Atlantic Beach & Neptune Beach: My favorite neighboring beach towns
Across the Intracoastal Waterway from the mainland of Jacksonville is a string of beach towns known collectively as the “Jax Beaches.” While Jacksonville Beach is the most well-known, visited, and densely populated of these towns, many locals know that Atlantic Beach is really the most idyllic of the bunch. Occupying two miles of a beautiful white sandy strand with 14 public accesses, Atlantic Beach is characterized by quiet tree-canopied neighborhoods and a beachfront backdrop of creative oceanfront architecture. The largely residential town stretches northward from an attractive Town Center shared with neighboring Neptune Beach and anchored by local fave restaurants and a signature spa resort, One Ocean. Neptune Beach is smaller, and its architecture is a bit more traditional, but its strand of sand and Town Center offerings would be indistinguishable from those of Atlantic Beach if not for the signs.
Neptune Beach in the morning
Ever since I was a baby, Atlantic Beach has been my primary oceanfront stomping ground. Today, I relish being able to to bring my own children to both Atlantic & Neptune Beaches quite regularly, watching them scamper about while my wife and I walk in sands that are neither too soft nor too hard and admire the changing palate of colors that illuminate the dusk sky.
Beginning at the Atlantic Blvd. beach access and spanning a few square blocks to the north, west, and south, Beaches Town Center is the epicenter of activity for both Atlantic and Neptune Beaches. Here, a host of funky, trendy, family friendly, upscale, and casual dining hotspots are located just footsteps from the sand. Very popular local restaurants of note, along with other smaller coffee and dessert shops, draw patrons from Jacksonville and beyond to enjoy a meal or treat in a very idyllic, friendly atmosphere.
Beaches Town Center has restaurants and shops within a block of the beach sand.
At Beaches Town Center it is common to see swimsuit-clad bicyclists and sandy-footed just-off-the-beach pedestrians mingled with well-groomed preppies, couples on a romantic date, and families with small children in tow. At Christmas time, Beaches Town Center also becomes a wonderland of lights as the blocks of palm trees lining key streets get wrapped with multicolored lights.
One Ocean Resort and oceanfront homes along Atlantic Beach
For those who can afford it, the Atlantic Beach side of Town Center is anchored by One Ocean Resort, a posh oceanfront resort and spa with its own swanky oceanfront restaurant. If you visited Atlantic Beach in years gone by you may remember the Sea Turtle Hotel which used to be in its place. The long-time landmark was sold, completely remodeled and upgraded to become One Ocean. Given its location on both the beachfront and at the foot of Beaches Town Center, One Ocean is THE place to stay at the beach.