10 Top-Rated Sight-Seeing Destinations in Jacksonville (2023)
Florida’s most populated city and USA’s largest city (area), Jacksonville is a less explored gem and an ideal tourist destination that one must not miss when in Florida. The city of Jacksonville offers a unique side of Florida that is a mix of eco-adventure, panoramic outdoors, museums, wildlife, and an adventure site for an extended family relaxing getaway.
A safer city that is full of bohemian boutiques¸ spa, gourmet eateries, endless shining sand beaches, luxurious hotels, and some of the best urban destinations. Spring here is a time of numerous festivals and events, which are undoubtedly an experience one must not miss. The Jacksonville city has all, from history to architecture, from city parks to National, memorial, riverside, and fountain park to numerous wildlife centers where all you can get is fun, entertainment, education, and relaxation.
10 Top-Rated Sight-Seeing Destinations in Jacksonville
Out of various astonishing tourist sites in this Floridian city, we have compiled a list of the Best Places to visit in Jacksonville. Have a look:
1. Atlantic Beach
A beach that holds back its existence to 3000-3500 BCE and is known for the initial Native (American) settlement in North America in the Atlantic Beach for you. A get away from urban buzz towards a peaceful destination where all you hear is the sound of waves overlapping and birds chirping soothing against a panoramic view of nature. The beach is filled with houses and condos and can be reached through the St. Johns River Ferry. Visitors can indulge in beach side sports or just soak and relax over crystal sand under the Sun. The site is usually less crowded, making it ideal for adding to your list of best places to visit in Jacksonville.
2. Museum of Science and History
The most visited museum in Jacksonville and one of the finest in Florida, the Museum of Science and History (MOSH) counts amongst the Top-rated sigh-seeing destinations in Jacksonville. The exhibits and pop of colors inside the museum are enough to attract and indulge your kids for hours here. Being here, one can closely see the native American culture to a span of nature, science, and technology. The Space Science Gallery and the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium (USA’s largest single-lens planetarium) are the most notable places within the museum and are loved by visitors of all age groups. Moving forward, it has a play area for small kids and a courtyard with a native American Plantation. Image Source
3. Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary
Catty Shack Ranch is a non-profitable organization that runs for two motives: tiger/ big cats rescue from inhuman behavior and educate the public. The Sanctuary is home to tigers, pumas, leopards, lions, arctic foxes, cougars, bobcats, coatimundis, servals, and some of the world’s most exotic cats. Day tours on every Thursday afternoon are organized for the visitors where they can closely learn about their (wildlife here) habitats, the story behind their existence in the Sanctuary, details about their personalities, and a lot more. Further, the night feeding events every Friday and Saturday are organized that also includes fundraising. The wildlife here is either rescued or left by the owners who could not rightly care for them. Watching the wilds here is no less than a marvelous experience.
4. Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens
A close encounter with more than 2000 exotic and rare animal species and approximately 1000 plant species is what the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens bring for you. The Zoo is spread over an area of 122 acres and is an ideal place to visit with family in Jacksonville. Being here, you can experience the wildlife from a closer distance, feed the giraffe or water bodies in the saltwater pool, overlook several birds, and a massive waterfall at River Valley Aviary. For engaging kids a little more, the Zoo location also has a children’s play park, which features a water park, human-friendly squirrel monkeys, and pygmy goats that will engage the little visitors for a whole day.
5. Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park
An oceanfront city park that sits at the Mayport in the Jacksonville beaches is the Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park for you. The park is spread over 1.5 miles, including ponds, lakes, playgrounds, beach access, biking/ hiking trail, camping sites, weekend water parks, coastal hammocks, and whatnot. The park is also home to one of the best surfing spots in Jacksonville, Florida. Visitors here engage themselves in off-road biking on several challenging trails, kayaking, paddle boating, canoeing, and fishing on the freshwater lake. Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park is home to 300 camping sites in the lap of the jungle along with beachfront facilities that leave you with an astonishing view of surfs and sand dunes. It is an ideal spot in Jacksonville for a relaxing summer getaway in the lap of nature with magnificent views all around.
6. Fort Caroline National Memorial
Fort Caroline National Memorial is a replica of the original historical French settlement back in 1564 that was later raided and destroyed by the Spanish. The original Fort de la Caroline is believed to be located near the now memorial; however, the fact has never been determined. Staring up to the top level of the Memorial, one can see the mouth of the St. Johns River’s magnificent view. Further, move towards the museum that talks about the history of the site. There’s also a 1.3 miles natural trail that goes along the hardwood hammock and maritime where one can see woodpeckers, skinks, Racoons, owls, turtles, tortoises, and sometimes a group of tiny birds and small (harmless) green snake, leaving the visitors rejuvenated. Though the Fort is not massive but alongside a park and river, spending 2 to 3 hours from your evening here can be an extraordinary affair.
7. Jacksonville Arboreteum & Gardens
A less explored site and can be named one of Jacksonville’s best-hidden beauties is the Arboreteum & Gardens. It is a sight of education, recreation, and inspiration spread over a substantial 126.82-acre land. The area here is not flat but has extended and sloping hills with trails of different sizes and difficulties. The Ravine Trail follows over a stream where one can encounter plant species, including loblolly-bay, swamp azalea, black walnut, and a lot more. Whereas along the Jones Creek Trail exhibits numerous of America’s local plantations that are worth a walk. And to see the century-old live Oak tree, get along the Live Oak Trail. Apart from the plantation, one can also encounter osprey, owls, snakes, alligators, foxes, squirrels, lizards, turtles, armadillo, and hundreds of tiny birds chirping upon your way over the trails. As the site is filled with numerous plantations, just make sure to soak yourself well in bug and insect repellent before you begin to explore here.
8. Amelia Island
One of the most desired tourist places in Jacksonville, Amelia Island, must be on your list of Best tourist places to visit in Jacksonville. It is a timeless destination that is famous because of the 8 different flags that have flown over it (the most number amongst anywhere in the USA). Out of several things to do here, visitors often indulge in biking, horse and buggy riding, hiking, kayak excursion, museum visits, and ghost tours. It is a world apart site where you can see a beautiful glimpse of osprey, dolphins, and even the endangered right whale. The Amelia island is lined with luxurious hotels that make it an ideal place for recreation and rejuvenation. If you are a history lover, make sure to visit the Fort Clinch and enjoy and closely experience the Civil War re-enactments.
9. St. Johns River Taxi
To explore one of the best river quest tours, taking the St. Johns River Taxi is one of the best things to do in Jacksonville. It takes you over various spots from the North bank to the South banks that bring you close to the panoramic city view and a magnificent ride along the river. The ferry stops at various spots, including Jacksonville Landing, Friendship Fountain, Doubletree Hotel, Lexington Hotel, and Metropolitan Park Marina. Visitors can opt for multiple tour packages here, one of which is the famous sunset cruise that starts when nature’s light starts to dim. The city dwells up into a continually-changing tableau presenting a marvelous view that is worth a watch.
10. Beaches Museum & The History Park
If you want to explore the history of beaches in Jacksonville city, then the Beaches Museum & the History Park, a site has something to offer to visitors of every age group. The museum is open the entire week, leaving Monday as a holiday where one can explore the history, culture, as well as the presence of Jacksonville’s beach communities through events, exhibitions, and much more. Once you are here, either stroll down the boardwalk, shop from the gift shop and the book store, visit the age-old post office, step back into time, visit the archives gallery, and do not miss the 28-ton Steam Locomotive.
The city of Jacksonville is mostly hot and sunny, where you can see a substantial tourist crowds soaking in the Sun despite the temperature rise. The springs here in this city are worth visiting if you are a fan of local festivals and events. However, to experience the most pleasant weather and a less crowded surrounding, plan your trip to Jacksonville from September to mid of December.
Jacksonville Airport (JAX) is an ideal way to reach the city. It is 14 miles north of the city center and is well connected to the town through day and night via buses at the cheapest rates and further through taxis, trains, cars, and shuttle services.