Recreation & Adventure
Beyond the sand and surf, professional sports, historical monuments and the country’s largest urban parks system, you can put diversity in your JAX to-do list. Public gardens to the gridiron, activities and attractions in Greater Jacksonville have one thing in common – there’s more in the outdoors.
Beaches are more than a way of life in JAX – they are life. The Jacksonville region encompasses 87 miles of coastline that invite water lovers to swim, boat, dive, surf, kayak, play beach volleyball and more.
Local favorites include Flagler Beach, Fernandina Beach and Ponte Vedra Beach. If you’re look for the hottest surfing spot, head to Atlantic Beach in a place called “The Poles.” JAX isn’t without family-friendly beaches, while others are dog-friendly beaches, too.
From the sand, stroll the boardwalk at Jacksonville Beach. The mile-long oceanfront is bursting day and night with entertainment, dining and shopping. It’s also home to the Seawalk Pavilion, where on any given day, you can catch a concert, outdoor movie screening or festival.
Surfers and laid-back locals favor Atlantic and Neptune Beaches because of the towns’ peaceful vibes. In fact, the best location for surfing in the area, The Poles, can be found in Atlantic Beach’s Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park. This area just south of NS Mayport is an ideal and convenient spot to catch some waves.
For something unique, visit Little Talbot Island State Park. One of the last barrier islands in northeast Florida, Little Talbot teems with nature, white sand and surf. Hike the dunes, kayak Myrtle Creek or camp overnight.
With 130-plus natural and artificial reefs, Jacksonville beaches are a great launch pad for divers.
Expect to discover hundreds of aquatic species, shipwrecks and beautiful coral.
There’s more to JAX’s waterways than ocean beaches. Another main vein is the beaches of Doctors Lake in Fleming Island. A great place to drop in a kayak or rent a boat with Boat Florida Rentals, you should keep an eye out for a nexus of aquatic life, such as manatee and dolphin. Local nature preserves offer more ecosystems for exploring and blend water, flora and fauna.
Jacksonville is home to the largest urban park system in the United States. From duck ponds to disc golf, JAX’s 450-plus parks offer a welcome environment for everyone.
James Weldon Johnson Park hums with food trucks, festivals, live music and heritage celebrations in Downtown Jacksonville. Stockton Park exudes tones of a times past with its classic architecture and look. Launch your kayak for a trip on the on the St. Johns River and return for lunch or a snack at nearby markets and cafés. Over at Klutho Park it’s art in the park, which serves as an outdoor canvas for local sculptors.
Hanna Park is undoubtedly one of the area’s outdoor jewels. Spend the day or a few nights, with access to 1.5 miles of beach; 20 miles of hiking, walking and mountain biking trails; and a 60-acre freshwater lake for fishing or paddling. Glamp instead of camp at the parks’ cozy cabins.
Dutton Island Preserve at Atlantic Beach is classic Northeast Florida. Fish from the dock, keep an eye on wildlife from observation posts or take in views of the marshes, wetlands and waterway.
Professional sports is the name of the game in JAX, home to teams for football, hockey, rugby, baseball, basketball and soccer.
In fall, tailgate with neighbors at Jacksonville Jaguars football games, or in summer, follow the team’s progress at training camp near the team’s home – TIAA Bank Field. “Revel in the Rivalry” at one of college football’s biggest games since 1904, the Florida-Georgia game or attend the annual Gator Bowl.
Follow along with pro soccer team FC Armada or catch a U.S. national team when they hit the field. Practice your golf clap and enjoy a Sawgrass Splash before you watch the sport’s top professionals tee off at THE PLAYERS Championship. Feel the excitement on the field with the Triple-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp or on the ice with Jacksonville Icemen.
Feeling inspired by the pros? Get in the game or match or tournament when you register for any of the multitude of amateur sports events, on and off the water.
Home to Northeast Florida’s walking safari, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens offers adventure for everyone. More than 2,000 rare and exotic animals live at the zoo, which hosts special events and kids camps throughout the year.
Spend time among 100 species of plants and on three miles of rustic hiking trail at the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens. At 120 acres, the arboretum has plenty of room to explore at a price that’s nice – free.
Discover part of Jacksonville’s history at the Kingsley Plantation. Built in 1814 and now a national park, the plantation is a collection of unique tabby houses, built and inhabited by the Plantation’s slaves.
The region’s history is made up of the early settlers from France and Spain. Jacksonville’s Fort Caroline National Memorial was settled in 1564 by French Huguenots. The monument looks back at when the colony was raided and destroyed by the Spanish. A visit includes access to view of the St. Johns River and a 1.3-mile nature trail.
The oldest permanent settlement, St. Augustine, was settled in 1565 by Spanish explorers, and the streets of the Old City and coquina forts of Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas give a glimpse into daily life of early American transplants. St. George Street, a cobblestone pedestrian walkway which serves as the artery of the Old City, is lined with cafes, bars, boutiques and attractions such as the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse.