Bursting the Bubble: Exploring Downtown for Newbies

Angela Bruno, DVI Intern

Before I began working Downtown, I never ventured into the urban core for a night on the town or a day of fun. Aside from my contentment in my Southside “bubble,” I was terrified I would have to park my car miles away from my final destination, forcing me to trek through an unfamiliar urban wilderness. I had visions of wandering through a maze of buildings for hours until eventually collapsing from dehydration. I was a wimp, and I never ventured from my neighborhood to Downtown.

Now, with six months of Downtown strolling, parking, eating and event-going under my belt, I write today to those still stuck in your respective “bubbles.” You can do it! Here’s why:

Misconception: “There’s nowhere to park Downtown.”
Reality: Parking is aplenty!

Downtown Jacksonville has more than 43,000 public parking spaces. For a frame of reference, Walt Disney World has 32,539. This number includes Magic Kingdom, Epcot, MGM Studios, Typhoon Lagoon and Pleasure Island.

If, like me, you’re a little forgetful, don’t fear! There’s an app for that. Apps like iPark and G-Park will remember where you leave your car, so you won’t have to wander. Or you can always go “old fashioned,” and call our friends in orange: the Downtown Ambassadors are experts in all things Downtown, and will escort you to your car in a flash! For more information on where and when you can park Downtown, visit DVI’s parking database and FAQs.

Misconception: “Once I finally find an elusive parking spot, I’ll have to walk forever to get to my final destination.”
Reality: Downtown Jacksonville is extremely walkable!

If you’re from my neck of the woods, you shop at the St. John’s Town Center a lot. Say you walk from Target to Maggiano’s – that would be equivalent to walking from the Museum of Contemporary Art to Burrito Gallery at .2 miles.


If you find yourself at the Duval County Courthouse at lunchtime, you can also stroll over to Big Pete’s Pizzeria with even fewer steps.

Or maybe you have to park at Publix and walk to my favorite place at Town Center: DSW Shoe Warehouse. That is a half-mile walk, similar to walking from the Main Library to Olio Market.


If you’re familiar with Jacksonville Beach, you know that walking from Joe’s Crab Shack to Lynch’s Irish Pub is a quick trip: only .4 miles. Perhaps you’re Downtown and have a hankering for Guinness and a shepherd’s pie: from the parking garage at Clay and Adams to Fionn MacCool’s Irish Pub at the Jacksonville Landing is the same distance.


The Bubble
Misconception: There’s nothing Downtown that I can’t get closer to my neighborhood.
Reality: There’s no place like Downtown!

A major factor in my unwillingness to venture Downtown was simply because I was comfortable in my bubble. I ate at chain restaurants, shopped where everyone else around me shopped, and never thought about supporting local businesses.

But then again, why settle for “comfortable,” when Downtown Jacksonville is vibrant, unique and exciting? Where else in Jacksonville can you sip an Intuition beer while perusing millions of used books like in Chamblin’s Uptown and Café?  Sure, you could have the same boring meal for lunch every day, or you could explore Downtown’s many quirky offerings for lunchtime fare, including Chomp Chomp and Pho. A Noodle Bar. Even the nightlife offerings Downtown are dynamic and distinct, including The Elbow venues and The Volstead, a brand new whiskey lounge set to open this August. These aren’t your average, run-of-the-mill businesses, and they’re only Downtown.


Has your “bubble” been burst yet? Don’t be scared to park your car, take a stroll, grab a meal and Explore the More!