This vibrant North Florida city has a plethora of attractions for kids and adults alike. Whether you and your family are outdoorsy or lean more towards arts and culture, there is no limit to how much fun you and your family can have in Jacksonville.
The top tourist attractions in this incredible city are:
- Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
- Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary
- The Cummer Museum of Art ; Gardens
- Big Talbot Island State Park
- Museum of Science ; History
- Kingsley Plantation
- Fort Caroline National Memorial
- Riverside Arts Market
- Huguenot Memorial Park
- Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park
Read on to learn more about each of these exciting attractions, and decide whether Jacksonville, Florida is the place to take your family on your next big adventure.
1. Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
With more than 2,400 species of rare and exotic animals and over 1,000 species of plants, it’s easy to see why Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is at the top of any North Florida tourist’s bucket list.
Kids and adults alike will love seeing the big cat exhibit, where jaguars lounge and play in their award-winning exhibit and tigers roam in the highly anticipated Land of the Tigers. Get up close with wildlife in the Africa Overlook, where your kids will get to feed the giraffes.
Whatever your age or family size, there’s something for everyone at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens!
2. Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary
Voted Traveler’s Choice by TripAdvisor in 2021, Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary is dedicated to providing safe and loving forever homes to the big cats in their care.
See tigers, lions, and cougars roam their expansive enclosures while learning more about these majestic felines. Catty Shack Ranch does not breed, sell, or otherwise exploit the big cats in their care, instead committed to educating the public about the terrible plight these animals face in the wild.
3. The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens
Opening its doors in the fall of 1961 with a small collection of about sixty works of art, the Cummer Museum of Arts ; Gardens has grown significantly in 60 years and now features more than six thousand pieces of art.
Located next to the St. Johns River on 2.5 beautiful acres of historic gardens, the Cummer Museum of Art ; Gardens offers a unique escape from the summer heat.
4. Big Talbot Island State Park
If you need an escape from the city, drive out to Big Talbot Island State Park for swimming, kite-flying, and a carefree stroll along the sand. Kids of all ages will enjoy climbing the sun-bleached skeletons of whole trees, washed up on the shore.
A unique beach unlike any other, Big Talbot Island State Park offers outdoor fun in a laid back, natural environment ideal for those who enjoy the outdoors and soaking in the scenic beauty. Enjoy a guided kayak tour or go for a hike through the marshes and wetlands.
5. Museum of Science & History (MOSH)
Kids and adults alike will be inspired by science at the Museum of Science ; History (MOSH). Explore the stars at the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium which is the largest single-lens planetarium in the world, and learn about thousands of years of Florida history in the interactive exhibit Currents of Time.
6. Kingsley Plantation
This protected National Park site offers a glimpse of the darker side of Florida history. Erected in 1814, Kingsley Plantation is the oldest surviving plantation in the United States.
Historic structures include the barn, the fields, the kitchen house, 25 slave cabins, and the planter’s house.
Admission is free, and if you happen to be in Jacksonville on the weekend, make sure to call ahead to book a guided Ranger tour of the Planter’s House.
7. Fort Caroline National Memorial
Located within Timucuan Ecological ; Historical Preserve, Fort Caroline is a replica of the first French settlement in the New World – erected in 1564. The replica depicts what Fort Caroline once looked like, complete with flags, log fences, and cannons.
Explore the rich history of the area, including seeing a native Timucuan hit and canoe, both of which are staunchly protected by the National Park Service. Here you will see evidence of survival, exploration, territorial disputes, and first contact between the American Indians and the French settlers.
Take your family on a leisurely stroll along the 1.3-mile nature trail through the breathtaking marsh and visit the museum, where you can learn more about Fort Caroline’s rich history.
8. Riverside Arts Market
Immerse yourself in local cuisine, art, and culture in the vibrant and colorful Riverside Arts Market. Explore a diverse selection of locally grown fruits, vegetables, and fresh baked bread. Dozens of colorful kiosks offer a variety of locally handcrafted art and goods, such as jewelry, soaps, art pieces, and more.
9. Huguenot Memorial Park
This beach is considered one of the best places for birdwatchers to spot native shore birds, with over 250 species native to the area. Huguenot Memorial Park is named for the landing of the French Huguenots in 1562, which is commemorated with a historical marker.
While rich with history, Huguenot Memorial Park is also one of the best beaches for family fun. Hit the waves with your family and enjoy the native wildlife. Primitive camping sites are available for more adventurous types.
10. Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park
This destination is ideal for outdoorsy families, with camping, hiking, and exploring through the thick marshland. It is also a nature lover’s paradise, with an up-close view of native flora and fauna. Children and adults alike will enjoy collecting the diverse selection of seashells along the shore.
Make sure you bring your binoculars so you can catch a glimpse of all the native wildlife and shorebirds in the area. A splash pad provides safe fun for kids of all ages, while swimming in the ocean is also an option.
A camp store is available for all your camping needs or if you forget to pick up something in the city before heading out to Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park.