Top 5 Adventures for Vacations near Jacksonville!

With year-round daytime temperatures ranging from the mid-sixties to the low nineties, a laid-back environment, and welcoming locals, the Jacksonville Beach area and surrounding communities is an adventure-filled vacation destination for those planning to visit for a few days, weeks, or even a few months.

Jacksonville is particularly popular throughout the year for its abundance of wide, uncrowded, sandy beaches; outdoor activities such as biking and hiking; outstanding golf courses; birdwatching; and thriving arts and culture scene.

Here are five top adventures guaranteed to keep you busy during an extended stay in and around Jacksonville Beach.

1. Big Beautiful Beaches

Jacksonville is ideal for those who love to get out on the water. In fact, there are 22 miles of beaches for visitors to explore, many of which are open to the public and welcome dogs.

The region’s namesake beach, Jacksonville Beach, is actually its own city situated among a group of communities known as Jacksonville Beaches. Jacksonville Beach features a long wooden pier, is close to a variety of shops and restaurants, and is perfect for families to enjoy shelling, surfing, walking the dog on the sand, and browsing souvenir shops.

Another member of the Jacksonville Beaches, located between Jacksonville Beach and Atlantic Beach, is the coastal community of Neptune Beach. This beach presents a great opportunity to work on your tan, watch stunning sunrises and sunsets, and amp up activities like kayaking or paddleboarding with the assistance of local gear rental companies.

Mayport Beach is near Mayport Village, a historic fishing village situated at the mouth of the St. Johns River. Some say Mayport Village is an example of authentic old Florida. It is also home to Naval Station Mayport, one of the largest naval ports on the Atlantic Coast.

While visiting Mayport, check out the historic lighthouse; restaurants that serve seafood fresh off the local fishing boats (ask for the Mayport shrimp, a local specialty); and a variety of shops.

Popular with local residents and visitors alike, Atlantic Beach has a laid-back vibe and is conveniently located near golf courses and parks. Hanna Park is popular with surfers, beach lovers, and bicyclists.

2. Biking & Hiking

To fully experience Jacksonville’s unique coastal environment, explore the area’s numerous hiking trails. They will take you through nature preserves, shaded areas, along the beach, and near marshes and waterways.

You’ll find 15 miles of wooded paths to hike or bike within Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park.

The 1.2-mile Tower Trail, located in Tillie Fowler Regional Park, takes hikers to an observation tower featuring great views as well as a butterfly garden.

The Theodore Roosevelt Area within the Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve is home to hiking trails winding through steep hills and wooded and grassland areas. The Hammock Trail here ends at Fort Caroline.

A completely paved trail, the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail is a linear park made from an old railroad corridor that runs for 15 miles through tall oaks.

Other trails are accessible at the Tree Hill Nature Center, a 50-acre nature preserve with seven trails, natural gardens, a petting zoo and a hands-on natural museum, and the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens, located in the historic Arlington neighborhood.

3. Golfing

Whether you’re a skilled golfer looking for a competitive course or a more casual player wanting to improve your skills or simply enjoy a little outdoor exercise, there are dozens of golf courses in and around Jacksonville.

With the PGA headquarters in nearby Ponte Vedra Beach, Jacksonville is a golf mecca in the Sunshine State. In fact, the Players Championship is permanently staged at TPC Sawgrass on the Pete Dye-designed PLAYERS Stadium Course. The course is open to the public, offering amateur golfers the opportunity to enjoy the same design that the pros do, one that favors no particular style of play. Adjacent to the PLAYERS Stadium Course is Dye’s Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass, which is consistently ranked among the top courses in Florida.

North of Jacksonville is Amelia Island, where players will find 117 holes of golf. South of Jacksonville in St. Augustine is the popular World Golf Hall of Fame Museum. The museum uses interactive storytelling and exhibitions featuring artifacts, works of art, audio, video, and photography to tell the story of the sport. Two championship golf courses, King & Bear and Slammer & Squire, are the result of collaborations by Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead, and Gene Sarazen.

Score some practice or even formal lessons at Top Golf in Jacksonville before hitting the greens. Enjoy a meal at one of the full-service restaurants and bars, catch some golf on one of the HDTVs, and head to one of the 100+ climate-controlled hitting bays.

Golf course vacation in Jacksonville

4. Birdwatching

The Jacksonville area is a birdwatchers’ paradise thanks to moderate temperatures, diverse habitats, and the location at the northeast gateway to the Great Florida Birding Trail. There are numerous state and national parks and nature preserves in the area to see a variety of species.

Some of the more popular places for birdwatchers to flock is Huguenot Memorial Park, a designated Great Florida Birding Trail site, which includes a critical nesting area for terns and shorebirds; Little Talbot Island, a great spot for observing the migratory red knot as it makes a layover stop between Argentina and Canada.

Whether it’s birds or other species you want to observe, be sure to visit the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, where you’ll find more than 100 acres of exhibits and gardens housing more than 2,000 animals and 1,000 plants. Habitats include the African Forest, River Valley Aviary, Giraffe Overlook, and Land of the Tiger.

5. Arts & Culture

Jacksonville has a vibrant arts and culture scene that is accessible all year long. A great place to start is the Riverside Arts Market where, every Saturday, rain or shine, artists and farmers gather under the Fuller Warren Bridge along the St. Johns River to sell homemade products and fresh homegrown produce. This is a family-friendly event that attracts 3,000+ visitors every Saturday and features live music and performances.

Jacksonville is also known for its museums, boutique galleries, festivals, live music, and art events. The Museum of Arts & Sciences features a wide range of permanent collections as well as one of the largest collections of Coca-Cola memorabilia in the world. Children will enjoy exploring the on-site Charles and Linda Williams Children’s Museum.

The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens is the largest fine arts museum in Northeast Florida and includes more than 5,000 works of art, historic gardens set against the backdrop of the St. Johns River, special events each week, and more.

Car lovers will appreciate a day spent exploring the Brumos Collection, an interactive experience showcasing the early days of automotive design, car racing, and the drivers themselves.

Take a day trip to historic St. Augustine and visit the Lightner Museum, which occupies the former Hotel Alcazar, a Gilded Age resort hotel commissioned by railroad magnate Henry Flagler. Visitors will find themselves immersed in art, architecture, history, and design.

Whether your Jacksonville area vacation calls for a short visit or one that’s longer in duration, there are many fun adventures to enjoy, including visiting the area’s big beautiful beaches, biking and hiking along trails, golfing at some of the most coveted courses in the world, birdwatching in the wild or at the zoo, and exploring a diverse art and cultural scene that spans centuries of local history.

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