Florida is known to have some of the most beautiful beaches in the United States and Jacksonville only affirms this. The city has more than 22 miles of beaches featuring clear white sand and beautiful views of the ocean. Virtually all of the beaches are very family friendly and are perfect for a summer vacation trip with the whole crew. Jacksonville has three major beach areas, including Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, and Jacksonville Beach. Amelia Island has four other incredible beaches, and several more are within a short drive. The beaches on our list include nine of the best beaches you will find close to Jacksonville. Peruse the list and you are sure to find the perfect fit for your vacation. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.

1.American Beach

American Beach
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American Beach is a well-known historic beach located on Amelia Island. It was founded in 1935, which was a sad time in our nation’s history when there weren’t many beaches that allowed African Americans. Over the next two decades, African Americans came from all over the country to visit the beach. Due to this historical significance, American Beach is part of the state’s Black Heritage Trail. The beach itself is quiet, removed from traffic sounds with beautiful views of the ocean and the surrounding sand dunes. The beach is perfect for those who are looking to escape the touristy crowds that flock to other beaches and enjoy fishing, swimming, shelling, and surfing at a historically significant beach. Things to Do in Jacksonville

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2.Atlantic Beach

Atlantic Beach
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Atlantic Beach is a charming coastal community near Jacksonville. The area has an interesting history as most expert historians believe that Atlantic Beach was the first year-round Native American settlement in North America. The beaches here are quite laidback with a relaxed vibe. They are quite popular with both locals and tourists in the summer, so claim your spot in the sand early. The community surrounding the beach has several excellent golf courses, and nice parks for the whole family. Surfing, cycling, and shelling are other popular activities. Many visitors who come to Atlantic Beach love it so much they continue to come back year after year. Wedding venues in Jacksonville FL

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3.Fernandina Beach

Fernandina Beach
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Fernandina Beach is the northernmost city on the coast of Florida. It is situated on Amelia Island in Nassau County near Jacksonville. The city is perhaps best known for its annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, which is held annually as well as being a destination for golfers. Activities at the festival include shopping at the variety of vendors offering seafood, arts, handicrafts, antiques, and more, as well as enjoying live music concerts, beauty pageants, and fireworks. The town itself is quite charming and has a number or interesting boutiques, shops, and restaurants. The beach borders the historic town center and is perfect for families, with a playground, plenty of parking, and great space for picnicking and relaxing on the beach.

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4.Fort Clinch State Park

Fort Clinch State Park
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Fort Clinch State Park occupies more than 1,400 acres on Amelia Island, which is a barrier island off of the coast of Jacksonville. The park has 3 miles of shoreline and offers a range of recreational activities for the entire family, such as fishing, swimming, shelling, and sunbathing. The centerpiece of the park is a historic fort that features actors in period clothing from the Civil War era as well as a number of historical artifacts. The beach itself is a natural beach with few amenities for tourists. Your kids will enjoy the numerous species of wildlife they may have a chance to see during their visit, including shorebirds, sea turtles, and alligators. More Things to Do in Jacksonville FL

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5.Jacksonville Beach

Jacksonville Beach
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If you are looking for a beach with a lot of facilities on offer, Jacksonville Beach is where it’s at. The beach itself is beautiful but it is nearby many activities and amenities, and a popular fishing pier juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. There is also a well-known golf course a short distance from the beach, and there are plenty of restaurants and fun activities always close at hand. Surfers from around the country come to Jacksonville Beach because it is known for having some of the best waves in this part of the country. Experienced surfers say that The Poles near Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park is the best place in Jacksonville to surf. Free Things to Do in Jacksonville

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6.Little Talbot

Little Talbot
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Little Talbot State Park, located a short drive from Jacksonville on Little Talbot Island, has some of the most beautiful beaches in this part of the state. If you are looking for a postcard-perfect, clean, white-sand beach, then this should be your first stop. The park has more than 5 miles of pristine beaches and beautiful sand dunes. The park also has salt marshes and coastal forests, which provide an opportunity to explore additional ecosystems. On your walk through these unique habitats, you may chance a glance at river otters, bobcats, rabbits, and a number of bird species. Things to Do in Jacksonville with Kids

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Fancy a beach getaway without the kids? Mayport is a quaint historical village that has become well-known as home to several casino boats. If you’d like to bring the kids along, there’s still plenty of family friendly activities, including biking, hiking, and of course enjoying the beach. Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park has some of the area’s best trails as well as campgrounds for those looking to spend the night. Seafood restaurants are abundant here and several offer Mayport shrimp, which is a local specialty. The town has a historical charm adding to the atmosphere of your getaway. Visit Mayport and enjoy delicious seafood, beautiful views of the Atlantic, and possibly win a few bucks at the blackjack table or slot machine.

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8.Neptune Beach

Neptune Beach
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In between Jacksonville Beach and Atlantic Beach, you will find the small, coastal community of Neptune Beach. If you’ve come to the beach to unplug, relax, and enjoy a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Neptune Beach is for you. This stretch of sand offers some of the most incredible sunsets and sunrises that you will find on the Atlantic coast. While you won’t find a bustling nightlife or large resorts, this laidback community offers a range of boutique shops, delicious restaurants, and several options for ocean-front accommodations. You are sure to come away from your trip feeling recharged, relaxed, and fulfilled.

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9.Ponte Vedra Beach

Ponte Vedra Beach
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Ponte Vedra Beach is a beautiful resort community located on the seaside in St. John’s County about 18 miles down the coast from Jacksonville. This beach is most popular among higher-end luxury travelers and those who come to play golf. The area is famously home to the Players Championship as well as the esteemed PGA Tour. The sand dunes that flank Ponte Vedra Beach are some of the highest in the state of Florida. The beach is a family-friendly destination perfect for those who don’t mind spending a little extra for a classy, comfortable, and relaxed vacation spot.

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9 Best Jacksonville, Florida Beaches

More Ideas: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens features over 2,000 exotic and rare animals and more than 1,000 different plant species, providing something for everyone. It is constantly changing and growing, adding new animal exhibits and gardens, such as the Range of the Jaguar exhibit and the Savanna Blooms garden. The zoo also offers a variety of interactive and educational experiences for visitors. Next read: Best Things to Do in Jacksonville, FL

The Jacksonville Zoo's Range of the Jaguar exhibit has won a national award twice. This South American exhibit features a variety of animals in addition to the jaguar. While exploring the meandering halls of the Lost Temple, an abandoned Mayan temple replica, visitors can happen upon pygmy marmosets, cotton-topped tamarins, and more The building also contains poison dart frogs and variety of snakes, such as the anaconda, Amazon tree boa constrictor, and bushmaster snakes. At the River's Edge exhibit area, guests can catch a glimpse of giant anteaters, capybaras, and howler monkeys. The Jacksonville Zoo is a great place to visit with the whole family.

An array of animals can also be found in the Emerald Forest Aviary. Visitors will find freshwater stingrays, macaws so close they could almost touch, and an Inca tern flying above their heads. A pudu, the smallest deer species, may even dart across their path. The aviary also is home to the arapaima, the largest freshwater fish, that grows up to 15 feet and can weigh nearly 400 pounds. Guests can also find entertainment watching the playful antics of the rare giant otters.

Plains of East Africa

The 1,400 feet long boardwalk of the Plains of East Africa exhibit area features a huge variety of animals in an expansive open environment. Visitors can start their journey around the boardwalk look with the warthog exhibit, and then continue onwards to see the eastern bongo, southern ground hornbills, and a wild breeding wood stork colony in the bongo exhibit. Across from the antelope exhibit area is a pair of saddle-billed storks, a rare stork species and the tallest of the African storks. Guests will find the cheetah exhibit and wattled cranes, the rarest of the African cranes, in the same area of the loop. Another two-and-a-half acre exhibit area gives ostrich, greater kudu, and white rhinoceros ample room to wander around the land. Strolling further down the boardwalk, visitors can spot the Grevy's zebra and okapi.

The Elephant Plaza provides guests with intimate views of the Jacksonville Zoo's elephants and their exhibit area, which includes a pool with 275,000 gallons of water. The zoo has 1 male and 3 female elephants. The plaza also features klipsprings, bats, vultures, and other animals. Within the same area is the African Reptile Building, home to several of the deadliest snakes on the planet. Guests have the chance to safely look at mambas, cobras, and vipers.

Mahali Pa Simiba is the one acre residence of the Jacksonville Zoo's lions. Visitors can view these lions from the main path's viewing area or from the overlook on the boardwalk. Prior to the lion exhibit area, colobus monkey entertain guests as they leap from one tree to another. Near the loop's end are the endangered Amur Leopards that can be seen from the main path or the loop's gazebo.

The Jacksonville Zoo's Giraffe Outlook gives guests an opportunity to get eye-to-eye with the giraffes on an elevated viewing platform. The area's covered boardwalk provides visitors with a magnificent view of the replica of an African Savanna. Guests can observe giraffe and greater kudu grazing and wandering freely in the area. The Giraffe Outlook is located near of the zoo's new botanical gardens, Savanna Blooms.

Great Apes

Visitors have a chance at an up-close view of three different types of primates at the Great Apes exhibit area. The exhibit features apes, monkeys, and prosimians. The Westland Lowland gorilla, siamangs, and bonobo represent the ape group at the zoo. The monkey group consists of colobus monkeys and mandrills. The black-and-white ruffed lemurs and ring-tailed lemurs make up the exhibit's prosimian primate group.

Land of the Tiger

Walking through the Asia-inspired Land of the Tiger exhibit area, guests will find Asian small-clawed otters, wreathed and wrinkled hornbills, Visayan Warty pigs, and Babirusa pigs. The highlight of the exhibit of course is the two Sumatran tigers and three Malayan tigers. The tigers are able to roam about freely in their habitat through an innovative trail system. Visitors can view the zoo's tigers potentially from nearly anywhere in this unique 2.5 acre exhibit.

Monsoon Asia

The Monsoon Asia exhibit area features both exotic animals and beautiful, tranquil gardens. The hope with the area's creation is that it will resonate with people who have experience with Asian cultures. The garden area consists of a Lotus Pool, Koi Pond, Moon Bridge, the Orchid Pavilion, and several waterfalls encompassed by bamboo and other Asian plants. The Bamboo Mist Forest, including panda sculptures made of bronze, is a hit among both children and adults. The main animal showcased in Monsoon Asia is the Komodo Dragon. The Komodo Dragon exhibit is designed to look like a fishing village on the Island of Komodo in Indonesia. The animals seem to wander the village's backyards or bask in the sun during the day. Guests may also have the chance to watch the zookeepers train the Komodo Dragons via an interactive panel.

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Australian Adventure

The Australian Adventure exhibit area showcases many different animals native to Australia, such as wallabies, red kangaroos, and a cassowary. Visitors will also find the colorful lorikeets in the exhibit's free-flight aviary.

The zoo's Wild Florida exhibit is located on a 2.5 acre habitat of natural wetland. The area is home to native plants and animals, including Florida panthers, alligators, red wolves, bobcats, black bears, white-tailed deer, an owl species, bald eagles, and whooping cranes. The exhibit is also the site of The Reptile House that features over 25 various reptile and amphibian species. One such species is the Eastern Indigo snake, one of many threatened species protected by the state.

River Valley Aviary

The 9,000 square feet River Valley Aviary is home to a wide array of species of exotic birds. This two story is built to let the birds fly freely throughout the enclosure. Bird species include the lesser flamingo, white-bellied bustard, yellow-billed stork, turacos, and whistling duck, just to name a few.

Play Park and Splash Ground

The Play Park and Splash Ground area of the zoo is the perfect place for children. Here they have the opportunity to have tons of fun while reconnecting with nature. The 2.5 acre play area is located in the middle of the ZooLoop path, just beyond the Wildlife Carousel and Range of the Jaguar exhibit. Visitors can try to navigate two different mazes and afterwards jump, climb, and get a little wet in the 4,000 square feet Splash Ground. Rather than get wet, guests can also create and discover in the Discovery Center. Kids will delight in climbing on vines while trying to imitate the squirrel monkeys in front of them, or petting and grooming pygmy goats in the Animal Care area. There is also a tree house and rock walls to climb on, as well as the Forest Play area where guests can dig in search of artifacts. In the Play Park, Tuxedo Coast gives guests an opportunity to get up-close to penguins. Visitors can also view the penguins swimming overhead from a tunnel window.

Stingray Bay

At Stingray Bay, visitors have the opportunity to feel and pet stingrays in an interactive and entertaining exhibit.

Save the Frogs!: Amphibian Conservation Center

The Amphibian Conservation Center aims to teach visitors how they can help frogs and other amphibians that face shrinking habitats and a deadly fungus. The center provides a sanctuary for the amphibians threatened by the deadly fungus, as well as offers guests a chance to see the threatened species and listen to the sounds of those species that have become extinct.

The Jacksonville Zoo has developed three major garden zones as part of its Botanical Garden Concept Plan. The hope is to create a unique botanical garden within the zoo, integrating the gardens with the animal exhibits. The zoo's goal is to establish a new standard for zoos.

The first major garden zone is The Main Path, also known as The River of Color. Guests begin their exploration of the gardens at the Main Camp Garden, where they are greeted by a stunning display flowers and foliage. Ribbons of swirling colorful blooms and foliage off in the distance will draw in visitors as they follow The River of Color throughout the zoo, finding the gardens linked with the animal exhibits through this line of color.

Themed Pocket Gardens, the second major garden zone, is a collection of unique gems of horticultural display. These gardens immerse guests through plant themed courtyards that serve as an entrance to the animal exhibits. The Jacksonville Zoo currently has several different pocket gardens: the Asian Garden, Savanna Blooms Garden, native gardens of Play Park and Wild Florida, South American-Range of the Jaguar Garden, and the formal Gardens of Trout River.

The third zone is The Primary Gardens. The area has been put aside as something very special as a result of the stunning native plants along the Trout River and the amazing panoramic views. The gardens will be spread out over around 12 acres, and will also include the Conservatory and Collections Gardens.

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370 Zoo Pkwy, Jacksonville, FL 32218, Phone: 904-757-4463

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