Profile: Jacksonville, Florida
Population: 1.5 million
USDA Hardiness Zone: 9
Major Airport: Jacksonville International Airport
Companies With a Major Presence Here: The U.S. Navy, Vistakon, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Baptist Health System, Publix, Citibank, Bank of America
Perched along the St. Johns River and flanked by the Atlantic Ocean, Jacksonville is Florida’s largest city. The First Coast, as it’s known, is a water-lover’s destination. It’s also home to fine shopping, fabulous restaurants, several museums and a downtown revitalization that has brought nightlife, art and music to the city’s core. The city is home to the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars as well as white-sand beaches. Exceptional fishing, surfing and golf make it a premiere destination in which to live and play.
Jacksonville sprawls over 874 square miles, making it one the largest U.S. cities in terms of land area. It’s also a major East Coast center of U.S. Navy operations with two naval installations that are home to an arsenal of air and sea power. Duval County encompasses Jacksonville as well as the separate beach communities of Mayport, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach and Jacksonville Beach.
St. Marys and St. Simon's islands in Georgia and Amelia Island, Fla., are nearby, too, so there’s no shortage of beachy weekend escapes. Savannah, Ga., is a two-hour drive north and Daytona Beach, Fla., is an hour and a half to the south.