One of the largest cities in Florida, Jacksonville has a lot going for it! From an unspoilt coastline, gorgeous beaches and galleries galore, there’s a heap of the best things to do in Jacksonville dotted all across the city.
Now, although Jacksonville may not get the same attention as some of its Floridian city siblings, like; Fort Lauderdale, Miami or Clearwater – it’s still an epic spot to visit whilst exploring Northern Florida.
We totally loved our road trip around the state and Northern Florida was a huge surprise to us.
To be honest, we hadn’t really thought much about visiting before our road trip (we tended to focus more on the south of Florida) – but thankfully that changed. We were so wrong; the north is amazing and there are so many gems that we don’t get to hear about (from across the pond).
So, to help you get the most outta your time in Jacksonville, we’re sharing some of our top places to see in the city.
Take a look, below, at the best things to do in Jacksonville. Have the best trip to Florida!
1.) Stroll the Jacksonville River Walks
The Jacksonville River Walks has a heap of trails that extend on both sides of the St Johns River. This means you’re in for a treat as you can join an urban trail whilst also exploring lots of the city.
Just make sure to keep your eyes focused on the waters. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some dolphins.
Afterwards, head over to Treaty Oak Park to see one of the city’s most-famous Southern live oaks. It’s said to be over 250 years old!
2.) Visit the Kingsley Plantation
The former home of Zephaniah Kingsley, the Kingsley Plantation is perched right within Fort George Island State Park
Hiding a dark side of history, the Kingsley Plantation is a former plantation where vast exploitation of enslaved people occurred. Nowadays, you can learn more about this horrid period of forced labour. It’s so sad to read about this but something that must never be forgotten.
After taking in all the accounts at the plantation, head off onto some of the trails that line the park. It’s a totally stunning area – but watch out for the mosquitos!
3.) Chill at Jacksonville’s beaches
Nestled within The Beaches” area of Jacksonville, Atlantic Beach is gorgeous to visit, especially if you’re looking for a relaxing day.
This beach has many great restaurants and has a beautiful sandy shore to boot! It’s Great for surfing and kayaking, Atlantic Beach has almost been made for just chilling! Well, that’s my excuse for not doing anything when there! 😉
Getting hungry? Head to North Beach Fish Camp for their incredible seafood menu. Their cajun fried crab claws are too good to miss.
Alternatively, drive 30-minutes from Jacksonville and explore Ponte Vedra Beach which is a totally stunning stretch of white sandy dreams! Also, if you’re looking to stay a few nights on the beach, check into the Ponte Vedra Inn. It’s so dreamy and right on the beach area.
4.) Go Hiking At Big Talbot Islands State Park
One of the more unique spots in northern Florida, Big Talbot Islands is one of the best things to do in Jacksonville if you fancy a day in the great outdoors.
There’s a heap of tidal creeks where you can chillout and glide between the islands. Just be sure to hire your equipment before you visit, especially at peak times of the year. We used Kayak Amelia and they’re great.
Big Talbot Island State Park is a Sandy state park beach where you can find Wetlands, marshes, bike paths, and secret beaches. Its main highlights are Blackrock Beach and Boneyard Beach. You can also go hiking and kayaking here.
Also, if you’re looking to join a paved hike, head on the 3-mile long Timucuan Trail. Running through the gorgeous countryside of the park, it’s the kind of place that’s great, even on a hot day. You see, lots of the trail is shaded by the vast tree cover, which makes it much cooler in summer.
5.) Visit Amelia Island
Although not technically in the city limits, Amelia Island is one of the best things to do in Jacksonville when you fancy a gander away from the streets.
With the most incredible beaches, it’s the perfect day trip where you can chill out and just enjoy the surf. Alternately, if you’re feeling up to it, try your hand at a joining a hiking trail, horseback riding or popping into the cosy museum.
Best of all, it’s no faff to get to Amelia Island! Connected to mainland Florida via Highway 200, you’ll be easily able to drive right on the island.
6.) Stroll the Cummer Museum of Art
Established all the way back in 1958, the Cummer Museum is one of the best things to do in Jacksonville, whatever the weather!
With more than 5,000 works from various artists and a history that spans centuries, the museum of art is a totally stunning place to visit for a few hours. Though, in truth, you’d need days to see everything.
Oh, and it’s great for a stroll through the gardens that are totally peaceful.
7.) Spot the Florida Theatre
Almost 100 years old, the Florida Theatre is something of an institution in Jacksonville. It’s the perfect place to watch a show, comedy or play whilst exploring the city.
Though, be sure to book tickets before you arrive in Jacksonville. Some shows sell out fast, especially for notable tours.
8.) Museum of Science and History (MOSH)
The most visited museum in the city, the Museum of Science and History is one of the best things to do in Jacksonville if the weather gets a bit wet. Though that isn’t the only reason why you should go, it’s totally cool for all the family and well worth a few hours gander.
Once inside, be sure to check out seasonal exhibitions and join one of the upcoming events and soirees they host each month. Oh, and remember that MOSH host sponsored days throughout the year, too! This means that there’s free admission for everyone attending – check out their website to see if there’s one happening during your visit.
9.) Visit Fort Caroline National Memorial
Fort Caroline National Memorial showcases the history of French colonial populations in 16th-century Florida that’s so incredible to learn about.
On the banks of St John’s River, it’s totally unique and well worth an explore if you’re interested in the human history of Florida. There is also a 1.3-mile nature trail at the park and the Spanish Pond Trailhead isn’t too far away, either.