3 Jacksonville Neighborhoods Worth Exploring

Boutiques in San Marco, charm in Riverside and Southside for the shopaholic—your guide to three areas for shopping and exploring

The shopping opportunities and attraction possibilities in these three Jacksonville neighborhoods deserve some investigating.

San Marco
Those who like to distance themselves from big-box retail stores and restaurant chains may find San Marco the perfect destination. The area is graced with vintage storefronts behind tree-lined sidewalks that make shopping a pleasure. Unlike many historic districts, there is more here than antique and bric-abrac stores. The area boasts upscale clothing boutiques, art galleries and fine dining. Theatre Jacksonville, the country’s longest-running community theater, has called San Marco home for nearly 90 years. The rest of the neighborhood is an interesting blend of high-rise condos, stately historic homes and impressive riverfront mansions. This lovely neighborhood, located just across the Main Street and Acosta bridges from downtown Jacksonville, is named San Marco Square after St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy.

Riverside/Avondale
As one of the largest historic districts in the South, the charming Riverside/Avondale neighborhood is home to many of Jacksonville’s quaint bed-and-breakfast inns. Sophisticated spenders flock to the Shoppes of Avondale, an upscale destination with a variety of specialty boutiques and gourmet eateries. Named for its five-way intersection, the edgy arts district of Riverside’s Five Points, with its outdoor cafés and eclectic shops and galleries, delights modern-day hippies. Finally, open Saturdays from April until December, the Riverside Arts Market stocks a kaleidoscope of finds from original art to farm-fresh produce. Just minutes from downtown, Riverside and Avondale boast parks, big and small, as well as the lovely Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, home to a collection of artworks numbering in the thousands and two acres of formal, riverfront gardens.

Southside
Three shopping spots mark the most notable stopping points in Southside. More than 120 retailers draw 10 million visitors annually to the colossal, open-air St. Johns Town Center, where a wide variety of shops caters to bargain hunters and big spenders alike. The Tinseltown area features a movie theater, restaurants, specialty shops and thriving nightlife. Finally, The Avenues is a shopping mall with more than 150 stores. Many budget and high-end chains plus a handful of new independent eateries and bakeries make up the dining scene.