From romantic river views and great beaches to must-see museums and great free attractions, Jacksonville, FL, is a fun weekend destination for couples and families. Visit the Cummer Museum of Art, have a romantic dinner, go for a stroll in a park, stay in an RV park, or take a day trip. Best things to do in Jacksonville, FL with kids include hands-on activities at MOSH!, great breakfast spots, and seeing rare animals at the Jacksonville Zoo.
1. The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens
© The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens
The Cummer Museum of Art is one of Florida’s favorite art museums that hosts one of the best art collections in the Southeast. Housed in a series of twentieth-century buildings that overlook the St. John’s River, the Museum has more than 6,000 works of art spanning the period between 2100 B.C. and the 21st century, with distinct genres of European and American paintings. The Museum also boasts the Wark Collection of Early Meissen Porcelain.
The Museum is surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens, the oldest of which date back to 1903 and some of which have recently been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The 2.5 acres of gardens boast unique examples of early 20th-century garden design, featuring tranquil reflecting pools, ornate fountains, antique ornaments, and eye-catching sculptures. The garden’s most famous resident is the majestic Cummer Oak, one of the oldest trees in Jacksonville with a broad canopy of more than 150 feet. The Cummer Museum of Art is one of the best things to do in Jacksonville, FL.
829 Riverside Avenue, Jacksonville, Florida 32204, Phone: 904-356-6857
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Overlooking the St. Johns River, Downtown Jacksonville’s North and South banks are surrounded by the skyscrapers of the Fortune 500 companies that have a contemporary, urban vibe and relaxed ambiance. Locals and visitors alike head to the banks of the river to enjoy the wealth of lunch and dining options, ranging from casual cafés to fine dining establishments, as well as a variety of nightlife options of buzzing bars and elegant lounges.
The Southbank Riverwalk is a 1/4-mile boardwalk that winds its way along the river, offering a great place to hike or sit on the benches and soak up the beautiful views. Stroll down to the famous Friendship Fountain at the west end of the Southbank Riverwalk, one of the city’s most popular attractions and the perfect setting for a quiet picnic or romantic evening under the stars.
214 N. Hogan St. Suite 120, Jacksonville, Florida 32202, Phone: 904-634-0303
3. MOSH! The Museum of Science and History
© 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 the mind, while traveling exhibits include full-scale skeletons, fossils from around the globe and ‘Dinosaurs Unearthed’, an interactive exhibition that features life-sized dinosaurs.
The Museum also showcases the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium, one of the largest single-lens digital dome planetariums in the United States. Watch live star shows, cosmic concerts, and productions at the Alexander Brest Space Science Theater, as well as plays, presentations, and community events. MOSH! The Museum of Science and History is one of the top fun things to do with kids in Jacksonville, FL.
1025 Museum Circle, Jacksonville, Florida 32207, Phone: 904-396-6674
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4. Riverside and Avondale, Jacksonville, Florida
© Riverside and Avondale
Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, the neighborhoods of Riverside and Avondale are a part of a famous historic district that offers a distinctive mix of history, culture, character and community. Riverside and Avondale are two of Jacksonville’s oldest suburbs and are home to a hip, young population with a warm and welcoming urban atmosphere.
Managed by the Riverside Avondale Preservation Society, the area boasts a wealth of things to see and do for the whole family and is one of the top Jacksonville, FL points of interest. Riverside's ‘Five Points’ is a trendy bohemian neighborhood with unique shopping, quaint antique stores, art galleries, buzzing sidewalk cafés, busy restaurants and vibrant nightclubs. King Street has become the new food and beer district with a number of excellent breweries and restaurants. You won’t want to miss the outstanding Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens overlooking the St. Johns River. Other top attractions to explore in the area include the Riverside Arts Market, Memorial Park, and the Shoppes of Avondale.
2623 Herschel Street, Jacksonville, Florida 32204, Phone: 904-389-2449
5. 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 view 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’, 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. Other exhibits include the ‘Plains of East Africa’, highlighting African savanna animals; ‘Great Apes of the World’, featuring two of the four great apes among other primates; the ‘Australian Outback’, including lorikeets, cassowaries, and kangaroos; and ‘Wild Florida’, which features animals native to the state of Florida. If you are wondering what to do in Jacksonville with kids, this is a great place to visit.
370 Zoo Parkway, Jacksonville, Florida 32218, Phone: 904-757-4463
6.Riverside Arts Market
© Riverside Arts Market
The Riverside Arts Market is one of Jacksonville’s top attractions, drawing crowds every Saturday to browse the myriad of stalls where vendors, producers, farmers, and artists showcase their wares. The ample farmers market features local produce, as well as artisan breads, fresh cheeses, gourmet spreads, and other delicious handcrafted treats, while more than 100 artists display the city’s creative side with a range of handmade products from paintings and sculptures to pottery and silkscreen shirts. Three stages around the market present an array of excellent live entertainment including great regional bands, barbershop quartets, belly dancers, fire-eaters, and jugglers.
Tucked beneath the canopy of the Fuller Warren Bridge at the end of Northbank Riverwalk, the market is conveniently situated close to Memorial and Riverside Park and with its gorgeous riverfront setting, makes a perfect free family outing.
715 Riverside Ave, Jacksonville, Florida 32204, Phone: 904-389-2449
7.Things to Do in Jacksonville, FL: EcoMotion Tours
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EcoMotion Tours offers specialist walking tours on the beautiful grounds of the Kingsley Plantation. Nestled in the scenic corridor between Amelia Island and Jacksonville, the plantation houses a centuries-old Spanish colonial estate surrounded by lush forests, majestic sand dunes, and spectacular ocean views.
The walking tours explore this beautiful unspoiled seascape of island and tidal pools, dunes, forests, marshes and oyster reefs, and delve into the rich history of the region through the crumbling remnants of various plantation structures. See the world’s largest concentration of slave cabins, handmade from oyster shell material, and keep an eye out for some of the incredible wildlife that call the area home, ranging from bobcats, marsh rabbits and lizards to dolphins, turtles and manatees (Phone: 904-251-9477).
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8.Moxie Kitchen, Jacksonville, Florida
© Moxie Kitchen
Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails is a locally-owned restaurant located on Big Island Drive that serves American cuisine. Owned by Chef Tom Gray who was nominated for two James Beard Awards, the restaurants serves a contemporary menu of regional American cuisine made from carefully sourced local ingredients, including favorites such as meatloaf and filet mignon with bacon onion marmalade. Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails offers several exclusive dining spaces perfect for social gatherings, celebrations, business meetings, or corporate events. Don’t miss the newly launched ‘Progressive Happy Hour’ which lets you enjoy craft beer, selected wines by the glass and great cocktails.
4972 Big Island Drive, Jacksonville, Florida 32246, Phone: 904-998-9744
9.The Jax Ale Trail
© Courtesy of Visit Jacksonville
The Jax Ale Trail offers beer lovers a unique adventure with self-guided tours of the craft breweries in the city. Two companies run the Brewery tours, Brew Bus Jacksonville and Play Harder Tours, and head to most of the breweries in and around town, including Aardwolf Brewing Co., Bold City Brewery, Engine 15 Brewing Co, and others. Tours also visit restaurants and bars that brew their beer, such as Seven Bridges, and include samplings and tasting of local craft beers and delicious local cuisine along the way. Visitors will receive a Jax Ale Trail Brewery Passport to stamp at every brewery visited in order to receive cool prizes and giveaways.
208 N Laura St, Jacksonville, Florida 32202, Phone: 800-733-2668
10.Salt Life Food Shack
© Salt Life Food Shack
Designed to echo the laid-back beach lifestyle of Jacksonville Beach, Salt Life Food Shack is the perfect place to drop by for a snack or a drink in a relaxed, casual environment. Offering a subculture of sun and water lovers and located just a few blocks from the beach, the Shack is an open-air café that serves seaside-style fare such as freshly made sushi, local fried shrimp, and beer can chicken. There is no need to dress up since flip-flops and bathing suits are the norm. The Salt Life Food Shack also hosts private parties and events with tailor-made menus to suit your needs.
1018 Third Street North, Jacksonville, Florida 32250, Phone: 904-372-4456
11.Now & Zen Sailing Charters
© Courtesy of Ryan Ketterman/Visit Jacksonville
Now & Zen Sailing Charters offer sailboat charter/rentals in and around the Jacksonville and Amelia Island area on a five-star, 42-foot cruising Catamaran. Guests can enjoy a variety of tours on board the fully-serviced and crewed Catamaran, including day cruises, sunset cruises, private dinner cruises and sailing vacations. The Catamaran can also be hired for special occasions, such as birthdays, anniversaries, proposals and weddings, and can be tailor-made to suit every need. Now & Zen is fully equipped with stylish décor, a modern galley and kitchen, two private sleeping cabins with a shared toilet and shower for longer voyages, and plenty of deck space for relaxing and sunbathing (Phone: 904-803-8843).
12.Little Talbot Island State Park
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Miles of beaches, forests, untouched salt marshes and dunes make Little Talbot Island State Park a pristine haven for relaxation and one of the best things to do in Jacksonville, Florida. The secluded barrier islands in Northeast Florida is home to diverse wildlife, such as marsh rabbits, river otters, and beautiful birds.
The park offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, beachcombing, surfing and fishing. 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.
12157 Heckscher Dr, Jacksonville, Florida 32226, Phone: 904-251-2320
13.Things to Do in Jacksonville, FL: 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 Theatre, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991, Theatre Jacksonville produces an array of productions throughout the year, as well as educational programs, workshops, and a summer children's camp called Camp Theatre Jacksonville. The theater seeks to broaden cultural understanding through the presentation of plays and programs of noted artistic excellence, such as Boy Meets Girl, and Hairspray.
2032 San Marco Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida 32207, Phone: 904-396-4425
14.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 rescued from dire situations. Residents at the ranch include tigers, lions, cougars, leopards, and bobcats. The park also houses 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 through activities such as observing their natural habitats and watching the animals being fed.
1860 Starratt Road, Jacksonville, Florida 32226, Phone: 904-757-3603
15.Clarks Fish Camp, Jacksonville, Florida
© Clarks Fish Camp
Overlooking the beautiful Julington Creek in Mandarin, Clark's Fish Camp has been serving patrons outstanding seafood for over 30 years. Originally a bait and tackle shop, the restaurant has been converted into a casual seafood restaurant that provides a unique dining experience. The eatery houses a live alligator exhibit which showcases a variety of fish, turtles and a 5-meter North American alligator. Enjoy dining inside or outside overlooking the creek while digging into a delectable selection of fresh seafood.
12903 Hood Landing Rd, Jacksonville, Florida 32258, Phone: 904-268-3474
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16.What to Do in Jacksonville, FL: The St. Johns Town Center
© The St. Johns Town Center
The St. Johns Town Center is an open-air shopping mall in Jacksonville’s Southside area and features a wealth of retailers, exclusive brands, restaurants, and bars. Conveniently situated at the intersection of J. Turner Butler Boulevard and the Interstate 295 East Belway, the mall boasts over 100 stores, including big brand names such as Anthropologie, Louis Vuitton, Apple, Nordstrom, and Tiffany & Co. Enjoy lunch or dinner at one of the many restaurants and cafés around the mall, like Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, or the M Shack. Head to The Cheesecake Factory to re-energize or try Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails for post-shopping drinks.
4663 River City Dr, Jacksonville, Florida 32246, Phone: 904-998-7156
17. Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve
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Established in 1988, the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve comprises over 45,000 acres of wetlands, waterways, salt marshes and coastal dunes in northeastern Duval County, including historic areas such as Fort Caroline National Memorial and the Kingsley Plantation.
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 plantation reflects the typical plantation during Florida’s slave period and can be explored on guided tours.
12713 Fort Caroline Road, Jacksonville, Florida 32225, Phone: 904-641-7155
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18.Dog Wood Park, Jacksonville, Florida
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If you are traveling with your dog, you will not want to miss Dog Wood Park, a private country club that provides unique and beautiful surroundings for owners to exercise and socialize their dogs. The off-leash park spans 42 acres and dogs are allowed to run free in a safe and controlled environment. The park also offers dogs and their owners an array of fantastic fitness and recreational amenities, including jogging and walking trails, Lake Bow Wow, a 2-acre swimming lake for dogs, massive fields for games of Frisbee and ball-throwing, shady areas for rest and relaxation, and a dog shower for muddy paws.
The park also houses Barkham Woods, a 10-acre natural wooded area crisscrossed with nature trails and Lake Fifi, a ‘small dog’ swimming pond. There are picnic tables for a day out with the family and play areas with tires, tunnels, jumps and other exercise obstacles for the dogs, as well as the use of a full agility course.
7407 Salisbury Road, Jacksonville, Florida 32256, Phone: 904-296-3636
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19.Mellow Mushroom, Jacksonville, FL
© Mellow Mushroom
Established in Atlanta, Georgia in 1974, Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers has been serving Italian-style pizzas throughout the United States for over 40 years. Born out of the 70’s hippie culture, Mellow Mushroom in Jacksonville specializes in pizza, but also serves a range of mouthwatering calzones, hoagies, appetizers and garden-fresh salads. Nothing is better than a cool, crisp craft beer to go with your pizza. Choose from a unique and diverse variety of premium imports and local favorites, or go for a handmade cocktail made from 100% all-natural juices, syrups and purees.
5375 Drake Dr SW, Atlanta, Georgia 30336, Phone: 404-505-2801
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20.Fort George Island Cultural State Park
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Located on Fort George Island about three miles (5 km) south of Little Talbot Island State Park, Fort George Island State Cultural State Park offers a variety of exciting things to see and do. Constructed in 1928 as an exclusive winter resort and utilized as a visitor's center that can be hired out for special occasions, the beautifully restored Ribault Club shines as the park’s most famous attraction.
Occupied by humans for over 5,000 years, Fort George Island was named after a fort built in 1736 to defend the southern flank of Georgia when it was a colony, and today sees visitors coming to the island to enjoy hiking, fishing, boating and mountain biking. The park has a 4.4-mile (7.1 km) long loop bicycle trail, as well as a 3-mile (4.8 km) hiking/biking trail, a boat ramp and a lovely little beach on which to sunbathe and swim. Vacationers can take an eco-friendly guided Segway tour of the island, which departs from the historic Ribault Club and visits the Kingsley Plantation while exploring the island’s maritime forest, abundant with plant and animal life.
20 Best Things to Do in Jacksonville (Florida)
- The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, Photo: The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens
- Southbank Riverwalk , Photo: Courtesy of Lee Barnwell - Fotolia.com
- MOSH! The Museum of Science and History, Photo: The Museum of Science and History
- Riverside and Avondale, Jacksonville, Florida, Photo: Riverside and Avondale
- Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, Photo: Courtesy of Jackie DeBusk - Fotolia.com
- Riverside Arts Market, Photo: Riverside Arts Market
- Things to Do in Jacksonville, FL: EcoMotion Tours, Photo: Courtesy of steveottie - Fotolia.com
- Moxie Kitchen, Jacksonville, Florida, Photo: Moxie Kitchen
- The Jax Ale Trail, Photo: Courtesy of Visit Jacksonville
- Salt Life Food Shack, Photo: Salt Life Food Shack
- Now & Zen Sailing Charters, Photo: Courtesy of Ryan Ketterman/Visit Jacksonville
- Little Talbot Island State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Jackie DeBusk - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Jacksonville, FL: Theatre Jacksonville, Photo: Courtesy of Jaroslav Machacek - Fotolia.com
- Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary, Photo: Courtesy of Saskia - Fotolia.com
- Clarks Fish Camp, Jacksonville, Florida, Photo: Clarks Fish Camp
- What to Do in Jacksonville, FL: The St. Johns Town Center , Photo: The St. Johns Town Center
- Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, Photo: Courtesy of Fotoluminate LLC - Fotolia.com
- Dog Wood Park, Jacksonville, Florida, Photo: Courtesy of otsphoto - Fotolia.com
- Mellow Mushroom, Jacksonville, FL, Photo: Mellow Mushroom
- Fort George Island Cultural State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Sandra G Arts Photos - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of jovannig - Fotolia.com