Many people will be surprised to learn just how many incredible things there are to do in Jacksonville. Often overlooked by its more “famous” neighbors such as Savannah, Orlando, or Miami, Jacksonville is rich in history, culture, food, and arts. And is also home to some pretty incredible beaches.
I’ve been visiting “Jax” for over five years and currently have the privilege of calling it home. There are so many amazing places to visit in Jacksonville – and within this post, I’ve pulled together some of the best outings for your next visit.
Jacksonville, also known as ‘Bold City’ or ‘River City’, has some surprising facts that you might be unfamiliar with. Did you know it’s the largest city by land mass in the contiguous USA? It also boasts the largest urban park system in the nation, gets over 270 days of sunshine each year and is home to over 30 craft breweries.
I love exploring Jacksonville and tend to find a hidden gem each time I go out – for me, it’s one of the best places to visit in the USA. It’s a city filled with a diverse group of people, tons of nature, and lots of water, which makes it the perfect place to find a delicious restaurant, an interesting museum, or a fun outdoor activity.
There are truly thousands of unique things to do in Jacksonville.
Top 15 Best Things To Do in Jacksonville
I love eating, drinking a good microbrew, soaking in the sunshine, and learning about my city and surroundings. Thankfully, Jax and its nearby suburbs are packed full of all of those things, and I’ve compiled a list of the best Jacksonville attractions, tours, and activities that shouldn’t be missed if you’re ever in the area.
Whether you’re into art, history, or nature, or simply love exploring new places – you’ll enjoy discovering all the fun things to do in Jacksonville. I’m more and more impressed with this city every day. So, to help you plan the perfect itinerary, here are my top recommendations for sightseeing in Jacksonville:
1. Take a Public Art Tour
If you’re anything like me, you can appreciate colorful street art and murals. When it comes to the “top” things to do in Jacksonville, FL, a public art tour is first up on that list – it’s one of my favorite things I’ve done since being here.
You’ll join a small group of people and then ride around in a tuk-tuk as you set out to find the best pieces of publicly displayed artwork; from murals and mosaics to statues and sculptures. You’ll see over 70 pieces of art in total. Plus, you’ll get to learn about the inspiration behind each piece. So cool!
It’s a 2.5-hour tour and is one of the best things to see in Jacksonville. Learn more and book your public art tour here.
Address: Meeting Point – 249 Parker St, Jacksonville, FL 32202
2. Explore Islands by Bike
If you’re visiting Northeast Florida, it would be a travesty to miss out on visiting at least one of the many gorgeous state parks and islands. Exploring the beaches and parks is one of the best things to do in Jacksonville for families because it’s fun for all ages and skill levels. Taking a self-guided tour by bike is a fantastic way to do just that.
Discover Big Talbot Island State Park and Amelia Island State Park at your own pace by renting a Pedege Electric Bike and taking an eco-friendly ride. The easy-to-follow trail is explained to you at the rental shop, and you’ll even have a smart helmet that lets you communicate with the other riders in your group.
I took this tour with my family a few months ago, and it was an absolute blast. Boneyard Beach was my favorite thanks to its scattered “skeleton trees” that give the beach an eerie yet beautiful setting. The self-guided bike tour is by far one of the top things to do in Jacksonville – book your spot here.
3. Immerse Yourself in Nature by Kayak
Out of all the things to do around Jacksonville, your trip wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t get on the impressive waterways and explore via kayak. Whenever I want to show off my city to friends and family, this is a sure-fire tour to impress them – it never fails.
On this two-hour tour, you’ll paddle out in a backwater tributary where you can keep your eye out for gators, turtles, birds, and fish. It’s also self-guided (by using an app on your phone), so you can take your time (within those couple of hours) and stop wherever and whenever you wish to take it all in. It’s also low-impact, which makes it perfect for all skills and fitness levels.
The tour’s app also features a UF naturalist who details the history of the area through a speaker. I tend to learn something new every time I go – I recently found out that the gopher tortoises in the area are seen as a keystone species because they dig burrows that provide shelter for at least 360 other species. Fascinating, right?
Address: 463540 State Rd 200, Yulee, FL 32097
4. Hop on the Jax Ale Trail
I am a huge craft beer fan, and when I found out about the Jax Ale Trail, I was ecstatic. The microbrewery scene continues to grow here in the city, and one of the most fun things to do in Jacksonville is to explore a majority of them by using your “passport”.
You can pick up a free passport at any of the participating breweries, and when you purchase a pint at each brewery, you’ll get a stamp. After receiving a set amount of stamps, you can receive free Jax Ale Trail gear including shirts, pint glasses, and free beer. It’s a win-win situation!
Some of my favorite breweries on the trail include Aardwolf Brewing Co., Bottlenose Brewing, Intuition Ale Works, and Congaree and Penn. Learn more about the Jax Ale Trail and all the participating breweries on their official website. Figuring out what to do in Jacksonville is easy when you’ve got the passport in hand.
Address: Multiple locations
5. Head Downtown for a Lesson in Architecture and History
Founded in 1822 and having suffered the tragedy of a massive fire in 1901, Jacksonville has an extremely rich and interesting history. Thanks to all the moments and events that the city has endured, the Bold City offers tons of stories behind its architecture and history.
The half-day city tour in downtown Jacksonville is an ideal way to see it all and learn more about the city’s past.
Stops on this super fascinating tour include the Veterans Memorial Wall, the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, and the Friendship Fountain. When I learned the story behind the Friendship Fountain, I was deeply moved – the fountain still stands as one of the city’s most recognizable attractions in Jacksonville today.
The tour takes around three hours to complete, and you’ll be traveling with a knowledgeable tour guide who’ll drive you around via tuk-tuk. They can pick you up from your hotel for ease and convenience. Learn more about the half-day city tour and the details on the tour’s website.
Address: Meeting Point – 249 Parker St, Jacksonville, FL 32202
6. Go Axe Throwing at Stumpy’s
Out of all the stuff to do in Jacksonville, axe throwing has quickly become one of my favorite pastimes. Stumpy’s Hatchet House is one of the coolest places I’ve visited in the city, and you can rent out the private group room if you’re traveling with friends or family.
If you’ve never thrown an axe before, it can be a little intimidating – thankfully, there’s staff to hand that will train you before you begin.
After you’ve mastered your bullseye-throwing skills, you can relax in the venue’s comfortable environment where you can chat and have a snack or drink with your favorite people. I love the rustic vibes at Stumpy’s, it really makes the place warm and welcoming but still hip and modern.
If axe throwing isn’t your thing, they also have board games and giant versions of favorites like Connect Four and Jenga. If you book the private room, you’ll receive two axes and two targets in your own separate throwing pit. Learn more about the Stumpy’s Hatchet House package here.
7. Tour and Stay in the Historic Casa Marina Hotel
Opening in the heyday of the roaring 20s, the historic Casa Marina Hotel has long been a destination for the rich and glamorous since 1925. Located in popular Jacksonville Beach, this stunning property is known as the “Grand Lady of the Beach” and is one of the top things to do near Jacksonville.
After changing ownership a few times, the Casa Marina Hotel now boasts 23 gorgeous guestrooms and parlor suites, as well as a chef-driven restaurant. If you’re looking for one of the best free things to do in Jacksonville, you can stop by the hotel and take a tour of the historic property. The Mediterranean-style architecture is a sight to behold alone.
Book a night at the hotel for a luxurious stay and end your evening with a meal of crab cakes, Kobe beef sliders, or a charcuterie board from their impressive penthouse menu.
8. Test Your Wits in an Escape Room
If you’re feeling confident that you’ve got the skills to break out of an escape room, find out by rounding up your buddies and heading to The Escape Game, where you’ll find five unique, themed rooms to choose from.
Inside, you’ll have to solve puzzles and gather clues to escape the room before time runs out. Don’t worry – you’ll have a guide to help you in case you get stumped.
I was a bit nervous when I visited The Escape Game myself because I can get a little claustrophobic and hadn’t done anything like it before. But I’m so glad I did it! It sharpens the mind and has you working with your friends together as a team. My favorite room was The Heist, where your goal is to recover a priceless painting from the “Barclay Museum of Historical Art”.
Other rooms include the difficult Prison Break room, the Gold Rush room, the Playground, and the Special Ops: Mysterious Market. Reserve your game time here – it’s the perfect activity when looking for things to do in Jacksonville for couples or friends.
9. Spend a Weekend Museum Hopping
Out of all the things to do in Jacksonville, visiting museums is especially high on the list for me. The River City is home to over a dozen incredible museums, each offering something different and intriguing. From science and astronomy to art and gardens, you’re sure to find something that piques your interest. Why not spend a weekend visiting three or four of them?
My favorite museum is the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens. The grounds are absolutely breathtaking, and the collection of art inside is nothing short of astonishing. It’s also the largest fine arts museum in northeast Florida. Some other fantastic museums in the city include the Museum of Science & Industry, Museum of Contemporary Art, Beaches Museum, and more.
Address: For a full list of Jacksonville museums, visit the city’s official tourism website.
10. Visit the Charming Fernandina Beach
Although it’s technically not within the city limits, Fernandina Beach is just a quick 45-minute drive away and is one of the best places to visit near Jacksonville. This charming beach town is a spot that I try to visit at least once a month.
A great way to explore the area is by taking a guided walking tour through the streets that hold a history dating back over 300 years. The 90-minute tour includes a private guide that will tell you the stories behind the homes and local figures that shaped the community since before the Civil War. You’ll get to learn about pirates, war, and all kinds of other interesting stuff!
After the tour, Fernandina Beach has plenty of cute restaurants and boutiques to explore before heading off. Book your walking tour guide here.
Address: Meeting Point – Centre St, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
11. Ride an Electric Harley
Buggies, bikes, mini cars, and motorcycles – renting a “cruisable” vehicle to get around is one of the staple things to do in Jacksonville. One of the most unique types of vehicle to rent is an electric Harley-style scooter – they’re super fun and will definitely turn heads while you ride around town.
The scooters are quiet and smooth, and you can even play your favorite tunes through a Bluetooth speaker. They’re also surprisingly easy to maneuver, so you don’t need to worry if you’ve never driven a motorcycle before.
If you’ve been thinking of things to do in Jacksonville at night, this option has you covered. You can reserve your bike in advance here.
12. Experience Adrenaline Pumping Thrills on an Airboat
Nothing says “the South” quite like taking an exhilarating ride on a fast airboat. It’s the perfect way to see the native wildlife of Jacksonville. Before I moved to Jacksonville, I booked an airboat tour, and it was seriously one of the most fun things I’ve ever done.
You’ll get to skim across shallow waters while feeling the rush of 500 horsepower – and trust me, you go FAST. During my tour, we were lucky enough to spot alligators and dolphins, but if you’re lucky, you’ll also see manatees, eagles, pelicans, and turtles.
If you love nature and you love all things fast – an airboat ride is one of the best things to do in Jacksonville. Book your thrilling airboat ride here.
13. Get Spooky with Ghosts and Ghouls
Jacksonville can trace its history back to 2,500 B.C., making it a breeding ground for ghosts and spooky tales. When you think of Florida, you probably think of palm trees and sunshine, but, in reality, there’s a much darker side to the seaside town of Jacksonville Beach.
Not only have there been inhabitants in the region for thousands of years, but there have also been bizarre happenings around the city for generations – especially after the devastating fire of 1901. So, if you’re into scary haunts and ghost stories, I highly recommend you get yourself on this ghost and ghouls tour.
The one-hour tour is hosted by a knowledgeable guide who will take you to seven unassuming spots in Jacksonville Beach that all have haunted pasts. Reserve your spot on this one-of-a-kind tour to see the other side of Bold City.
Address: Meeting Point – 6 Beach Boulevard, Jacksonville Beach
14. Eat to Your Heart’s Content
Sure, there are lots of places to visit and things to see in Jacksonville, but you can’t miss out on the food scene while you’re here.
Food is always my number one priority when I travel or move to someplace new, and when I first moved to Jacksonville, I was on a mission to find the yummiest food around – my investigations led me to decide that the San Marco area is the hub for all things delicious.
The historic San Marco area is home to stunning murals, great boutiques, and lots of tasty restaurants, cafes, and food trucks. From tapas and Middle Eastern food to burritos and seafood, the neighborhood truly has a menu for everyone. With so much to choose from, one of the best ways to sample all of the mouthwatering cuisine is to take a walking food tour.
During this tour, you’ll walk around the selfie-worthy neighborhood while stopping at five different restaurants and cafes. Some stops might include Hightide Burrito, Taverna, Good Dough Artisan Doughnuts, and more. Book your food tour here.
Address: Visit the tour website for location information
15. Support Local Artists
If you happen to be in Jacksonville on a Saturday, I highly recommend checking out the Riverside Arts Market. Located under the Fuller Warren Bridge, this artisan market sells crafts and goods from all kinds of vendors. It’s the perfect opportunity to take home a little piece of Jacksonville or to find a handmade gift.
What makes this market so awesome is that it’s right on the river, so you have an incredible view while you’re browsing, plus, you’ll get to see all of the talents that are teeming from the city’s artists, craft makers, and farmers. In addition to fun, goods, and produce, the market also boasts live music, food trucks, and free yoga. Learn more here.
Things To Do in Jacksonville: FAQs
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about visiting Jacksonville:
What is Jacksonville known for?
Jacksonville is best known for its art galleries, museums, and big music festivals.
When is the best time to visit Jacksonville?
Spring and fall are great seasons to visit Jacksonville. You’ll beat the heat of the summer while still enjoying comfortable beach temps in the mid-70°Fs to lower 80°Fs.
Is Jacksonville worth visiting?
Absolutely! With its rich history, lively culture, and fantastic beaches, Jacksonville should definitely be on your list of places to visit.
How many days should I spend in Jacksonville?
I recommend spending at least 3 to 4 days in Jacksonville; however, a week would be ideal to fully explore the area.
Is Jacksonville safe?
Overall, Jacksonville is a very safe city to visit. The crime rate is lower than the national average, and it’s rated the #16 city to live in in the United States.
What is the most popular thing to do in Jacksonville?
Visiting museums and hanging out at the beach are the most popular things to do in Jacksonville.
What is the best beach in Jacksonville?
What foods should I try in Jacksonville?
Lowcountry cuisine is very popular in Jacksonville – items such as a seafood boil, fried seafood, gumbo, barbecue, and other similar items should make it onto your list of must-try dishes.
Is 3 days enough in Jacksonville?
Three days would be the minimum time I would advise; any less than this and you’ll struggle to get the full scope of the city.
Jacksonville is brimming with surprises, hidden gems, and fascinating spots. No matter the age or the interest in activity – River City has something fun to offer everyone. Museums are a must, nature is bountiful, the sun is seemingly always shining, and the beach is only ever a stone’s throw away. What’s not to love?