Jacksonville is filled with natural attractions. There are plenty of green spaces, like the lovely gardens of the Arboretum and the Timucuan Preserve. When you visit in the summer, the fireworks displays will delight you. And, of course, the stunning beaches never fail to amaze. We've pared down some of the top attractions and things to do in Jacksonville to whet your appetite!
This astonishing (and free) historic site on Fort George Island can be explored solo, but the informative audio tour is the way to go if you really want to get the most out of the experience. It only takes about an hour, and by the end, you'll be well-versed in the history of Zephaniah Kingsley and other fascinating 19th-century stories.
The Cummer Gallery of Art is a Jacksonville gem. The permanent collection contains nearly 5000 pieces dating back to 2100 BC. See works by Winslow Homer, Norman Rockwell, and Peter Paul Rubens. Two-and-a-half acres of 20th-century garden, fountains, pools, and the Cummer Oak are all breathtaking reasons to explore the grounds.
Located at Big Talbot Island Park, Black Rock Beach is every photographer's dream. Tree skeletons on the shore look strange and enchanting, and it's the perfect backdrop stand-in for a remote location. Outdoor enthusiasts will be delighted by the biking and hiking trails. There are camping spots too, and several water activities.
The white sands and spectacular views of Atlantic Beach make this a must-visit stop on your trip. Plenty of parking spaces and recreational areas are available for visitors. There are no entrance fees and lots of restaurants, shops, and breweries to explore. Atlantic Beach is the ideal spot for swimming, fishing, and paddleboarding.
If you're looking for the fishing spot in Jacksonville, head to the Beach Pier. This location is also ideal for sitting and watching the sun rise over the ocean. You can't surf here, but you can always go swimming and wade in the inviting waters.
This wildlife preserve is inside the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. It provides birds and other animals with nesting and feeding locations. Here, the saltwater meets the freshwater of the adjoining streams and rivers, offering safe havens for crocodiles, turtles, manatees, raccoons, and more.
A cruise might be the best way to see this unique view of the Jacksonville skyline. Tourists can hop aboard a Carnival Cruise, Carnival Elation, or Carnival Ecstasy vessel to take in the sights. You'll be mesmerized by the beauty of The River City.
You won't run out of things to do in downtown Jacksonville. Take a walking tour or pop into a library to read and explore. Spend a relaxing afternoon in Treaty Oak Park. And, of course, there is no shortage of shops and restaurants in this bustling center, and you can always take the water taxi to see more of Jacksonville.
Big Talbot Island State Park is a natural reserve ideal for bird watching or studying nature. Explore the Blackrock and Big Pine trails, photograph the stunning views, or enjoy a picnic at one of the pavillions on The Bluffs.
You'll find the Friendship Fountain near the Museum of Science and History, and you won't believe the views of the vibrant Jacksonville skyline. This quiet park is perfect for simply relaxing, reading, or enjoying an afternoon snack.
You'll find some solid Saturday market action under the I-95 bridge in Jacksonville. Grab breakfast or lunch at one of the satisfying food trucks and bring Fido along for a leashed outing. Carry some tote bags for your goodies, and support small businesses, farmers, and the arts. You'll want to stay for the live music or free yoga classes and enjoy the fantastic views.
Looking for somewhere to spend at least four hours? The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is a top local attraction where you can see rare and exotic animals and plants. Award-winning exhibits include Range of the Jaguar, African Forest, and Land of the Tiger. Premium experiences provide unique animal interactions and feedings. The on-site animal wellness team comprises conservation experts involved in Species Survival Plans, which is not as common as you'd think. Ride the train, hop on the carousel, and get soaked in the splash pad.
Big cat lovers sure are in for a treat at this non-profit haven. You can learn about the rescued cougars, leopards, pumas, tigers, and lions that call Catty Shack Ranch their "forever home." The sanctuary launched at the start of the new millennium and does not buy or sell animals. Planned upgrades should create larger enclosures for the magnificent creatures being cared for by volunteers.
Manhattan Beach was a coastal community for African Americans during segregation. Today, the area is a recreation spot with white sand beaches, a boardwalk, 15 miles of biking trails, a freshwater lake, and a campground. You can kayak and canoe and spot alligators and sharks' teeth. The park is named after an author and teacher from Chicago who eventually called Florida home and supported its parks and memorials.
Jacksonville's Museum Of Science & History, aka MOSH, is the most popular local museum featuring a slew of nature and history exhibits. If your interests are prehistoric, look for the dinos and whales. If arts and crafts are your jam, there's a section for you, whatever your age. The laser light show in the Planetarium is a highlight.
To fans of the outdoors, mini-day trips don't get better than hiking, spotting wildlife, and looking for sand dollars and shells in this unspoiled nook of the Sunshine State. You can't drive on the beach here, nor can you swim in certain areas, so look out for the signs demarcating swim zones.
The French landed in the region in the 16th century, and this memorial recounts the toils and travails of these Europeans via re-enactments. Battles between the French and Spanish led to a Spanish victory. Learn about a slice of history or venture down one of the trails to stretch your legs amidst wetlands and forests.
A 14.5-mile multi-use trail in a city park? Sign us up for horseback riding, in-line skating, cycling, jogging, and more in the shadow of a former rail line near Baldwin. The paths are wheelchair-friendly and open between sunrise and sunset. Watch unicyclists do their thing and take in the rural and flatwoods scenery.
You know this promenade near the St. Johns River is special because it's where you can see the Fourth of July fireworks in the city. You'll see much more besides, from manatees and dolphins to water taxis and a fountain. Take a date here for a romantic stroll in the evening.
This upscale, open-air mall is a mandatory stop on any shopper's local itinerary. You'll find your favorite brands, including luxury labels like Louis Vuitton, and when you're done emptying your bank account on electronics, fashion, and homeware, you can spend on a delicious meal and a dessert at one of the many eateries catering to various palates.