Jacksonville is a major city in the southern state of Florida and is the state’s largest and most populous. It’s also the largest city – by land size – in the continental United States. The city was founded in 1781 and is home to around 892,000 people. The city is known as ‘Where Florida Begins’ because it lies on the boundary of where the Florida Peninsula comes to an end and the Continental United States starts. Given the sheer scale of the city, it can be difficult to know where to start drawing up a list of things to do in Jacksonville, Fl. That’s where we come in. Let’s give you a rundown of the top things to do in Jacksonville, Fl that shouldn’t be missed.
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is a popular city attraction, spanning 117 acres. The Zoo is very focused on animal conservation and currently has a large colony of African Wild Wood Storks. The birds are very rarely seen in North America. There are various exhibits, including Wild Florida which showcases native animals. These include black bears, Florida Panthers, bobcats, bald eagles, and the rather snap happy American Alligators. Florida sure does attract some very dangerous beasts. There’s also an Australian section of the zoo which has wallabies, kangaroos and other animals from the land Down Under. The children’s play park is extremely popular with kids and an excellent way to tire them out. The garden section of the zoo has a collection of 1,000 plants and is a lovely place to take a peaceful stroll. A visit to the Zoo and Gardens is a fun thing to do in Jacksonville, Fl
Tickets required, Available online or at the entrance, $14 to $28.95, depending on package
Downtown Jacksonville, FL
Downtown Jacksonville, Fl is the historic heart of Jacksonville City. It’s a really pretty area, sitting along the shore of St. John’s River. The area is split into various districts including North Bank, South Bank, Brooklyn, and the Stadium District. Downtown Jacksonville, Fl has a great many attractions within its boundaries. Some of the highlights are City Hall, Jacksonville Library, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and Jacksonville Riverwalk. These attractions are all located within the Northbank region. In the Southbank area, you can find the Southbank Riverwalk and the Friendship Fountain.
Jacksonville is actually home to two Riverwalks; one on the North bank of the St. John’s River and one on the South Bank. The Northbank section is around 2 miles long, while the South Bank Riverwalk is 1.25 miles long. The Riverwalk has various attractions, including the Museum of Science and History and the River Place Tower. The areas are very popular with locals and tourists and visiting Jacksonville Riverwalk restaurants is a fun thing to do in Jacksonville Fl. The Southbank Riverwalk has a great Pier area where you can enjoy beautiful views of the skyline and the sea. There are currently plans in place to extend the North Riverwalk.
Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens
This museum has more than 5,000 objects and spans from ancient times through to the 21st Century. In addition to the gallery, the museum also has 2.5 acres of gardens with sculptures, fountains, and reflecting pools. It also has one of the oldest trees in Jacksonville with a canopy spanning more than 150ft. There’s a range of events held throughout the year, with adults and children’s educational classes on offer. The Museum has a lovely cafe on site, as well as a quality gift store. The Museum gift shop is a great place for shopping in Jacksonville Fl if you’re in the market for high quality, arty gifts to take home.
Tickets required, available online or at the entrance, $6-$10. Free admission on Tuesdays 4pm-9pm and first Saturday of the month 10am-4pm
Kingsley Plantation is a historical site in Jacksonville, which has been well preserved. It tells the history of Plantation owners and the slaves that were forced to work for them. Attractions within the Plantation include the slave quarters, the kitchen, the barn, and the very impressive Plantation House. The Plantation was named after owner Zephaniah Kingsley, who owned the property for 25 years. The plantation is located on Fort George Island, and its 60 acres is managed by the National Park Service. If you’re on the lookout for free things to do in Jacksonville, FL, this is for you.
Shopping in Jacksonville, FL
Shopping in Jacksonville, Fl usually sits high on the list of things to do in Jacksonville for visitors. Jacksonville Landing used to be a very popular area but unfortunately, it’s now almost completely vacant. Two of the main shopping areas now are St Johns Town Center and The Avenues. St. Johns Town Center has more than 150 stores, including Apple, Pottery Barn, Tiffany & Co, and Louis Vuitton. Snacks are supplied by the Cheesecake Factory, The California Pizza Kitchen, Firehouse Subs, and the deliciously moreish Kilwins Chocolates and Ice Cream. You’ll need to walk around a LOT of shops to burn off all those calories. When you’re tired of all the shopping, you can visit St Johns Park Green turtle pond and have a chat with the wildlife.
The Avenue Shopping Center has a good range of high street stores. These include ALDO, American Eagle, and Yankee Candle. It also has a Bath and Body Works, so best remortgage your house before you go. It’s impossible to go in there and not come out two of everything. There are so many options for shopping in Jacksonville Fl, that it’s always best to take a full day to hit up all your favorite stores. Obviously, window shopping is a great free thing to do in Jacksonville Fl, but whether you have the willpower not to spend any money is another story. Good luck…
Off-Beat Attractions in Jacksonville, FL
If you’re up for another fun thing to in Jacksonville, Fl that may also be slightly creepy, head down to the abandoned site of the Annie Lytle Elementary school. The former schoolhouse was condemned in 1960 and was scheduled for demolition. However, under pressure from historical groups, it’s been left as it was. It’s now a city landmark and another free thing to do in Jacksonville. You know, if you like spooky, abandoned old buildings…
Frequently Asked Questions by Travelers About Jacksonville
We’ve compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about things to do in Jacksonville, Fl. The questions cover a range of topics and will help you research and plan your next trip to the city.
What is there to do in downtown Jacksonville, FL?
There’s a fantastic array of things to do in downtown Jacksonville, Fl for all the family. Sports Fans will be particularly keen to see the Stadium District, where you can visit the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. This is the home of the Double-A Southern Leagues Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp baseball team. We have no idea who came up with the team name, but we’d very much like to shake their hand. The home of the city’s NFL team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, is also in the Sports District. The team plays at TIAA Bank field. It’s never hard to find the stadium because the surrounding streets are filled with green Jaguar paws painted on the sidewalks. Each year Jacksonville, FL residents’ volunteer to repaint the paw prints to help guide fans to the entrance on game day. Go Jags!
Is Jacksonville, FL safe?
The rates of violent crime and property crimes in Jacksonville are both above the national average in comparison with similarly sized metro areas. As with everything, though, there are pockets of the city where designated more dangerous than others. Stick to well-lit areas, don’t visit desolate areas of public parks alone, take a taxi or Uber if you’re headed home in the wee hours of the morning, and be mindful of your surroundings.
How far is the beach from Jacksonville, FL?
Despite the fact that there are five beaches communities collectively named ‘The Jacksonville Beaches’ they are, in fact, not in Jacksonville. They’re made up of Atlantic, Neptune, Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra Beaches, plus the community of Mayport. Atlantic Beach is a little over 15 miles from the city. There’s a ton of things do in Jacksonville Beach, Fl as it’s such a large area. Clearly, lounging around is the most popular activity. However, taking time out to explore the five communities is a great way to spend time and is another fun thing to do in Jacksonville, Fl.
Jacksonville is a laid-back city with very welcoming people. There are a lot of things to do in Jacksonville, Fl for all ages, interests, and cultures. The nearby beaches are a draw for visitors and residents alike, and the climate is good all year round. Jacksonville has a full range of hotels, motels, and apartments to stay in. The city is served by Jacksonville International Airport, around 13 miles north of downtown Jacksonville, Fl. A lot of the time, Jacksonville gets overlooked in favor of other locations in Florida, such as Orlando or Miami, but the city rarely disappoints. I hope we’ve convinced you of all the great things to do in Jacksonville, Fl in our guide.