When you think of Florida, images of palm trees, sandy beaches, and endless sunshine come to mind. Jacksonville, the largest city in Florida, is not only home to beautiful beaches but also boasts a rich cultural scene and a variety of outdoor adventures. If you’re planning a trip to Jacksonville or you’re a local looking for new places to explore, this guide to the top places to visit near Jacksonville, FL is for you.
Places to visit near Jacksonville fl
1. Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens
- Address: 829 Riverside Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32204
- Website: Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens
The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is a great place to start your trip. This beautiful museum is a hidden gem in the middle of Jacksonville. It is on the St. Johns River and has a large collection of art as well as beautifully landscaped gardens.
It has a great collection of European and American art, with pieces by well-known artists like Thomas Moran and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. You’ll be amazed by the wide range of art on display as you look around the galleries.
The beautiful gardens are the best thing about the Cummer Museum, though. The English and Italian formal gardens are a peaceful place to get away from the busy city. People can take slow walks along paths lined with trees and look at sculptures while looking out over the river.
Come in the spring, when the gardens are full of blooming flowers that make for a beautiful, colorful scene.
2. St Johns Town Center
- Address: 4663 River City Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32246
- Website: St Johns Town Center
For those who revel in the joys of shopping, dining, and having a blast, the St. Johns Town Center stands as an irresistible destination. This open-air shopping and lifestyle center not only offers a retail paradise but also creates an environment where meeting new people and having a great time go hand in hand. It’s the go-to hub among places to visit near Jacksonville, FL for retail therapy and social adventures.
St. Johns Town Center boasts an impressive array of stores, catering to diverse tastes and preferences. Wander through high-end boutiques, where you can discover unique, one-of-a-kind items, and explore well-known brands that offer the latest in fashion, electronics, and more. Whether you’re searching for the perfect outfit, the latest gadgets, or home decor, you’re sure to find it here.
After a fulfilling day of shopping, it’s time to indulge in a delectable meal at one of the many restaurants that grace the center. The dining options are as diverse as the shopping, offering a wide range of cuisines that satisfy every craving. From casual cafes to upscale eateries, there’s something to please every palate.
3. Talbot Island
- Address: State Road A1A North, Jacksonville, FL 32226
- Website: Talbot Island State Parks
Talbot Island is a paradise for people who love nature. This barrier island is a beautiful natural area with unspoiled beaches, salt marshes, and maritime forests. It’s only a short drive from Jacksonville.
Have a day to learn about the island’s different ecosystems. You can hike, watch birds, or just chill out on the beach. Boneyard Beach is a great place for photographers and beachcombers to go because of its beautiful driftwood.
Bring your binoculars if you want to watch birds, because Talbot Island is a haven for many kinds of birds.
4. Riverside Arts Market
- Address: 715 Riverside Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32204
- Website: Riverside Arts Market
Go to the Riverside Arts Market to get a feel for Jacksonville’s lively art scene. People from all over the area come to this market, which is located under the Fuller Warren Bridge.
You can find paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and textiles, among other things, made by hand every Saturday. You can support local artists and find one-of-a-kind items to take home as a souvenir of your trip.
There is often live music and tasty street food at Riverside Arts Market. Make the event last all day.
5. Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve
- Address: 12713 Fort Caroline Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32225
- Website: Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve
The Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve is a remarkable place where history and nature seamlessly converge, offering a fascinating glimpse into the natural and cultural heritage of the Jacksonville area. It’s one of the top places to visit near Jacksonville, FL.
This national park is a living testament to the rich history and breathtaking natural beauty of the region. As you explore the preserve, you’ll find a network of well-maintained hiking trails that meander through maritime forests, salt marshes, and alongside the serene St. Johns River. It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the area’s diverse ecosystems.
Wildlife enthusiasts will be in their element here. Keep a watchful eye as you might catch glimpses of playful dolphins, sunbathing alligators, and a colorful array of bird species.
Within the Timucuan Preserve, you’ll discover the historic Kingsley Plantation, nestled in the midst of this beautiful natural landscape. This is not just a glimpse into history, but also a deeper understanding of the region’s complex past. Take a guided tour of the meticulously preserved plantation buildings and hear the stories of the enslaved people who once toiled here.
6. Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park
- Address: 500 Wonderwood Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32233
- Website: Hanna Park
Jacksonville has a hidden gem called Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park. This beautiful coastal park has lots of fun things to do, so it’s a great place for families and people who love the outdoors.
The park has a beautiful beach where you can swim, lay out in the sun, or look for shells. The park has more than just the beach. There are hiking and biking trails, a freshwater lake where you can fish and kayak, and campgrounds for people who want to stay the night.
If you want to do something different outside, you can rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore the park’s freshwater lake.
7. Little Talbot Island State Park
- Address: 12157 Heckscher Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32226
- Website: Little Talbot Island State Park
People who love nature will love Little Talbot Island State Park. With its unspoiled beaches, diverse ecosystems, and lots of wildlife, this barrier island is a great place to get away to nature.
You can hike and watch birds in the park. The natural beauty of the area makes it a peaceful place to get away from the noise and chaos of city life.
Bring a picnic and eat while taking in the beautiful scenery of the island.
8. Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
- Address: 370 Zoo Pkwy, Jacksonville, FL 32218
- Website: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
Family trips and trips with animal lovers will both enjoy a trip to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. This zoo is dedicated to protecting wildlife and is home to many different kinds of animals, from big cats to rare birds.
The zoo’s beautifully landscaped gardens make a lush background for the animal displays. You can take a walk through Butterfly Hollow, look at the beautiful African savanna, or go to the Range of the Jaguar to get up close and personal with these amazing big cats.
Check the zoo’s event calendar to find out about special shows and chances to meet animals.
9. The Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary
- Address: 1860 Starratt Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32226
- Website: Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary
Visiting The Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary is an extraordinary opportunity to witness majestic wildlife up close and contribute to a vital cause. This non-profit sanctuary is dedicated to the rescue and lifelong care of big cats, including tigers, lions, and leopards, and it’s one of the remarkable places to visit near Jacksonville, FL.
What sets this sanctuary apart is its singular focus on saving these magnificent animals and providing them with a permanent, loving home. You won’t just observe from a distance; you’ll have the chance to forge a personal connection with these incredible creatures during guided tours.
By participating in these tours, you’ll learn about the vital work being done to protect and preserve these beautiful animals. The knowledgeable guides share insights about the sanctuary’s mission and the challenges facing big cats in the wild.
Here’s where you can make a difference: supporting the sanctuary. Whether you choose to make a monetary contribution or purchase items from them, every bit counts. Your support goes a long way in helping the sanctuary continue its essential work, ensuring the well-being of these remarkable animals.
10. Jacksonville Arboretum & Botanical Gardens
- Address: 1445 Millcoe Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32225
- Website: Jacksonville Arboretum & Botanical Gardens
The Jacksonville Arboretum & Botanical Gardens is a great place to end your trip to Jacksonville. This hidden garden in the city is a place to honor and protect the plants that grow in the area.
You can walk through the trails and gardens that are beautifully landscaped and full of different native plants. The arboretum is not only a beautiful place to visit, but it is also a great place to learn about plants and protecting the environment.
A lot of events happen at the arboretum, like plant sales and educational workshops.
Culinary Delights in Jacksonville
The food scene in Jacksonville is like a tapestry of tastes just waiting to be discovered. This city has a wide range of delicious places to eat, including fresh seafood, international food, and Southern soul food. If you like seafood, you have to try the local catch of the day, which is cooked with a coastal twist. The restaurants along the rivers in Jacksonville offer a unique atmosphere and beautiful views.
For people who like food from around the world, there are many restaurants that serve everything from Thai and Italian to Indian and Mexican. You shouldn’t miss the chance to try shrimp and grits or fried chicken made in Jacksonville in a new way.
If you want to try something new while eating, check out the food truck scene in Jacksonville. You can find gourmet treats on wheels.
Jacksonville is a perfect destination for families, offering a plethora of activities suitable for all ages. The city’s abundance of parks, complete with playgrounds and picnic areas, make it an ideal spot for a memorable family trip. Here, both the young and the young at heart can revel in quality time together. It’s a top pick among places to visit near Jacksonville, FL for families.
One of the standout family-friendly attractions is the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. This zoological wonderland houses a vast variety of animals that are sure to astound and delight your kids. Get ready for an unforgettable day of animal encounters and discovery.
For a dose of educational fun, the Museum of Science and History (MOSH) is a must-visit. MOSH features interactive, hands-on exhibits that promise to engage curious minds and provide valuable learning experiences for children of all ages.
If you’re looking to soak up the sun and enjoy a day at the beach, Jacksonville Beaches are a fantastic choice. Here, your family can revel in building sandcastles, swimming in the ocean, and partaking in beachside games. The beauty of these sandy shores is that they offer endless possibilities for a fun-filled day.
For those traveling during the summer, Adventure Landing water park is a surefire way to keep the kids entertained for hours. The park offers a range of thrilling water attractions, from slides to splash pads, ensuring that everyone has a blast.
Jacksonville’s numerous waterways offer endless possibilities for aquatic adventures. Explore the St. Johns River by renting a kayak, paddleboard, or pontoon boat. Take in the sights and sounds of the river, including local wildlife like manatees and dolphins.
For fishing enthusiasts, Jacksonville offers both freshwater and saltwater fishing opportunities. You can catch everything from largemouth bass in the freshwater lakes to redfish and flounder in the tidal creeks.
If you’re new to water activities, consider taking a guided tour to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
Jacksonville’s history is as fascinating as it is diverse. Begin your journey into the past with a visit to the Kingsley Plantation, where you’ll discover the history of the enslaved people who worked on this plantation.
Explore Fort Caroline National Memorial to learn about the first French settlement in Florida, or immerse yourself in the rich history of the city at the Jacksonville Historical Society.
To fully immerse yourself in Jacksonville’s history, consider participating in guided tours and interactive programs at historical sites.
Arts and Culture Calendar
Jacksonville’s cultural scene is a vibrant tapestry of art, music, and live performances. Throughout the year, the city hosts an exciting lineup of cultural events that cater to a variety of tastes. Keeping an eye on the city’s dynamic cultural calendar is essential when exploring places to visit near Jacksonville, FL.
This calendar showcases a year-round schedule of engaging cultural experiences. Art enthusiasts will revel in the opportunity to explore art exhibitions that feature the work of local and international artists. From contemporary installations to classic masterpieces, there’s something for every art lover.
Music aficionados have much to anticipate as well, with live music concerts gracing the city’s stages. Jacksonville’s music scene covers a diverse range of genres, from rock and pop to jazz and classical. Be sure to check the schedule for upcoming concerts and musical performances that align with your musical preferences.
Cultural festivals are a highlight of Jacksonville’s events calendar. Annual celebrations like the Riverside Arts Market, One Spark, and the Jacksonville Jazz Festival are not to be missed. These festivals offer a captivating blend of arts, music, and food, making for memorable experiences that showcase the city’s dynamic culture.
Shopping and Souvenirs
When it comes to shopping, Jacksonville has something for everyone. Explore the eclectic Five Points district, where unique boutiques and vintage shops line the streets. Here, you’ll find everything from retro clothing to handmade crafts.
If you’re on the hunt for Jacksonville-themed souvenirs, visit the Museum of Science & History (MOSH) or the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens gift shops. You can find an array of keepsakes to remember your trip by, including t-shirts, mugs, and locally crafted items.
To score some unique finds, make a beeline for the Riverside Arts Market, where local artisans showcase their one-of-a-kind creations.
Insider Tips and Recommendations
If you want to really experience Jacksonville’s culture, you need to check out the city’s hidden gems. People who live in the area and people who have been there many times share helpful tips and suggestions for off-the-beaten-path experiences.
If you go off the well-trodden tourist path, you’ll find cute neighborhoods, hidden parks, and restaurants that not many people know about. You might find art galleries, cozy coffee shops, and cute old neighborhoods that most people don’t know about.
Join forums and groups in your area to meet other people who are interested in Jacksonville and who can help you plan your trip.
Jacksonville’s charm is ever-evolving, offering something special in every season, ensuring there’s never a wrong time to visit. This vibrant city boasts a year-round calendar filled with diverse activities, making it one of the must-see places to visit near Jacksonville, FL.
As winter descends, Jacksonville transforms into a cozy wonderland adorned with holiday lights, bustling markets, and inviting ice skating rinks. It’s the perfect time to sip on a hot cup of cocoa while taking in the seasonal splendor. The city’s winter delights are not to be missed, and you’ll find yourself immersed in the festive spirit.
Summer in Jacksonville is synonymous with pristine beaches and a lively lineup of events. From beachfront festivals to outdoor concerts and movie nights beneath the stars, there’s no shortage of summertime fun. The beaches beckon with clean sands and warm waters, inviting you to unwind and soak in the sun.
Spring brings with it the awakening of nature. It’s a time to embark on garden tours and witness trees and flowers in full bloom. Explore scenic hiking trails to witness the wonders of the season as nature comes to life. Spring in Jacksonville is a true celebration of rebirth and renewal.