Following the great Jacksonville moss fire that destroyed a majority of downtown in 1901, residents flocked a few miles southwest to the quiet neighborhood of Riverside/Avondale to rebuild. By the 1930s, a small pocket of the Riverside region had transformed into the first bustling shopping area outside of downtown, which became known as 5 Points—named for the intersection of five roads marked by an iconic blinking light.
This chic district has always been ground zero for the city’s bohemian culture and today it continues to thrive with a decidedly upscale, hipster urban gloss. Here are a few reasons why we love this part of town.
1. History and Architecture
The corridor’s “Main Street” can be considered Park Street and reflects some of the rich history of the area. It winds from the district’s tip at historic Riverside Park, along the attractive 1920s-era commercial strip with its unique architecture and colorful storefronts, and down to the famous 5 Points intersection.
Here you’ll find the Park Arcade Building, a historic landmark once home to the city’s first miniature golf course. Made up of seven storefronts, with a central arcade dominated by three arches, the arcade is now home to local boutiques, cafés and restaurants.
Following the great fire, the neighborhood became a laboratory for aspiring architects, as evidenced by the area’s richness and variety of homes. Building and home styles include Colonial Revival, Georgian, Shingle Style, Queen Anne/Victorian, Bungalow and Tudor.
2. Arts & Culture
Historic 5 Points is also home to Jacksonville’s preeminent independent film house, fine-art museum and some of the city’s most striking street art. You know you’re in the hip part of town when murals adorn the walls of almost every building. Look for one of the largest on the corner of Lomax and Park.
Also on Park is Sun-Ray Cinema, which first opened in 1927 as the Riverside Theatre, the first in the city to screen films with sound. Come for both independent and blockbuster films and enjoy a menu of snacks and pizzas along with craft beer and wine.
The nearby Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens is the largest fine art museum in Northeast Florida. Its permanent collection encompasses more than 6,000 works of art dating from 2100 B.C. to the 21st century, including a world-renowned collection of Meissen porcelain. Equally impressive, the museum’s spectacular gardens feature reflecting pools, fountains, arbors, sculptures and unparalleled views of the riverfront.
3. Dining and Entertainment
The Riverside and Avondale districts are host to a burgeoning foodie scene and many new and funky eateries can be found in the 5 Points area. For casual cafés, look no further than Brew City and Cozy Tea, where hand-crafted caffeinated concoctions are works of art in and of themselves. For a light bite, check out Rain Dogs, Hawker’s or Tapa That. Opt to dine alfresco at Derby on Park or go gourmet by grabbing a table at Mossfire Grill or Black Sheep.
If you love browsing handmade, vintage and trendy boutiques, you’ll definitely love all the shopping to behold in 5 Points. Pick up some new tunes at Deep Search Records. Take a trip back in time at Fans & Stoves Antique Mall. Peruse specialty gifts from around the world at Midnight Sun and spruce up your style with vintage fashions at Violet.
If you’re lucky enough to visit on a Saturday during the months of March through December, you won’t want to miss the Riverside Arts Market. Here you’ll find artists, craft vendors, local farmers and musicians all gathered under the canopy of the Fullen Warren Bridge next to the St. Johns River.
Jacksonville’s urban park system is the largest in the country with more than 80,000 acres of state and national parks as well as dozens of gardens and arboretums. Riverside Park at the tip of 5 Points is the city’s second-oldest, dating back to the 1890s. It’s a quiet and quaint environment complete with walking paths, spring-fed lakes, ornamental stone bridges and recreational facilities.
At the opposite end of 5 Points is Memorial Park, the city’s most scenic and restful space. Designed by New York’s famed Olmsted Brothers firm, the park is the perfect setting for an after-dinner stroll along the river where Charles Adrian Pillars’ sculpture “Life” watches over the St. Johns at its widest point.