, while Neptune and Atlantic Beach are also beautiful spots for a day by the sea.
Museum of Science and History (MOSH)
Formerly known as the Jacksonville Children’s Museum, MOSH is home to the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium and seven permanent exhibits, which cover themes spanning various aspects of nature and science. Much of the museum has been curated with kids in mind, but there is no doubt that the grown-ups will find the displays fascinating too.
The Jax Ale Trail
Jacksonville is one of Florida’s premier beer destinations and home to a bevy of breweries including Engine 15, Veterans United and Bold City Brewing. Craft beer enthusiasts are in for a real treat as they head off on a self-guided tour with the Jax Ale Trail Passport.
Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens
Head to the historic neighbourhood of Arlington to discover one of the city’s best-kept secrets. Visitors can explore the hiking trails, spot local wildlife or get lost in thought at the peaceful lily pond. The gardens are pet-friendly too so this is the perfect place to enjoy a sunny day out with the whole family.
What's on in Jacksonville
Jacksonville has a full calendar of exciting events for residents of all ages and persuasions. Whether it's live music, sport or family-focused fun, there is sure to be something to tickle a newcomer's fancy. Here are some of the city's best annual events.
World of Nations Celebration (February)
This festival celebrates the multicultural population of Jacksonville, with stalls showing off the culture, food and language of particular countries. In the Parade of Flags, country representatives dress in traditional garb and proudly carry their country's flag beside fellow participants.
Jacksonville Jazz Festival (May)
Each May, over the Memorial Day weekend, Jacksonville hosts one of America's largest free jazz events. Attracting over 100,000 jazz fans, the whole of downtown Jacksonville shakes, rattles and rolls to life during this three-day music extravaganza.
New Year’s Eve Celebrations (December)
See the year out in style at Jacksonville’s riverfront, which is the place to be on New Year’s Eve. Head out to enjoy live music, food stalls, a festive fireworks display and some festive cheer as they welcome in a new year.
Where to make friends and meet people
It can be difficult to make friends in a new city. Hobby and social clubs are a great place to start as the common interest helps to break the ice and find like-minded people.
JAX Fray is a sports social club that organises leagues, tournaments and special events. Sports on offer include the likes of basketball and cross-country, alongside the somewhat less conventional sports of skeeball and cornhole.
Southside Women's Club
Queen's Harbor Yacht & Country Club
Jacksonville residents who enjoy the finer things in life will fit right in at the exclusive Queen's Harbor Yacht & Country Club. Members get access to exclusive social events and top-tier club facilities including the clubhouse, swimming pool, tennis courts and an 18-hole golf course.
Is Jacksonville family friendly?
"There are so many parks and public spaces available for [our son] to play and run around. There is a private park owned by our community with playgrounds, soccer field, basketball court, and tennis courts within walking distance from our house."
►To learn about the daily ups and downs of life in the city, see Pros and Cons of Moving to Jacksonville
Are you an expat living in Jacksonville?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Jacksonville. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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