From Broadway hits and local bands, to galleries and gardens, Jacksonville, Florida’s arts and culture scene reflects the region’s diversity. More than 70 museums, live music venues and art galleries beckon admirers and enthusiasts in mediums from classical to cutting edge.
Transition from ocean waves to new wave or your favorite genre at one of the many music festivals held on the beaches of the birthplace of Southern Rock. Stroll through Northeast Florida’s history at any one of the Jacksonville area heritage sites and museums. Immerse yourself in downtown Jacksonville’s public arts a self-guided tour before a tempting bit to eat.
Whatever your cultural calling, it’s a short trip from shore time to showtime in JAX.
Pop, rock or country, JAX hits all the right notes.
Expect some of the most well-known acts in music – Carrie Underwood, Elton John and Post Malone, to name a few – when you get tickets to the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena and Daily’s Place, the region’s newest outdoor live music venue connected to TIAA Bank Field.
The St. Augustine Amphitheatre, known to locals as “The Amp,” has been entertaining guests since 1965 and has welcomed artists and performances alike. Be sure to check out their Backyard Stage for a truly up close and personal experience with your favorite artist!
If you enjoy a more intimate venue, head on down to the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. This modern performing arts facility has the ability to hold a variety of entertainment events and quickly becoming one of the top intimate venues in the region.
For local flavor, spend an evening at Jack Rabbits, selected by The Guardian as one of the best live music venues in Florida (its also one of the oldest!). Pastime meets rhythm and rhyme at the 1904 Music Hall. Take in tunes in the venue that dates to the early 20th century, with wooden rafters, exposed brick and classic era architecture.
Among Jacksonville’s 24 annual music festivals is the Springing the Blues, a three-day outdoor blues festival held along the Atlantic Ocean for 30 years. For a more laid back scene, the annual St. Augustine Songwriters Festival, which gives a platform for song creators to share their stories on the inspiration behind their musical works of art on stages throughout the city.
One of the largest jazz events in the U.S. takes place in downtown – the Jacksonville Jazz Festival. Two stages, dozens of performers and a street festival are part of the two-day festivities.
Prepare for an immersive arts experience with no less than 12 museums in a 15-minute drive around downtown Jacksonville and countless galleries and maker spaces throughout the region.
Stroll amongst 5,000 works and 2.5 acres of historic gardens at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens. Painters, sculptors and artists whose work spans various mediums are on display. Classes for adults and children provide a chance to hone artistic skills or explore art history. Cross the bridge over the St. Johns River for a visit to the Museum of Science and History, where along with interactive exhibits you can partake in an evening yoga class under the stars of the planetarium.
Accredited as Jacksonville’s first institution by the American Association of Museums, MOCA Jacksonville’s original curated exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, student exhibitions, and creative programs that cultivates our diverse community. Stroll the three stories of masterpieces and grab a quick lunch at Charlie’s Cafe, an outdoor space in nearby James Weldon Johnson Park with revolving food trucks and live music, or Fizzies & Fare, with its light bites, over-the-top milkshakes, cocktails and 100s of sodas from around the globe, in a veritable Willy Wonka-esque candy store.
Jacksonville International Airport also doubles as a showcase for arts. Inspiration and education are two goals of the JIA Arts Commission, which works with artists to cultivate permanent and changing exhibits for travelers on the fly.
In addition to international artists, JAX is brimming with local artistic talent from local college and university students to mural, assemblage, installation and mixed media professionals. Collective studio spaces such as CoRK Arts District and The Union Art Studios and Gallery, which often have special events that are open to the public.
Performing arts take center stage in JAX. From Broadway blockbusters to rousing revues, Jacksonville Theater is worthy of an encore. The stunning Florida Theatre offers 200 cultural and entertainment events annually for all artistic styles.
For some of the most popular shows of our time, head over to the Moran Theater at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. There, you can catch Wicked, Hamilton, Rent, Waitress and others.
Discover Jacksonville’s historic African American community of La Villa at the Ritz Theatre and Museum. Constructed on the site of the 1929 Ritz Theater movie house, the Ritz presents performances that are at the artistic core of African American culture in Northeast Florida.
The “Winter Film Capital of the World”, Jacksonville channels its inner Hollywood as a place for filmmakers and film aficionados.
Each fall, the Jacksonville Film Festival celebrates celluloid for two days with local talent and a different theme each year. Bill Murray, Graham Greene and John Waters are some the celebrities who have highlighted the event.
For a region with its eyes on the future, we certainly don’t forget our past. And with perfect preservation of sites, buildings and history, JAX makes it easy to understand what makes our people tick.
The most internationally recognized historic city in the region, St. Augustine is the United States’ oldest continuously occupied European settlement. Founded in 1565 by Spanish settlers, the blocks of the “Ancient City” ooze Spanish influence with its architecture, attractions and food (hint: don’t miss the Spanish cuisine as The Columbia or Spanish Bakery & Cafe). Starting at the Old City Gate near the Castillo de San Marcos and its waterfront cannons, wander the cobblestone pedestrian walkways of St. George Street with its quaint cafes, bars and boutiques.
Commemorating Florida’s only major Civil War battle in 1864, Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park, just a 30-minute drive from Macclenny, holds a reenactment of the Battle of Olustee every February. Go back in time as you experience exhibits and artifacts that tells the story of led to the battle.
Named for North Florida’s early people, Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve holds 6,000 years of human history and is home to two preservations: The Kingsley Plantation, Jacksonville’s oldest home, and the Fort Caroline National Memorial, the memorial of the short-lived French Huguenot presence in 16th century Florida. Rent a Segway or kayak to check out the historic sites and wildlife.
In the 1920s, Jacksonville Beach was THE hotspot to vacation hosting dignitaries, actors, mobsters and more. Bring that moxie to today where visitors and residents patron the Beaches Museum History & Park to learn more insight into our coastal past. With hundreds of archived photographs and artifacts, and a 1911 train and engine and original railway depot, you’ll see the beaches a new way. Don’t miss out on Chapel concerts, held throughout the year in the historic chapel on the museum’s grounds.
The Jacksonville region is home to a vibrant LGBTQ+ population, rich in businesses, attractions and organizations that are proud to amplify JAX pride.
Each October, celebrate River City Pride, Jacksonville’s largest gay pride parade and festival, which has taken place in JAX since 1978. The annual event lights up the historic Five Points district of Riverside in Jacksonville, featuring events including a parade, block party, pageant and festival to celebrate LGBTQ+ members and allies.
Foodie or not, you can’t miss out on the gay dining scene in Jacksonville. Find global flavors at gay-friendly restaurants around the city, including award-wining French bistro Orsay, popular lunch spot European Street Café or farm-to-table Black Sheep. For additional restaurants in the Jacksonville region frequented by the local LGBTQ+ community, read more from Daily Xtra Travel and Out Coast.
Entertainment-seekers have endless options in JAX. InCahoots and Park Place Lounge, two of the most popular spots in town for the LGBTQ+ community, offer a fusion of cocktail lounges and dance halls. InCahoots is Jacksonville’s most award-winning nightclub; Park Place is more laid back with pool tables, TVs and reasonably priced drinks. Hamburger Mary’s Jax is also guaranteed to entertain with live performances, drag shows and late-night eats.
Multiple local organizations provide support for JAX’s LGBTQ+ community. JASMYN and JAX Youth Equality are resources for local LGBTQ+ youth and their families, offering support services like health resources, advocacy and development opportunities. The LGBT Resource Center at UNF supports awareness and education, hosting panels and local events. Equality Florida represents LGBTQ+ communities throughout Florida, to prevent harassment or discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.