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, 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. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Hours/availability may have changed.
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
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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
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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
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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
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7.Big Talbot Island State Park
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When it comes to state parks in Florida, Big Talbot Island is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful. This natural preserve isn’t just a great place to enjoy recreational activities, it’s also truly fantastic for birdwatching, nature studies, and photography. Big Talbot Island State Park is situated on a unique sea island along Florida’s northeastern coast, which is why the preserve has such a diverse landscape to explore. Take a tour of the salt marsh from a boat, hike the Blackrock Trail, or take Jones Cut to see a spectacular maritime forest. Bring a bicycle with you when you visit Big Talbot Island, as this park is home to a multi-use Timucuan Trail that offers breathtaking views of Spoonbill Pond.
State Road A1A, Jacksonville, Florida 32226, Phone: 904-251-2320
8.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
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9.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
10.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).
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11.Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens
Find tranquility and connect with nature in a special way at the Jacksonville Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. The Jacksonville Arboretum is often referred to as the “hidden jewel” of northeastern Florida, and with good reason. Opened in 2008, the arboretum is located on a sprawling 120-acre property with seven beautiful and natural trails, and, incredibly, thirteen very distinct ecosystems. Some of the fantastic trails to discover include the Lake Loop Trail, the Sand Ridge Trail, which goes through forest and marshlands, the Aralia Trail, featuring rivulets and small pools hidden throughout the trail, and the Live Oak Trail, which is home to towering championship trees.
1445 Millcoe Road, Jacksonville, Florida 32225, Phone: 904-318-4342
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
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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
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
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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
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.
9734 Deer Lake Ct Ste 1, Jacksonville, FL 32246, Phone: 904-997-1955
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.
Hanna Park is an oceanfront haven for outdoorsy folk. It is situated between the historic Mayport Village and the popular Atlantic Beach and is known for being the first African American resort in the state of Florida. Previously known as Manhattan Beach, Hanna Park is home to a scenic 60-acre lake that is ideal for fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and even pedal boating. In fact, the park is so beautiful that there are even kayaking tours available care of Adventure Kayak Florida. Visitors who prefer to stay on dry ground can explore 20 miles worth of various trails including biking trails with various levels of difficulty. The trails feature a mix of dirt, boardwalk, and soft sand. For avid surfers, Hanna Park is one of the best surfing spots on this side of Florida.
500 Wonderwood Drive, Jacksonville, Florida 32233, Phone: 904-249-4700
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22.The Florida Theatre
© The Florida Theatre
The Florida Theatre isn’t just home to amazing performances, it’s also home to an incredible history. Located in downtown Jacksonville, the Florida Theatre hosted its very first show on April 8, 1927. Later in 1983, the theatre was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has, since then, been dedicated to staging memorable and diverse theatrical experiences from within its landmark building. This historic theater has 1,900 seats and proudly hosts the Theatreworks program, which is known for being one of the best touring national and international professional children’s theatres around. As a well-known partner of the Cultural Counsil of Jacksonville as well as Florida State’s Cultural Affairs Department, the Florida Theatre hosts performances of all kinds nearly every day of the week.
128 East Forsyth Street, Suite 300, Jacksonville, Florida 32202, Phone: 904-355-2787
23.Castaway Island Preserve
A hidden gem within a neighborhood just a stone's throw from the Intracoastal Waterway, the Castaway Island Preserve is a stellar outdoor location to spend a fun day with family. The preserve is perfect for families with young children as its most popular feature is a one-mile trail designed to be interactive and educational for active youngsters. The trail is easy to follow with animal prints pointing the way and features information boards with interesting factoids. Take a walk down to the dock to soak in some awe-inspiring views of northeastern Florida and keep an eye out for the native marshland wildlife that call the area home. Additionally, the preserve is a great place to launch a kayaking trip or a round on your paddleboard.
2885 San Pablo Road South, Jacksonville, Florida 32224, Phone: 904-573-2498
25 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
- Big Talbot Island State Park, Photo: Sean Board/stock.adobe.com
- 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
- Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens, Photo: steveottie/stock.adobe.com
- 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
- Hanna Park, Photo: Norm/stock.adobe.com
- The Florida Theatre, Photo: The Florida Theatre
- Castaway Island Preserve, Photo: Donna/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of jovannig - Fotolia.com
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