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.
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.