Jacksonville, FL is home to the third largest naval complex in the country behind Norfolk, VA and San Diego, CA. Between three U.S. naval facilities, Marine Corps Logistics Base Blount Island Command and nearby Naval Submarine Bases Kings Bay, the United States military is the largest employer in the Jacksonville area. The Wounded Warrior Project, as well as a few other veterans service organizations, are also headquartered within or nearby the city.
Sitting at the top of the Florida peninsula where the St. Johns River meets the Atlantic Ocean, Jacksonville is the largest city by square mileage in the country — which means there’s no shortage of things to do! Full of state and national parks, interactive museums and seemingly endless history, people of all ages can easily fill their days with interesting activities.
With all there is to do and see, it’s hard to know where to start. Here’s our list of the top 10 things to do near Jacksonville.
1. The Cummer Museum & Gardens
Expand your mind with art from around the world. With more than 5,000 objects in its permanent collection, constantly rotating temporary exhibits and 2.5 acres of historic gardens, the Cummer Museum and Gardens has enough to entertain for days. Explore art that spans from 2100 B.C. through the 21st century and open up your own artistic potential through Art Connections, the Cummer Museum’s interactive learning and education center.
With the mission to connect, engage and inspire people through the convergence of art, nature and education, the Cummer Museum has something for everyone.
2. Amelia Island
Get a glimpse of the real Florida. Amelia Island is a barrier island just 30 miles outside of Jacksonville that boasts 13 miles of beaches, the historic town of Fernandina Beach, great fishing and the Amelia Island State Park that protects more than 200 acres of unspoiled Florida wilderness. Ride horses, collect seashells and shark teeth by the shore, search for alligators on a waterway cruise or just spend the day relaxing on the beach.
Depending on the time of year you visit the island, you can experience great natural events like the sea turtle hatching, a swinging Independence Day celebration and a summer feast of bottomless shrimp!
3. Jacksonville Zoo
Enjoy the only walking safari in Northeast Florida. You can explore the flora of the savanna and learn about conservation efforts going on right in Jacksonville at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.
Get up close and personal with the zoo’s inhabitants with Animal Encounters, go behind the scenes to see how zookeepers spend their day with Zookeeper for a Day or simply wander around the park to see over 2,000 rare and exotic animals and over 1,000 varieties of plants.
With educational and conservation experiences for people of all ages, the Jacksonville Zoo’s mission is to inspire everyone with a passion for environmentalism.
4. The Florida Theatre
Take your pick from over 200 annual cultural and entertainment events from ballet to jazz at The Florida Theater. Situated along the banks of the St. Johns River and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Florida Theater is one of the few remaining grand theaters of the 1920s left in the state of Florida. The theater opened in 1927 to Vaudeville acts and silent movies, but today is home to concerts, film festivals, lectures and charity events.
5. Museum of Science & History
Explore the intersection of science, history and innovation. The Museum of Science and History (MOSH) is an award-winning museum in the heart of Jacksonville and is home to a wide variety of exhibits that appeal to the science nerd and the history buff. From the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium to the Florida Naturalist Center to Creation station, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at MOSH.
Plus, with a private collection of more than 36,000 objects and specimens broken into six distinct collections, there’s never a shortage of artifacts to discover.
6. Riverside/Avondale Neighborhood
Stroll through one of the country’s best neighborhoods. Voted one of the country’s top 10 Great Neighborhoods, the Riverside and Avondale is an architectural treasure that was founded in 1901 following the fire that destroyed most of Jacksonville. Homes and buildings are modeled after a variety of architectural styles, including Mediterranea, Tudor, prairie and more. Full of beautiful homes, delicious restaurants and tempting shopping, it’s easy to spend the day away walking through this piece of history.
Make sure you don’t miss out on the Riverside Arts Market held every Saturday, rain or shine. This local art fair meets flea market attracts over 4,000 visitors weekly!
7. Adventure Landing
Splash around at the largest family entertainment center in northeast Florida. Adventure Landing is perfect for families, with action-packed attractions for kids and calming cabanas for parents. From the half-million-gallon wave pool and extreme water slides to laser tag and go-karts, your family will leave with memories that last a lifetime.
8. Sweet Pete’s
Feel like a kid in a candy store. Indulge in handmade candy at Sweet Pete’s candy store located in the historic Seminole Club, a building that dates all the way back to 1903.
This massive, 23,000 sq. ft. confectionery emporium is one of the largest candy shops in the U.S. and has a fully functioning factory, interactive gallery, two large retail areas a full restaurant and bar.
Take home classic treats like Pete’s famous sea salt caramel, artisan hand-pulled lollipops or create your own sugary masterpiece in a class where Pete himself teaches you the art of making candy.
9. World Golf Hall of Fame
Learn about golf through the eyes of its greatest players. Relocated to the World of Golf Village in St. Augustine in 1998, the World Golf Hall of Fame is at the center of a unique vacation destination. Between the Wall of Fame, classic course simulator, IMAX theater and Hole-In-One Registry, you’ll relive the legacies of the greatest golf players of all time.
When you’re done with the Hall of Fame itself, make sure and enjoy the nearby World of Golf Village ⏤ its championship golf courses and high-end accommodations will complete this dream vacation for any golf lover.
10. Lounge Around on the Beach
Your Jacksonville experience would be incomplete without a trip to the beach. Open 24 hours a day, spanning 22 miles and boasting a 1,000 ft. fishing pier, the beaches surrounding Jacksonville have every activity you could possibly want.
Surf, kayak, dive, boat, swim, fish and explore these public, pet-friendly beaches and their surrounding towns. Dine in top-rated restaurants, shop in charming boutiques and explore a wide variety of parks along Jacksonville’s most popular attraction.
Soak in all the Sunshine State has to offer. From world-class museums to its natural wonders, you’ll never run out of activities on your Jacksonville to-do list.
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