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 myriad individual tastes. Enjoy Jacksonville’s relaxed Southern hospitality with the strength of a brimming economy. Populated by more than 868,000, 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 average annual temperature ranges from 67 to 76 degrees. The coolest months are December, January and February, when temperatures average in the 50s. Rain generally occurs during the summer afternoons with an annual average of 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 greyhound racing 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, the museums here are some of the best. Visit the MOCA Jacksonville and the Cummer Museum of the Art & 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 Veterans Memorial Arena, world-class Broadway productions can be seen. The city also hosts the Jacksonville Downtown Artwalk, featuring as many as 40 cultural venues, street performers and live music.
Jacksonville is home not only to the Jacksonville Jaguars but also to the world-renowned Jacksonville Armada FC (soccer team), the Jacksonville Sharks National Arena Football Team and has 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, the official U.S. National Championship 15K, each year in March. More than 24,000 runners and walkers participate in its featured events.
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 Sawgrass Country Club at Ponte Vedra Beach, the former site for The Players Championship golf tournament. If tennis is your racket, there are hundreds of tennis courts in the area. More tennis can be found at the official Association of Tennis Professionals tennis club, Ponte Vedra Inn & Club.
Jacksonville operates the largest urban park system in the U.S., with more than 335 locations, and boasts more than 10 state and national parks. Fishing, hiking and picnicking are offered at many of these sites. Part of the preservation park initiative, Castaway Island offers access to the Intracoastal Waterway for boating, picnic tables, grills, an open-air education center, walking trails and an observation platform. More information about Jacksonville and area parks is available at the Visit Jacksonville website, www.visitjacksonville.com, or call 800-733-2668.
One of the largest school districts in Florida, Duval County Public Schools serves more than 120,000 students.
Florida state law requires that all children 6 years of age 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, proof of all required immunizations and proof of residence, as well as a physician’s statement that the child has received a physical examination within the past year.
Transportation is provided for students living more than 1.5 miles from their assigned school.
Check out the Duval County School website at www.duvalschools.org for more information.
Opportunities are seemingly endless for any aspiration of higher education in Jacksonville. Several colleges and universities are 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, an accredited college with emphasis on technology and business; Florida State College at Jacksonville, a public, state-supported institution; and the University of North Florida, which is also a public, state-supported institution. The University of Florida is about 70 miles southwest of Jacksonville in Gainesville.
Within 10 days of 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, proof of Florida insurance, the original out-of-state title and verification of physical inspection of the motor vehicle’s VIN. Florida registration fees vary according to the type and weight of the vehicle.
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 register a child in a Florida public school, register to vote, accept employment in Florida, file for a homestead exemption or reside in Florida for more than six months. Members of the armed forces and their dependents may continue to use valid out-of-state licenses if they do not claim a homestead exemption or become employed in Florida.
All applicants must pass driving, written and vision tests and must be 16 years of age or older to qualify for a Florida driver’s license. A learner’s driver license, which permits driving when accompanied by a licensed driver at least 21 years old, can be obtained at the age of 15.
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.
The Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) provides power for Duval and Nassau counties and parts of St. Johns and Clay counties. The rates for power provided by the JEA have been measured to be lower than many comparable cities around the country.
To start service, visit the JEA website at www.jea.com or call 904-665-6000. Deposit for electric services varies based on credit history.
Beaches Energy Services provides electricity service for Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach and Palm Valley. The standard deposit is $125 and may vary on a case-by-case basis. Additional information may be obtained by calling 904-247-6241 or visiting www.beachesenergy.com.
AT&T serves the Jacksonville area. The company offers traditional home phone plans and digital TV, internet and digital phone service through its U-verse packages. To order new service, visit www.att.com or 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.
Water and Sewer
Water and sewer services for Jacksonville can be arranged by contacting the JEA office at 904-665-6000 or visiting www.jea.com. Water and sewer for areas of Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach and Palm Valley is provided by the Beaches Energy Services. For information, call 904-247-6241 or visit www.beachesenergy.com.