Happy to have this guest post by Erin on Living in Jacksonville, Florida and Naval Station Mayport. Please visit my Duty station guest post page for posts on other locations or more information about how you can write a guest post about where you have been stationed.
Living in Jacksonville, Florida and Naval Station Mayport
Welcome to Jacksonville, the largest city in Florida and home to multiple military bases and facilities. With bases like Mayport Naval Station, Naval Air Station Jacksonville, and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay right over the Florida Georgia border, Jacksonville is the third largest military presence in the country.
The first thing most people notice when moving to Jacksonville is how big the city is. As both the largest city in population and area, Jacksonville is the 12th most populous city in the United States. From the Beaches to Riverside to Orange Park to Southside, each side of town caters to a different lifestyle depending on your preferences. The cost of living in some parts of town are higher than others and if you’re planning to live off base, it’s best to research each part of town to decide which one best fits your style of living. Some military families choose to live close to base while others sacrifice a longer commute to live in a part of town that appeals to their lifestyle.
If you’re interested in being surrounded by nature or into outdoor sports, you’ll find plenty of options in Jacksonville. Fishing is a popular pastime in Jacksonville, seeing as though the city is surrounded by so much water. Local parks offer hiking and biking trails, camping, and geocaching. The beaches are popular for both lounging and watersports like surfing, paddleboarding, and kayaking. And both Mayport and NAS Jax offer swimming pools and waterparks for military families.
Both Mayport and NAS Jax offer Navy exchanges and commissaries with Jax’s NEX being larger of the two, though Jacksonville is in no short supply of grocery stores and shopping malls throughout the city. The largest grocery chains in town are Publix and Winn Dixie. There are four main shopping malls, with the St. Johns Town Center or the Orange Park Mall being the most popular choices.
In my opinion, the best feature of Jacksonville is the dining options. Jacksonville is home to some really great independently owned restaurants as well as your typical dining chains. I would urge you to branch out and try some of the local places. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how good the food and drink options are. I could create a whole post about my favorite restaurants but here are a few of my recommendations – Poe’s Tavern in Atlantic Beach for burgers and the best tuna tacos; V Pizza in San Marco or Jax Beach for pizza and chicken wings (yes, wings!); and Maple Street Biscuit Company with numerous locations around town for a melt-in-your-mouth chicken biscuit.
Jacksonville is also adjacent to historic cities like Amelia Island, Fernandina, and St. Augustine which make great day-trip destinations. Amelia Island and Fernandina offer beautiful beaches and State Parks with various amenities like hiking, fishing, and wildlife observation. As the oldest city in America, St. Augustine is full of historical monuments and attractions, museums, shopping, and dining options.
As a Jacksonville native, I’ve come to really love and appreciate my hometown for it’s diverse population, rich history, and unique amenities. And I strongly feel that Jacksonville has something to offer everyone.
Erin is the author of erinwiggle.com, a comprehensive guide to the First Coast and neighboring cities. She’s a Sailor’s wife, outdoor enthusiast, furbaby mama, and foodie. Follow her on Instagram at @erinwiggle or send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.