Jacksonville’s Northside covers a massive chunk of land, including almost everything north of the St. Johns to the city’s edge and from I-10 to the Atlantic. That’s almost half of the city, and yet the neighborhood is largely (and unfairly) ignored by most Duval residents. Yes, large pockets are mostly industrial wastelands and residential sprawl, and you probably only make that hike up I-95 to get to the airport or maybe a day at the zoo. Dig a little, though, and you’ll find plenty to do.
Rivers, creeks and inlets dominate the scenery east of I-95, and the local park system takes full advantage of the area’s natural beauty, offering hiking trails, kayaking, historical sites and camping on the water’s edge. Take the Heckscher Drive exit off I-95 for some of the best seafood restaurants in the city, with the day’s catch served up right on the water. Be sure to stop at Chowder Ted’s, a tiny shack famous for fish sandwiches and spicy chowder, then make the long trek down Heckscher to where the river meets the ocean for the best all-you-can-eat deal in town at Sandollar Restaurant & Marina.
The Northside is also where you’ll find one of Florida’s oldest and largest historic districts. Lying just north of Downtown, Springfield was established in the 1860s. It’s seen many years of growth followed by many more years of decline, but in the past couple of decades, Springfield has become known as an up-and-comer — a little rough around the edges, sure, but so much charm. Despite — or probably because of — its setbacks, residents of Springfield are a tight-knit group. The neighborhood has an active neighborhood watch program, and residents throw monthly block parties and cookouts.
There’s plenty for visitors, too. Score awesome vintage apparel at Vintage Gone Wild, buy or make your own handmade candies at Sweet Pete’s, or try out your open-mic skills at Three Layers Café, a unique coffee shop and wine bar in the heart of the ’hood. Or spend the afternoon in one of the neighborhood’s several historic parks, like Klutho Park, where you can challenge your friends to a free game of disc golf, or take your dog for a day at Confederate Park, one of the only dog parks in the area. And after the sun sets, you’ll find what may be the city’s best dive bar/underground music venue, Shantytown Pub, where you can catch live shows, from punk to metal to hip-hop, most nights of the week.
A FEW OF OUR FAVORITE THINGS
Chowder Ted’s (5215 Heckscher Drive)
Hola! Mexican Restaurant (1001 N. Main St.)
Sandollar Restaurant & Marina (9716 Heckscher Drive)
Savannah Bistro (14670 Duval Road)
Toby’s Barbecue (8483 New Kings Road)
Uptown Market (1303 N. Main St.)
Wafaa N’ Mike’s (1544 N. Main St.)
Shantytown Pub (22 W. Sixth St.)
Three Layers Café (1602 Walnut St.)
Howard’s Seafood Market (1315 Gandy St.)
Oliver’s Outpost Antiques (10965 Main St.)
Sweet Pete’s (1922 Pearl St.)
Vintage Gone Wild (1736 N. Main St.)
Confederate Park (956 Hubbard St.)
Huguenot Memorial Park (10980 Heckscher Drive)
Henry J. Klutho Park (635 Third St.)
Jacksonville Zoo (370 Zoo Parkway)
Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum (101 W. First St.)