Whether you’re a native or new to the rapidly growing city, it’s important to know some fun and interesting facts about Jacksonville. In that spirit, here’s a chance to test your local knowledge while discovering some of the latest happenings.
1. Jacksonville is a city of many names — River City, First Coast and Bold New City of The South. Whatever you call it, did you know Jacksonville was named after the 7th U.S. President, Andrew Jackson, and before that, it was called Cowford because the cows would “ford” across the St. Johns River? If you’re interested in paying homage to Jacksonville’s original name, you should visit Cowford Chophouse to “enjoy Southbank skyline views from Downtown Jacksonville’s only steakhouse and rooftop lounge.”
2. Ever wonder why it takes so long to get from one end of Jacksonville to the other? Well, Jacksonville, in terms of landmass, is the largest city in the country, measuring 841 square miles.
3. Jacksonville was the original destination for the “Happiest Place on Earth.” Walt Disney wanted to bring Disney World to River City, but unfortunately, River City didn’t want to deal with the traffic from the “carnival folk.”
4. Looking for a nice date night option? Alhambra Theatre and Dining is the nation’s longest-running dinner theater. This is a place where dinner and a movie are combined in perfect harmony. You can enjoy “broadway-quality [shows] and a delightful meal.”
5. Did we mention Jacksonville is coined as a military city? It’s home to multiple military facilities employing and housing over 50,000 active-duty families. The military is also the city’s largest employer.
6. Named after the writer and civil rights activist, James Weldon Johnson Park, located in Downtown Jacksonville, is the oldest park in the city. Johnson is the writer of the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and a Jacksonville native.
7. There’s no secret that Jax locals love a good brunch spot. Maple Street Biscuit Company and Metro Diner are two restaurant franchises that originated in Jacksonville and serve as great brunch locales. Both restaurants have various locations throughout the United States, but it’s nothing like being able to experience the original. We recommend trying Metro Diner’s signature fried chicken and waffles or the traditional biscuit and gravy combo at Maple Street Biscuit Company.
8. The Jacksonville Farmers Market is the oldest farmers’ market in the state of Florida. Since 1938, this outdoor shopping center has offered a wide variety of vendors, fresh, handpicked produce from local farmers, and an assortment of unique finds.
9. Jacksonville’s Riverside Arts Market is the largest festival in the state of Florida. It’s hosted every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., rain or shine. Come out and experience a taste of the different cultures Jacksonville has to offer as you stroll through rows of local arts and agriculture vendors while enjoying live music and dance performances.
10. Jacksonville is home to the oldest Historically Black College and University in Florida; Edward Waters University, formerly Edward Waters College, was established in 1866 and is the only HBCU in the area.
11. St. Johns River is the longest river in Florida, measuring over 300 miles. Most of the north-flowing river passes through Jacksonville then turns east to empty 42,000,000 gallons of saltwater daily.
12. The Jacksonville Zoo is a great mixture of interactive fun and educational experiences. The zoo has “over 2,000 rare and exotic animals and 1,000 varieties of plants” in the botanical gardens. Every Friday night until August 27 they host the IllumiZoo Summer Spectacular event. Grab your tickets for this festive adventure including whimsical lights, colorful and playful attractions and live music.
13. Hollywood, California? Well, before Hollywood was what we know it as today, Jacksonville was considered America’s first Hollywood, earning the title “Winter Film Capital of the World” in the early 20th century. Beginning in 1908, 30 silent film studios opened over a decade including “Metro Pictures,” which is known today as the “Hollywood giant, MGM.”
14. The Jessie Ball DuPont Park is a popular area known for its picturesque scenery and the octopus-esque focal point called Treaty Oak. At over 70 feet tall with branches that extend over 150 feet wide, the Treaty Oak tree stands in the middle of the park. It is known as Florida’s largest oak tree and Jacksonville’s oldest living landmark, which is estimated to be 250 years old.
15. If you’re a sports fan, you probably already know Tim Tebow is coming to play for the Jacksonville Jaguars this upcoming season, but did you know the former Florida Gator graduate and retired baseball player is coming back to play football for his hometown? Yep, Tim Tebow is from the 904. Speaking of gators, Jacksonville is hosting the 77th Annual Taxslayer Gator Bowl on December 31 at the TIAA Bank Field. This highly anticipated college football showdown is the first Taxslayer Bowl to ever be televised nationally.
16. Grab your skates and let the good times roll when you hit the pavement at Kona Skatepark. Named the longest surviving privately owned skatepark in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records, Kona Skatepark features various ramps, paths and half-pipes, and showcases iconic Jacksonville history in the Arlington Area.