There are many reasons why North Florida is such an wonderful place to visit (or live). The climate is spectacular; great for boating, golfing, surfing, fishing and other forms of sports and recreation. In addition, the area is rich in arts and entertainment, fine-dining, shopping and history. North Florida also offers miles of beautiful beaches and waterways, cultural pursuits from jazz and Scottish festivals, to hot clubs and remarkable, ethnically diverse restaurants.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Jacksonville Florida Beach Activities . . .


Immerse yourself in Jacksonville’s 21 miles of wide, uncrowded beaches. Visitors will find plenty to do, with diverse activities, family fun, restaurants and nightlife, souvenir shops and oceanfront hotels blending into the scene without crowding views of the shoreline.

Start your exploration of the beaches with a refreshing walk along the wide, paved boardwalk or take to the sea on foot. The Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier launches out nearly a quarter of a mile into the Atlantic Ocean and offers great views of the coastline. Admission is only $1 for pedestrians, fishermen are $4.

Explore the beach’s colorful history with a stop at the Beaches Museum & History Center in Jacksonville Beach. With its replica boardwalk filled with photos and displays, visitors will be whisked back in time to an era when Jacksonville's beaches were the playground of politicians, celebrities, gangsters and socialites. The museum is also home to one of four Visit Jacksonville Visitor Centers.

If you prefer water immersion to dry land, take a surf lesson from a local surf shop like Aqua East or search the ocean for dolphins and sand bars that come and go with the tide. Kayak Amelia offers family-friendly guided excursions, including the Shell Hunter and Island Hopper tour where paddlers discover what the tide leaves behind on sand bars – sharks’ teeth, shells, crabs and more. Or head out to sea on the Dutton Island Dolphin Adventure. You'll not only catch glimpses of dolphin, but also Florida’s birds and manatees.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Shop North Florida . . .

Welcome to the St. Johns Town Center® representing the heart of shopping and dining in Jacksonville, Florida.


The outdoor lifestyle mall is home to 150 of the hottest stores, many exclusive in the market, including Dillard’s, Apple, Pottery Barn and Ann Taylor as well as shops in the palm-lined streets of the Luxury Collection such as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co. and Mayors.  

As much a fashion-forward shopping hotspot as a dining destination, the diverse palate is represented with exciting options as The Cheesecake Factory, The Capital Grille and Cantina Laredo. Or relax among the Florida sunshine at the Park Green’s turtle pond, life-sized chess board or dog park.

Conveniently located in Jacksonville’s Southside neighborhood, St. Johns Town Center is easily accessible to I-95, I-295 and J. Turner Butler Boulevard and between Downtown and the beaches serving Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Amelia Island and South Georgia.    From the management team at St. Johns Town Center, we hope to see you soon!  

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Historic Mayport Village


Mayport's history began with the Timucuan Indians, who lived in what is now the southeastern United States for more than 5,000 years.  These Indians developed a high level of technological achievement compared to otherNorth American Indian cultures.  Their life styles were recorded by Jacques Le Moyne, an artist who accompanied French explorer Jean Ribault.

When Ribault arrived to explore the area of Mayport and the St. Johns River of Northeast Florida, his landing site was Batten Island, across from present day Mayport Village.  Ribault entered the river on the first day of May in 1562 with three ships.  Upon Ribault's arrival he was met by the Timucuans, led by Chief Satouriba.  After a short settlement, the French were expelled by a Spanish force from St. Augustine.  Spain then ruled Florida until 1821 when it was ceded to the United States.

Historians have no recorded date for the original settlement of Mayport Village.  The suggested dates range from 1562 when the French first settled to 1828 when the area really began to grow.  Early settlers of Mayport came from France, Portugal and the island of Minorca.  These people were fishermen and they thrived due to the close proximity of the continental shelf and large quantities of fish.  

Fishing has been the major economic base for the Village, but in the early days Mayport also supported itself through the lumber industry.  Mayport Mills was the name of the fishing village until the end of the Civil War.  Mayport was also a well known resort town during the 1800s, gaining a bold reputation with its hotels, prize fighters and taverns.  Tourists from Jacksonville would cruise down the St. Johns River for a scenic ride along the Mayport coast.  Boats would then dock and the passengers would dine or stay overnight.

Until 1899, boat transportation was the major access into and out of Mayport.  Since Mayport was important for incoming and outgoing cargo, the Jacksonville and Atlantic Railroad was built to connect Mayport with Jacksonville.  A railroad dock was then built where cargo would be transshipped inland.  The dock stood where the present day U.S. Coast Guard Station now stands.  The railway lasted until 1919 when it was abandoned.  The fishing village became semi-isolated until Word War II with the construction of the U.S. Naval Air Station.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Scenic North Florida Drives . . .

Driving through northeastern Florida and the Panhandle provides a perfect balance between wild nature and human influence. When you think Florida you usually think of all the built-up areas in southern and central Florida. However, if you skip the northern parts of the state you'll miss these excellent scenic drives:

Scenic Drives from Jacksonville

If you're planning a trip down to central and southern Florida's attractions but you want to see some beautiful nature and old-time towns and attractions on your way south, you can take a detour between Jacksonville and Flagler Beach (north of Daytona Beach) on the coast. From I-95 on the eastern side of Jacksonville take Route 202 to Jacksonville Beach. You'll find yourself on historic Route 1, the first highway to travel from all-the-way north - Fort Kent, Maine to all-the-way south - Key West -. On this stretch of the highway, you'll pass through St. Augustine, lots of excellent beaches on the barrier island, and will end up in Flagler Beach, which boasts old Victorian-style buildings right off the highway.

Northeast Florida Scenic Drives

In the Gainesville area, toward the center of the region, you can take the Old Florida Heritage Highway. This 48-mile drive, which starts in Gainesville, takes Route 441, and goes through the historic towns of Micanopy, Rochelle, Evinston, and Cross Creek. Micanopy claims to be the oldest mainland settlement in Florida, with the first post office opening up in 1826. Old and respectful Victorian houses and buildings line the streets of these cities, with Southern charm dripping from the deciduous trees. It was the setting for the Michael J. Fox movie “Doc Hollywood,” where on his way to some great position in California he crashes his Porsche in … well, Grady, South Carolina. But it was filmed in Micanopy!

Florida Panhandle Scenic Drives

Around the city of Tallahassee are the “Canopy Roads,” so-called for the lush Spanish Moss overhanging. Many of these roads feature fancy and tasteful residences that add to the overall beauty of the scenery. For emphasis on archaeology and 19th-century houses, and the Spanish missions that rose up in the 17th centuries, drive the Native Trail. If you want to see the area's old cotton plantations, drive the Cotton Trail Loop. For a calm, enjoyable drive through a dense pine forest, take the Quail Trail. Give yourself time to take in the scenery on these loop drives, as, at a leisurely pace, each one can take up to two hours to complete. A Canopy Roads map will likely help you navigate the area better.

Pensacola Scenic Drives

In Pensacola, one great drive is to travel the length of Escambia Bay, where the river bluffs overlooking the bay provide an excellent view of the surroundings. You can reach Route 10A, which stretches from one end of the bay to the other, from I-10, the highway that leads from Jacksonville all the way to Pensacola. Lining the bay's beach are large bluffs of red clay, which play off the color of water to provide excellent views for miles. From where 10A meets the water to where it leaves off is approximately six miles.