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Given all the flashiness Florida has to offer, Jacksonville is one of the state’s best-kept secrets. While often overlooked for the glamour and glitz of Miami and Palm Beach, Jacksonville is a perfect low key option to enjoy all the perks of the Sunshine State. Not to mention, it has one of the coolest skylines in the country!

The booming job market and vast expansion potential are just a couple of reasons why people are moving to Jacksonville like crazy! Other than these key factors, there are many reasons why people are making it a point to check out what the city has to offer.

Here are seven of them.

1. Quiet Beaches

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Many people fantasize about traveling to the major Florida hotspots to relax on a harmonious sandy beach. Only when they get there, they quickly realize that thousands of other people had the exact same idea.

Jacksonville is home to 22 miles of gorgeous coastline. The primary spots include Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach, and Neptune Beach. There are more than enough places to kick back and listen to the hypnotizing sounds of the ocean without being drowned out by screaming tourists. If your goals to set up under an umbrella and soak up the Florida sunshine in peace, or spread out and throw a frisbee, hop on the Trolley and check out one of the many beach areas Jacksonville has to offer.

2. Fun Sports City

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While many might scoff at the very mention of Jacksonville sports, the city actually boasts a number of fun-to-watch organizations. The most well-known being the NFL’s Jaguars, who are showing some exciting promise as of this writing.

Other than the Jags, Jacksonville is home to a number of minor league teams, including the Jumbo Shrimp (baseball), Giants (basketball), IceMen (hockey), and the Sharks (indoor football). Jacksonville is also the home base of the Armada FC, a professional soccer team.

The best part about all the sports teams in this city is you can typically get tickets on the cheap. Live sports combined with the dreamy Florida weather is a recipe for a fun outing.

3. Awesome Food

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As more and more people are moving to Jacksonville, the future looks VERY bright for the local food scene. Given the proximity to the Atlantic, this is a given.

Over the past couple decades, independent mom and pop eateries have been a driving force in the restaurant culture. Other than the seafood, there are all kinds of options that attribute to the stellar reputation of Southern cuisine. If you’re craving fish, Trent’s Seafood is one of the best places to get your fix. If you’re in the mood for barbecue, definitely pencil in The Bearded Pig. More extensive recommendations for Jacksonville food is a story for another day.

The bottom line is that The River City is quickly becoming a hotbed for foodies across the country, and is one of the many reasons why this city is so great.

4. Budding Craft Beer Scene

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In addition to the food options, Jacksonville is steadily making a name for itself in the craft brewing department.

Over the past several years, breweries are popping up left and right while the existing ones are facing the exciting challenges of rapid growth! Many of the local restaurants are making it a point to support local beer and help put the city on the map.

If you’re serious about the full experience, definitely book a spot on the Jacksonville Brewery Bus Tour. The excursion will bring you to three or four breweries where you will get to try 10-15 different beers!

5. Great Artistry

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Jacksonville is an artsy town and loves to show it! The first Wednesday of every month from 5pm – 9pm is the renowned Art Walk. This beautiful event involves more than 60 venues that stretch across the Downtown area. Not only is this a great way to learn more about the city’s culture, it’s a golden opportunity to meet local artists while checking out the products of their creativity.

In addition to the Walk, the Cummer Art & Gardens and the Museum of Contemporary Art are fantastic ways to spend an afternoon. If you’re in town around Memorial Day, be sure to stop by the Jacksonville Jazz Festival – it’s one of the largest in the country!

6. Lively Public Parks

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The parks in Jacksonville are truly something special. Jacksonville is the proud home to the largest urban park system in the country. The city makes a wonderful effort to ensure they are places where people come together. If you walk through Hemming Park, you will be treated to all sorts of free activities such as yoga, art, live music, summer movies, and much, much more.

If you want to spend a sunny afternoon laying in the grass by the lake, Confederate Park is the ideal spot. If you’re looking for some beach time, there is no shortage of options. Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park is a gorgeous beachside area that offers camping, swimming, and all kinds of trails to hike and ride your bicycle.

7. Some of the Best Kayaking in the Country

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Many would argue that Jacksonville has the most exciting kayaking opportunities in the United States. With a nickname like The River City, this comes as no surprise. Home to over 1,100 navigable waterways, you are able to paddle your way through the enchanting scenery chock-full of coastal dunes, salt marshes, and a wide range of untouched ecosystems. You’ll even get the chance to see the dazzling skyline from the water.

Perhaps the best part about kayaking around Jacksonville is the constant possibility of seeing glamourous wildlife like sea turtles, manatees, dolphins, and more!

There are plenty of tour options available in which experts will give you the full experience. If you consider yourself a kayaking enthusiast, Jacksonville is a paradise!

Wrapping Up

While not always the first Florida city that comes to mind, Jacksonville should certainly not be counted out. The up-and-coming culture creates an exciting vibe that is still very much under-the-radar.

You’ll quickly realize that the energy in this city is very positive the concept of Southern hospitality is stronger than ever. If you want to experience Florida’s beauty away from all the hustle and bustle of Miami or Orlando, Jacksonville is the perfect place.