What to know about Jacksonville

Below you will find a great deal of information to help you with your decision on which area of Northeast Florida, best suits your needs. Whether it be the dreamy beaches, close proximity to highly ranked colleges, world class golf courses, professional sports teams, shopping, amazing historic sites or ocean front living, Jacksonville, St. Augustine and the surrounding areas have it all.


The First Coast offers many options for secondary and post-secondary education, including a state-wide virtual school with over 140 courses for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.


Duval County – The Duval County School District is the 22nd largest in the nation and the 6th largest in Florida. Several high schools consistently rank among the best in Florida and the United States, including Stanton College Preparatory, Paxon School for Advanced Studies, and Douglas Anderson School of the Arts.

St Johns County – The St. Johns County School District is an ‘A’ district (10 years and counting), and has ranked first in the state for total FCAT scores for the last 6 years. Seven (7) of the area high schools are also home to several career academies.


There are over 170 private schools on the First Coast. Here is just a sampling of the schools that provide a top-tier education.

The Bolles School – The Bolles School originally opened as an all-boys military school in 1933,  but dropped its military status in 1962 and began admitting girls in 1971. Today, Bolles is recognized as one of the best schools in the nation, enrolling more than 1,700 students in pre-k through 12th grade across four campuses.

Episcopal School of Jacksonville – Students in grades 6 through 12 may enroll in Episcopal’s traditional, liberal arts curriculum that balances academics, athletics, fine arts, community service, and spiritual development. Episcopal’s main campus is situated on 56 acres along the bank of the St. Johns River, and its 28-acre Knight Sports Complex is nestled along the banks of the Arlington River.

Providence School of Jacksonville – Fully accredited, the Providence School of Jacksonville offers K-12 students a comprehensive, college preparatory education. The school continually updates its facilities to provide the latest technology and teaching aids. The school’s sports programs have also won several state championships.

Bishop Kenny High school – For over 60 years, Bishop Kenny High School has provided a top-notch education to our area’s youth. Students not only have access to superior academic resources and sports programs, but also learn the value of community service through a variety of events.


The First Coast is home to several colleges and universities, both private and public, offering a wide array of degree programs, vocational certificates, and adult education classes.

Jacksonville University – Nestled along the St. Johns River, Jacksonville University is a private, liberal arts, Division I college that has seven (7) bachelor’s degree programs in over 70 different majors. The school also offers graduate programs in nursing, business, education, orthodontics, marine science, fine arts, math, and public policy. More than 90% of incoming freshmen receive scholarships.

Flagler College
– Flagler College is a small, private school located in St. Augustine, Florida in the historic Hotel Ponce de León. Students can choose from 29 majors and two pre-professional programs, as well as several study abroad programs.

University of North Florida – Established in 1972, the University of North Florida (UNF) has grown rapidly in size and enrollment. It is situated on over 1,300 acres and is home to many nature trails, lakes, and wildlife. For the last four years, UNF has been recognized as one of Kiplinger’s Top 100 Best Value Public Colleges.

Florida State College at Jacksonville – With over seven (7) area campuses, Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) has a lot to offer. Students can earn vocational certificates, associate and bachelor degrees, as well as workforce certification. The school also offers an Early College High School Program for those who want to earn their associate in arts degrees concurrently with their high school diplomas, and a new Pre-Early College Program for middle school students.


World-class medical treatment is easy to find on the First Coast. Four hospitals rank among the top 12 in Florida, and our pediatric hospitals have been recognized as some of the best in the country.

Mayo Clinic – Mayo Clinic Jacksonville is the nation’s leading liver transplant program, and offers more than 40 medical and surgical specialties. It is also home to some of the leading physicians and researchers in the world, including Dr. Edith Perez, who recently created a new vaccine that may treat Triple Negative Breast Cancer.

Baptist Health – Baptist Hospital is ranked #1 in the Jacksonville Metro area and #4 in Florida by US News and World Report. There are four convenient locations: Downtown, Nassau, South, and the Beaches. The Beaches location is also the only Northeast Florida healthcare facility to achieve the NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Health system Elders) designation.

Memorial Hospital – Memorial Hospital is a state-of-the-art, full-service medical facility. The main facility has 418 beds and there are two additional emergency centers to handle patients in Julington Creek and Atlantic Beach.  Memorial Hospital is the also first hospital in the U.S. to receive the Joint Commission’s Disease Specific Certification for Sepsis.

St. Vincent’s Healthcare – St. Vincent’s is a faith-based, not-for-profit healthcare system that has served the First Coast area since 1873. There are three locations available: St. Vincent’s Riverside, St. Vincent’s Southside (formerly St. Luke’s), and St. Vincent’s Clay County.

UF Health Jacksonville – UF Health Jacksonville (formerly Shands Jacksonville) is a private, not-for-profit hospital affiliated the University of Florida and is located near downtown. The 695-bed teaching facility is the largest UF campus outside of Gainesville.

Wolfson Children’s Hospital – Wolfson Children’s Hospital is a not-for-profit facility that treats all area children regardless of their ability to pay. The hospital offers a wide range of services, including four Centers of Distinction: Cancer Center, Endocrinology Center, Neuroscience Institute, and the Terry Heart Center.

Nemours Children’s Health System – Nemours Jacksonville is a leading pediatric research facility offering many clinical trials and cutting-edge treatments. It works in partnership with Wolfson Children’s Hospital, UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville, and Mayo Clinic.

Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute – The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute (JOI) has 31 board-certified physicians working at their six (6) offices and nine (9) rehabilitation facilities. JOI is also the official sports medicine provider for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sharks and the Armada.


Businesses small and large will find life on the First Coast worth the investment. In fact, Jacksonville was recently ranked as the top city to start a business.

Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce – The JAX Chamber has more than 3,000 members serving Northeast Florida and offers many programs, including:ImpactJax, the Small Business Center, and theWomen’s Business Center.

St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce – The St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce seeks to assist local businesses through development, education, advocacy, and promotion. The Chamber also includes a separate Ponte Vedra Beach Division to serve professionals and businesses that are active in that area.

Downtown Vision, Inc. – Jacksonville (also known as the ‘River City’) is undergoing a massive, downtown redevelopment that is creating endless opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs. Thinking aboutstarting a business downtown? Check out the resources offered through Downtown Vision, Inc.

Women Business Owners of North Florida – Women business owners and entrepreneurs seeking support, mentorship, and other resources for starting a business on the First Coast will find exactly what they need from the Women Business Owners of North Florida (WBO).

Jacksonville Port Authority – The Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT) is committed to improving Jacksonville’s economic growth and diversity through its Small and Emerging Business Program.


Professional sport teams abound on the First Coast. Whether you love baseball, basketball, football or soccer, you’re sure to find something to make you cheer (or scream).

jagsJacksonville Jaguars NFL Football – Jacksonville Jaguars (often referred to as the ‘Cardiac Cats’) played their first game on September 3, 1995. Since then, the franchise has given residents of North Florida something to cheer (and scream) for every Sunday during football season. Their home, Everbank Field, boasts the world’s largest video screens and has two (2) in-stadium swimming pools.

Jacksonville Suns Baseball – Jacksonville is home to a Double-A, Minor League baseball team – the Suns. The team’s stadium is one of the premier Minor League ballparks in America with a seating capacity of 11,000. It’s the perfect place to take the kids or relax with coworkers.

Jacksonville Sharks Arena Football – The Sharks officially began circling the Jacksonville waters in 2010 and won Arena Bowl XXIV in only their second year. There are 18 games played each season, with nine (9) homes games hosted at the Veterans Memorial Arena. Their mascot, Chum, is a fan favorite.

Jacksonville Armada FC – Soccer – In 2013, Jacksonville was awarded the 12th club in the North American Soccer League, the Jacksonville Armada FC. Their inaugural season began in 2015 with home games played at the Suns baseball stadium and Everbank Field.

Jacksonville Giants Basketball – The Jacksonville Giants arrived in Jacksonville in 2010. In their first season, the team posted a record of 23-0 and set ABA league scoring records. They also won the National ABA Title in 2012 and 2013. Home games are played at the Veterans Memorial Arena.


The diversity of the First Coast is reflected in the many cultural opportunities found throughout the area. Spend an evening listening to Bach, roam the rose gardens at Cummer, or enjoy a play at one of our theatrical venues.

Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra – Ranked as one of the nation’s top regional orchestras, the Jacksonville Symphony plays at the Times-Union Center for Performing Arts September through May each year. Each season, nearly 84,000 students benefit from the Orchestra’s educational opportunities, including: concerts, after-school enrichment programs, master classes, and the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Cummer Museum and Gardens – Located in beautiful Riverside, the Cummer Museum and Gardens not only offers residents the opportunity to enjoy gallery exhibitions, but also outdoor concerts, after-hour gatherings, youth programs, classes, and more. The Cummer is also a popular venue for weddings and charity events.

Museum of Contemporary Art – For more than 90 years, MOCA Jacksonville has provided countless opportunities for the community to experience modern and contemporary art. This private, nonprofit educational institution also serves as a cultural resources for the University of North Florida. It is located in downtown adjacent to Hemming Plaza.

Museum of Science and History – The Museum of Science and History (MOSH) is located next to Friendship Fountain along the St. Johns River. It features a planetarium, exhibits, and many educational programs. The venue is also used for corporate events, parties, and weddings.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens – The Jacksonville Zoo has more than 2,000 animals on exhibit and more than 1,000 plant varieties displayed throughout the park. Visitors can feed stingrays and giraffes, play in the splash park, or even spend the night at a Safari Sleepover.

World Golf Hall of Fame – The World Golf Hall of Fame opened its doors in 1998. Located in St. Augustine, it is part of the World Golf Village, which includes a resort, shopping, dining, an IMAX theater, and two golf courses – The King & Bear and the Slammer & Squire.

Players by the Sea – For over 49 years, the Players by the Sea has developed the talents of local playwrights, performance artists, and actors. This intimate theatre, located in Jacksonville Beach, hosts a variety of productions and educational programs each year.

Theatre Jacksonville – Located in San Marco, Theatre Jacksonville is the longest running community theatre in Florida. Each year, it hosts several productions, classes, and a summer theatre camps for younger students. The theatre is also available for corporate meetings and other events when the schedule permits.


The warm year-round temperatures of the First Coast provide the perfect backdrop for some of the best annual events in the state.

The Players Championship – Each May, thousands descend upon Ponte Vedra to enjoy The Players Championship. This event is stretched out across six (6) days, giving spectators the opportunity to watch the best players in the world while enjoying the beautiful, sunny Florida weather. There are several other events that take place during the week, including The Players 5K With Donna and after-hour parties, such as theFancy Pants Party at TPC.

Jacksonville Jazz FestivalconcertJacksonville is the host to one of the largest, free jazz festivals in the country – the Jacksonville Jazz Festival. Since 1981, this festival has been a favorite of locals and visitors alike. Although the festival has changed venues and producers throughout the years, the annual Jazz Piano Competition, Art in the Heart, Midnight Jazz Jam, and the Sunday Jazz Brunch have remained.

Springing in the Blues – Each year, Jacksonville Beach is host to the Springing in the Blues Festival. This eagerly awaited annual event features performances from national, regional, and local blues artists, and draws nearly 150,000 visitors during its 3-day run.

Gate River Run – More than 15,000 runners participate in the annual Gate River Run, which also serves as USA 15K Championship. As America’s largest 15K, this event draws some of America’s top Olympic athletes. The run takes place in downtown Jacksonville and features live bands performing along the course. Event participants compete for more than $85,000 in prize money.

26.2 With Donna – Also known as the Breast Cancer Marathon, the 26.2 With Donna is the only marathon in the world that donates 100% of its net proceeds to fight breast cancer. Each February, more than 12,000 participants from over 20 countries come out to run the beautiful course that travels through Ponte Vedra and Jacksonville Beach.

Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance – Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is among the top automotive events in the world. It features a Porsche Driving Experience, auctions, book signings, car displays, a gala dinner, and so much more. Located at The Golf Club of Amelia Island and The Ritz-Carlton, this annual 3-day event has raised more than $2.5 million for local charities over the last 20 years.

Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival – Each year, the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival brings its mixture of art, food, and fun to historic downtown Fernandina Beach the first weekend in May. The 3-day event also includes several contests, a Miss Shrimp Festival Scholarship Pageant, and several music concerts.

Never Quit Beach Festival – The Never Quit Beach Festival first began in 2009 as a 5K to celebrate the ‘never quit’ attitude of Capt. Gerard Petroni. Today, it includes not only the 5K beach run, but also a Warrior Challenge, Trident course (run, swim & paddle), Beach Battle, surfing lessons, and an expo.

One Spark Festival – One Spark is the world’s largest crowdfunding festival. The event, which takes place in downtown Jacksonville over six (6) days, brings together artists, entrepreneurs, and innovators all vying for the opportunity to win funding for future projects and inventions. More than 250,000 visitors descend upon the festival, enjoying music, food, and various activities.


There’s never a dull moment on the First Coast. You are sure to find something fun and entertaining at any one of our various entertainment venues.

Jacksonville Veterans Memorial ArenaJacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena – Veterans Memorial Arena is located downtown next to the Jacksonville Suns Baseball Stadium. It has a seating capacity of 16,000 and features 1,000 club seats, 28 suites, four party suites, a party deck, concessions, locker rooms, four-star dressing rooms, and a 27,000 square foot floor. The Arena hosts several sporting events, live concerts, graduations, and other entertainment events.

Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts – Located along the St. Johns River, the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts features three venues: the Mary Virginia Terry Theater, Robert E. Jacoby Symphony Hall, and the Moran Theater. A wide variety of events are scheduled annually, including comedy shows, concerts, and stage productions.

Florida Theater – Since 1927, the Florida Theater has been one of the premier entertainment venues in downtown Jacksonville. Each year, it hosts more than 200 cultural events, including opera, ballet, and jazz concerts. It is also frequently rented for business meetings, charity events, award ceremonies, and graduations.

Alhambra Dinner Theatre – Built in 1967, the Alhambra Dinner Theatre  is one of the few remaining dinner theaters in United States. Actors come from across the country to audition for the many Broadway-caliber productions presented each year. The historic on-site garden is also a favorite location for weddings and corporate parties.

St Augustine Amphitheater – Originally built in 1965, the St. Augustine Amphitheatre recently underwent massive renovations. The new state-of-the-art entertainment venue, located in Anastasia State Park, now includes a conference room, a large plaza, concession stands, and an elaborate arboretum.

Ponte Vedra Concert Hall – The Ponte Vedra Concert Hall is one of the newest venues on the First Coast. In 2011, the main floor of the former Cornerstone Baptist Church was converted into a performing arts facility with the ability to house multiple events. The second phase of construction will add a second floor to the venue, as well as a VIP lounge.