12 Best Things to Do in Jacksonville
downtown Jacksonville
Visit Jacksonville: The Gateway to Florida

Jacksonville has a rich history reflecting many cultures and eras. Today, Jacksonville is known for its beautiful beaches, diverse cultural attractions, and outdoor recreation opportunities. The city is home to several professional sports teams, including the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars and Minor League Baseball's Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

Jacksonville is also home to a thriving arts and culture scene, with numerous museums, galleries, and performing arts centers. The city is home to a number of colleges and universities, including the University of North Florida and Jacksonville University.

Whether you're interested in exploring the city's rich history, enjoying its beautiful beaches, or participating in its thriving arts and culture scene, Jacksonville has something to offer. Here is Red Roof's list of the best things to do in Jacksonville, Florida.

cummer musuem of art & gardens
Visit the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens

The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens features a collection of European and American art, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts, dating from 2100 BC to the present. The museum's permanent collection includes works by artists such as Rembrandt, Monet, and Renoir, as well as a large collection of Meissen porcelain.

In addition to the art museum, the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens also features beautiful formal gardens that you can explore.

The museum offers a variety of educational programs and events for visitors. It is a popular destination for both tourists and locals alike and is considered one of the top cultural attractions in Jacksonville.

giraffe at zoo
Spend the Day at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

The Jacksonville Zoo, which is consistently ranked as one of the top zoos in the country, may challenge your preconceptions about what a zoo can be. This venue runs dozens of conservation projects around the world and uses innovative, humane enclosures that visitors love to explore. 

Both adults and kids will enjoy feeding the giraffes and watching the otters swim in the Wild Florida exhibit.

In addition to the animals, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens also features a number of beautiful gardens that you can explore. It is a great place to spend a day with the family and learn about the animals and plants that call the zoo home.

Kingsley Plantation
Visit the Kingsley Plantation

The Kingsley Plantation is a historic plantation located on Fort George Island in Jacksonville, Florida. It was built in the late 18th century and was once a working plantation that grew sea island cotton and other crops. 

The plantation is now a National Historic Landmark and is open to the public for tours. Visitors can explore the plantation's main house, which has been restored to its 19th-century appearance, as well as the outbuildings, including the kitchen, slave quarters, and barn.

The Kingsley Plantation is a popular destination for history buffs and those interested in learning about the lives of the people who lived and worked on the plantation.

little talbot island
Spend the Day at Little Talbot Island State Park

Little Talbot Island is a hilly woodland of towering pines, southern live oaks, and ferns that rises abruptly from the sands of ancient dunes.

Along its four miles of length, the Dune Ridge Trail offers views of Spanish moss-covered live oaks and fragrant bay, cedar, palmetto, and holly. You'll emerge from the dunes onto the beach, where bleached tree skeletons line the shore.

The salt marsh on the western side of Little Talbot Island is a haven for nesting and migrating birds, and you can explore it by renting a bike or a canoe at the island's full-service campground.

Visit the Museum of Science and History (MOSH)

The origins of this museum, which connects youngsters with local history and the scientific community, can be traced back to 1941. Present-day visitors can enjoy an interactive experience full of hands-on exhibits at the Museum of Science and History

Health in Motion teaches kids about the importance of exercise and a healthy lifestyle, Atlantic Tails allows them to get up close and personal with intertidal species, and Currents of Time takes them on a journey through 12,000 years of history in Northeast Florida. 

Kidspace is an indoor playground that incorporates educational themes like science and history for kids younger than five.

Fort Caroline National Memorial
Visit Fort Caroline National Memorial

Fort Caroline National Memorial is a National Park Service site and a memorial to the French settlement of Fort Caroline. Fort Caroline was the first European settlement in what is now the United States, and the site of the fort is now a National Historic Landmark.

Visitors to Fort Caroline National Memorial can explore the replica of the fort, which was built using 16th-century construction techniques and materials. The fort includes a number of interactive exhibits, such as a blacksmith shop and a soldier's quarters, that help visitors learn about life in the fort.

In addition to the replica fort, the memorial also features a number of hiking trails that wind through the beautiful natural surroundings. The trails offer opportunities to spot wildlife and explore the area's rich history.

jacksonville riverwalk
Discover the Jacksonville Riverwalks

These riverwalks were gradually constructed between the mid-1980s and the 2000s on both the north and south banks of the St. Johns River. Paths on the Southbank stretch for about 1.25 miles, from the west (near the massive Friendship Fountain) to the east (just past the Lexington Hotel). 

Connecting major downtown attractions like the old Jacksonville Landing and the CSX Transportation Building, the Northbank Riverwalk is slightly longer. Southbank, which has more restaurants, MOSH, views of downtown, and frequent dolphin and manatee sightings than the other riverwalk due to the closure of the Jacksonville Landing Marketplace, is the more popular of the two.

jacksonville-baldwin rail trail
Enjoy the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail

The City of Jacksonville acquired the abandoned railbed of the former east-west Atlantic Coast Line Railroad corridor in the early 1990s with the intent of transforming it into a multi-use trail. An easy, paved path connecting Jacksonville and Baldwin for pedestrians and cyclists was built, along with a parallel equestrian trail, making it one of the first initiatives of its kind in the state. 

The 14.5-mile-long Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail passes through forested wetlands, flatlands, and hardwood ridges. Wild turkeys, buzzards, hawks, rabbits, alligators, armadillos, gopher tortoises, and a few species of snakes are just some of the animals you might see if you take your time.

Florida Theatre
See a show at the Florida Theatre

The Florida Theatre is a historic performing arts center built in 1927. The theater is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a popular destination for cultural events in the city. 

The Florida Theatre hosts a wide variety of events, including concerts, plays, dance performances, and more. It is a popular venue for touring artists and local performing arts groups and offers a wide range of entertainment options for visitors. 

In addition to its regular programming, the Florida Theatre also hosts special events and educational programs, including film festivals, workshops, and lectures.

Friendship Fountain
Don’t miss the spectacular Friendship Fountain

This park's namesake fountain on Southbank was the world's largest and tallest when it was unveiled in 1965. The Friendship Fountain still boasts epic proportions with its 60-meter-wide basin and three rings of sprays, the center of which shoots water 30 meters into the air. 

After three bells, the Friendship Fountain will release a maximum of 16750 gallons (76,147 liters) of water per minute.

The fountain has a schedule of performances throughout the day, but it truly comes to life at night when the 265 computer-controlled lights illuminate the jets.

memorial park
Spend an afternoon in Memorial Park

The elegant Riverside neighborhood, home to Jacksonville's third-oldest park, was planned after World War I. The park, designed by the Olmsted Brothers, sons of the famous Frederick Law Olmsted, was dedicated in 1924 to honor the 1,200 Floridians who lost their lives during the war.

You can look out across the widest part of the St. Johns River from the balustrade that lines the riverbank in front of you. A picnic here would be hard to top, and the sunsets are some of the best in Jacksonville.

Botanical Garden
Explore the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens

This little piece of land was once a massive Mill Cove industrial site. There are thirteen distinct ecologies found here.

The Jones Creek Trail, for example, will lead you through wetlands where swamp bay, swamp dogwood, bald cypress, and American hornbeam thrive. This is just one of seven trails that will lead you into these ecosystems. The Live Oak Trail passes through a grove of southern live oaks that are over a century old. 

Alligators, armadillos, foxes, and numerous species of snakes, turtles, and the endangered gopher tortoise all find a home in the park.

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