From St. Johns River and Southbank to San Marco, we’ve got your dating guide covered for the expansive city that is Jacksonville, Florida!
Featuring the most square mileage of any city in the continental United States, Jacksonville, Florida, comes with its own dating challenges. However, great employment opportunities, water galore, and up-and-coming hot spots help keep this Florida city from getting lost in the crowd.
1) Work Matters
Jacksonville’s expansive city limits make dating without wheels virtually impossible. If you don’t want to spend prime dating hours in your car, try to live near your job. This city is known for its great financial services and insurance industries—ideally, find employment near the downtown or surrounding areas. That way, the Southbank area and beaches are still accessible within a reasonable amount of time, giving you nightlife options that don’t close by ten o’clock.
2) Where to Live
A good location in Jax can really make or break your dating life. Check out San Marco if you want to live in the mix—you’ll find plenty of nightlife and potential date spots in the charming old town square. Across the St. Johns River lie Riverside and Avondale, areas with a Bohemian feel mixed with a touch of yuppie. Priced out of these locations? Then give Lakewood or San Jose a try. Just a bit south, these small towns feature their own restaurants and are close enough to swing by San Marco in a matter of minutes. And if money is no object, head for the beaches.
Still moaning over Jacksonville’s subpar nightlife? Then you haven’t been out lately. Nighttime fun is on the upswing—you just need to know where to look. To be on the safe side, though, always remember to check club or bar hours ahead of time. Here are a few favorites. For happy hour: Twisted Sisters (Jacksonville Beach): Check out a great-looking crowd while playing ping-pong. Burrito Gallery and Bar (downtown): Enjoy a cocktail while admiring art and listening to the piano. For people watching: Twisted Martini (Jacksonville Landing): A trendy nightspot with hipsters galore. Square One (San Marco): This is where the beautiful twenty-somethings congregate. For dancing: Cuba Libre (St. Nicholas district): Got salsa? Ragtime Tavern (Atlantic Beach): This favored brewpub also offers a dance floor. Mark’s Downtown Club/Lounge (downtown): A swanky spot to get your groove on.
4) Park It
Home of the largest urban park system in the country, Jacksonville features plenty of choices for a date with a nature lover. Pack a picnic and head to scenic Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park, or see unspoiled wetlands and a bit of history at the Timucuan Preserve and the Kingsley Plantation. Relax in the sun on the beautiful, secluded beaches of Big Talbot Island, or energize your date with some kayaking or hiking on Little Talbot.
5) Divine Inspiration
When it comes to religion, Jax remains a conservative Southern Christian town at heart. While driving around Jacksonville, expect to see churches, especially of the Southern Baptist variety. If church plays a big role in your life, consider hunting for one that caters to people your age or has special groups to join. No doubt, your chances of meeting someone who shares your values are heavenly.
6) The River City
The St. Johns River not only gives Jacksonville its nickname, but also provides a variety of date-night entertainment and dining options. For a romantic prelude to your evening, take a river taxi to the Landing. Or plan a night around the Southbank Riverwalk, right across the way. Grab a bite at one of the many eateries, wander into a museum and steal a kiss near the beautiful Friendship Fountain. And if you’re feeling lucky, roll the dice on one of the riverboat casino gambling cruises.
7) Life’s a Beach
Jacksonville’s beach trio includes Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach and the appropriately named Jacksonville Beach. Overall, beach life is more casual than in the hot spots near downtown, so plan to relax and work on your tan. Head to the Atlantic Beach Town Center for some shopping and then hang outdoors at the Lemon Bar, or put on your dancing shoes and shake it at the swanky Ocean Club. If you like to mingle at the bar, drop by the Bonefish Grill in Jacksonville Beach, or if you’re at a loss for words, try the Alhambra Dinner Theater.
8) Dating To-Do List
Got a date, but not sure what to do? Don’t worry—Jacksonville has a little something to suit every dating taste. Music lovers should check out concerts at the Florida Theater or Freebird Live, or head outdoors to Metro Park.
For a little romance, try Simon’s in San Marco for some live jazz and wine, or stay at the Riverside Inn for a scrumptious dinner at the Row Restaurant, followed by drinks at Gum Bunch Pub.
If coffee’s your weakness, fill your cup at Fuel in Riverside while listening to some live poetry readings. Up for a wild time? Grab tickets to the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, also known as the yearly Florida-Georgia football game in the Gator Bowl stadium.
9) Grab a Bite
Looking for something tasty to feed your honey? Here’s just a small sampling of the city’s many delicious options: Fine dining: Matthew’s food can’t be beat, or try the shrimp bisque at trendy bb’s in San Marco.
Sunday brunch: Head to local favorite Biscotti’s, or grab a seat on the outdoor patio at Brick, both in Avondale.
Just desserts: Follow your sweet tooth to the Grape in St. Johns Town Center or 3 Sisters’ Chocolate in San Jose.
Casual: Throw on your flip-flops and dine at the Beachside Seafood Restaurant in Jacksonville Beach.
Ambiance: Hit the Grotto in San Marco for tapas, wine and a great singles scene. View: River City Brewing Company’s large riverfront deck and great food make for a wonderful dining experience.
10) Get Out of Town
Want to take your date away from it all? You’re in luck—Jacksonville offers some great nearby getaways. There’s local favorite St. Augustine if you crave a new beach scene. For a little Southern history and charm, make the two-hour drive to lovely Savannah, Georgia.
Recent grads will enjoy an outing to Gainesville, home of the Florida Gators, or for a big splurge, head to the Ritz-Carlton at Amelia Island during the Jazz Festival. And if you just want some peace and quiet, try the small-town feel of Cedar Key.
Learn more about Jacksonville singles now!