What is Jacksonville? Is it a city? Some large land mass that consolidates a bunch of neighborhoods? It’s a tough place to figure out. It was tough to plan for. Tough to figure out where to eat – and there’s no signature must have dish. Tough to figure out what to see.
From the architecture the city looks like it went through a bit of a post WWII boom then people realized, “you know we could live at the beach and still commute to work in Jacksonville”, and so that’s what they did. There’s some recent development along the waterfront, some new skyscrapers, but otherwise the city center feels incomplete.
So what do you do? You head out to Ponte Vedra. You head out to Neptune Beach. Atlantic Beach. Jacksonville Beach. These places didn’t have the ritzy vibe like the Southern California Beach Towns but they still had the all-year-round local vibe and being a great place to live with a bit of a Sea Isle, let’s go straight from the beach to the bar, No Shower Happy Hour, vibe. Great place to not only bunker down during COVID but also live no matter what’s going on in the world. On a Memorial Day weekend these towns were packed so I ate dinner at Beach Road Fish House and Chicken Dinners. And holy cow was their pick three meat for $24 meal the value meal of the trip. No skimping on portions here.
Amelia Island / Fernandina Beach had a similar family feel to Ocean City, New Jersey. It felt like the sort of place you’d own a summer home and spend the summer than a place you’d rent for a week. Lots of great local restaurants and shops on the western side of island in the Ferdanina Beach section centered around Centre Street and 3rd Street. We drove over the Atlantic Side and Seaside Park and oddly, this was one of those times where I think I’d rather live on the bay than the ocean.