Sitting on a peninsula created by a curve in the St. Johns River, San Marco and St. Nicholas range widely in the type of urban landscapes they inhabit. Much of the area was once known as South Jacksonville, a separate city until it was annexed by its big brother in 1932.
The north section of San Marco, Southbank, is directly south of the river from Downtown and north of I-95. It features a high-rise cornucopia of hospitals, insurance companies and restaurants connected to the rest of the city by three bridges (and the Skyway!). Highlights include the quite-excellent Museum of Science & History (MOSH) and Southbank Riverwalk, a 1.25-mile boardwalk across the river from The Jacksonville Landing.
South of I-95, San Marco Square began as a wealthy, Venetian-styled subdivision in 1925. High-end shops (Olive Clothing, Rosie True), eateries (Taverna, Wine Cellar), bars (Grape & Grain Exchange) and a vintage movie theater attract yuppies and hipsters alike to the line of Mediterranean Revival storefront buildings. In the middle of it all is a well-landscaped square, complete with gazebo, and protected by a pair of larger-than-life bronze lion sculptures.
East of San Marco Square is the more residential neighborhood of St. Nicholas, comprising both stately and working-class houses. Along Atlantic Boulevard is a series of shops and bars that look as if they might have been hermetically sealed in 1952. Belly up to some of Jacksonville’s finest dive bars — especially St. Nick’s Lounge, where the whiskey flows freely and smoke fills the air, as is fitting and proper — and make a night of it.
A FEW OF OUR FAVORITE THINGS
bb’s Restaurant & Bar (1019 Hendricks Ave.)
Bistro AIX (1440 San Marco Blvd.)
European Street Café (1704 San Marco Blvd.)
Havana Jax Café/Cuba Libre Club (2578 Atlantic Blvd.)
The Metro Diner (3302 Hendricks Ave.)
Taverna San Marco (1986 San Marco Blvd.)
The Grotto (2012 San Marco Blvd.)
Wine Cellar (1314 Prudential Drive)
Aardwolf Taproom & Brewery (1461 Hendricks Ave.)
Grape & Grain Exchange (2000 San Marco Blvd.)
St. Nick’s Lounge (3116 Atlantic Blvd.)
Reve Women’s Clothing Boutique (1958 San Marco Blvd.)
Rosie True (1949 San Marco Blvd.)
Olive Clothing (1988 San Marco Blvd.)
Peterbrooke Chocolatier (2024 San Marco Blvd.)
San Marco Bookstore (1971 San Marco Blvd.)
The Snob (1990 San Marco Blvd.)
Riverfront Park (401 Riveredge Blvd.)
San Marco Theatre (1996 San Marco Blvd.)
Southbank Riverwalk (1001 Museum Circle)
Treaty Oak Park (1123 Prudential Drive)
Mudville Music Room (3104 Atlantic Blvd.)
San Marco Art Festival (Every April and October, San Marco Square)
Theatre Jacksonville (2032 San Marco Blvd.)