My neck of the woods, San Marco, located just south of Downtown and connected most directly by the Main Street and Acosta Bridges, brings you all the comforts of your northern home with bungalow style houses from the Arts and Crafts era, Victorian homes, and other tastefully rendered, old but sturdy structures. From the north end of the short-but-sweet strip of San Marco Boulevard, you can walk, cycle, scooter, or drive your way to the southeast end.
At the north end, get some down home BBQ at The Q. Or for something more fancy, Bistro Aix attracts folks from all over the whole county and cities beyond. Across the street, get your workout groove on with Dance Trance. For a cornucopia of gourmet sandwich selections, check out European Street. Meander in and out of the surrounding neighborhoods, making sure to pass by the river’s banks from time to time.
At the end of the boulevard’s curve is San Marco Square where you’ll find quintessential square-like shops and eateries like Pizza Palace, Starbucks, San Marco Deli, First Place Sports, various clothing boutiques, and a sprinkling of art galleries, bar lounges* and clubs*. San Marco Theatre is a historic little venue of the silver screen which also serves decent food like pizza, sandwiches, and quesadillas. The Square also hosts various mini music, art, and year-round holiday festivals.
Venture onto North Hendricks and, though you’ll have a really hard time finding it, check out Jack Rabbits* which is one of the non-mainstream music nation’s best kept secrets, hosting underground and indie bands from all over the country. Further north on Hendricks are more little boutiques and great places to eat and at the very end is Reddi Arts, where you’ll find many of your art supply needs. Even further north, check out a free outdoor movie during Movies in the Park at Treaty Oak.
Venture east on Atlantic for a bit and hit San Marco’s nearby neighbor, the environ of St. Nicholas. Venture south on Hendricks for more great neighborhoods to explore and make a pit stop at Metro Diner, a decadently delicious little spot where locals gather by the truck loads for breakfast food stuffs you wont soon forget.
Like any big city, there’s always going to be a variety of fun new experiences waiting for you to take advantage of them. You just have to look for them, be involved in your community, and get to know the locals. Rest assured, you’ll find plenty of people here who are very proud of their city and eager to let you in on its secrets, one of which includes Yours Truly. 😉
For a good way to keep up to date with great venues and fun events read: Folioweekly or The Florida Times Union.
My favorite online go-tos include:
*Please note, neither I, nor The University of North Florida, in any way supports or promotes underage drinking. For those old enough, drink responsibly and never drink and drive.