Best Places to Live: Green Cove Springs, FL

River at sunrise with bird flying overhead

Named for its natural sulfur spring and an attractive shoreline along the historic St. Johns River, Green Cove Springs has long been a destination for those seeking natural beauty and tranquility. Not to mention the city provides easy access to St. Augustine, downtown Jacksonville and the coastline. Here are a few reasons why you might want to call this scenic area home.

Rich History

Once dubbed the Saratoga of the South, Green Cove Springs was a popular riverboat destination in the 1800s for northerners seeking a warm resort and medicinal spring waters during the winter months. Hotels dotted the town that reputedly rivaled the opulence of renowned hotels in big cities like New York, Philadelphia and Chicago. Historic Green Cove Springs hotels included The Clarendon, The Qui-si-Sana and The Magnolia Springs Hotel—the last offering one of the first truly resort-like experiences in Florida, with a mule-drawn tram, a golf course, an indoor pool, an elevator, an eight-ton ice and refrigeration system, and an early electric light system tested by none other than Thomas Edison.

Over time, Green Cove Springs lost much of its original tourism to rail lines that allowed northern travelers to reach more far-flung hotspots. The only remaining structure from the hotel era is the former guest cottage from The Clarendon Hotel, which is now the elegant River Park Inn Bed and Breakfast. Today, people remain drawn to Green Cove Springs for its incredible history, unique natural spring experience, colorful city culture and exceptional outdoor recreation—all of which have earned the city its status as the county seat of St. Johns County and an iconic Florida destination.

Outdoor Treasures

Spring Park
The inviting Spring Park features a fenced display that protects the city’s still-active namesake spring, which supplies fresh water to the adjacent city pool at a rate of approximately 2,200 gallons per minute. The spring water then flows from the pool to the St. Johns River, where there’s access to a 500-foot-long pier with 12 boat slips and overnight docking for a fee. Additional park highlights include a gazebo, a playground and picnic facilities.

St. Johns River
Designated an American Heritage River, the St. Johns River remains a vital waterway for Green Cove Springs, and also serves as a scenic destination bursting with natural splendor. Boat rentals and river cruises are a great way to explore this historic body of water.

Bayard Conservation Area
Just south of the city, the Bayard Conservation Area offers over 9,000 acres with fishing along the St. Johns River, wildlife viewing, camping, hiking, biking, horseback riding and seasonal hunting. Animals you might see include tortoises, black bear, deer, herons and bald eagles.

Nature Preserve  and Wildlife Corridor Trail
Located on the outskirts of town, this beautiful nature area features a trail for hiking and biking that meanders through dense trees full of wildlife. Along the way, you’ll find fitness stations and signs with educational information about the ecosystem. In addition, the trail is designed to be accessible for those with disabilities. The city plans to expand on the trail system to connect it to regional trails in St. Johns County.

City Festivities

Green Cove Springs enjoys a lively culture, which the city supports by hosting numerous annual events in the downtown area. Standouts include the Memorial Day RiverFest, with live entertainment and fireworks, and the Soul Food Festival, with music, food contests and even a dance competition!

Thinking about buying a new home in Green Cove Springs?
Check out Richmond American’s exceptional communities in the area:

Rolling Hills at Lake Asbury
From the upper $100s
3 to 6 bedrooms, up to approx. 2,600 sq. ft.
Fitness center, zero-entry pool, water slide, sports courts and more!

From the upper $100s
3 to 5 bedrooms, up to approx. 2,380 sq. ft.
No CDD fees!*

*At this time, the Richmond American Homes lots at Traceland are not in a community development district. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a purchaser of a lot remains subject to regular “ad valorem” property taxes and all other charges, fees and special taxes assessments for the property, which amounts may increase from year to year. Richmond American Homes makes no representation and hereby disclaims any liability with regards to the amount of regular “ad valorem” property taxes and all other charges, fees, special taxes, and benefit assessments associated with the property now or in the future. In addition, community development districts could be established in the future and Richmond American Homes makes no representation with regards to any community development district taxes that homeowners may become subject to in the future.