Jacksonville, Fla., is a city full of diversity, divided into a medley of creative cultures from urban to coastal cool. You can expect the shopping experience to be as eclectic as its residents. Apart from the mosaic of lifestyles, the city is ultimately a Southern one rich in tradition and down-home goodness, a place where experiences are as valuable as any item you could purchase.
The desire for rich experiences certainly influences the shopping scene on the First Coast. Here, outdoor markets like the St. Johns Town Center and the River City Market Place create open-air wonderlands for their guests, inviting them to partake in annual festive events for the whole family.
Shoppers flock to open-air shopping centers during Jacksonville's warm holiday season — Photo courtesy of St. Johns Town Center
Jacksonville’s nearly year-round great temps certainly make open-air shopping the way to go, as the sunshine and fresh air invigorate and energize you between stops.
The Riverside Arts Market (RAM) is another outdoor venue, full of character and urban appeal. It's located right on the St. Johns River in the shade of the Fuller Warren Bridge. On Saturdays every week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., creative vendors showcase hand-crafted artwork, jewelry and clothing to gift-givers seeking that special something you can’t get anywhere else.
“The RAM annual Holidazzle event gets visitors in the spirit, with holiday movies on a 32-inch big screen, while market-goers enjoy holiday cocktails, hot chocolates and other kid-friendly treats," says Communications Manager Heather Bailey. "Vendors deck out their booths in holiday themes, adding to the festive atmosphere.“
The Riverside Arts Market draws shoppers outdoors to hunt for unique, hand-made gifts — Photo courtesy of Riverside Arts Market
Locals and visitors alike flock towards the beaches during the holidays as a traditional pilgrimage. Families send loved ones holiday cards with warm memories of the beach to make them jealous, and you shouldn't be so surprised to see a few be-glittered starfish atop Christmas trees, instead of traditional stars.
At the Beaches Town Center, local boutiques are conveniently located just one block off the sand, where you'll find yourself merry in flip flops, discovering new exotic finds at the Bali Cargo Company. Or get that hard-to-find title at The Bookmark.
Palm trees and Christmas trees co-habitate at the Beaches Town Center — Photo courtesy of Beaches Town Center
If you're looking for some good, old-fashioned holiday cheer, travel just steps from the Beaches Town Center to One Ocean Resort and Spa’s annual gingerbread house unveiling, where you'll see hundreds of pounds of sugar, gingerbread and cream come together in a larger-than-life creation.
How to deck the halls coastal style? Shop owner of shabby chic store Echo at the Beach, Stacey Brigham, says her shoppers embrace beach-themed decor and gifts, while vintage ornaments are trending, too.
Beach-themed ornaments and holiday decor are in demand at Echo at the Beach — Photo courtesy of Amy West
If you love the hipster culture, journey to Jacksonville’s 5 Points ,where you’ll discover vintage fashions, antique finds and something just for Fido at a boutique dedicated to man’s best friend, appropriately named Bark Boutique.
For the perfect stocking stuffer that's uniquely Jax, consider locally owned brands like Sweet Pete's candy shop, where you can take home a tasty batch of freshly made Sea Salt Caramel Corn.
If it's a coffee aficionado you're shopping for, they are sure to thank you for introducing them to organically grown Bold Bean coffee, available in stores and online.
Personal stylists are available at Nordstrom Department store at the St. Johns Town Center — Photo courtesy of David West
Giving comes from the heart, and part of the fun is the hunt. Jacksonville’s shopping destinations carry name brands like Tiffany’s, Nordstrom and Louis Vuitton for all your high fashion desires. Meanwhile, they still keep it real with handmade gifts crafted with loving care.
Personal shopping services are even available from the St. Johns Town Center and stores like Nordstrom, for those who need a little inspiration.
That special find is out there! You can be sure Jax has the weather, the selection and the atmosphere to make your hunt an experience as cherished as the gift.
Bali Cargo Company at the Beaches Town Center welcomes shoppers right off the beach — Photo courtesy of Beaches Town Center