You found the One. You found the ring. Now, where should you pop the question?
When searching for the perfect place to propose in Jacksonville, there are so many factors to consider. Should you ask during the day or at night? If on the beach, will it be too windy or too hot? If at a restaurant, should I tell the waiter to bring it on the dessert at the end or just do it yourself? Then you have to consider what to wear, what to say, if you want to do something private and intimate or go all out with family and friends hiding in the wings.
Lucky for you, I’ve already done all of the grunt work and have made a list of places to ask one of life’s most important questions here on the First Coast. Fortunately, you’re spoiled for choice as Jacksonville has more than enough options for outdoorsy couples, fancy foodies and everything in between.
If you’re looking for something historic and romantic, St. Augustine has you covered, from the ancient walls of Castillo De San Marcos and the grassy field in front of it to horse drawn carriages through cobblestones in the city center. I’d recommend making a day out of it. Explore the city and and at sunset, when you’re having dinner overlooking the glistening waters of the First Coast, ask the question. St. Augustine is a beautiful spot to start the newest chapter of your life.
Fort Clinch (2601 Atlantic Ave, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034)
Located right on the Atlantic Coast in Fernandina Beach, Fort Clinch is a quiet spot to pop the question. If you are a couple who enjoys the great outdoors, there are options for a day at the beach, canoeing and kayaking, hiking and they even offer geo-seeking. This last one may call out to the adventurer in you. Geo-caching offers its users the options to find-a-cache and even hide-a-cache. This opens up the option to purchase a geo-cache container, hide it in advance and go on an adventure set out for your special someone to find it. Because who doesn’t love a treasure hunt? Just make sure your sweetie gets there before anyone else!
Fort Caroline (12713 Ft Caroline Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32225)
The rich history of this fort focuses on the failed French colony in North Florida, but there’s more to Fort Caroline than just tales of exploration, survival and contact between American Indians and the Europeans. For a picturesque back drop for your romantic moment, arrive for a sunset gander at the St. Johns River and prepare for happy tears!
A note about restaurant proposals: if you’re thinking that dinner would be the best way to go, you absolutely have to splash out. This is the most important meal of your life! Asking someone to spend the rest of your life with you is no time to go to Cracker Barrel or Red Lobster. (There will be plenty of time for chain restaurants once you’re married, trust me!) Make reservations, choose a very special spot and speak with the staff ahead of time so everyone is on the same page. Your future fiancé(é) will thank you for the extra effort!
Orsay (3630 Park St, Jacksonville, FL 32205)
My top pick is Orsay, winner of the Wine Spectator 2014 Award for Excellence. With the reputation as Jacksonville’s best restaurant, French cuisine is on the menu with everything from sea scallop tartare to braised beef shortribs. Delicious drinks and impeccable service are standard. Call ahead and the staff will help you coordinate your proposal.
Taverna (1986 San Marco Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32207)
In adorable San Marco, Taverna features an Italian menu of “simple ingredients with sophisticated flavors.” Sipping on a handcrafted cocktail while eating dinner on the patio may be just what you need to settle your nerves.
Marker 32 (14549 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32250)
For a sunset dinner overlooking the intracoastal waterway, Marker 32 mixes local seafood and great views to give you an all-around pleasant experience. At Marker 32, quality customer service is a priority, so this is perfect for when you need to let the server in on your little secret. And for dessert, a little slice of banana pudding cheesecake would go nicely with something shiny propped up on top.
Pretty Places with a Nice View
The Cummer Museum (829 Riverside Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32204)
With priceless artwork and century-old English Garden, The Cummer is near the top of the list of places to propose in Jacksonville. The most coveted garden is the Italian garden with its two reflecting pools and hundreds of azaleas. It’s like strolling around a garden in Tuscany!
Big Talbot Island
For a romantic walk on a secluded, windswept beach, head over to Big Talbot Island where you can first have a picnic overlooking the water in one of their many pavilions before pulling out a sparkling ring from beneath the potato salad. If you are a couple that loves nature, there should be no doubt why you chose this place as your perfect spot to pop the question.
Huguenot Memorial Park (10980 Heckscher Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32226)
Located right off of A1A, Huguenot Memorial Park has everything you could want from a public park, but they also have the Jetties. The Jetties is a strip of the beach found along the shore line right outside of the state park. If you go during low tide, the “Bird Island” sand bar is large enough to stand on and would make a prime spot to propose on.
For a place that is near and dear to my heart, Amelia Island (where I got engaged!) is located near the Florida/Georgia border. Horseback riding on the beach is a favorite pre-proposal activity and there are also sunset cruises in the river and along the coast that serve as excellent sites for asking, “Will you marry me?!”
Bridge of Lions (St. Augustine)
Even though proposing on the actual bridge may be ill-advised (what if your shaky hands drop the ring?!), asking along the water line right beside the bridge is a still a picture perfect idea. With the lights flickering against the sunset, you’ll feel like you are in a dream. Near the bridge, you’ll find bustling pedestrian St. George Street and the park attached to it. If you are planning on proposing during Christmas time I recommend heading over to this park area where lights are draped throughout the trees and there is a continuous twinkling in the night sky.
The First Coast has so much to offer when it comes to romantic venues to plan your proposal, so the tough part is picking the right one for you and your special someone. (That is until you get the “yes.” Then wedding planning begins and that’s a whole new can of worms!)