Jacksonville, North Carolina, is a small yet lively town in Onslow County, best known as the home of the largest Marine Corps base on America's Eastern Seaboard. Jacksonville also enjoys some beautiful beaches. Lejeune Memorial Gardens house a number of memorials to the Americans who have fallen in different conflicts around the world, while the North Carolina Maritime Museum honors and interprets Jacksonville's maritime history. If you are travelling with kids, take them to see the wild animals at the zoo, marine animals at the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, or Zing Zumm, Children’s Museum of Jacksonville.

1. Lejeune Memorial Gardens

Lejeune Memorial Gardens
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Lejeune Memorial Gardens is a beautiful Jacksonville park that is home to a number of memorials that honor those who lost their lives in war zones around the world. The park contains the Onslow Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Beirut Memorial, the Montford Point Marine Memorial, and the 9/11 Memorial Beam in memory of the victims of the World Trade Center attack. There are plans for future memorials and space in the park has been left for them. At the spot that will be part of the future entryway to the Museum of the Marine is a large statue named Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, reflected in the surrounding pond.

Montford Landing Rd, Jacksonville, NC 28541

2. Lynnwood Park Zoo

Lynnwood Park Zoo
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Lynnwood Park Zoo is an animal park spread over 10 acres of land, with a lovely half-acre pond and a popular picnic area. Established in 1990, the zoo is the only park of its kind in the area and features more than 80 animal exhibits, with a large range of species – mammals, reptiles, birds, and others. Some of the most popular mammals are zebra, grey fox, wallaby, pygmy goat, coatimundi, mara, grivet monkey, Java and rhesus macaques, and many others. The reptile exhibition contains the American alligator, corn snake, Burmese python, king snake, eastern box turtle, blue tongued skink, savannah monitor, and others. The most important birds housed here are the barred owl, emu, red golden pheasant, redtail hawk, and others.

1071 Wells Rd, Jacksonville, NC 28540, Phone: 910-938-5848

3. CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center

CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center
© CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center

The CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center is great place to learn about North Carolina history during the American Civil War. Located in downtown Kingston in a former bank, the museum features a range of contemporary exhibits, but the stars of the museum are the well-preserved remains of the CSS Neuse. The CSS Neuse was a confederate gun boat that participated in the Confederate navy's attempt to take over the city of New Bern and gain control of the Neuse River. Besides the gun boat, the museum also contains a number of historic artifacts and written accounts of the boat's crew. There is also a short film about the Civil War in North Carolina.

100 N. Queen Street, Kinston, NC 28501, Phone: 252-522-2107

4. Hammocks Beach State Park

Hammocks Beach State Park
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Located on the North Carolina coast, the heart of the vast Hammocks Beach State Park is the very popular Bear Island. This wild, undeveloped, about 3-mile-long barrier island is a haven for weekenders, who come to enjoy the wide sandy beach stretched between massive ancient dunes and the Atlantic ocean. The island offers a number of simple, rustic campsites and a small concession and picnic area. The park has a well-organized visitors center, which also serves as the gateway to the island and as the port for the ferry service as well as canoes or kayaks. You can rent them here or paddle to the island in your own kayak or canoe. They are the best way to explore the trails through the marshes and the island's maritime forest. The island is home to a number of nesting shorebirds and endangered sea turtles.

1572 Hammocks Beach Road, Swansboro, NC 28584, Phone: 910-326-4881

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5. NC Aquarium-Pine Knoll Shores

NC Aquarium-Pine Knoll Shores
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The NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is an amazing place, where visitors go on a journey “from the mountains to the sea.” You will see 50 exhibits and more than 4,000 aquatic animals of all sorts, such as sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, and so much more. There are daily programs for children and adults, including live animal encounters where visitors can touch a sea turtle, stingray, or horseshow crab as well as other critters. Watch divers swimming among the sharks and other dangerous marine animals. You can also take part in feeding various animals and watch native shorebirds and raptors showing off their cool tricks.

1 Roosevelt Blvd, Pine Knoll Shores, NC 28512, Phone: 252-247-4003

6. NC Maritime Museum - Beaufort

NC Maritime Museum - Beaufort
© NC Maritime Museum - Beaufort

The North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort is one of the three maritime museums that preserve North Carolina's maritime history – fishing, piracy, boat building, underwater archeology, the seafood industry, marine life, and much more. The museum in Beaufort reflects local coastal life, lighthouses, lifesaving stations, motorboats, and the seafood industry. The museum features diverse artifacts, such as those from Captain Blackbeard's ship, Queen Anne's Revenge, including cannons, beads, grenades, and belt buckles. Besides permanent exhibitions, there are visiting exhibits such as the new one on surfing in North Carolina.

315 Front St, Beaufort, NC 28516, Phone: 252-728-7317

7. Tryon Palace

Tryon Palace
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Tryon Palace is a lovely Georgian mansion built in 1770 by Royal Governor William Tryon as North Carolina's first state capitol. The former Governor's Mansion, surrounded by 14 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, is today a popular history museum with a number of historic homes and the North Carolina History Center. The entire complex can be visited with the help of well-trained history guides dressed in period costume. Visitors can also enjoy interactive living history demonstrations. The North Carolina History Center is the new addition to the historic buildings and is home to the Regional History Museum, rotating visiting exhibitions, rare artifacts, and a nice waterfront restaurant.

529 S Front St, New Bern, NC 28562, Phone: 252-639-3500

8. Bayonet Enterprises Day Cruise

Bayonet Enterprises Day Cruise
© Bayonet Enterprises Day Cruise

Bayonet Enterprises is a Jacksonville private yacht charter run by Captain Lance and his first mate Marilyn. This family-run business offers affordable fun on the water, whether it is a lunch, dinner, or sunset cruise with wine and cheese, a champagne brunch, a family cruise, or an overnight getaway on the New River. Longer cruises come with two-person kayaks, which guests can enjoy during the stopover. Bayonet cruises are run on a lovely, spacious boat with two staterooms, two baths, AC, stereo, and TV. Children under the age of 8 travel free. Children under 13 are obliged to wear life vests when not inside the salon.

223 Leonard St, Jacksonville, NC 28540, Phone: 910-554-8672

9. Veterans Memorial

Veterans Memorial
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The Onslow Vietnam Veterans Memorial is located in the small grove of tall pines in Jacksonville's Lejeune Memorial Gardens. The memorial is dedicated to the almost ten million veterans of the American Armed Forces who were on active duty during the Vietnam conflict. Almost three million of them were in the Vietnam Theater. The memorial also honors the 303,704 service men and women who were wounded in Vietnam, and those still unaccounted for. The museum's glass walls around the central fountain have inscribed on them the names of all 58,229 soldiers who lost their lives during the Vietnam War.

110 Montford Landing Rd, Jacksonville, NC 28540, Phone: 910-451-5746

10. Cracked It Escape Games

Cracked It Escape Games
© Cracked It Escape Games

Cracked It! Escape Games is new family entertainment venue in Jacksonville. It is suitable for all ages, from 10 to 100, even for people in wheelchairs, and does not require any previous knowledge. The game has taken the world by the storm and the one in Jacksonville, owned by Brian and Margaret Vinciguerra and their two daughters, is located near Midway Park. The Escape Room game is played by 2 to 12 players, who are locked in a room and given a mission or goal, a number of clues, and 60 minutes to solve the mystery in order to be released from the room. The game is a great way to learn to work as a team or for any team or group to bond or just have some fun.

559 Freedom Way, Midway Park, NC 28544, Phone: 910-353-4434

11. Zing Zumm, Children’s Museum of Jacksonville

Zing Zumm, Children’s Museum of Jacksonville
© Zing Zumm

Young families are in for a day of fun learning experiences at Zing Zumm. This non-profit children’s museum offers over 20 interactive exhibits aiming to nurture creativity, imagination, and a zeal for learning. Children will surely enjoy the museum’s unstructured set-up, allowing free exploration according to one’s unique interests. Some of the featured exhibits include the Tot Spot catering to toddlers, the Calming Room for those interested in quieter play, and several setups for role-playing such as a bakery, farm, and different medical clinics. Zing Zumm welcomes children ages 0 to 10 with adult supervision.

625 New Bridge Street, Jacksonville, North Carolina 28540, Phone: 910-650-2769

12. Bowlarena Lanes

Bowlarena Lanes
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Opened in 1955 by a former marine corps member, Bowlarena Lanes has steadily grown over the years to become the popular family-bonding spot it is today. It first started as an 8-lane alley on LeJeune Boulevard, then upgraded to a 16-lane alley in 1961. Bowlarena Lanes then moved to its third and final location in 1979, which features a whopping 32 lanes. This family-oriented bowling center is the perfect spot for families and friends to enjoy a day of laughter, friendly competition, and delicious food and drinks. The center also features a pro shop for all your bowling needs along with an arcade full of exciting games and prizes.

433 Western Boulevard, Jacksonville, North Carolina 28546, Phone: 910-455-8800

13. Swingin' Things

Swingin' Things
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Known to have some of the best facilities in Jacksonville, Swingin’ Things hopes to strengthen familial bonds through their various swing-related activities. Everyone, from young children to seniors, can enjoy a challenging game of putt-putt on the beautiful 18-hole miniature golf course. A two-tier driving range is also available, lined up with 36 tees and practice putting green for those looking to perfect their game from start to finish. For family members who prefer swinging a bat, Swingin’ Things is also home to several batting cages featuring state-of-the-art pitching machines for baseball and softball. Families can then finish off with a scenic, outdoor meal together at the designated picnic areas and pavilion. Swingin’ Things is located within the Half Moon Community.

133 Batting Cage Trail, Jacksonville, North Carolina 28540, Phone: 910-347-7711

14. Altitude Trampoline Park

Altitude Trampoline Park
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Jump the day away at Altitude Trampoline Park! With two locations in Jacksonville and Tampa, these parks are growing to be some of the must-visit parks for kids and those who are kids at heart. Each location is unique with its own set of entertaining attractions for all ages. In Jacksonville, visitors can jump on wall-to-wall trampolines in the main court, compete gladiator-style in the battle beam and foam pit arena, climb up walls with auto-belay harnesses, and play dodgeball alongside several other activities. Even athletes will get a kick out of the park with attractions like a gymnastic tumbling track and gravity-defying performance trampolines for parkour enthusiasts. Altitude Trampoline Park is known for its regular cleaning audits and certification, so no need to worry about cleanliness here.

1030 Henderson Drive, Jacksonville, North Carolina 28540, Phone 910-378-8171

15. The Flip'N Axe

The Flip'N Axe
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Flip’N Axe is ready to welcome anyone looking for the ultimate “axe-perience”. Veteran-owned and operated, this indoor axe throwing attraction prioritizes customer experience and safety above all else with several safety measures put in place and professional 1-on-1 instruction before every throwing session. Because of their high standard for safety, Flip’N Axe is also the first family-friendly indoor axe throwing range in America. So, families with children above the age of ten are all welcome to put their axe-throwing skills to the test. Flip’N Axe is open daily and has two locations in Jacksonville—one on Blue Creek School Road and the other on Country Club Road.

305 Blue Creek School Road #1, Jacksonville, North Carolina 28540, Phone: 910-459-7660

16. Zing Zumm Children’s Museum of Jacksonville

Zing Zumm Children’s Museum of Jacksonville
© Zing Zumm Children’s Museum of Jacksonville

Providing hours of education fun for children up to around 10 years of age, the Zing Zumm Children’s Museum deserves a place on your Jacksonville family itinerary. The museum is chock-full of fun interactive exhibits which have been carefully designed to stimulate your child’s imagination and curiosity. Many of the play spaces have been sponsored by the local community and include areas where children can learn about diverse subjects such as shopping, baking, dentistry, farming, bee-keeping and much more. There is also a special Tot Spot dedicated to the younger visitors. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday each week.

625 New Bridge Street, Jacksonville, NC 28540, 910 650 2769

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17. Pelletier House

Pelletier House
© Onslow County Tourism

Dating back to 1850, Pelletier House is the oldest surviving antebellum home in Jacksonville, and forms part of the Onslow County Museum. It is believed to have been built by local merchant Rufus Pelletier, and was used as his home and his office. The house is built in the Greek Revival style and was home to various businesses over the decades, including a turpentine distillery and a post office. The structure saw several additions and improvements over the years, but most of these were destroyed by a fire in the 1950’s. The museum is open to the public by appointment only.

Onslow County Museum, Old Bridge Street, Jacksonville, NC 28540, 910 324 5008

18. Walton’s Distillery

Walton’s Distillery
© Walton’s Distillery

Walton’s Distillery is positioned close to the spot where several illegal stills produced moonshine during the prohibition. When you visit Walton’s Distillery today you will have the opportunity to discover how this small-batch, artisan brewery has carefully adapted age-old recipes to produce fine modern spirits which reflect both vintage and modern ideas and practices. The distillery started off producing Kentucky-style whiskey, before moving on to experiment with various delicious moonshines. Visitors are encouraged to drop by for a free tour and tasting from Monday to Saturday, between 10am and 5pm. Walton’s also hosts regular seasonal Open House events – check their website for more information. 261 Ben William’s Road, Jacksonville, NC 28540, 910 347 7770

19. Swinging Things

Swinging Things
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Swinging Things in Jacksonville provides a very popular outdoor recreation area with an emphasis on fun family activities. This is the place to go to hone your golfing skills at the driving range or to help your kids practice baseball in the batting cages. The whole family can have some fun playing miniature golf and there is a shaded pavilion for picnics and BBQ. Swinging Things is also a perfect venue for children’s birthday parties – all the entertainment you need is available on site. Golfers can pick up some new equipment at the Pro Shop, which stocks all your favorite brands.

133 Batting Cage Trail, Jacksonville, NC 28540, 910 347 7711

20. Bowlarena Lanes

Bowlarena Lanes
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Family owned and operated for more than 60 years, Bowlarena Lanes is something of a legend in Jacksonville. The original Bowlarena comprised just 8 lanes, a far cry from the 32-lane bowling alley which now welcomes visitors to their Western Boulevard location. The family-friendly facility welcomes bowlers of just about all ages and their league comprises players aged 3 to 85. In addition to the bowling lanes there is also a great games arcade where non-bowlers can have hours of fun. Bowlarena boasts a snack bar and a licensed bar where you can buy your favorite bottled or craft beers.

433 Western Blvd, Jacksonville, NC 28546, 910 455 8800

What is Jacksonville, NC known for? What to do.

What are the top attractions to visit in Jacksonville, NC?

The top attractions to visit in Jacksonville, NC according to local experts are: