Jacksonville Beach, which stretches from its southernmost point, Ponte Vedra, to its northernmost point at Neptune Beach, is touted as northeast Florida’s best-kept secret. Residents aren’t surprised. They happily boast about the surf, sand and the overall lifestyle. “If you love the outdoors and mild winters, it’s paradise,” says Sherri Beno, a local Jacksonville Beach real-estate agent, who adds, “Jacksonville Beach is a small community that loves music, arts of all kinds and nature.”
Located about 20 miles east of downtown Jacksonville, this barrier island has a population nearing 23,000 that’s attracted by the area’s hard-packed white sandy beaches, family-friendly ambience, eclectic shopping and an evolving dining scene. The quarter-mile-long Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier at North First Street is where you’ll find anglers seeking the likes of whiting, pompano and perch. Surfers also like to hang out here to catch a wave or two. In this neighborhood that skirts scenic Highway A1A, you’ll find great parks—South Beach Park and the Sunshine Playground— where kids of all ages play and work out.
Shoppers in Jacksonville Beach have their pick of boutiques and quaint open-air strip centers rather than traditional malls. In Atlantic Shores, family-owned businesses like Rosenblum’s for men’s and women’s apparel thrive. Slightly north, the Beaches Town Center, which borders Jacksonville Beach and Neptune Beach, features unique stores like Bali Cargo Company for home goods and Red Daisy for outdoor furnishings.
Jacksonville Beach also has something else going for it: location. Major transportation arteries, such as J. Turner Butler Boulevard, make getting to the closest big city, Jacksonville, a breeze. The beach is minutes away from major sporting events; you can catch a Jacksonville Jaguars football game in downtown Jacksonville’s EverBank Field. In the city’s San Marco neighborhood Broadway shows play regularly at the historical Theatre Jacksonville and concerts are held at the Florida Theatre on Forsyth, a fabulous live-music venue.
Big on Families
Jacksonville native Michael Meyers was keen on moving to the area for a long time. “It’s picturesque, not crowded and family-oriented,” says Meyers, who decided on the Atlantic Shores neighborhood as the perfect place to settle down with his partner, Chad Labenz. When it comes to water sports, bodysurfing and playing in tide pools with their kids top this family’s list of weekend activities. fi e athletic couple joins the ranks among other locals who enjoy long runs and bike rides. “We ride south to Mickler Road/Landing in Ponte Vedra—the trip there and back is 14 miles,” says Labenz.
House hunters here will find a mix of properties in the neighborhood, from ’50s modern concrete block to shingled roofs and everything in between. Single-family homes in the Atlantic Shores real-estate market run the gamut from $290,000 (for a foreclosure property) to $1.4 million to $2.75 million for oceanfront homes. While scouting properties in Atlantic Shores, which embraces surfers, young families and empty nesters, Labenz and Meyers scooped up a beach bungalow for its corner lot and hired local architect (and neighbor) Tom Mnich to design their colorful dream home.
Locals appreciate good food, and a few of the most popular spots are Roy’s on Third Street South and Beachside Seafood Market. Foodies often head down to Ponte Vedra Beach for Medure’s signature meatloaf. Residents here brag about their amazing backdrop and all it offers. As Meyers and Labenz like to say, “Hanging surfside just comes easily.” visitjacksonville.com
Real Estate: What Your Money Can Buy Now + Jacksonville Beach
- Single-family homes in southeast Jacksonville Beach recently went for an average sales price of $495,750, while condominiums sold at an average price of $252,550. This southeast Jacksonville Beach area includes the highly desirable Atlantic Shores neighborhood.
- Pier Point condominium is located in the heart of Jacksonville Beach, surrounded by shops, galleries and restaurants. It’s walking distance from the Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier. A two-bath, three-bedroom unit is priced upward of $ 300,000. Standard features include granite countertops, ceramic tile and stainless-steel appliances. Among the amenities are a resort-style pool and cabana area, fitness center and underground parking.
- Priced at a cool $1,450,000, this Jacksonville Beach three-bedroom, three-bath direct oceanfront home with 2,503 square feet boasts private beach access and includes a large master suite with an oceanfront balcony and an open floor plan. It’s near shopping, dining and the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club. Its location also provides quick access to the J. Turner Butler Boulevard, a direct route to Jacksonville. This home is being sold fully furnished. Contact Sherri Beno, Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners, 904.651.1830, [email protected], sherribeno.com.