Jacksonville Attractions: Fun Places to Explore During Vacation

Beaches, sunshine and big-city action make Jacksonville a thriving vacation destination. The area offers a collection of activities, all of which are family-friendly and also ideal for solo travelers, friend trips, and snowbirds visiting for the winter. Scroll to read about the top Jacksonville attractions.

Fun Jacksonville Attractions to Explore Indoors and Outside

jacksonville attractions zoo family

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Suitable for all ages, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is home to more than 150 animals. Guests will come in at the main camp, and see exhibits that showcase animals from Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America. A few favorites include elephants, large cats, otters, birds of prey, reptiles, black bear, lemurs and many more.

In addition to animal exhibits, the zoo has a botanical garden. Example exhibits feature African plants, Grecian-style décor, local riverfront, tropical plants, bamboo and flowering plants. Each one is strategically placed and intertwines with animal environments. Other attractions at the zoo include play parks, splash ground, a train, carousel and animal feedings.

Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens

Cummer Museum encompasses both indoor and outdoor space including 2.5 acres of historic gardens. The attraction provides a blend of fine art, scenery and education.

Start by strolling through the indoor exhibits, which feature more than 5,000 works of art. Pieces span from 2100 B.C. through the 21st century. Then explore the historic riverfront gardens that feature notable landscapers and horticulturalists.

Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary

Ranked among the best Jacksonville attractions for wildlife and hands-on activities, Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary provides a safe place for endangered large cats.

Guests can tour the facility every afternoon while they learn about endangered species. Many types of cats live here such as tigers, lions, and bobcats. Plus, there are foxes and horses. To get started, visitors watch an intro video, then take a self-guided tour where guests may ask questions and take photos.

florida theater live show

Florida Theatre

This historic theater seats 1,900 and welcomes everyone to enjoy community theater and other live performances. Florida Theatre hosts shows year-round. Past shows have included The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Pam Tillis, comedy tours, Ancient Aliens Live, and Taylor Swift Laser Party.

Kingsley Plantation

Kingsley Plantation dates to the 18th century. It was owned by Zephaniah Kingsley who kept slaves on Fort George Island. Today, the site offers a glimpse into plantation and slave life to educate visitors about culture and history. Guests may tour the barn, planter’s house, slave quarters, kitchen house and garden.

jacksonville attractions beach

Jacksonville Area Beaches

Part of Jacksonville’s charm is the many beaches along the coastline. The area features 22 miles of coastline perfect for lounging, surfing, kayaking, diving and fishing.

Atlantic Beach, Mayport Beach, Neptune Beach and Jacksonville Beach are private and pet-friendly beaches. Plus, there are 40 miles of Intracoastal Waterway, St. Johns River, and many state parks. View vacation rentals near these Jacksonville beaches.

St. Johns Town Center

Those who enjoy shopping will love browsing St. Johns Town Center. This open-air mall has 175 retailers and restaurants. There are anchor stores such as Target, Dillards and Nordstrom. Other shops include LEGO store, Pottery Barn, Coach, Levis, and Urban Outfitter, to name a few.

When it’s time to eat, visitors have dozens of restaurant options, including California Pizza Kitchen, Kilwins, PF Chang’s and Panera. St. Johns Town Center also hosts community events during the holiday season.

Museum of Science and History

For more than 50 years, Museum of Science and History (MOSH) has delighted guests with exhibits and activities. The museum welcomes all ages and encourages guests to learn and play. Exhibits include Health in Motion, Atlantic Tails with coastal creatures, a science theater, native plant courtyard, and space science. Traveling exhibitions have featured dinosaurs and controversial topics that affect the community. In addition, MOSH hosts daily shows at the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium.

sports jacksonville florida family

Sports in Jacksonville

For professional football and big names in entertainment, come to Everbank Stadium. The stadium is home to TIAA Field where the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars play as well as college football teams. Other events welcome performances by stars in country music, rock and other genres.

Other sports teams in Jacksonville include Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (minor league baseball), collegiate teams, arena football, basketball, and hockey. Read more about the Jacksonville sports scene.