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Memorial Park, Jacksonville

4.4
#13 of 21 in Parks in Jacksonville
Nature / Park
THE STORY OF MEMORIAL PARK

Built by the people of Jacksonville to honor the 1220 Floridians who died during World War I, Memorial Park, one of Jacksonville’s crown jewels, was dedicated Christmas Day 1924 on the banks of the St. Johns River. Designed by the renowned Olmsted Bros. landscape architecture firm, Memorial Park stands at the heart of one of Jacksonville’s great neighborhoods, within walking distance of a flourishing restaurant district and just a few blocks down the street from one of the city’s cultural treasures, the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, as well as the nearby Riverside Arts Market.

When the weather is good, as it often is in Jacksonville, the park is crowded. Fishermen toss their line over the balustrades into the St. Johns River. Walkers, runners and cyclist circle through the park along the broad walkways. The great lawn is covered with people tossing Frisbees, kicking soccer balls, playing games of catch or just picnicking on blankets they set on the ground.

Since 1986, when the Memorial Park Association (MPA) was formed, the City of Jacksonville has had a partner in maintaining and nurturing this wonderful asset. The city provides security for the park and provides routine maintenance. The MPA’s job is to fill in the gaps in routine maintenance, spending about $20,000 a year on park maintenance.

But MPA does far more than assist in maintenance, taking on larger scale projects the city cannot or will not undertake.

On the MPA’s watch, Charles Adrian Pillars’ great sculpture “Life” has twice undergone restoration. Following major hurricane damage, restoration of the walkways and the landscape was completed in two phases by 2002. The MPA completed fundraising and dedicated two new bronze eagles, designed and cast by Diane LaFond Insetta in 2010.

2014 was very busy year for the MPA. Members raised more than $50,000 to help serve the MPA’s mission and contributed more 730 volunteer hours working in the park. The MPA secured an agreement with the City Council for a $200,000 matching grant for capital improvements and has, to date, raised $156,000 of that sum. The MPA held three major events in the park: a free Memorial breakfast in the park with support from local businesses, a free Veteran’s Day sunset concert by the U.S. Navy Band Southeast, and an Oktoberfest celebration.

But the MPA’s most ambitious project is still in the planning stages. In 2013 the board adopted a Master Plan, based on the recommendations of Atlanta landscape architect David Sacks. The goals of the Master Plan are “designed to restore the luster of the park, enhance its appeal to today’s visitors, and pass along intact to future generations the unique beauty and character of this spot.”
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Where to stay in Jacksonville

Accommodations are spread out across Jacksonville and mainly consist of large hotels. For a more scenic stay, consider a hotel on the riverfront or the coast. Beachside accommodations provide the added benefit of being in a much quieter and slower-paced part of the city, but you are farther away from the majority of the city's cultural attractions. If you are planning a longer stay, consider a vacation rental with a kitchen to help ease food costs. These rentals are frequently located in residential neighborhoods.
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83 reviews
Google
4.6
  • Walked along the River walk, parked by the YMCA. Walked toward the landing and up to the Hyatt and then back through the landing where a Filipino festival was underway. We continued walking though the...  more »
  • Its a nice area, directly on the river, but there are not a lot of benches where you can sit and take in the view. i just walked through it and enjoyed the view.  more »
  • it's a park, a nice park. the statue is a nice photo place and the river is vast. loads of people fishing off the wall and a great view of the city from here  more »
Google
  • This place is so beautiful. My fiance and I come here all the time. The sod they laid is really pretty. Its a great place for a picnic!
  • One of my favorite parks in the city. Plenty on room four the kids to run and play. Also lots of shade and it's right on the river so you enjoy a little fishing if that's your thing. Plus there are great places to eat right across the street.
  • It's so peaceful here. You can fish, have a picnic, take a nap, get away to do homework, or just take a stroll. The views are beautiful, it's part of what makes riverside a place you have to visit.
  • Historically significant, and beautiful park designed by the Olmsted Brothers (very successful). Great for picnicking, recreational sports, people watching, and just about everything else that's difficult or impossible to do in Jacksonville.
  • Clean and well kept park with a walking trail and a big lawn. Perfect for a picnic, yoga, or a jog. There is a view over looking the St. John's river and a beautiful fountain and statue.