17 May 2022

Neighborhood Tours

Moving to Jacksonville | Mandarin Neighborhood Tour

Posted By: Sarah Schwartz

Are you thinking about moving to Florida? Have you thought about the neighborhood of Mandarin in Jacksonville? Hi, I'm Sarah Schwartz, a local realtor in Northeast Florida and I'm going to show you around this quiet, scenic, nature-filled, food galore, riverfront neighborhood in south Jacksonville. Named after the mandarin orange in 1830, this neighborhood lies just east of the St. Johns River in between greater Jacksonville's I-295 loop and Julington Creek.

Mandarin was once the home of famous author Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, famous painter Lee Adams and Alan Collins from the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. In the early 1800's Mandarin housed one of the most important river ports in Florida, known for shipping oranges. Citrus used to grow well in this area until the great freezes in the late 1800's. Today, Mandarin is characterized by its magnificent oak trees which hang dramatically beside Spanish moss and its breathtaking views of the St. John's River and greater Jacksonville. One of my favorite parts is the picturesque Mandarin Road which tunnels beneath a canopy of moss draped, centuries-old oak trees. A drive down this road in the middle of a summer day is all you need to appreciate the piercing light through the trees and nature's beauty.

The Mandarin neighborhood in Jacksonville could be your ideal home if you prefer a lush quiet life near the river with an abundance of trees. Home lots are fairly large and long driveways are not uncommon. Many of the streets have an old country, peaceful feel. If you want more space, a yard, and a fair amount of distance from your next door neighbors then buying a home in Mandarin is a great option for a low-key lifestyle. The richness of the suburban lifestyle is experienced through the various shopping centers off San Jose Blvd., which ensures that all your needs are met pretty easily. Mandarin's grocery store scene is on point. You have Publix, Fresh Market, Trader Joe's, Winn-Dixie, Aldi and Walmart to choose from and just one minute outside of Mandarin is another Publix, Target and Whole Foods.

Mandarin is also home to several parks. The largest is Mandarin Park, which has several great nature trails, a playground, a boat ramp, a beautiful dock over the St. John's River and a pond full of ducks, geese, and alligators. Not to mention my husband's actually there now paddle boarding! Watch out for the geese and gators though, local joggers warn that they will chase you! Not too far off, Albert's field has several tennis courts, plenty of baseball diamonds, and a playground. While Flynn Park is home for basketball and pickle-ball players, plus another pretty nice playground. Both Albert's and Flynn parks are affiliated with the Mandarin Sports Association which helps orchestrate youth sports in Mandarin. There's also Chuck Rogers Park, which has the community's largest playground, several soccer fields and is home to the Florida Elite Soccer Academy. You can definitely tell this is a family oriented neighborhood by the amount of cars at the parks on a Saturday morning during t-ball or soccer season. It's no secret that Mandarin, once mostly farmland, is steeped in history. Mandarin Museum, located inside Walter Jones Historic Park is now open to everyone who wants to learn about the neighborhood's rich history. While learning your history at Walter Jones Historic Park you'll also find paved nature trails, a small boardwalk by the water, a boat ramp for kayaks or paddle boards, and a very long dock that shoots out into the St. John's River where you can see gorgeous views of Downtown Jacksonville.

Mandarin isn't a travel by foot neighborhood. San Jose Blvd. is the main drag leading into town and to the interstate. At peak traffic times it can be pretty brutal. Unless you live close to San Jose Boulevard, you likely won't be walking to lunch or if you do you might not get there until after dinner. Some roads like Scott Mill road have nice sidewalks but unfortunately Mandarin road does not. As with all of Jacksonville, having a car is a necessity. From the heart of Mandarin to Downtown Jacksonville, it'll take you about 30 minutes. It's also about 30 to 40 minutes to Jacksonville Beach.

One of the cool features is the fly-bys. Mandarin is just southeast of the Jacksonville Naval Air Station where the Navy runs routine air training flights. I've heard at times you can see as many as five fighter jets flying overhead and nearly every day you're bound to see some sort of unique military aircraft in the sky above. And so as the sun sets in Mandarin over one of the widest crosses in the St. John's River you might be wondering, what's next? Well, let's talk about nightlife.

Well sadly Mandarin doesn't really come alive after dark. Not much is actually open into the wee hours of the night. While this might be somewhat of a bummer for partiers who are single and ready to mingle, it's great for people who don't go out very often. Okay, never mind! Mandarin remains a quiet neighborhood at all hours, this isn't to say that everyone living in Mandarin is an early bird because they're not. We do have a couple busy bars. Off of San Jose, you'll find a few quality sports bars from the Miller's Ale House to Gators Dockside in neighboring Julington Creek or Timeout Sports Bar. Just north of I-295, you'll find the new Muse Bourbon Bar and Grill with a giant bourbon and whiskey selection. But you'll have to watch out for college football because that's the sport of choice in this neighborhood. You're bound to quickly notice Gators, Seminoles and Bulldog decorations that pepper the area.

What mandarin lacks in nightlife, however, it makes up for it in restaurant choices. The area is home to many fine restaurants with many more amazing restaurants just a mile or so away. All together they boast a vast variety of all different types of foods. Are you a pizza fan? Well V Pizza and Picassos might just be the perfect spot for you. For the best steak in the area go to Chop House 13 and Clara's Tidbit's Restaurant has an amazing menu that could cure burnout and hunger during lunch. On Tuesday nights you can usually catch me and my friends at Don Juan's Mexican for Taco Tuesday. Mandarin is home to a Waffle House, Metro Diner, Bonefish Grill, several Japanese Steakhouses, Fuji Sushi, Thai Noodle House, Sonny's Barbecue, Brewster's Ice Cream, Whit's Custard, Hobie's Honey and many worthwhile franchises, and every fast food restaurant you can think of. Over 75 places to grab a bite, snack, or drink all within a 3.5 mile stretch of San Jose Boulevard. These restaurants don't only serve as homes to great food and amazing dining, they provide fun and attractive scenery and the shopping centers they reside within offer a plethora of shopping options in Mandarin.

Now, let's talk a little about housing. It's almost 100% single-family homes and almost every home seems to have a swimming pool. Prices vary as many homes are situated on the St. John's River and a riverfront mansion can cost multi-millions while there are also many nice neighborhoods with homes averaging four to five hundred thousand. Lastly, and one of the most unique parts of mandarin, are the individual lots. There are tons of unique properties scattered throughout the neighborhood and this provides a quaint character as the homes typically have larger lots and are very unique.

Although we've talked about a lot in this video, Mandarin definitely has more to offer. I can assure you that this isn't everything and Mandarin is definitely a place you need to go experience and explore for yourself. If you're thinking about moving to Mandarin, I'd love to show you around the area. Thank you very much for watching, we'll see you in the next video. Have a great day!

Subscribe To My Newsletter

To stay up to date on highlights of Northeast Florida