The 840-mile beauty of Jacksonville, Florida is packed with fun things to do for the whole family, including splendid nature parks, beautiful beaches, nature-filled waterways, charming public gardens, and interesting galleries and museums.

1. Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens

Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens
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The Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens is a 126-acre arboretum and public garden established as a unique natural attraction for the community of Jacksonville. Opened in 2008, the gardens feature a variety of attractions, including the Lake Loop, which encircles a two-acre lake surrounded by a variety of trees such as longleaf pine, black cherry, pignut hickory, laurel oak, and live oak. Other amenities include the Jones Creek Trail, which wanders through a range of flora such as bald cypress trees, swamp bay, American hornbeam, and several ferns, and the Ravine Trail, which follows the rim of a deep ravine with a bubbling stream flowing at the bottom. The Live Oak Trail winds through live oaks that are over a century old, and other trails include Lower Ravine, the Upper Ravine, Rosemary Ridge and Scrub, all of which offer plentiful exercise terrain.

1445 Millcoe Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32225, Phone: 904-318-4342, Map

2. Jacksonville Farmers Market

Jacksonville Farmers Market
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The Jacksonville Farmers Market is the oldest operating outdoor farmers market in Florida and is home to over 200 vendors serving a wide variety of fresh produce, herbs, and vegetables, and handmade arts and crafts.

Established in 1938, the historic market is located a few minutes away from downtown Jacksonville and features several sections with different stalls selling an array of farm-to-table fare, fresh produce, and handcrafted items in open air, festive ambiance. Head to Andy’s Farmers Market Grill for a sumptuous breakfast before shopping, and don’t miss a chance to taste the market’s famous Mayport shrimp. The Jacksonville Farmers Market is open daily from dawn to dusk.

Jacksonville Farmers Market, 1810 W Beaver St, Jacksonville, FL 32209, Phone: 904-354-2821

3. Tree Hill Nature Center

Tree Hill Nature Center
© Tree Hill Nature Center

Situated in Lone Star Road in the center of Jacksonville, the Tree Hill Nature Center is a 50-acre urban wilderness preserve and park that provides a perfect place for visitors to connect with nature. The preserve features several different ecosystems, including hilltop and wetland areas filled with a variety of fauna and flora, mixed hardwood swamps, southern mixed hardwood forests, and freshwater streams.

Other facilities at the Tree Hill Nature Center include an indoor nature center with interactive exhibits, a learning laboratory, nature trails, and wildflower gardens, and wildlife viewing areas. There is also an amphitheater and an outdoor laboratory, and the center is open from Monday through Saturday, year-round.

Tree Hill Nature Center, 7152 Lone Star Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32211, Phone: 904-724-4646

4. Little Talbot Island State Park

Little Talbot Island State Park
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Miles of white, sandy beaches, lush maritime forests, untouched salt marshes, and magical desert-like dunes make Little Talbot Island State Park a pristine haven for relaxation. One of just a few remaining undeveloped barrier islands in the north-easter part of Florida, the island is home to a wealth of naturally-occurring wildlife, such as marsh rabbits, river otters, bobcats and a host of native and migratory birds.

The park offers a variety of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy, including hiking, beachcombing, surfing and fishing, and inviting beachside picnic pavilions are ideal for a day at the beach with the family. There is a campground along the eastern salt marshes of Myrtle Creek, and the island’s shoreline can be explored with rented kayaks or a guided paddle tour.

Little Talbot Island State Park, 12157 Heckscher Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32226, Phone: 904-251-2320

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5. Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve

Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve
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Established in 1988 and known as the area where the waters meet, the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve is a national preserve in northeastern Duval County that comprises over 46,000 acres of wetlands, waterways, salt marshes, and coastal dunes. Located in the Fort Caroline National Memorial, the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve is managed by the National Park Service and features landscapes that date back 6,000 years and includes historic areas such as Fort Caroline National Memorial and the Kingsley Plantation.

Home to unspoiled coastal wetlands, salt marshes, and hardwood hammocks, the Timucuan Ecological and Historic, Preserve features two visitor’s centers – the Timucuan Preserve Visitor Center at the Fort Caroline National Memorial and the Kingsley Plantation Visitor Contact Station, which boasts a plantation house, kitchen house, slave quarters and an interpretive garden.

Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, 12713 Ft Caroline Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32225, Phone: 904-641-7155

6. The Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary

The Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary
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Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary is an animal care ranch that provides a safe and loving environment for rescued and endangered big cats. The primary focus of the Ranch is to take care of animals that have been recovered from dire situations, and residents at the ranch include tigers, lions, cougars, leopards, and bobcats.

The park is also home to foxes, and coatimundis, which have been named "honorary cats." The sanctuary can be explored with guided day tours and night-time feeding tours, during which visitors learn about the facilities and the residents of the ranch, and their natural habitats, as well as watch the animals being fed.

The Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary, 1860 Starratt Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32226, Phone: 904-757-3603

7. MOSH! The Museum of Science and History

MOSH! The Museum of Science and History
© MOSH! The Museum of Science and History

MOSH! The Museum of Science and History specializes in a variety of outstanding permanent and temporary exhibits that focus on science and local history. Located on the famous Southbank Riverwalk, the museum is one of the city's top attractions. Signature exhibits at the museum include ‘Brain Teasers,’ featuring brain-boosting skills to explore the innermost workings of your mind while traveling exhibits include ‘Dinosaurs Unearthed,’ an interactive exhibition that features life-sized dinosaurs, full-scale skeletons, and fossils from around the globe.

The Museum is also home to the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium, one of the largest single-lens digital dome planetariums in the country. Watch live star shows, cosmic concerts, and pre-produced productions at the Alexander Brest Space Science Theater, as well as plays, presentations, and community events. More info

1025 Museum Cir, Jacksonville, FL 32207, Phone: 904-396-6674, Map

8. Museum Of Contemporary Art Jacksonville

Museum Of Contemporary Art Jacksonville
© Museum Of Contemporary Art Jacksonville

The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, also known as MOCA Jacksonville, is dedicated to showcasing contemporary and modern art by regional, national and international artists. Located next to City Hall on historical Hemming in the heart of downtown Jacksonville, the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville is funded and operated as a cultural institute of the University of North Florida and one of the most significant contemporary art institutions in the Southeastern United States.

The museum features a collection of more than 800 national and international works spanning the 20th and 21st centuries, as well as a 125-seat theater in which lectures and movies are held, and a family learning center with classrooms for hosting exciting educational programs. The Museum Store @ MOCA sells a unique selection of pottery, glassworks, and handmade jewelry, and Café Nola @ MOCA offers upscale bistro fare for lunch and dinner in a relaxed setting.

Museum Of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, 333 N Laura St, Jacksonville, FL 32202, Phone: 904-366-6911

9. Amelia Island State Park

Amelia Island State Park
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Amelia Island State Recreation Area is a state park on Amelia Island just seven miles north of Little Talbot Island State Park. A short drive from Jacksonville, the park protects over 200 acres of unspoiled wilderness along the southern tip of Amelia Island and features pristine sandy beaches, lush salt marshes, and coastal maritime forests that harken back to original Florida.

The park offers horseback riding along the Atlantic Coast beach and through the coastal woods with breathtaking views, as well as excellent fishing opportunities. Other activities include beachcombing for shells, bird watching the numerous bird species that call the area home, and guided tours of the island.

State Road A1A, Jacksonville, FL 32226, Phone: 904-251-2320, Map

10. Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
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The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is one of Jacksonville’s top attractions, featuring a unique walking safari during which visitors can enjoy the zoo’s 2,000 animals and 1,000 exotic plant species. Located at the mouth of the Trout River, the zoo and gardens offer a real family adventure with a range of outstanding exhibits, such as the award-winning ‘Range of the Jaguar’ to Giraffe Overlook and the beautiful Savanna Blooms garden.

The ‘Land of the Tiger’ features an innovative walk-through trail system for the zoo’s two Sumatran and three Malayan Tigers, while other exhibits include the Africa-focused ‘Plains of East Africa’, which is home to the giants that live on the African plains; ‘Great Apes of the World’, featuring two of the four great apes among other primates; the ‘Australian Outback’, which features kangaroos, cassowaries, and lorikeets; and ‘Wild Florida’, which features animals native to the state of Florida.

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

11. Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park

Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park
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The Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park is a 450-acre, 150-mile long park on the Atlantic Ocean that boasts a wealth of outdoor attractions and recreation from a freshwater lake to hiking and biking trails and a beautiful sandy beach. The park features over 20 miles of scenic trails for hiking and mountain biking, with stunning views of the mature coastal hammock with live oak trees and shoreline.

There is a freshwater lake that offers excellent fishing, boating, canoeing, and kayaking, as well as plenty of picnic areas, and access to a pristine beach for sunbathing and surfing. Overnight cabin and tent camping is also available in the park, and there is plenty of bird and wildlife to watch, including alligators, foxes, shorebirds and wading birds, and nesting sea turtles from May through October.

Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park, 500 Wonderwood Dr., Jacksonville, FL, Phone: 904-249-4700

12. Museum of Southern History

Museum of Southern History
© Museum of Southern History

The Museum of Southern History, also known as the G. Howard Bryan Museum of Southern History is dedicated to depicting the culture and lifestyle of the antebellum South. Established in 1975 by the Kirby Smith Camp 1209, Sons of Confederate Veterans, the museum features a collection of artifacts relating to the Civil War era displayed in several exhibits on civilian and military life during the Civil War.

The museum also has a 6,000-volume research library for genealogy, which houses both periods and later publications on the subject of the American Civil War. The Museum of Southern History also offers a variety of historical, educational programs for young visitors, including the opportunity to touch and fire old muskets in the courtyard of the museum.

Museum of Southern History, 4304 Herschel St, Jacksonville, FL 32210, Phone: 904-388-3574

13. Kingsley Plantation

Kingsley Plantation
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The Kingsley Plantation (also known as the Zephaniah Kingsley Plantation Home and Buildings) is located on Fort George Island and is the oldest standing plantation in the state.

Named after Zephaniah Kingsley, who lived there for 25 years, the estate is an exceptional example of a typical plantation during Florida’s slave period and can be explored on guided tours. The Fort Caroline National Memorial was established to memorialize the short-lived French presence in Fort Caroline during the sixteenth century Florida and delves into the tumultuous history of Europeans and Native American Indians.

Kingsley Plantation, 11676 Palmetto Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32226, Phone: 904-251-3537

14. Jacksonville Public Library

Jacksonville Public Library
© Jacksonville Public Library

Located downtown near City Hall and Hemming Plaza, the Jacksonville Public Library is the central public system of Jacksonville. Primarily serving Jacksonville and Duval County, the Jacksonville Public Library is one of the largest library systems in Florida, with a collection of over three million items and 20 branches, including the Main Branch in Jacksonville.

Designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, the Main Branch is 300,000 square feet with the capacity to hold one million books, state-of-the-art technology with 250 public computers, satellite, and video conferencing capabilities, and a 600-space parking garage on Duval Street. The library also features a Conference Center for public and private events, a BOOKtique bookstore, and a casual café called Shelby's Café that serves light meals and drinks.

Jacksonville Public Library, Jacksonville, FL, Phone: 904-630-2665

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15. Fort Clinch State Park

Fort Clinch State Park
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The Fort Clinch State Park is a diverse 1,400-acre park that is based around the historic Fort Clinch, an important strategic fort dating back to the Civil War. The fort features numerous rooms which visitors can explore, art galleries and exhibitions which showcase living history programs about the lives of Union soldiers. Other amenities at the park include several paved and gravel multi-use hiking and biking trails that wind through massive arching live oaks with maritime hammocks, camping, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, shelling, bird and wildlife watching.

The park has beautiful beaches that provide good swimming, surfing, beachcombing, picnicking, and is renowned for its gopher tortoises, painting buntings and several other species of wildlife. A Visitor Center sells a variety of camping essentials and supplies, souvenirs, prepackaged snacks and refreshments, and a museum is located next to the center which provides an introduction into the history of Fort Clinch.

Fort Clinch State Park, 2601 Atlantic Avenue, Fernandina Beach FL 32034, Phone: 904-277-7274

16. Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens

Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens
© Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens

The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens is dedicated to showcasing works of art dating from 2,100 BCE to the 21st century along with beautifully maintained gardens and grounds. Founded in 1961 with an impressive art collection and spectacular gardens, which were bequeathed to the city on the death of Ninah Cummer, the museum includes her original garden designs and a section of her home and historic furnishings.

The museum’s permanent collection includes over five thousand works of art, including American and European paintings and an impressive selection of Meissen porcelain. The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens also features an award-winning education center which offers art classes, workshops, and interactive educational installations. The museum is surrounded by three flower gardens that have been maintained in their original layout for over a century, the oldest of which dates back to the early 1900s. Admission to the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens is free for children.

Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, 829 Riverside Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32204, Phone: 904-356-6857

17. Hands On Children’s Museum

Hands On Children’s Museum
© Hands On Children’s Museum

The Hands On Children's Museum is dedicated to motivating children of all ages to learn through discovery and play with a variety of interactive and hands-on exhibits. The family-friendly museum promotes hands-on participatory learning through role-playing, observation, problem-solving, creative construction, inquiry, and free play.

Interactive exhibits at the museum include a radio and television station, a grocery store, a castle, an emergency, and fire rescue station, and several play areas. The Hands On Children's Museum also offers a variety of educational programs and field trips for school children and groups and has a sizeable educational figure called ‘Stuffee’ who has soft removable internal organs and offers a fun and interactive for students to learn about the body systems.

Hands On Children’s Museum, 8580 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32216, Phone: 904-642-2688

18. Jessie Ball DuPont Park

Jessie Ball DuPont Park
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The Jessie Ball DuPont Park is a beautiful historic park on Prudential Drive in the Southbank area of Jacksonville that is home to the magnificent Treaty Oak, a glorious specimen of Quercus Virginiana, or Live Oak, that is more than two centuries old. Situated just five minutes from the St. Johns Rivé, the massive oak is over 70 feet tall with a trunk of more than 25 feet in circumference and was named the Treaty Oak by Times Union reporter, Pat Moran, while he was writing a fictitious story about how native American Indians and white settlers once met under the tree to sign peace treaties.

The surrounding park was named after ardent philanthropist and part-time Jacksonville resident Jessie DuPont (1884-1970) and features grassy lawns, walking paths, and lovely picnic areas.

Jessie Ball DuPont Park, 1207 Prudential Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32207, Phone: 904-630-2489

19. Theatre Jacksonville

Theatre Jacksonville
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One of the oldest running community theaters in the United States, Theatre Jacksonville is a volunteer-based community theater located in the neighborhood of San Marco in downtown Jacksonville. Based in a building known as the Little Theater, which was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1991, Theatre Jacksonville produces an array of productions throughout the year, as well as educational programs, workshops, and a children's camp, called Camp Theatre Jacksonville every summer.

The Theater’s goal is to broaden cultural understanding through the presentation of plays and programs of noted artistic excellence, such as Boy Meets Girl, and Hairspray.

Theatre Jacksonville, 2032 San Marco Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32207, Phone: 904-396-4425

20. Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier

Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier
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The Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier is a large wooden pier nearly a quarter of a mile long that offers fishing and beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Built in 1925, the handicapped-accessible wooden deck has a T-shaped end which is 22 feet deep at high tide, which provides excellent fishing opportunities for catching whiting, bluefish, trout, and flounder, among other species. The pier, which has withstood many storms in its history, also features several fish cleaning stations, a bait shop, a concession area, and restrooms.

Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier, 503 1st St N, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250, Phone: 904-241-1515

21. Sweet Pete’s

Sweet Pete’s
© Sweet Pete’s

Sweet Pete’s is a confectionary emporium and classic sweet shop located in the historic Seminole Club that sells handcrafted quality chocolates and over a thousand different types of candies. Based in a renowned building dating back to 1903, which is famous for hosting several well-known visitors such as Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Teddy Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy, Sweet Pete’s spans 23,000 square feet and is one of the largest candy shops in the country.

Sweet Pete’s features a fully operating factory with an interactive gallery, a full restaurant and bar, a decadent dessert bar, a casual rooftop patio with great views, and two large retail areas. The confectionary also boasts an event center that can be used for the catered event, birthday parties, and children’s field trips, and offers hands-on interactive candy-making sessions, and Sweet Science Classes.

Sweet Pete’s, 400 N Hogan St, Jacksonville, FL 32202, Phone: 904-376-7161

22. Beaches Museum & History Park

Beaches Museum & History Park
© Beaches Museum & History Park

The Beaches Museum & History Park is a community park that explores the rich heritage of the area through interactive and informative displays and exhibits. Visitors can discover the history of the boardwalk, stroll along the veranda of a gilded-age seaside resort, travel with hardy pioneer settlers and experience what life was like on the road, and head out on the water with early river pilots and fishermen.

Exhibits are spread over two floors in the museum – the first of which houses two exhibit rooms, namely the Pritchard Gallery and the Dickinson Gallery, while the second floor is home to the archives, offices and a Museum Store.

Beaches Museum & History Park, 381 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250, Phone: 904-241-5657

23. Adventure Landing Shipwreck Island Waterpark

Adventure Landing Shipwreck Island Waterpark
© Adventure Landing Shipwreck Island Waterpark

Adventure Landing Shipwreck Island Waterpark is a family-focused theme park that offers a wide variety of entertainment for the whole family from arcade games and miniature golf to laser tag and go-karting. The popular venue promises fun for all with an array of amenities and attractions, including Adventure Speedway Go-Karts, fun themed rides such as the Frog Hopper, the Wacky Worm Roller Coaster, and a flight simulator, and two 18-hole miniature adventure golf courses.

Visitors can try their hand at laser tag in a massive multi-level arena, play billiards on one of several tables, hit the gaming arcade and win some redemption prizes or head to the catting cages for some baseball practice. Food and drinks are served at two themed snack bars and several concessions around the park.

Adventure Landing Shipwreck Island Waterpark, 1944 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250, Phone: 904-438-3787

24. Batt Family Fun Center

Batt Family Fun Center
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The Batt Family Fun Center is a state-of-the-art 45.000 square foot facility that offers a wealth of fun for the whole family. The center features a modern bowling alley with 32 bowling lanes, including a private, eight-lane VIP area, a games arcade with more than 40 games, billiards tables, 18 holes of Krazie glow golf and a full-service snack bar.

Visitors can enjoy COOL Cosmic Bowling with special effects lighting and party music, and the center can be hired for private events and functions such as birthday parties and corporate events. The Batt Family Fun Center also hosts bowling leagues and tournaments throughout the year.

Batt Family Fun Center, 1838 Cassat Avenue, Jacksonville, FL 32210, Phone: 904-389-2360

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