My husband and I recently spent 36 hours in Jacksonville, and honestly, I could've spent the entire time at Riverside Arts Market. I love outdoor markets. Anytime I can simultaneously shop for crafts, hear live music, pet a dog and eat something of little nutritional value, I'm there!
So on a recent balmy Saturday, Hubby and I stopped by the Arts Market. We were delighted to discover that it's set up under a bridge. (Read: Shade!)
At the market, we met up with Jennifer Bryant of Visit Jacksonville. She showed showed us where to find good coffee and gave us the lowdown on one of Jacksonville's newest traditions. Here's an excerpt from our conversation at Riverside Arts Market.
VISIT FLORIDA: Tell me a little bit about where we are.
JENNIFER BRYANT: We're at the Riverside Arts Market. This is their second year in season. A couple of locals really envisioned this as a hub for local artists to come and show off their goods, as well as have live entertainment. So every Saturday, this is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. People love it. It has record-breaking attendance, and it's deemed Florida's largest weekly free arts market.
VF: Wow. What are some highlights?
JB: I think some of the highlights are the local musicians that come. There's always live entertainment on the amphitheater stage ... and they always have roaming performers like jugglers and fire breathers. So those are always really fun. Some of the local art vendors that are especially popular - there's a smoosh bottle vendor, who takes you wine bottles that maybe mean something to you and breaks them down, and you can make a cheese plate or something from them. So that's a favorite. Just tons of good artwork here. Another one is Brown Owl Designs. That's another good one if you're looking for a fun T-shirt or a onsie as a gift.
VF: What are we under?
JB: We are under the Fuller Warren overpass. This is I-95, actually, right above us. So we're kind of tucked away. Even if it's a hot Florida day, you're sort of in the shade. You can even hang out here when it's raining, and you're pretty dry.
VF: So this goes yearround?
JB: Yeah, yearround. The full market is seasonal, in that it's open March through December. In the off months, they still have vendors here selling produce since a lot of Florida produce is seasonal to the winter, like blueberries.
VF: What else is in the area, if someone wanted to make a day of it?
JB: This is a great place to hang out for the day in Jacksonville. The Riverside neighborhood is one of the largest historic preservation districts in the country. You can walk right over to the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, which is one of our best-loved attractions. It is literally right next door to the Arts Market, so you could have a full arts and cultural type of day. Then from there, you can walk into the Five Points district, which is sort of our funky, hipster neighborhood. There's some great shopping and some cafes and restaurants. All within walking distance, you can spend the afternoon here.
VF: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
JB: The Riverside Trolley was just added. So if you're staying in the downtown area, like the Omni or the Hyatt hotel, you can board a trolley at the landing and come straight over to here. Leave your car downtown and come over via the trolley. It drops you right off at the Arts Market. Then you can continue it and take it down into the Five Points area [and] also the Avondale neighborhood, which is another historic, cute little neighborhood with some great bistros and shopping, as well.