This is the first post in our Neighborhood Spotlight series. Today, we are going to be highlighting the areas of Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach. Located just South of NS Mayport, these two beach towns are within an excellent commute time to base, and filled with many family fun activities. This particular area is the closest you can get to NS Mayport and the beach without actually living on base.
Atlantic Beach is home to miles of beaches, Hannah Park, camp sites, surfing, hiking and biking trails. Neptune Beach is the smallest of the beach towns with just 7,000 residents covering 6.8 square miles. The downtown areas of Atlantic and Neptune Beach come together on a beautiful red brick road. This area is called Beaches Town Center, not to be confused with St Johns Town Center, located in the Southside area. In Beaches Town Center, you will find many fantastic restaurants, fun workouts, local coffee shops, nightlife, and the fabulous One Ocean Hotel & Spa. This spotlight will cover finding a home in this area, things to do, and where to eat!
THINGS TO DO IN ATLANTIC AND NEPTUNE BEACH
1. Enjoy the excellent restaurants. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or special date-night, you’ll find the perfect spot in Atlantic/Neptune Beach.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- M Shack-locally owned and operated, this is a great spot to grab a burger and a milkshake. They have two locations, on in Atlantic Beach and the other at the St. Johns Town Center. Insider tip: Order the Pecan Pie milkshake and the truffle fries to compliment your burger.
Mezza never disappoints. This is one of my favorite date-night spots and a great place to take out of town visitors. The food is always delish and you can order everything from their excellent selection of wood-fired pizzas to delicious pasta, seafood, and steak entrees.
- The Flying Iguana is Latin-Cuisine with great tacos and an awesome Margarita list. They have live music four nights a week. It’s a fun date-night spot or a cool place to meet up with friends. Insider Tip: Order the Spice of Life Margarita.
- Ocean 60 Fine Dining & Martini Bar: For excellent seafood, Ocean 60 never fails. They have live music Thursday-Saturday and an impressive Martini list.
North Beach Fish Camp is a tasty destination for fresh seafood in a fun atmosphere. North Beach Fish Camp is owned by the same owners of Marker 32 and Palm Valley Fish Camp so they know what they’re doing. The interior has a contemporary coastal feel. I often order the specials but everything is good!
- Poe’s Tarvern:
Poe’s is a yummy spot for burgers with over 50 beers on tap. Watch the game from here or people watch from their patio.
Sliders Seafood Grille and Oyster Bar: A great family friendly seafood destination. They recently added a new patio for more outdoor seating.
- If you’re in the mood for pizza, try Al’s or Joseph’s.
2. Check out the Farmers Market: Every Saturday from 2pm-5pm (rain or shine), the Beaches Green Market is open at Jarboe Park (intesection of A1A and Florida Blvd). Vendors sell local and organic produce, plants, trees, teas, local honey, free-range eggs, homemade dog treats, cut flowers, gluten-free and vegan foods, cheeses and locally made desserts.
3. Meet a friend for coffee: Lilly’s Coffee Bar is located on First Street in Neptune Beach. Lilly’s serves coffee, breakfast, lunch, appetizers, wine, beer, and ice cream. They have a large courtyard outside and live music every Friday and Saturday night.
4. Through the palm trees and where the red brick ends, you will find one of the main reasons people love the First Coast…THE BEACH!
5. DANCE: Each year, the Beaches Town Center hosts an annual festival called, “Dancin’ in the Streets.” This event hosts live music, an art show, kids zone, and live performances. “Dancin’ in the Streets” typically takes place in May. But, if you’re looking to dance all year long, Neptune Beach is home to one of my favorite work outs. I love this place so much it was a big factor in our choice to request Mayport as our next duty station. Yup, it’s that fun. It’s called Dance Trance. Located in the Cobalt Moon Studio, Dance Trance is a dance fitness program designed for all skill levels from beginners to advanced. I like it because it doesn’t feel like working out. It’s an hour to go have fun, dance, and get fit at the same time.
6. Biking, Shopping and Exploring -The beaches area is a great place to hop on your beach cruiser and go exploring. Cruise by Lemon Bar on Lemon Street where the street meets the beach. Stay for their classic Lemon Bar Freeze and take in the gorgeous view. Or, stop on by The Book Mark bookstore or one of the many unique boutiques and shops.
7. Visit Kathryn Abbey Hannah Park. Located in Atlantic Beach, Hannah Park, has 1.5 miles of sandy beaches, a camp site, Kid’s splash Park, picnic areas and 20 miles of hiking and biking trails. It’s also a great spot for family photos.
8. Speaking of family photos, the downtown area is also a beautiful spot for a family photo shoot. Here’s one of ours courtesy of Laura Davis at Pure Life Photography.
9. Have dessert. After all of the hiking, biking, dancing and beach going, it’s time for dessert. I am a HUGE custard fan. If you like custard, you’ve got to try out Witt’s. It’s right next to Ocean 60, across from One Ocean. If you like your desserts in liquid form, you’ll have to try Ocean 60’s Espresso Martini. Or, walk over to Happy Cup’s Frozen Yogurt or Peterbrooke Chocolatier.
10. One Ocean Hotel & Spa. If you’re looking for a fun Staycation, special date-night or a wonderful day at the spa, look no further. One Ocean is a gorgeous hotel located right on the beach where Atlantic and Neptune Beach meet. They have an amazing restaurant, Azurea, and a fun bar area to meet up with friends. One Ocean is also home to my favorite spa in Jacksonville. Their treatment rooms over look the ocean. When hubby returned from his 9 month deployment, we rewarded ourselves with a day at the Spa for 2. Be sure to treat yourself to some time at One Ocean while you’re here in Jacksonville.
Distance from Base:
NS Mayport: 6 Miles
NAS JAX: 33 Miles
If all of this sounds like a fun place to live to you, then Atlantic/Neptune Beach may be the perfect spot for your next move. To find a home in this area, you will want to check with all of the listing sites such as Zillow.com, Hot Pads, Craigslist etc. You will also want to check local property management firms such as Hover Girl Properties, a military spouse owned company, for potential listings. Because homes go quickly in this area, you will want to take a drive through the beach towns (if possible) to see if there are any “For Rent” signs. Many owners simply put the sign up and it’s rented rather quickly. If you’re coming from out of town, ask a friend to drive around for you. However, you don’t have to live right in Atlantic or Neptune Beach to enjoy all of the fun of this area. Base housing on NS Mayport is only 6 miles away. Plus, a quick drive over the inter-coastal, you will find great apartment complexes such as Seabreeze and The Enclave, or there are many single family homes off San Pablo Road and Atlantic Blvd. Jacksonville Beach is just a few more miles south with many apartment complexes, condos for rent and single family homes.
Stay tuned for more neighborhood spotlights coming soon!
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