Not only is Jacksonville the largest city in Florida, but it’s also the largest city by square mileage in the entire country. Once inhabited by Native Americans, the city is one of the oldest European settlements in the country. With plenty of oceanfront real estate, the city is the third-largest port in Florida, and it supports multiple naval bases and support stations.
Like many Florida cities, Jacksonville has always been a popular winter resort destination – a home away from home for snowbirds fleeing colder climates. The city has activities for every visitor, from professional sports to museums to an abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities. Visitors can also expect world-class shopping and a trendy nightlife scene, with a wide variety of restaurants including authentic ethnic specialties.
Jacksonville is an attractive year-round destination, thanks to sunny skies, warm waters, and plenty of activities. The city has been spotlighted in several film and television productions, and its beautiful ocean views, riverbanks, parks, and downtown offer a variety of stunning options to any photographer.
Attractions in Jacksonville
With all the exciting amenities of a large city and the natural beauty of wetlands and sparkling white sand beaches, Jacksonville has no shortage of activities for visitors of all ages. Museums and cultural attractions, historical landmarks, professional sports, and exciting ocean adventures await.
- Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is an outdoor adventure in the urban heart of the city. With more than 2,000 rare and endangered animals and hundreds of varieties of plants, the zoo is one of the most unique animal experiences in the state. The attraction features crowd favorites such as giraffes, elephants, and large cats, as well as brilliantly colored reptiles and amphibians, curious otters, elegant birds, and more. The zoo also hosts special events throughout the year.
- Little Talbot Island State Park
Little Talbot Island is an undeveloped barrier island just off the Florida coast. The island is a natural area popular for camping, fishing, biking, and beachcombing for seashells. The island is also the perfect spot for Instagram-worthy photos and wildlife viewing.
- St. John’s Town Center
If you’re looking to comb an upscale outdoor lifestyle center after a few days of beachgoing, no one can blame you. The St. John’s Town Center offers more the 1.2 million square feet of shopping, dining, and entertainment opportunities in a beautifully designed outdoor hub. You’ll find more than 175 shops, including luxury brands such as Coach and Louis Vuitton, alongside department store staples like Nordstrom and Banana Republic.
Production Locations in Jacksonville
Jacksonville embraced the film industry early on by building the first theater in Florida capable of showing “talkies” – the first films with dialogue. It has held the fascination of Hollywood since the 1920s, with several television series and films including G.I. Jane, The Manchurian Candidate, and Sunshine State being shot there.
- Beaches and Waterways
Jacksonville has the most continuous shoreline in the country between its breezy Atlantic beaches and the intricate St. John’s River system flowing through the heart of the city. If you’re looking to film swimming, boating, or fishing scenes, you’ll have several options, including out-of-the-way areas like Little Talbot Island, which has a unique environment and serene atmosphere. For still shots, the waterways offer some of the most stunning photo shoot locations in Jacksonville.
- Retail and Dining Spaces
Whether you’re photographing fashionistas in their natural environment or shooting intimate restaurant conversations, Jacksonville offers several options. Imagine filming a surprise proposal at a classic local diner or showcasing everyday life at the grocery store or shopping center.
- Private Residences
With lush back yards, swimming pools, and tropical plants, many of Jacksonville’s homes can serve as the perfect filming location for productions featuring tropical environments. Some homes feature many different environments in one area, such as this tropical rustic and modern home, while others represent the classic American single-family home everyone is familiar with.
Event and Meeting Locations in Jacksonville
With a warm climate, a plethora of activities, and beautiful scenery, Jacksonville is an optimal host for nearly any type of event, including corporate gatherings and meetings, special occasions, industry events, and large-scale fundraising galas. Jacksonville wedding venues, event spaces, and conference centers can make any occasion memorable.
- Conference Centers
Because of the city’s proximity to major population centers like Miami, Orlando, and Atlanta, gathering in Jacksonville is a great option. Jacksonville has a handful of conference centers perfect for large-scale events such as corporate annual meetings, trade shows and industry events, job fairs, and more. Benefits of using a conference center include facilities large enough to accommodate hundreds of people, ample onsite parking, options for food and beverages, and smaller spaces for breakout sessions or other activities.
Jacksonville boasts miles of beautiful coastline, and what better way to celebrate a special occasion than an outing to the beach? You and your guests will have plenty of space to swim, play, and socialize, and the Atlantic Ocean makes a spectacular backdrop for wedding or engagement photos. There are also many beachfront hotels and eateries, so you won’t have to go far or worry about renting a car while you’re in Jacksonville.
- Restaurants and Bars
Gather with family and friends to celebrate graduations, promotions, birthdays, engagements, and other milestones at one of Jacksonville’s many local restaurants and bars. Many of them offer special function areas such as banquet rooms or patios, along with al fresco dining just steps from the beach. If happy hour is more your thing, rest assured Jacksonville has a lively nightlife scene for bachelor/bachelorette parties, birthdays, and more.