Spend an afternoon at Amelia Island
Located just 30 miles northeast of downtown rests Amelia Island, a comforting community of families hosting over ten miles of beaches, attractions, and a relaxed atmosphere. Fun fact: between the 30’s-50’s, Amelia Island provided as a safe haven for Jacksonville’s black residents and vacationers. If you’re interested in learning more about Amelia Island’s culture and history, consider visiting the American Beach Museum located on site.
While you’re here, you can explore the Amelia Island Museum of History, peruse natural wildlife consisting of horses and alligators, go hiking through the historical Fort George Island Cultural State Park, or take a breath and lay out in the sand! A growing-in-popularity part is the northern side of the barrier island called Fernandina Beach, which holds a small community of locals and visitors.
Ponte Vedra Beach
Ponte Vedra Beach located on the southernmost part of the Jacksonville Beaches draws in leisure visitors who are seeking incredible sands and some fantastic golf. Ponte Vedra is a smaller community on the coast about 20 miles from downtown Jacksonville. This beach is known for being home of the PGA Tour and THE PLAYERS Championship. There are loads of courses in the area for the golf enthusiast to explore. But don’t worry if you’re not a big golfer, because you can take advantage of the museums, shops, small eateries and outlets, and coffee spots. And, of course, the beach hosts lovely sand and breathtaking sunrises, which will sometimes feature dolphins!
Ponte Vedra is also known for some of the best hotels in Florida. The Lodge & Club at Ponte Cedra Beach are some of the best in the area, and because so, reservations fill up quickly and it can be hard to find a room, especially during golf season when there are large tournaments in the area.
Little Talbot Island State Park
Little Talbot Island State Park is a must if you’ve just moved to Jacksonville or if you’re visiting the northeastern parts of Florida. This is a shoreline that doesn’t catch as much attention, so the crowds on the beach are much smaller and less busy. Take advantage of the undeveloped barrier islands and habitats including marches, sand dunes, and more. There’s a host of wildlife to explore and document such as river otters, marsh rabbits, and bobcats.
Fort Caroline National Memorial
Fort Caroline National Memorial shares the story of 16-century Florida regarding the French colonial presence. It’s located on the Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve and hosts walking trails, a visitor center, and exciting exhibits detailing the history. There is a smaller replica that was built in 1964 and is based on historic drawings of the original French fort.
Museum of Science and History
The Museum of Science and Histiry is located just across St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville. A perfect afternoon spot to visit for families and friends displaying information on the ocean, the history of Jacksonville, the human body, and much more. There are also kid friendly activities and spaces that are great for burning off some energy! Consider this spot on a rainy or (rare) chilly day in Jacksonville, and definitely don’t forget to check out the planetarium show while you’re there!
Riverside Arts Market
Saturdays are meant for markets and fairs! The Riverside Arts Market is located in downtown Jacksonville and hosts hundreds of craftspeople and vendors that gather every Saturday morning. From handmade pottery, local organic produce, original clothing pieces, to street performers and much more, this will take up your whole Saturday morning. There is free nearby parking and most of the market will be covered, which is ideal for hot or rainy weather.
Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park
Hosting over a mile of buttery soft sand along the Atlantic coast is Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park. Locals say this is the best surfing in the Jacksonville area (and all of northeast Florida). Located just under twenty miles east of downtown Jacksonville, you can take advantage of the incredible surfing conditions and fishing, kayaking, and paddle boarding in the local lake. There is also camping grounds if you fall in love with this area and don’t want to leave!
Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens
If you’re looking to slow down and experience some peace and quiet amongst nature, it won’t require much of a drive at all from downtown. The Jacksonivlle Arboretum and Gardens is a 120 acre space that has three miles of hiking trails and a one mile lake with breathtaking plant and flower species to see.
Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary
The Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary hosts, you guessed it, large cats! Expect to get up close and personal with lions, leopards, pumas, and the like. Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary is a nonprofit organization which specializes in rescuing these large cats and giving them a safe habitat to live in. Throughout the day and night there are guided tours which will introduce you to more than 40 different species. Located north of downtown, it’s a bit of a drive, but well worth it and particularly best as a nighttime experience.
The Florida Theatre hosts over 200 entertainment events each year. Opening in the late 1920’s this Theatre has a breathtaking lavish interior with a Mediterranean Revival-style.
Well there you have it! Our top ten things to do in Jacksonville, FL. Though most will think all there is here is sand and sun, there’s culture, history, and plenty to explore that will keep you, your kids, and your friends entertained for days on end. If you’re considering moving to the Jacksonville area, look no further for a top-rated moving company in the area. Caddy Moving is now servicing Jacksonville and its surrounding cities! Book your movers online or reach out to our helpful Customer Care Team with questions.