What constitutes an “expert”? Awards and accolades? A special skill? Longevity? We chose four people with more than a decade of Northeast Florida experiences under their belts to represent Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties. We spoke with a production company head, a busy real estate broker, an international touring rock guitarist and a woman who works in city government. Each of our subjects offered wisdom on the best places to eat, play, work and dwell.
A resident of the Dinsmore Dairy area in Jacksonville, Tib Miller has lived in Northeast Florida for approximately 20 years. A native of the “Nutmeg State,” aka Connecticut, Miller is the owner and operator of Flying Saucer Presents, a production company that has helped bring musical acts like Wilco, Taj Mahal, the Indigo Girls and Dick Dale to Northeast Florida.
When he’s not shmoozing with the band, Miller said he enjoys fueling up on some of the best bites in town. Miller’s list includes a glass of wine at Riverside Liquors & Village Wine Shop, kale salad compliments of Dig Foods at Underbelly, local cheese from Grassroots Natural Market, paneer masala at India’s Restaurant on Baymeadows Road, and an espresso and a good book at Chamblin Bookmine located Downtown.
His advice for greenhorn Duval County residents?
“Adopt a philosophical outlook that keeps your eyes open and your head up,” Miller said. “The real strength of Jacksonville is the people of Jacksonville. Look around. What you will see is good people doing good things. The vastness of the geographical size of the city and county can be a bit overwhelming. Take your time. With close and careful examination, you will find your place and, most importantly, you will find your way.”
ST. JOHNS COUNTY
As the broker/manager of one of St. Augustine’s busiest real estate offices, Ann King knows a thing or two about giving advice on living in St. Johns County. A Flagler College alumna, King is originally from New Jersey, but has lived in Northeast Florida for more than 13 years. She’s currently a resident of Marsh Creek Country Club off A1A and oversees dozens of realtors with the St. Augustine Beach Prudential Network Realty office.
“When you move to Northeast Florida, you need to know what lifestyle you plan on living when here,” King said. “If you are a water person, you want to be closer to the beach or Intracoastal. If you want a more city historical life, it would be Downtown.”
King said there is never a dull moment living in the Nation’s Oldest City. This includes free music performances at the Beach Pier, special events at Francis Field, concerts at St. Augustine Amphitheatre, happy hour at Coquina Beach Surf Club Restaurant, and a burger on the beach at Beachcomber Restaurant.
“I love to do the ghost tour and historical walking tours. The Flagler College tour is always amazing with the history, culture and beauty of the buildings. I like to dine at Mojo Old City BBQ, enjoy tapas and wine at the Tasting Room, and stroll down Aviles Street to quaint little bars like Cellar 6 to listen to live music.”
Randy Winter is the guitarist with rock band The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. He’s also a longtime Northeast Floridian. Born in Tucson, Ariz., and raised in Middleburg, Winter has spent more than 24 years residing in the area — from Jacksonville to Orange Park to Jacksonville Beach and back to Middleburg. As a major component in Red Jumpsuit Apparatus alongside brother, Ronnie, Winter spends a good deal of time touring around the world. But when he’s home, he said he loves going to his favorite haunts.
“Jacksonville is loaded with hidden gems. I won't reveal all of them and take the joy away from you discovering them on your own, but here are some of my favorite places to hang out, eat and activities.”
Winter said “hands down,” the best places to hang out include Five Points in historic Avondale-Riverside, Jacksonville Beach, St. Johns Town Center and The Jacksonville Landing.
“When there are waves to surf, depending on the swell direction, I head to either the Jax Beach Pier, ‘The Poles’ [Huguenot Park] or the St. Augustine Pier,” he said. “If there are no waves, I occasionally hit up one of our many skate parks we're lucky to have. There’s the infamous Kona featured in ‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater’ game; Treaty Park in St. Augustine; ‘AB,’ Atlantic Beach’s park; ‘Monument,’ Ed Benedict's park; ‘Emerson,’ Cuba Hunter’s park; Dolphin Cove in Ponte Vedra; and the reopened UNF park. All of these are pretty sick, and most are free.”
When it comes to sticking closer to home, Winter hits Clay County spots, getting his grub on at Prevatt’s Sports Bar & Grill and Laredo Mexican Restaurant, as well as fishing, swimming, jet-skiing and boating in Black Creek.
Born and raised in Fernandina Beach, Kim Elliott-Briley knows a thing or two about Northeast Florida. She’s spent the past 45 years residing in Nassau County and is currently the city clerk pro tem of her hometown. Responsible for maintaining records of City Commission meetings and the official custodian of Fernandina Beach’s corporate seal and records, Elliott-Briley lives and breathes all things Nassau County.
“Our city is very diverse, with those who have lived here all their life and those that relocate due to their work or choose to retire here,” she said. “This is what makes our community so unique.”
When she’s not at work, Elliott-Briley said there is never a shortage of things to do in Fernandina Beach, from festivals and concerts to art shows and plays at the local theater.
“Our island is a little sliver of paradise!” she said.
“The city has a lighthouse that offers tours through the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and there is the Egans Creek Greenway that provides great trails for walking or riding bikes,” Elliott-Briley said. “And, of course, there are the beaches and river. Our beaches provide a great place to relax, and the many creeks provide great kayaking.”