Jacksonville Journeys: A Guide to RVing in the Bold New City of the South

Hit the road in an RV and explore the diverse landscapes and cultural gems that Jacksonville has to offer, from historic neighborhoods to beautiful waterfronts.


12/1/202313 min read

Jacksonville Journeys: A Guide to RVing in the Bold New City of the South

RVing in Jacksonville, Florida is a fun and exciting way to explore the Bold New City of the South. Jacksonville's evolution has been remarkable, with the city growing in size and population over the past few decades. Today, it is the largest city by area in the contiguous United States, covering over 840 square miles, and is home to over 900,000 residents.

Jacksonville's geography and demographics are diverse, with a mix of urban and natural landscapes. The city is located on the northeast coast of Florida, with the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the St. Johns River running through the heart of the city. Jacksonville is also home to a variety of neighborhoods, each with its own unique character and charm. RVers can explore the city's cultural fabric, recreational highlights, and residential insights while enjoying the Southern charm and lifestyle that Jacksonville has to offer.

Key Takeaways

  • Jacksonville, Florida is the largest city by area in the contiguous United States, covering over 840 square miles.

  • RVers can explore Jacksonville's diverse geography and demographics, including urban and natural landscapes.

  • Jacksonville offers a mix of cultural, recreational, and residential experiences, as well as Southern charm and lifestyle.

Jacksonville's Evolution

Jacksonville, the largest city in Florida, has a rich history that dates back to the Civil War era. Over the years, the city has undergone several transformations that have shaped it into what it is today. This section will explore the various stages of Jacksonville's evolution.

The Path to Consolidation

In 1968, Jacksonville underwent a significant change as the governments of Duval County and the city consolidated. This move was aimed at streamlining services and reducing costs. It was a long time coming, as the idea had been floated for decades prior to the 1960s. The consolidation was rejected several times before it was finally accepted by voters in 1967. Mayor Hans Tanzler was instrumental in making this happen.

Post-Civil War Developments

After the Civil War, Jacksonville became a hub for trade and commerce. It was an important port city, and the St. Johns River played a significant role in its development. The city grew rapidly, and by the early 1900s, it was one of the largest cities in Florida. Wayne Wood, a prominent figure in Jacksonville's history, played a crucial role in preserving the city's architectural heritage. He was instrumental in the restoration of several historical buildings, including the Florida Theatre.

Historical Landmarks

Jacksonville is home to several historical landmarks, including Confederate monuments. These monuments have been a source of controversy in recent years, with some calling for their removal. The Jacksonville Historical Society has played a crucial role in preserving the city's history. The society has several programs and initiatives aimed at educating the public about Jacksonville's rich history.

In conclusion, Jacksonville has undergone several transformations over the years. From the consolidation of the government to the restoration of historical landmarks, the city has come a long way. Its rich history is a testament to the resilience of its people and their commitment to preserving their heritage.

Geography and Demographics

Expansive City Limits

Jacksonville, also known as the "Bold New City of the South," is the largest city by land area in the contiguous United States, covering over 840 square miles. The city's expansive limits include not just the urban core, but also a large expanse of suburban and rural areas. Jacksonville is situated on the banks of the St. Johns River, which flows north and is one of the few rivers in the world to do so.

Diverse Communities

Duval County, where Jacksonville is located, has a population of over 900,000 residents. The city is known for its diverse communities, with significant populations of African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians. Jacksonville has a rich African American heritage, with significant contributions to the civil rights movement.

The city is also home to a vibrant RVing community, with numerous RV parks and campgrounds located throughout the area. These parks offer a range of amenities, from basic tent camping sites to full-service RV resorts with swimming pools, laundry facilities, and more.

Overall, Jacksonville is a diverse and welcoming city that offers something for everyone. Whether you're looking to explore the city's rich history and culture, enjoy its natural beauty, or simply relax and unwind in an RV park, Jacksonville is a great destination for RVers of all ages and interests.

Cultural Fabric

Jacksonville is a city that is rich in culture and history. From the arts and entertainment scene to the local education institutions, the city has a lot to offer. Here are some of the cultural highlights that RVers can experience during their stay in the Bold New City of the South.

Arts and Entertainment

The Riverside Arts Market is a must-visit destination for RVers who are interested in the arts scene. The market is held every Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm, and it features local artists and artisans who sell their wares. Visitors can browse through a wide selection of handmade crafts, jewelry, pottery, and clothing. The market also features live music and food vendors, making it a fun place to spend a few hours.

For those who are interested in the performing arts, the Florida Theatre is a great place to catch a show. The historic theater has been around since 1927 and has hosted some of the biggest names in entertainment. From Broadway shows to concerts, the Florida Theatre has something for everyone.

Local Education Institutions

Jacksonville is home to several top-notch educational institutions, including Florida State College at Jacksonville. The college offers a wide range of programs, including associate's degrees, bachelor's degrees, and vocational certificates. RVers who are interested in continuing their education can take advantage of the college's flexible scheduling options, which include online classes and evening classes.

Historical Reflections

Jacksonville has a rich history, and RVers can learn more about it by visiting the city's many historical sites. One of the most notable sites is the Kingsley Plantation, which was once a slave plantation. Visitors can tour the plantation house and learn about the lives of the slaves who lived and worked there.

Another important historical site is the Museum of Science and History. The museum features exhibits on a wide range of topics, including local history, science, and technology. Visitors can learn about the history of Jacksonville and the surrounding area, as well as explore the museum's many interactive exhibits.

In conclusion, Jacksonville is a city that is rich in culture and history. RVers who are interested in the arts, education, and history will find plenty to do and see during their stay in the Bold New City of the South.

Recreational Highlights

Parks and Natural Spaces

Jacksonville is a city with an abundance of parks and natural spaces. One of the most popular parks in the city is the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens. The park is home to over 100 acres of beautiful gardens, walking trails, and natural habitats. Visitors can take a guided tour of the park or explore on their own. The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including birds, butterflies, and other insects.

Another popular park in Jacksonville is the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. This park covers over 46,000 acres and includes a variety of natural habitats, including salt marshes, coastal dunes, and hardwood hammocks. Visitors can explore the park on foot or by bike, or take a guided tour to learn more about the park's history and ecology. The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including alligators, deer, and a variety of bird species.

Beaches and Waterways

Jacksonville is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches and waterways in the country. Atlantic Beach is a popular destination for visitors and locals alike. The beach is known for its clear blue waters and soft white sand. Visitors can swim, sunbathe, or take a stroll along the beach.

The St. Johns River is another popular destination for visitors to Jacksonville. The river is over 300 miles long and is home to a variety of wildlife, including dolphins, manatees, and a variety of fish species. Visitors can take a boat tour of the river or explore on their own by kayak or canoe.

In addition to the St. Johns River, Jacksonville is also home to a variety of lakes and waterways. One of the most popular lakes in the city is Lake Jacksonville. The lake is home to a variety of fish species, including bass, catfish, and crappie. Visitors can fish, boat, or swim in the lake.

Residential Insights

Housing Market Trends

Jacksonville's housing market has been on a steady rise in recent years. According to Zillow, the median home value in Jacksonville is $244,000, which is a 14.5% increase from the previous year. This increase is expected to continue in the coming years, making Jacksonville a great place to invest in real estate.

The city has a diverse range of housing options, from historic homes to modern apartments, making it easy to find a home that fits any lifestyle. The neighborhoods of Avondale and Riverside are particularly popular among homebuyers due to their historic homes and tree-lined streets. These neighborhoods offer a mix of architectural styles, including Craftsman, Tudor, and Mediterranean Revival, giving them a unique charm.

Notable Neighborhoods

Avondale and Riverside are not the only notable neighborhoods in Jacksonville. The city has many other neighborhoods that offer their own unique charm and amenities. The San Marco neighborhood is another historic area that is known for its Spanish-style architecture and vibrant dining scene.

For those looking for a more suburban feel, the Mandarin neighborhood is a great option. This area is known for its large homes and spacious yards, making it a popular choice for families.

Overall, Jacksonville has a diverse range of neighborhoods that offer something for everyone. Whether you're looking for a historic home or a modern apartment, the city has plenty of options to choose from.

Economic Landscape

Jacksonville has been experiencing steady economic growth in recent years, making it an attractive destination for businesses and entrepreneurs. The city's diverse economy is supported by a wide range of industries, including healthcare, finance, logistics, and manufacturing.

Business Growth and Opportunities

Jacksonville's business-friendly environment has led to the creation of numerous job opportunities. The city has a low cost of living compared to other major cities in the United States, making it an ideal place for businesses to set up shop. Additionally, the city has a large and growing population, which provides a robust customer base for businesses.

The city's government has been actively promoting economic growth and development through various initiatives. For instance, the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission provides incentives for businesses that choose to invest in the city. The commission also offers assistance to businesses looking to expand or relocate to Jacksonville.

Local Economic Drivers

Jacksonville's economy is driven by several local industries. The city is home to the largest deep-water port in the Southeastern United States, which plays a critical role in the city's logistics and transportation industry. The healthcare industry is also a significant contributor to the city's economy, with several large hospitals and medical centers located in the area.

Jacksonville is also home to several military installations, including Naval Station Mayport and Naval Air Station Jacksonville. These installations provide a significant boost to the local economy, with many service members and their families living in the area.

In conclusion, Jacksonville's diverse economy, business-friendly environment, and local economic drivers make it an attractive destination for businesses and entrepreneurs. The city's government is actively promoting economic growth and development, and there are numerous job opportunities available in the area.

Sports and Community

Professional Teams

Jacksonville is home to a number of professional sports teams that attract a dedicated fanbase. The most well-known team is the Jacksonville Jaguars, a National Football League (NFL) team that plays at the TIAA Bank Field. The Jaguars are a relatively new team, having been established in 1995, but they have quickly become a beloved part of the city's culture. Fans can catch a game during the NFL season, which runs from September to December.

In addition to the Jaguars, Jacksonville is also home to a minor league baseball team, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, which plays at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. The Jumbo Shrimp are part of the Southern League and play from April to September.

Community Engagement

Sports play an important role in the Jacksonville community, and there are many opportunities for residents and visitors to get involved. The city hosts a number of sporting events throughout the year, including marathons, triathlons, and golf tournaments.

In addition to these events, there are also many community sports leagues and clubs that offer a chance to get active and meet new people. These include everything from youth soccer leagues to adult softball leagues.

One of the most popular community events is the annual Gate River Run, a 15K race that takes place in March. The race attracts thousands of runners from all over the country and is a great way to experience the city's vibrant running community.

Overall, Jacksonville's sports culture is a testament to the city's passion and dedication. Whether you're a diehard fan or just looking to get involved in the community, there's something for everyone in the Bold New City of the South.

Local Governance

Jacksonville, the Bold New City of the South, is governed by a City Commission structure, which is responsible for creating policies and setting the budget for the city. The City Commission is composed of 19 members, including the mayor, who serves as the head of the commission. The members are elected by the citizens of Jacksonville and serve four-year terms.

City Commission Structure

The City Commission is divided into five districts, each represented by a commissioner. The mayor is elected at-large and serves as the chair of the commission. The commission is responsible for creating and enforcing policies and ordinances that affect the citizens of Jacksonville. The commission also has the power to appoint various boards and committees that assist in governing the city.

Influential Mayoral Leadership

The mayor of Jacksonville is an influential leader who plays a significant role in shaping the city's policies and direction. The mayor has the power to appoint various officials, including the city's chief administrative officer, who serves as the city's chief executive officer. The mayor also has the power to veto any legislation passed by the City Commission. However, the commission can override the veto with a two-thirds majority vote.

Overall, the City Commission and the mayor work together to ensure that Jacksonville is governed effectively and efficiently. The commission's policies and the mayor's leadership have played a crucial role in the city's growth and development over the years.

Iconic Personalities

Jacksonville has been home to many iconic personalities who have shaped the city's history and culture. Here are some of the most prominent local historians and civic leaders.

Prominent Local Historians

One of the most well-known local historians is Wayne Wood, who has written extensively about Jacksonville's history and architecture. He is the author of several books, including "Jacksonville's Architectural Heritage" and "The Jacksonville Family Album." Wood is also the founder of the Jacksonville Historical Society and has been instrumental in preserving many of the city's historic buildings and landmarks.

Another notable local historian is Dr. James B. Crooks, who has written extensively about the African American experience in Jacksonville. He is the author of "Jacksonville: The Consolidation Story, from Civil Rights to the Jaguars," which chronicles the city's history from the 1960s to the present day. Crooks is also a professor of history at Florida State College at Jacksonville.

Civic Leaders

One of the most influential civic leaders in Jacksonville's history is John Delaney. He served as the city's mayor from 1995 to 2003 and was instrumental in the city's downtown revitalization efforts. Delaney was also a key figure in bringing the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars to the city in 1995. He now serves as the president of the University of North Florida.

Another prominent civic leader is Audrey Moran, who has served in a variety of roles in the city's government and nonprofit sectors. She was the first woman to serve as the president of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and has also served as the CEO of the Sulzbacher Center, a homeless shelter in downtown Jacksonville. Moran now serves as the senior vice president of social responsibility and community advocacy at Baptist Health.

Overall, Jacksonville has been home to many iconic personalities who have left their mark on the city's history and culture. From local historians like Wayne Wood and Dr. James B. Crooks to civic leaders like John Delaney and Audrey Moran, these individuals have helped shape Jacksonville into the bold new city of the south that it is today.

Southern Charm and Lifestyle

Jacksonville is a city that exudes Southern charm and lifestyle. It is a place where visitors can experience the perfect mix of modernity and tradition. The city has a rich history, and the architecture reflects that, with a variety of styles from different eras.

Architectural Beauty

One of the most striking things about Jacksonville is its architectural beauty. Visitors can find everything from historic homes to modern skyscrapers. The city has a rich history, and it shows in the buildings. Some of the most notable architectural styles in Jacksonville include:

  • Victorian: Jacksonville has a number of Victorian homes, many of which have been restored to their former glory. These homes feature ornate details and are often painted in bright colors.

  • Art Deco: Jacksonville has several Art Deco buildings, which were built in the 1920s and 1930s. These buildings feature sleek lines and geometric shapes.

  • Mid-Century Modern: Jacksonville has a number of mid-century modern buildings, which were built in the 1950s and 1960s. These buildings feature clean lines, flat roofs, and large windows.

Social Fabric

Jacksonville's social fabric is just as rich as its architecture. The city is known for its friendly residents and laid-back lifestyle. Visitors can experience Southern hospitality firsthand when they visit Jacksonville.

The city has a diverse population, and visitors can find a variety of cultural events and activities. From art exhibits to music festivals, there is always something going on in Jacksonville. Visitors can also enjoy the city's many parks and beaches, which are perfect for outdoor activities.

Overall, Jacksonville is a city that has something for everyone. Whether you are interested in history, architecture, or just want to experience Southern charm and lifestyle, Jacksonville is the perfect destination.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the top attractions to visit when RVing in Jacksonville?

Jacksonville offers a variety of attractions for RV travelers to enjoy. Some of the top attractions include the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, and the Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary. Visitors can also take a stroll along the Jacksonville Riverwalk or explore the historic neighborhoods of Riverside and Avondale.

Can you recommend any RV parks or campgrounds in the Jacksonville area?

There are several RV parks and campgrounds in the Jacksonville area that cater to RV travelers. Some of the top-rated options include Flamingo Lake RV Resort, Pecan Park RV Resort, and Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park. These parks offer a range of amenities, including full hookups, swimming pools, and on-site laundry facilities.

What are some must-see historical sites in Jacksonville?

Jacksonville has a rich history dating back to the 16th century, and there are several historical sites that are worth a visit. Some of the must-see sites include the Kingsley Plantation, Fort Caroline National Memorial, and the Museum of Science and History. Visitors can also take a walking tour of the historic neighborhoods of Springfield and San Marco.

Where can I find a detailed map of Jacksonville for RV navigation?

RV travelers can find detailed maps of Jacksonville at the local visitor center or online. The Visit Jacksonville website provides a comprehensive map of the city, including major highways, attractions, and RV parks. Google Maps is also a useful tool for RV navigation.

What events or festivals should RV travelers look out for in Jacksonville?

Jacksonville hosts a variety of events and festivals throughout the year, including the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, the World of Nations Celebration, and the Jacksonville Sea and Sky Spectacular. RV travelers can check the Visit Jacksonville website for a complete list of upcoming events.

How does Jacksonville's size compare to other major cities in the United States?

Jacksonville is the largest city in Florida by land area and the 12th largest city in the United States. With over 840 square miles of land, Jacksonville is larger than New York City and Los Angeles combined. Despite its size, Jacksonville has a small-town feel and offers a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere for RV travelers to enjoy.