When I first moved to Jacksonville, Florida at the age 12, I didn’t know what to expect at all. I never imagined that it would be a city where I could grow, potentially attend a top notch college, make friends from around the world, and be in the center of a cultural hub of music, festivals, and fun. Jacksonville has exceeded my expectations tenfold, and it’s definitely one of the best cities to visit and vacation in America.
The first thing I would show visitors to Jacksonville would be an area of town called “Riverside”. Riverside is a small community within Jacksonville that boasts the most opportunities for burgeoning artists to express themselves. Each Saturday, Riverside holds the “Riverside Arts Market”, a market where people can buy fresh produce, listen to awesome live music and poetry performances, purchase tasty treats from local food trucks, and explore art pieces from jewelry to paintings. Plus, while this arts market is going on, visitors can venture to the “Cummer Museum and Gardens”, my favorite of Jacksonville’s art museums. Strolling through the museum, visitors can find pieces produced from centuries ago to last month. Also, right outside the museum, is the St. Johns River, which visitors can look out over while strolling through the Cummer Museum’s beautiful gardens.
Aside from the Riverside Area, Jacksonville has countless other communities and areas of town to explore. As a city that sits largely on the coast, there are countless beaches to enjoy during the warm spring and summer months. Beaches like “Atlantic Beach”, and “Amelia Island” provide a small-town like feel when walking along their historic cobblestone streets and visiting their premier ice cream shops and boutiques. One of my favorite things to do while around the beaches is to visit the historic forts that line the coast, and pretend I’m in a Spaniard discovering Florida for the first time!
Jacksonville also has a lively downtown scene where visitors can have a fantastic night on the town. The “Ritz Theater”, a historic African-American theater houses exhibits that showcase Jacksonville’s rich history of jazz, art, and literature. It also is the site of countless live shows from Amateur Night (where amateurs like me often perform original pieces) to jazz shows where stars like Esperanza Spalding have performed. For a scrumptious dinner, the “Jacksonville Landing” (a site for restaurants and shopping) has some of the best steakhouses and seafood restaurants in the city! Together with a booming social atmosphere, the Jacksonville Landing is one of the coolest places to be in the city. For sports fans, Jacksonville is the home to the “Jacksonville Suns” (minor-league baseball) and the “Jacksonville Jaguars” (NFL). I’ve been the games of both teams, and they were amazing!
If in the mood for a little shopping, Jacksonville has premier shops at the “St. Johns Town Center”, an outdoor shopping experience with over 50 stores and restaurants. Visitors can channel their inner tech-fanatic at the Apple Store, or shop at a variety of stores like Cole Haan, Coach, Urban Outfitters, and Louis Vuitton. Plus, the St. Johns Town Center is minutes away from the University of North Florida, which is the site for concerts, gatherings, and beautiful nature walks.
Thus, as you can see, Jacksonville is a city of boundless opportunity. It has premier shopping, culture, and most importantly, fun!
I love my city because it has everything you could wish for – and more. So, come visit Jacksonville! Try our awesome seafood, or take a stroll through downtown or the Riverside Arts Market on a lazy Saturday morning. You won’t be sorry, I promise!
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