Mandarin is located on the east side of the St. Johns River just north of the border with St. Johns County. It was at one point a separate city, and was incorporated into Jacksonville in the Jacksonville Consolidation in 1968.

Mandarin grew up as an orange grove farming community, and went by several names before receiving its current designation, picked for the Mandarin Orange. After the Civil War was the summer home of author Harriett Beecher Stowe, whose book Palmetto Leaves was inspired by her experiences there. Mandarin remained a quiet community until 1970, when the construction of the Buckman Bridge, connecting Mandarin to Orange Park across the river, ushered in a new wave of development, and Mandarin subsequently became one of Jacksonville's fastest growing neighborhoods.