Jacksonville is Florida’s “First Coast.” And it only gets better as we dive into a new millennium with endless opportunities within reach of all ages. Jacksonville is rich in history, mild in climate and bursting with entertainment to fulfill a variety of individual tastes. Enjoy Jacksonville’s relaxed Southern hospitality with the strength of a brimming economy. Populated by more than 840,000, this culturally diverse, family-friendly First Coast city is a naturally beautiful place to live, work and play.
Jacksonville’s mild climate is ideal for an array of recreational and outdoor activities all year long. The summers are warm; winters have mild temperatures, while fall and spring stay cool. The coolest month is December, with an average high of 61 degrees and an average low of 38 degrees. July is the hottest month, with an average high of 92 degrees and an average low of 70 degrees. Rain generally occurs during the summer afternoons with an annual average at about 51 inches. Humidity levels are relatively high, but natural breezes from the Atlantic provide cool relief.
The First Coast offers an abundance of leisure activities to suit every taste. From the Jacksonville Jazz Festival and the city’s renowned symphony to golf and the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL football team, First Coast residents have an extensive variety of exciting activities from which to choose.
The beaches of Jacksonville begin at Amelia Island near the Florida-Georgia border and stretch southward to historic St. Augustine. Miles of sun-drenched coastline offer sun lovers the opportunity to surf, swim, fish and collect shells.
Downtown, the Jacksonville Landing offers residents and visitors a marketplace of specialty shops, restaurants and cafes. Whether you’re craving down-home catfish and hushpuppies or gourmet cuisine, you’ll find what you are looking for here. The Landing is on the north bank of the St. Johns River beside the Main Street Bridge and is accessible by car or boat.
For the art connoisseur, museums are some of the greatest in the land. Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville and the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, which are home to permanent exhibits as well as traveling collections. The Ritz Theatre and Museum is a must-see, featuring an exhilarating mix of African-American cultural exhibits and performances. At the Florida Theatre, Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts and Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, world-class Broadway productions, musical acts and other performances can be seen. The city also hosts a downtown Art Walk, featuring dozens of venues, live bands and artists.
Sports highlights in Jacksonville include football and baseball. Jacksonville is home to the Jacksonville Jaguars and also boasts a minor league baseball team, the Jacksonville Suns. Ranked one of the best cities for runners by Runner’s World, Jacksonville hosts the Gate River Run each year in March. The run is the largest 15K in the U.S., attracting more than 24,000 runners and walkers.
If you like golf, you won’t have to look far to find a place to tee it up. Northeast Florida has more than 70 golf courses, including the Tournament Players Club Sawgrass at Ponte Vedra Beach, the annual site for The Players Championship golf tournament. If tennis is your racket, there are hundreds of tennis courts in the area. Amelia Island is home to the Amelia Island Women’s Tennis Championship. More tennis can be found in Ponte Vedra Beach with the Association of Tennis Professionals World Tour.
Jacksonville has one of the largest urban park systems in the country, with a wide variety of parks, trails and campsites. Fishing, hiking and picnicking are offered at many of these sites. Highlights include the Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve, which has 6,000 years of history along with salt marshes, coastal dunes and hardwood hammocks. Big Talbot Island State Park is ideal for bird-watching, photography and nature hikes. At the state park you can take a guided kayak tour, visit the bluffs and enjoy a picnic, or walk down Boneyard Beach, which is famous for the salt-washed oak and cedar tree skeletons that line the shore.
For more information on Jacksonville and all it has to offer, check out the city’s convention and visitor’s bureau, Visit Jacksonville, at www.visitjacksonville.com. You can also contact them at 800-733-2668 or visit them at 208 N. Laura St., Suite 102, Jacksonville, FL 32202.
The 22nd largest district in the country, Duval County Public Schools serves approximately 125,000 students.
Florida state law requires that all children 6 years and older attend school until their 16th birthday. Successful completion of kindergarten is required before entering the first grade. Public school programs are provided to all children from kindergarten through 12th grade. Children must be 5 years of age by Sept. 1 to register for kindergarten.
School registration is accomplished at the school the child will attend. At the time of registration, parents must provide their child’s birth certificate and proof of all required immunizations, as well as a physician’s statement that the child has received a physical examination within the past year. Also, proof of address is required.
Transportation is provided for students living more than 1.5 miles from their assigned school.
For more information, visit the Duval County Public Schools website.
Opportunities are seemingly endless for any aspiration of higher education in Jacksonville. Several colleges and universities are located in the Jacksonville area, including private business colleges, community colleges and upper-division, state-supported universities. Some local colleges include Jacksonville University, a four-year liberal arts college offering bachelor’s degrees in more than 70 programs; Edward Waters College, a private and fully accredited institution; Jones College, which offers degrees in business, information technology, legal, medical and education fields; Florida State College at Jacksonville, a four-year institution that is part of the Florida College System; and the University of North Florida, a four-year, public, state-supported institution. The University of Florida is located about 70 miles from Jacksonville in Gainesville.
Titles and Tags — Within 10 days of becoming employed, placing children in public school or establishing residency, Florida newcomers must register all owned motor vehicles and display Florida license plates. Make sure to bring all the necessary documents when you’re ready to register your motor vehicles. You will need proof of identity, original out-of-state title, proof of Florida insurance, verification of physical inspection of the motor vehicle’s vehicle identification number, and a completed HSMV 82040 form, Application for Certificate of Title With/Without Registration. Florida tag rates vary based on vehicle type.
A driver’s license must be obtained within 30 days for any driver who becomes a resident of Florida. You are considered a resident if you accept employment, enroll a child in public school, register to vote or apply for a homestead exemption. Nonresident active-duty military members and their dependents may drive in Florida without getting a Florida driver’s license, provided they have a valid license from another state. However, service members and their family members must obtain a Florida license if they claim a homestead exemption or become employed in the state.
Applicants must be at least 16 years of age and must pass vision, hearing, knowledge and driving tests to qualify for a Florida driver’s license. A learner license, which permits driving when accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old, can be obtained at age 15.
The state spells out at length what is required for licensing under various scenarios in its “Florida Driver’s Handbook,” which can be viewed in English and Spanish at www.flhsmv.gov/resource-center/handbooks-manuals.
Appointments are available at driver’s license offices throughout the Jacksonville area and are recommended to alleviate lengthy waiting times. Visit any examination location for a free handbook of Florida driving laws. Offices are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For appointments, call 904-630-1916. For a list of local office locations, visit the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicleswebsite.
JEA provides power for most of Duval County and portions of Clay and St. Johns counties. To apply for service, visit JEA’swebsite. Deposits vary based on usage records at the residence for the past year, but the minimum deposit for electricity is $200. For more information about electric service from JEA, call 904-665-6000.
The city of Jacksonville Beach provides electricity service for Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach and Ponte Vedra Beach. The standard deposit is $125 but may vary on a case-by-case basis. Additional information may be obtained by calling 904-247-6241 or visiting www.jacksonvillebeach.org/residents/utilities.
WATER AND SEWER
Water and sewer services for Jacksonville can be arranged by JEA office at www.jea.com or by calling 904-665-6000. Water and sewer for the Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach and Ponte Vedra Beach area is provided by the city of Jacksonville Beach. For information, call 904-247-6241 or visit www.jacksonvillebeach.org/residents/utilities.
AT&T serves the Jacksonville area with traditional home phone plans and digital TV, Internet and digital phone service through its U-verse packages. For more information, call 800-288-2020. Charges for installation and deposits vary depending on the work required and the customer’s credit history. Services for the disabled are available. Visit www.att.com for more information.