The Ortega neighborhood is known for its giant oak trees, waterfront views, and historic homes. Nestled between the St. Johns and Ortega rivers, the area was designated as a US historic district in 2004. The peninsula is a mostly residential area with abundant green spaces and a wealth of parks. On any given weekend, you can see Ortega residents and tourists riding bikes, tossing a frisbee, walking their dogs, or playing flag football in one of these green spaces:
4021 Ortega Blvd
A gilded iron entryway introduces this park, named after John Stockton, president of the Ortega Company and the resident responsible for developing much of the neighborhood in the 19th century. The park was renovated in 2005 and reopened for neighborhood residents to enjoy the waterfront views.
3800 Bettes Circle
This park is one of four circular parks originally named after New World explorers. The original name was Ponce de Leon Park, but was later changed to honor Charles Bettes, a prominent citizen who owned a home on the park.
4198 118th Street
Also known as the Ortega River Nature Preserve, this park encompasses 576 acres and is home to the Ortega Stream Valley nature area, a boardwalk, and a pier for launching kayaks and canoes.
4260 Baltic Street
Another of Ortega’s four circular parks, this space has a communal feel, with water fountains and wide open space for bike-riding, dog-walking, and other activities.
2850 Iroquois Avenue
Also named after a famous explorer, this quaint park features oak trees, pines, and palms. It’s located at the southwest end of Old Ortega.
4170 McGirts Blvd
Named after the Indian tribe, this park has a plaque commemorating Daniel McGirt, a notorious resident of Old Ortega in the 1700s. After serving on both sides of the American Revolutionary War, he was branded a traitor and thief and forced to settle in Florida, which was owned by the Spanish. He turned to piracy and raiding before his death.
Ortega’s parks are a perfect place to enjoy a beautiful sunny day in Northeast Florida, but they also serve as a reminder of the neighborhood’s long history. Take a picnic and enjoy the scenery!