The City I Love: Jacksonville Florida pinned on map with Direct Auto logo.

In Northeast Florida, where the St. John’s River meets the Atlantic Ocean, lies the city we love: Jacksonville, Florida. With vast stretches of gorgeous beaches, an extensive park system, historic neighborhoods, and lively nightlife combined with affordability (and more), this city has it all! A study ranked Jacksonville the most affordable big city in Florida and number 37 nationwide, and Lonely Planet named it one of the world’s top 10 best value destinations! Sound too good to be true? See for yourself! Click play below to watch us tour around our favorite Jacksonville spots with Floridian, Devyni Hightower, and then scroll down for more information about the locations we visited.

Mickler’s Beach

First thing’s first: the beach! Jacksonville is home to 22 miles of family-friend beach areas with many nearby activities and amenities. However, Mickler’s Beach is a favorite of ours due to its convenient location, beautiful white sand, and of course, the ocean for miles. A real stand out is the significant amount of shark teeth that wash up on its shore. As you walk the waterline, see if you can spot shiny black shark tooth triangles in the sand. It’ll be a treasure hunt the whole family can enjoy!

The Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary

Even if you’re not a “cat person” we think you’ll enjoy the Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary, a non-profit organization that provides safe, forever homes to endangered big cats. That’s right, BIG cats as in tigers, lions, pumas, leopards, and lynx, plus honorary “cats” including, foxes, and coatimundis. Choose one of their 45-minute guided tours to see all of the resident animals, then wander around afterward to revisit them, or attend a night feeding to watch the keepers feed the animals as much as 600 pounds of meat. Roar-some!

Maple Street Biscuit Company

For good, ole’ southern biscuits and gravy with a modern twist, we recommend grabbing your friends and a table at Maple Street Biscuit Company. Not only is their food delicious, but the company also focuses on making their store a part of the community. For example, they use open-style seating to help spark conversations between their patrons. Since opening their doors in 2012, they’ve expanded to over a dozen locations throughout Florida and other southern U.S. states, but Jacksonville, Florida is where Maple Street was first built.

Sweet Pete’s Candy

Willy Wonka would be envious of Sweet Pete’s! You’ll feel like a kid in an actual candy store as you browse every type of candy imaginable in this two-floor historic 1903 building. Satisfy your sweet tooth as you choose from individual pieces or boxes of candy, chocolate, gummies, gourmet lollipops, caramel apples, toffee, or other sweet things. They also offer classes, summer camps, birthday parties, and more. Kids of all ages will love it!

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