A short drive from the hurried pace of Downtown Jacksonville, you’ll find the laidback neighbourhood of San Marco. From the landmark San Marco Theatre to neighbourhood haunts like Balis Park, foodies, art lovers and families take pride in calling this slice of Northeast Florida their home. With so many great places to explore, discover Jacksonville with our guide to San Marco.
For a relaxing experience, dine al fresco at Taverna, in the heart of the San Marco Square. Taking its inspiration from rustic Italian cooking, favourites include house-made raviolis and fettuccini, along with gourmet pizzas. Looking to celebrate over a romantic dinner? Matthew’s Restaurant is known locally for its flawless attention to detail and artistic plating – Chef Matthew Medure’s restaurant has received the prestigious AAA Four Diamond award each year since 1999.
For casual dining, grab a slice at the Pizza Palace, tuck into some Thai at Indochine Jax or grab a quick breakfast at the Beach Diner. For burgers and pizza, stop by The Loop Pizza Grill and try local favourite, the Loop and Cheddar burger. And don’t forget dessert; stop by Jacksonville’s own Peterbrooke Chocolatier for a bag of their delicious chocolate popcorn and scrumptious chocolate covered potato chips.
For some true Southern cooking, take a stroll over to the Maple Street Biscuit Company. Here you’ll find buttermilk (American) biscuit sandwiches paired with items such as all-natural chicken, goat’s cheese, pecan wood smoked bacon and a true southern staple – house made pepper jelly. One of their signature dishes is the Garden Bird – a flaky biscuit topped with a fried chicken breast, an over-easy egg, house made collard greens and a splash of hot sauce. It’s the ultimate southern dining experience.
If you decide to venture off of the square in San Marco, don’t miss sampling one of the 200 beers at European Street Café, or venture over to Bistro Aix for their well-known appetizer – blue cheese chips with warm blue cheese dressing and Maytag crumbles atop their homemade potato chips.
The area’s latest gastropub, Kitchen on San Marco, focuses on locally sourced goods and regional cuisine. The House Bacon Trio, featuring smoked, candied and whipped bacon, will certainly warrant a second helping.
Experience the arts in San Marco
Discover Jacksonville’s incredible art scene with a stop at Stellers Gallery of San Marco, where you can admire works of different mediums from local and regional artists. Art lovers are encouraged to visit the galleries featuring watercolours, sculptures, oil on canvas and more – each of the pieces on display are also available for purchase.
Founded in 1919 and known as one of the longest running community theatres in Florida, enjoy live theatre productions at Theatre Jacksonville. Past shows at the theatre include Our Town, Romeo and Juliet and The Secret Garden, so you’re sure to find something that appeals.
Built in 1938, San Marco Theatre was named one of the ten best classic cinemas in the United States by USA Today. Featuring new release films and with food and spirits available inside the theatre, you’ll never miss a minute of the movie. Snag a seat on one of the comfy couches and choose from pizzas, paninis, and wine by the glass and bottle. There’s always plenty of popcorn, too.
Shop the square
From trendy clothing boutiques and consignment shops to an independent bookstore and even a toyshop, San Marco offers plenty of cool and quirky shopping.
You’ll find the latest fashion trends at Rosie True, a hip boutique mixing casual and luxurious designs, while Therapie (Voted “˜Best Women’s Boutique’ by Jacksonville Magazine readers) focuses on classic looks and trendy styles from brands like Three Dots and Rachel Pally. Also on the square, Leila’s features the latest fashionable looks for ladies.
If consignment shopping is more your style, make time to shop at The Snob. Known for their assortment of brand name clothing lines, it is easy to score some great deals on high-end designer styles. And guys – you aren’t left out when it comes to shopping in San Marco. Beau Outfitters stocks high quality, casual clothing perfect for monogramming.
The Write Touch is a writer’s paradise. Here you’ll find greeting cards, journals, writing utensils and beautiful stationary. Be sure to say hello to Nicholas, the store’s friendly Golden Retriever, always ready to greet you with a friendly wag of his tail.
And for the little ones, stop by Heyday to check out their selection of kid-sized designer duds from the Tea collection. While you’re there, find the perfect toy to take home as a souvenir.
With the scenic views of the St. Johns River just blocks away from San Marco Square and its close proximity to the Downtown core, it’s easy to see why San Marco is one of Northeast Florida’s most popular neighbourhoods.
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Have you visited Jacksonville’s historic San Marco neighbourhood? What’s your favourite place to shop in the square? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
Written by Carrie McLaren