San Marco, one of the most captivating historic neighborhoods in Jacksonville, is located just minutes from downtown & the St. Johns river. With its Italian-influenced architecture that stretches along the highly walkable San Marco Square, a Y-shaped intersection of Hendricks Avenue and Atlantic and San Marco Boulevards, it is filled with beautiful shops, art galleries, great restaurants and hot nightlife.
The original development of the “South Bank” area began in earnest with the opening of the St. Johns River Bridge (renamed the Acosta) in 1921. Telfair Stockton bought 80 acres of land north of the Mitchell estate for the new “San Marco” subdivision. The core San Marco Square business district was based on the Piazza di San Marco in Venice, Italy, which had impressed Mr. Stockton on a European trek. The clay pit of Gamble & Stockton Brick Company was transformed into Lake Marco. San Marco was an immediate success.
The iconic San Marco fountain lions, a popular addition to The Square, date to 1997. Designed by Angela Shiffanela and Alan Wilson, they reflect The Square’s association with the Venice, Italy business district that influenced the area’s developer and stand as a visual reminder of the history that infuses every aspect of life in this charming area.
The San Marco Merchants’ Association (SMMA) currently counts over 60 member merchants, the vast majority of them classified as locally-owned and -operated (LOLO). Bound by I-95 to the north, University Boulevard to the south, Philips Highway on the east and the St. Johns River on the west, the larger San Marco trade area offers a diverse offering of businesses and residential neighborhoods. The San Marco Preservation Society, formed in 1975 as a non-profit corporation, works to protect the integrity of the San Marco residential neighborhood and to enhance the revitalization of the business district. Many active members have succeeded in keeping the old-world charm and character of San Marco intact.
The wide variety of LOLO restaurants, shops and service providers offer an independent and creative flair and keep San Marco diverse and vital. The collection of businesses and residents are the lifeblood of this unique community and give it the character and charm that makes it one of Jacksonville’s most popular and distinctive business districts. If you don’t already call San Marco “home”, it is a place you must visit often!
GoLO and Make a Day of it in San Marco!
Both upscale and moderately-priced shopping is available at a wide variety of boutiques along both sides of The Square. The latest in fashions for women can be found at Reve, Therapie, Olive, Krista Eberle, Rosie True and Leila’s Delicious Fashions, along with athletic apparel and shoes at 1st Place Sports. Discover unique treasures at the San Marco Bookstore and fine stationary at The Write Touch. And you will have no problem finding the perfect gift for anyone on your list (or yourself!) at one of The Square’s numerous gift and homewares stores including The Wardroom, Mimi’s, Underwood’s Jewelers, and Edward’s.
After working up an appetite shopping, enjoy a glass of wine at The Grotto, or settle in for some stand-out food at Matthew’s, Taverna or The Square’s many casual dining options such as the The San Marco Deli, Black Bean Cuban Cuisine, TAG, Firehouse Subs, The Loop, and Pizza Palace. Pick up some sweet treats at Peterbrooke Chocolatier or “go healthy” at Pulp for smoothies or yogurt. Whether you are looking for something casual or more formal, there are terrific dining options “off Square”, including Bistro AIX, Layla’s Mediterranean, High Tide Burrito, The Metro Diner and b.b.’s. Cap the night off with live music and nightly entertainment at Square One.
San Marco has the arts covered, too. Stop in for a movie at the Art Deco-style San Marco Theatre—which also sells pizzas, sandwiches, beer or catch the latest production at Theatre Jacksonville, Florida’s longest running community theater. Stellers Gallery, Woodside Lane Grainmill Art and SMART Gallery offer a place to linger and admire various artists from the local Jacksonville area and beyond.
Dance Trance, San Marco Training Studio and Definition are the areas top fitness venues, and a collection of other *merchants from advertising and insurance agencies, banks, realtors and the iconic Southside Baptist Church round out the offerings in the San Marco area that make it such a unique and complete neighborhood. And for visitors, San Marco features numerous limited and full-service hotels within minutes of shopping and dining, making it one of the most convenient as well as well.
*In addition to the LOLO merchants listed above, please find the following listing of other LOLO SMMA member merchants:
Fred Miller Group Realtors – Jane Bracken