Jacksonville is a terrific spot for a vacation thanks to its superb weather and the great variety of ways to spend your time. Located in northeastern Florida where the St. John’s River meets the Atlantic Ocean, this lively city has something for everyone along with over 80,000 acres of green spaces which makes it the largest urban park system in the United States. Some people use it as a springboard to discover popular nearby seaside towns, but there is plenty to keep you entertained nearby. So, if you are trying to decide what to do in Jacksonville then read on for a few suggestions.
Lions, Tigers and… More Cats
If you are an animal lover, then look no further than Jacksonville. The Cattery Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary is a care and rehabilitation center for wild cats. It is also open to the public with guided tours and very friendly volunteers who will happily answer any questions for you. This is a great opportunity to see rare and majestic creatures up close that include lions, tigers, cougars, and leopards.
Art & Nature
The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens found southwest of downtown Jacksonville is a brilliant art museum with over 5,000 pieces on display all within a truly breathtaking building and gardens. The beautiful gardens feature fountains, reflecting pools and flowers all sheltered by a huge canopy created by old oak trees. You can also enjoy astonishing views over downtown Jacksonville and St. John’s River from the gardens so be sure to plan some time relaxing in this inviting and very beautiful space.
See How The Locals Live
If you visit the Cummer Museum on a Saturday, then be sure to take the short stroll down to the lively Riverside Arts market, which is a brilliant way to get a feel for the city. Here you will discover hundreds of vendors and craftspeople gather to create a fun, interesting and highly enjoyable market where you could find a hidden gem. In addition to a wide range of art, the market also has street performers, food vendors, musicians and more with the river as the perfect backdrop. This is one of the best things to do in Jacksonville on the weekend and is a great way to see how the locals live, with terrific people-watching opportunities from nearby.
The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens boasts over 2,000 animals across 117 acres, so it is certainly somewhere with plenty to see for animal lovers. It is, essentially, a walking safari where you will get to see elephants, big cats, giraffes, monkeys and much, much more. Kids love the areas where you can get up close and personal, such as the areas for feeding the lively lorikeets or stingrays. If you don’t feel like walking, the Zoo Train will show you the highlights and a few behind the scenes views of the facilities in a fun and interesting trip around the zoo.
Discover Florida’s History
Those wanting to know more about the history of the area should visit the stunning Kingsley Plantation grounds. The early owner, Zephaniah Kingsley, has a story quite different to other plantation owners in that he ran a multiracial household resistant to issues of race and slavery with his wife, Anna, who was a former slave. The plantation is set within the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve which is an area of outstanding natural beauty with one of the only remaining areas of unspoiled wetlands on the Atlantic coast. The tours are highly worth experiencing as they are good fun as well as highly educational.
A Peaceful Retreat
Little Talbot Island State Park is found northeast of Jacksonville but is highly worth the short excursion. Unlike any of the other shorelines in Florida, this small island has around 5 miles of quiet, peaceful beach which is one of the best-kept secrets in the state – shh, let’s keep it this way! In addition to the inviting sandy beach, you can also enjoy the 2,500 acres which include beautiful forests with walking trails taking you straight through to the beach.
It can be difficult to know what to do in Jacksonville as there is so much on offer both in the city and in the areas just outside. The above suggestions are just a few of the best suggestions which will reveal this inviting city’s unique culture, amazing natural spaces and friendly atmosphere. It is particularly well suited to families, but there is a lot to see and do for every type of traveler, and it is not difficult to find something fun to do during your stay.