Located just east of Jacksonville on the coast of Florida, Naval Station Mayport offers plenty of seafood restaurants, beautiful waterfronts, and small treasures to explore. Mayport is surrounded by waterways, wetlands, and beaches, making it the perfect place to adventure in the great outdoors.
Here are 10 things to do near Jacksonville, FL that allow for social distancing and follow COVID-19 safety protocols:
1. Ride a Horse on the Beach
You may have thought that horseback riding on the beach at sunset was something that only happens in the movies, but you can make it a reality when you live near Naval Station Mayport.
Amelia Island State Park offers an equestrian trail with plenty of beaches, coastal forests, and spectacular scenery to ride through. The Kelly Seahorse Ranch provides guided riding trips in the park with skilled staff and well-trained horses. Be sure to call the park in advance to reserve your spot, and don’t forget to bring your mask.
2. Hit the Surf
Near Mayport, there are miles of beautiful beaches that stretch the Atlantic Coast. You can get to the beaches early, catch a gorgeous sunrise, and enjoy the waves on a surfboard, boogie board, or just spend the day swimming.
3. View the Lighthouse
The St. Johns River Lighthouse is a must-see landmark near Naval Station Mayport. With red-washed brick and a white lantern, the lighthouse sits overlooking the mouth of the St. Johns River. It was originally constructed in 1858 and decommissioned in 1929, between which it guided countless ships to safety.
4. Visit Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park
Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park consists of 1.5 miles of beach along the Atlantic Ocean, offering freshwater lakes, campsites, and more. It’s the perfect place for kayaking, fishing, or even bringing picnic supplies and having a cookout for an afternoon.
The park is also great for biking or hiking, includes a playground for the kids, and has colorful fountains to help you cool off from the heat.
5. Ride St. Johns River Ferry
Take in the scenic views of Jacksonville aboard the St. Johns River Ferry. You can board by car or as a pedestrian or bicyclist. Depending on the weather and time of year, you may even spot a pod of porpoises as you cross the river! The ferry operates daily, including weekends and holidays.
6. Check Out the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail
If you’re looking for things to do near Jacksonville, FL to stay active, the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail might be perfect for you. This is a biking/hiking trail that follows what remains of the old railroad corridor. The trail is 15 miles long, making for a perfect bike ride through tall oaks and archways of luscious Florida greenery.
7. Explore Little and Big Talbot Island
Little Talbot Island is a five-mile stretch of shoreline and maritime forest, home to dozens of various wildlife species.
It’s the perfect spot for bird watching or seashell hunting. You can also explore Big Talbot Island which consists of wetlands, marshes, secret beaches, and bike paths. Consider getting a guided kayak tour to find all the best views.
8. Don’t Miss Fort Clinch State Park
Fort Clinch State Park is located north of Fernandina Beach and has been part of the park system since 1935. It has some of the best preserved 19th century forts in the country. Join one of their tours, enjoy the walking or biking trails, and even attempt some surf fishing if you want. The park also has a full-facility campground.
9. Experience Florida History
Across the St. Johns River, there is a large area of forests and coastal wetlands to be explored. You can find the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, a perfect place for paddle-boarding or kayaking through historic nature preserves. You can walk where the Timucua Indians once walked and even get guided kayak or hiking tours of the area.
10. Shop at St. Johns Town Center
If you’re interested in some of the finer things to do near Jacksonville, look no further than St. Johns Town Center. Boasting 175+ retailers, 20+ restaurants, and 1.2 million square feet of open air shopping, there’s something for each member of the family to enjoy.
From the sea to the nature preserves to the wetlands, there’s no shortage of beauty and fun to experience when you call Naval Station Mayport home.