Named after President Andrew Jackson (did you know that?) Jacksonville is the largest city in the United States by area. It’s growing in popularity and in populous, with more young people settling down in this growing area. There are parks, restaurants, a growing nightlife scene, professionals sports, and so much more.
Frankly, there’s so much to see and do here, it’s difficult to narrow things down! That’s where we come in. We’ve nominated a list of 9 activities, eateries, and attractions that are must-dos next time you’re in Jacksonville. Some you’ve clearly heard of, others are more hidden gems, but all of them are worth your time.
So read on and start planning your next trip — and if you need lodging, book a Jacksonville vacation rental to save money and gain so much more space & privacy over a traditional hotel.
Top 11 Jacksonville Activities
In their own words: The Soul Food Bistro was opened by The Potter’s House Christian Fellowship of Jacksonville, FL in 1998. The original name was The Potter’s House Cafe where the menu, size, and scale of the facility was significantly different. The original space was only around 600 sq.ft., but the place was packed and the word traveled fast about the extraordinary food. In 2007, the tiny Cafe expanded and modernized into what is known today as The Potter’s House Soul Food Bistro, a 5,800 sq.ft. facility located in the newly renovated Kingdom Plaza (formerly the Normandy Mall).
The Soul Food Bistro is a fresh and exciting place to be. It has a contemporary flair, but encompasses a welcoming atmosphere. Whatever the occasion, The Soul Food Bistro accomodates with the perfect ambience, boasting rich, warm colors and modern highlights. It is a place where eager diners have the option of enjoying a hearty lunch or a convenient and fulfilling evening meal with great company.
In their own words: Owner and operator Ben is a Jacksonville native who grew up fishing and crabbing right on the waters where his unique and refreshing restaurant now sits. Ben graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York back in 1989, and brought his new-found knowledge back home to Jacksonville to create a unique dining experience for the food-lovers of our fair city and the area’s talented chefs to have a place to stretch their artistic wings while staying true to their cooking roots. In 1992, Ben opened the doors of Marker 32, offering the food and service you’d expect at a five-star restaurant. Family-owned-and-operated, Ben’s Marker 32 has certainly left its mark on the First Coast, becoming a staple of the community for more than 20 years.
Welcome to Marker 32, where you can leave the world behind and enjoy the meal of your life with someone you love. From our classically-trained chefs, to our friendly, knowledgeable bar and wait staff, everybody at Marker 32 works together to ensure that you feel right at home and make fond, lasting memories. Marker 32 was voted a #1 restaurant by Open Table in 2013 and was rated four and a half stars by Trip Advisor in 2012.
In their own words: The Cummer Museum holds one of the finest art collections in the Southeast, with more than 5,000 objects in its Permanent Collection. The Museum offers world-class art spanning from 2100 B.C. through the 21st century, features diverse special exhibits, and is home to the Wark Collection of Early Meissen Porcelain.
The Museum’s 2.5 acres of historic gardens are unique examples of early 20th century garden design, featuring reflecting pools, fountains, arbors, antique ornaments, and sculptures. The majestic Cummer Oak has a canopy of more than 150 feet and is one of the oldest trees in Jacksonville.
Art Connections, the Museum’s nationally recognized interactive education center, enhances the cultural learning of visitors of all ages by offering educational programs and interactive opportunities, both in and out of the Museum, allowing visitors to gain a better understanding of works in the Collection.
In their own words: Jacksonville’s Museum of Science & History makes science, history and innovation accessible for all! Whatever your age or interest, there’s always something to see and explore across three levels of exciting exhibits. From interactive, award-winning favorites like Currents of Time and Atlantic Tails to the Florida Naturalist’s Center, which houses animals that are native to Northeast Florida, there is something for all ages to discover. Indulge your imagination with a science or live animal show, or explore distant galaxies in one of our planetarium programs. When visiting Northeast Florida’s only science and history museum, there is no limit to what you can discover!
In their own words: The mission of the World Golf Hall of Fame is to celebrate golf and preserve the legacies of those who have made it great.
The Hall of Fame & Museum, located at World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Florida, serves as a steward of the game through engaging, interactive storytelling and exhibitions featuring artifacts, works of art, audio, video and photography significant to the history of golf and its members.
In their own words: Adventure Landing is a leader in the regional theme park industry.
The company owns, operates, and manages Adventure Landing parks in Florida (3), North Carolina (3), Texas (1), and New York (1). A privately held corporation, Adventure Landing maintains corporate offices in Jacksonville Beach, FL.
Our Flagship Park, Adventure Landing and Shipwreck Island Water Park in Jacksonville Beach, is the largest Family Entertainment Center in northeast Florida. Offering individual & family fun for all ages, Adventure Landing can accommodate private and semi-private group events hosting thousands of guests. With over 5,000,000 visitors since opening, the Jacksonville Beach Park can proudly claim that Adventure Landing is the “Place to Play” for Florida families and visitors.
In their own words: The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville promotes the discovery, knowledge, and advancement of the art, artists, and ideas of our time.
MOCA Jacksonville, a private nonprofit visual arts educational institution and cultural institute of the University of North Florida, serves the community and its visitors through exhibitions, collections, educational programs, and publications designed to enhance an understanding and appreciation of modern and contemporary art with particular emphasis on works created from 1960 to the present.
MOCA Jacksonville originates more than 95 percent of its exhibitions and provides accompanying catalogs with scholarly commentary. In the past three years, the Museum has produced more than thirty exhibitions of works by such renowned contemporary artists as to attract visitors from all over the Southeast.
The Museum continues to be a cornerstone of Jacksonville’s multibillion dollar downtown revitalization plan, its exhibitions and programs bringing new visitors to the civic core during the day, at night and on weekends. Educational programming includes children’s literacy initiatives and weekend art making classes as well as regular tours, lectures, films, and publications for children and adults.
In their own words: The Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens is a 120-acre urban woodland full of trails for you to explore and enjoy.
From the trailhead next to the parking lot, a stabilized walkway encircles a beautiful two-acre lake. This trail gently descends about 25 feet to the foot of the lake and then returns up a gentle slope on the opposite side to the trailhead. Interpretive signs and over 100 labeled plants enhance the loop.
In addition, over three miles of rustic hiking trails wind quietly through a series of distinct ecological habitats. Along the trails, benches invite you either to pause and enjoy the view or to get in a good stretch during a vigorous walk.
The Arboretum is developed and managed by the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens, Inc., a non-profit entity that leases the land from the City. Except for special events, there is no admission fee. $3 non-member visitor donation requested to help pay operations.
In their own words: Jonathan Insetta, Jason Eddy, and Michael McKinney, along with an outstanding crew, strive to provide a warm, genuine dining experience without pretense in a bustling, fun atmosphere with smiling, attentive service.