Top 10 Things to Do When Visiting Jacksonville

Thinking about heading to Jacksonville, Florida, but just not sure what you’ll do to fill your time? We’ve got a few suggestions for you. 

As home to one of the largest urban park systems in the United States, Jacksonville has more than 85,000 acres of parks and waterways. This, paired with the fact that it’s the largest populated city in the state (over 900,000 residents and growing every day!) makes it a fun and exciting place to visit with a ton of activities, events, and opportunities. 

jacksonville skyline


Today we’re talking about all of the things you should do when you’re in the area — particularly our personal favorite top ten recommendations for Jacksonville.

1. St. Johns Town Center

Looking to do a little shopping while you’re hanging around the area? The St. Johns Town Center is an open-air shop-til-you-drop enthusiast’s dream. With more than 175 different retailers and restaurants all in one area, you can spend a lot of time popping in and out of shops over the course of an afternoon. Stop at a restaurant to grab some grub when the time comes, and then continue to shop until you drop!  

2. Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens

As one of only seven zoos across the United States that keep an animal wellness team, the Jacksonville Zoo provides the absolute best care possible for its animals. 

Looking for the total experience? With an all-inclusive ticket, you can get an up-close encounter feeding some of your favorite species, tour the Zoo aboard the train, traipse through the park with Nature Agents, and watch a totally immersive 4D movie that will surprise and delight your senses. 

Check out the more than 2,000 animals and 1,000 plant species that occupy the zoo and gardens across 115 acres. 

3. Jacksonville Jaguars NFL Tour

Huge football fan looking to take a tour of the TIAA Bank Field Stadium while you’re in town? Usually, tours are available on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays with said tours lasting 60 to 90 minutes. 

If you’re lucky enough to be visiting during their season, be sure to see about heading down to the field for a game or finding a way to sterngate with other Jaguar fans. 

4. Big & Little Talbot Island State Parks

Both of the Talbot Island State Parks are a gorgeous juxtaposition of coastal woodlands and beachy wildlife, creating one of the most unique ecosystems in the area. 

To get to Little Talbot Island State Park, it’s just a quick (and scenic) drive up A1A north of downtown Jacksonville. Once you arrive, you will find miles of hiking trails through dune-covered woodlands and surprising elevation changes. You can also rent bikes or spend the night under the stars in a tent. 

Continue on to Big Talbot Island State Park to visit the famous Boneyard Beach and Blackrock Beach.

5. Catty Shack Wildlife Sanctuary

This non-profit organization is proud to provide a safe, loving, forever home to endangered big cats as well as educate the public about the issues big cats are encountering both in the wild and in captivity. They are currently home to tigers, lions, pumas, leopards, lynxs, foxes, and coatimundis. 

You can visit the sanctuary and experience these big cats for yourself during daytime tours, night feedings, and other enrichment tour opportunities. 

6. Riverside Arts Market

The Riverside Arts Market (RAM) is open every Saturday, rain or shine, from 10 AM to 3 PM. Explore an array of small businesses, artists, creative makers, and farmers from the Jacksonville area, all coming together to showcase and sell their wares. Pick up some local fresh produce each weekend, and support local artists in the area while you can!

7. The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens

This beloved Jacksonville institution has been offering educational art experiences for people of all ages right on the banks of the St. John River since 1961. As a cornerstone of the local cultural community, the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens has something to offer everyone who visits! 

Be sure to visit their website to see what exhibits are currently happening while you’re in town. 

8. Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park

Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park is home to a ton of scenic trails in the area, with over 13 miles worth of bike trails for all skill levels, playgrounds, ziplines, oceanfront facilities, campgrounds, and so much more. It’s the perfect place to spend a little time in the sun with your whole family, enjoying the great outdoors at every age! There’s even a handy camp store located in the heart of the park, so you can grab some cool refreshments, rent a kayak, or load up on camping supplies! With more than 300 camping sites available at this location, it’s bound to be a great time under the stars!

9. Private Charter for Deep Sea Fishing

Home to more than 1,110 miles of interior shorelines, Jacksonville is a haven for both freshwater and saltwater anglers of all experience levels. If you’re just visiting the area (sans boat), it’s a perfect opportunity to try your hand at some deep-sea fishing — and the easiest way to do that is to book a private charter. 

If you’re headed out with a fishing charter, they will have an optimum route already planned to show you the best places to cast off in the area. Plus, they will have all the gear you’ll need, so you can just show up and take in the experience. 

10. Visit Morningstar Marinas’ Mayport Location

Just two miles from the ICW on the St. Johns River sits Morningstar Marinas Mayport location, the ultimate fisherman’s dream spot to drop anchor for a day (or two!). 

Utilize our bait & tackle and fish cleaning areas or ask our friendly and knowledgeable staff about what’s biting in the area this time of year. With the best blue water access in the area, this is a place you’re going to want to spend some time reeling it all in when in the Jacksonville area!