The secret’s out about Jacksonville, or JAX as locals call it. Home to Florida’s youngest population, this hip, northeastern Florida city has lots of amenities built in, like the largest urban park system in the country with more than 80,000 acres to explore. The city gets 220+ days of sunshine, and some of those sun-soaked days are best spent enjoying the 22 miles of beaches. JAX has big-city amenities, but historic neighborhoods serve up the charm and the street art scene keeps things interesting. On top of all that, the cost of living is below the national average and the greater Jacksonville area is buoyed by a diverse economy.
Top Industries and Employers: The Jacksonville area is a logistics hub and healthcare companies like Baptist Health, Florida Blue and Mayo Clinic are among the region’s top employers. Bank of America and Citi are also top employers.
Best Coffee Shop: Social Grounds Coffee Company, which is veteran-owned and operated.
Best Local Beer/Brewery: Engine 15 has 50 taps, Frito Pies and prime real estate in the heart of Jacksonville Beach.
Must-Have Meal: Fresh, local seafood at Beach Road Fish House and Chicken Dinners. (But come back for a fried chicken dinner).
Best Co-Working Space: Novel Coworking, which has a local craft beer on tap and an espresso bar.
Best Meetup Spot (When Meeting Up Is a Thing Again): Sip on craft cocktails at The Volstead, a speakeasy-style bar in downtown Jacksonville. (Here’s some trivia: The bar is named after The Volstead Act, which enacted Prohibition).
Creative Hub: The Downtown Art Walk takes place the first Wednesday of every month, with a self-guided gallery tour, pop-up galleries, food trucks and live music.
Favorite Weekend Activity: Surf, swim or simply sunbathe at Jacksonville Beach.
Free Way to Have Fun: Take a bike ride along the Baldwin Trail, which is shaded by tree canopies. Break for a picnic at Camp Milton.
Local Dream Job: Scuba diving instructor. Jacksonville has more than 100 artificial reefs.
- Brittany Anas