Jacksonville Shopping Tips by HumblyServingChrist Top 5 Page for this destination
Jacksonville Shopping: 18 reviews and 14 photos
Divided by Atlantic Blvd., the pedestrian-friendly communities of Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach share a the lively, beautifully landscaped Beach Town Center. Beginning at the Atlantic Blvd. beach access and spanning a few square blocks, Beach Town Center is full of funky, trendy and casual hotspots located just footsteps from the sand. Here, popular restaurants like North Beach Fish Camp, Poe's Tavern, Ragtime, Al’s Pizza, Mezza Luna, Ocean 60, Flying Iguana, Joseph’s, and Sliders -- along with other eateries, coffee and dessert shops -- draw patrons from Jacksonville and beyond in a very idyllic, friendly atmosphere. Here it is common to see swimsuit-clad bicyclists, sandy-footed just-off-the-beach pedestrians, well-groomed for a date yuppies, and family guys like myself pushing strollers loaded with beach bags and toys. At Christmas time, Beach Town Center is a wonderland of lights wrapped around the numerous palm trees that line its streets.
Address: The east end of Atlantic Blvd.
Directions: Go east on Atlantic Blvd. and cross Third Street (A1A). Then look for a parking space.
Located near the popular Mandarin and Baymeadows neighborhoods in the southern part of Jacksonville, The Avenues Mall is one of Jacksonville's largest and still holds its own as an upscale mall despite the newer and more popular St. Johns Town Center (see my travelogue). Featuring two stories of stores covered under a canopy of glassy skylights (including two large glass domes), The Avenues is a bright, polished and airy place to spend an afternoon. The Avenues' tenant list includes a variety of upscale and designer stores like Williams-Sonoma, Abercrombie & Fitch, Pottery Barn, Banana Republic, Talbots, Brookstone and others.
Directions: Between the neighborhood areas of Mandarin and Baymeadows.
Regency Square Mall, located in the Arlington part of town, is Jacksonville's oldest super-regional mall. Back in the 1970's and early 1980's it was the best mall in the region, boasting well over 100 stores. In the late 1980's, the much more upscale, two-story Avenues Mall opened on the city's south side, but Regency seemed able to compete through a series of expansions and facelifts. In the 1990's and early 2000's, the SR 9A beltway project made access to the Avenues much quicker from the Arlington area. Then, in 2005, Jacksonville's best mall of all, the even more upscale, outdoor-focused, and close-by St. Johns Town Center (see my travelogue), changed the face of Jacksonville shopping completely. Couple that with the opening of River City Marketplace on the Northside (an under-served part of town that has long been a big customer base), and Regency seems to have been dealt a knock-out punch that still has it spinning.
Perhaps Regency's "crown jewel" is its renovated food court, designed in a nautical seaport theme. A giant painted collage mural blending various images of life in Jacksonville provides an intriguing backdrop for three-dimensional relief depictions of some of the city's most prominant bridges. Nearby, in the mall's central court, is a very elaborately decorated children's train ride. Designed as a train trip around Florida, the small kiddie attraction features animated marine animals, manufactured mangroves, miniature landmark buildings and squirting water (don't worry, the kids won't get wet). Of course, much of the mall stiil looks like an 1980's era mall that has tried to disguise its age.
Unfortunately, many of the mall's best tenants have also left over the years, causing Regency to lose its luster. It still has long-time anchors Sears, Belk, JC Penney's, and Dillard's, but this Dillard's location has been converted into a discount clearance store. Some of the surrounding retail stores have also closed or relocated a couple miles down 9A to the St. Johns Town Center area.
While it still has many stores that lure many shoppers, Regency's image has also been tarnished by a more noticable "teenage thug" presence. This is not to say that the Regency area is "the hood." In fact, many very nice neighborhoods and newer retail centers are located not too far away. It's just that the Regency area has lost its appeal with many long-time residents, and many newer-generation Jacksonvillians never knew it when it was great.
Personally, I rarely go to Regency anymore, even though it is the mall I grew up visiting with my parents. St. Johns Town Center just flat out blows this mall away.
Address: Arlington Expressway and Atlantic Blvd.
St. Johns Town Center , an outdoor, pedestrian-friendly, “Main Street” style mall (dubbed a “lifestyle center” in the retail industry), is THE premier shopping and dining destination between tourist-happy Orlando and big-business Atlanta. You could even say it’s a “mall” for outdoors-loving people who hate to go to the mall! I don’t even like most of the high-end stores found here, yet I really enjoy walking its sidewalks and green. Of course, if you are a shopaholic (brace yourself) St. Johns Town Center is home to the likes of Tiffany & Company, Louis Vuitton, Urban Outfitters, The Apple Store, Sephora, Lucky Brand Jeans, Tommy Bahama, Pottery Barn, Fossil, Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch, Fossil, Anthropologie, Mayor’s, Banana Republic, Williams-Sonoma, and a whole slew of other ritzy and/or trendy chains that I do not have the money, fashion sense, or status envy to shop at. (That said, I do have three favorite hang-outs: a two-story Dick’s Sporting Goods, Lifeway Christian Store, and Barnes & Noble.)
Aside from shopping, another equally impressive drawing card is its selection of restaurants. Here, your stomach (and wallet) must decide among the likes of The Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Maggiano’s Little Italy, The Capital Grill, Mitchell’s Fish Market, Bahama Breeze, Ted’s Montana Grill, Cantina Laredo, J. Alexander’s, Black Finn, Seasons 52 (coming soon), and a host of other more common variety chains.
Opened in 2005, St. Johns Town Center is more than just Jacksonville’s premier shopping and dining destination – it’s also a rival hub to downtown. Situated at the busy super-interchange of J.T. Butler Boulevard (a freeway that links I-95 to the beaches) and SR 9A (the eastern half of the city’s beltway), the center is the heart of Jacksonville’s busy and ever-booming Southside, surrounded by a landscape dense with office, residential, and retail developments. The campus of the University of North Florida and the popular Cinemark Tinseltown megaplex are also within very close proximity – as are even more restaurants and big-box retailers!
Directions: Deerwood/Tinseltown area of the Southside
Jacksonville: St. Johns Town Center
Looking for a relaxing place to sit when taking a break from upscale shopping? Here is a photo taken at the "town square" I mentioned in the previous tip that serves as the outdoor mall's centerpiece. Here you can enjoy the tranquility of koi ponds, statues and small fountains.
Directions: Deerwood/Tinseltown area
Looking for a beachy mom & pop store where you can find tropical trinkets, clothing, and art at very reasonable prices? Have a penchant for colorful tropical shirts, ocean themed nicknacks and every kind of pink flamingo or palm tree souvenir you can imagine? If either of the previous questions have piqued your curiosity then a shopping stop at Shorelines is an absolute must!
What to buy: Located in Beach Town Center just steps away from the ocean and from the Sea Turtle Inn, Shorelines is certain to please anyone looking to take home a piece of paradise. Shorelines carries a wide, ever-changing assortment of beach and tropical related merchandise ranging from quality art, clothing, home decor and kitchen accessories to all things cheap, plastic, inflatable or otherwise irresistably tacky.
What to pay: Even the store's top dollar merchandise is quite reasonable. And, it's a great place to find something nice but inexpensive that kids will treasure.
Address: Beach Town Center
Directions: Neighborhood: Neptune Beach
Jacksonville: Five Points
Located a couple blocks off the river in the otherwise scenic, stately and historic Riverside part of town is a neighborhood that serves as Jacksonville's answer to San Francisco's Haight-Asbury. Called Five Points for the five-way intersection at one end, this shopping, nightlife and dining destination features an eclectic mix of shops specializing in vintage clothing, independent music, body art, antiques, drug paraphanalia and alternative lifestyle gifts intermingled with art galleries, mom and pop eateries, fast food retaurants and salons.
At Five Points' center stands an old style movie house that has been converted into Club 5, one of Jacksonville's most popular and notorious dance and live music clubs. Most famous for the who's who list of modern rock acts that have performed there for more than a decade, Club 5 has also built a reputation for the avant guard by being the first to bring such "in" club fads of the past several years as leather fetish shows, live piercings and foam showers to the River City.
A very interesting neighborhood for people watching, Five Points draws extravagantly pierced punks and goths, geek chic local artists, self-proclaimed vampires, guitar-toting next-generation hippies and other free spirits that together bring as much color as the brightly painted brick walls, sidewalks and storefronts that define the neighborhood. While not "upscale trendy" like San Marco Square, Beach Town Center or the nearby Shoppes of Avondale, Five Points is a short walk from several quaint bed and breakfasts, stately riverfront homes and fashionable restaurants.
Address: Park St. between Post and Margaret
Learn to hang ten -- or at least look cool.
Selling everything from high priced surfboards and swimwear to inexpensive stickers and sunglass straps, the surf shop is an iconic and cultural staple of any popular, funky beach destination. In a beach city as big as Jacksonville it certainly should be no surprise to see so many surf shops. Simply walking in one gives you a sense of casual coolness, even if you don't know the first thing about hanging ten. Here are a handful of surf shops to sample during your Jacksonville vacation:
The two-story, glass-fronted Aqua East Surf Shop in Neptune Beach is the city's largest and most distinctive. In addition to selling surfing accessories and merchandise, Aqua East also operates a surf school and rents watercraft like a boat, kayak or Jet Ski.
Sunrise Surf Shop in Jacksonville Beach is another favorite of local surfers.
Heading to Huguenot or the Talbot Islands parks? Fort George Surf Shop makes for a convenient pit stop.
Even if you're hanging out west of the Intracoastal Waterway, stores like Quicksilver Board Riders and Core can be found inside local malls.
Some surf shops are located in modest, funky stand-alone buildings like Austin's in Jacksonville Beach.
Others, like the national chain Waves can be found in shopping plazas.
Certainly Jacksonville's smallest surf shop has to be the Secret Surf Shop, tucked in a sliver of a storefront in the popular pedestrian district of Beach Town Center. While it may be small, its location means surfers and surfer wannabes can literally walk off the beach, into the store, and back out to the surf all in a short walk.
What to buy: Surfboards/boogie boards/wake boards
Surf wax and accessories
Theme: Sporting Goods
Three lions sit in the center of San Marco Square
San Marco Square, an artsy shopping, dining and entertainment district just south of downtown, is one of Jacksonville's trendiest destinations. Its historic Italian influenced architecture stretches along the Y-shaped intersection of Atlantic and San Marco Boulevards just west of Hendricks. At the center of the Square, a giant statue of three lions watches over Bails Park and its classic white bandstand.
In the Square you can stroll through art galleries, boutiques, independent bookstores and upscale gift shops while trying to decide if you want to dine in class (e.g.: at a two-story Thai bistro and live music club, a sushi bar, an eclectic sidewalk cafe with absolutely fabulous desserts or at an elegant wine grotto) or if you would rather enjoy cheaper treats (e.g.: at a casual, pet-friendly sidewalk pizza parlor, a Chicago-style bar & grill or at a popular local hot subs chain). There's even a chocolate boutique to drool over. Don’t forget to enjoy the latest art film or first run release showing at the old-fashioned art deco San Marco Theatre as well. If live performances are more to your liking, catch the latest production of Florida’s longest running community theatre at the playhouse.
Further exploration of San Marco will uncover numerous other fine dining and trendy casual restaurants, along with nightclubs and day spas. The streets south of the Square are lined with stately old estates and riverfront mansions certainly worth a look. Peterbrooke Chocolates also offers tours of their chocolate factory located on San Marco Ave.
San Marco Square gets very busy during the lunch hour, when executives and yuppies hop over from downtown to grab a bite, and again when they return for a happy hour or dinner. Behind the shops and restaurants lining Atlantic Blvd. is a large parking lot -- good to know in case all of the on-street parking spaces are taken. A free trolley also shuttles people back and forth between downtown and San Marco Square during the day.
Address: Atlantic Blvd. at San Marco Blvd.
Directions: Historic San Marco (just south of downtown)
Along a couple of blocks of St. Johns Avenue in the heart of Jacksonville's historic Avondale neighborhood is a strip of boutiques, antique stores, bistros, restaurants and gift shops favored by connoisseurs of class, The Shoppes of Avondale. While quieter and smaller in scale than other upscale pedestrian shopping districts around Jacksonville (e.g.: San Marco Square, Beach Town Center, Sawgrass Village) The Shoppes is one of the oldest.
The Shoppes is a small commercial strip nestled in the midst of stately homes built in the early 1900s and under the canopy of shady water oaks dripping with Spanish moss. Boone Park, a scenic city park with lots of shady trees, is located a short walk from The Shoppes.
Address: St. Johns Avenue
Directions: Historic Avondale neighborhood
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