Discover Authentic Jacksonville: 15 Local Gems Await Your Exploration


Nestled along Florida’s northeastern coast, Jacksonville stands as a vibrant tapestry of diverse cultures, rich history, and breathtaking natural beauty. While visitors often flock to the state’s more renowned destinations, Jacksonville quietly beckons with its unique charm and an array of hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. To truly immerse yourself in the authentic Jacksonville experience, let the locals be your guide as we unveil the 15 best things to do in this dynamic city.

  1. Stroll Along Jacksonville Beach: Start your journey with a leisurely stroll along the pristine shores of Jacksonville Beach. Feel the soft, white sand between your toes as you listen to the soothing sounds of the Atlantic Ocean waves crashing against the shore. Whether you’re basking in the sun’s warm embrace or collecting seashells along the shoreline, Jacksonville Beach offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
  2. Explore the Riverside Arts Market: Dive into Jacksonville’s vibrant arts scene at the Riverside Arts Market, where local artists, artisans, and farmers come together to showcase their talents. Browse through an eclectic array of handmade crafts, artisanal goods, and fresh produce while enjoying live music and delectable street food. With its lively atmosphere and creative energy, the Riverside Arts Market offers a quintessentially Jacksonville experience.
  3. Wander Through Historic St. Augustine: Step back in time with a visit to nearby St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest city, located just a short drive from Jacksonville. Explore the cobblestone streets lined with centuries-old buildings, immerse yourself in the rich history of the Castillo de San Marcos, and stroll along the picturesque waterfront. From historic landmarks to charming boutiques, St. Augustine offers a wealth of attractions waiting to be discovered.
  4. Kayak Through the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve: Embark on an outdoor adventure amidst the pristine wilderness of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. Rent a kayak and paddle through winding waterways, lush marshes, and ancient maritime forests teeming with wildlife. Keep an eye out for ospreys soaring overhead, dolphins frolicking in the waves, and manatees gliding beneath the surface. Exploring this hidden gem allows you to connect with nature in its purest form.
  5. Savor Fresh Seafood at Safe Harbor Seafood Market & Restaurant: Indulge your taste buds with the fresh flavors of the sea at Safe Harbor Seafood Market & Restaurant. Located on the scenic Mayport waterfront, this beloved local eatery serves up an array of mouthwatering seafood dishes, from succulent shrimp and oysters to buttery lobster rolls and crispy fish tacos. With its laid-back atmosphere and waterfront views, Safe Harbor is the perfect spot to enjoy a delicious meal with family and friends.
  6. Catch a Game at TIAA Bank Field: Experience the thrill of game day at TIAA Bank Field, home to the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. Whether you’re a die-hard football fan or simply looking for a lively outing, cheering on the Jaguars amidst the roar of the crowd is an unforgettable experience. Be sure to immerse yourself in the pre-game festivities at the Fan Entertainment Zone and indulge in classic stadium snacks like hot dogs and nachos.
  7. Take a Scenic Drive Along Big Talbot Island State Park: Hit the open road and embark on a scenic drive along Big Talbot Island State Park, home to some of Jacksonville’s most breathtaking natural landscapes. Cruise along the picturesque A1A highway as you soak in panoramic views of salt marshes, coastal dunes, and ancient oak hammocks. Be sure to stop at Boneyard Beach, known for its unique driftwood formations sculpted by the sea.
  8. Sample Craft Brews on the Jax Ale Trail: Embark on a sudsy adventure along the Jax Ale Trail, where you can sample some of Jacksonville’s finest craft brews from local breweries and taprooms. From hoppy IPAs and rich stouts to refreshing lagers and fruity sours, there’s a beer to suit every palate. Pick up a Jax Ale Trail Brewery Passport and collect stamps as you journey through Jacksonville’s burgeoning craft beer scene.
  9. Discover Eclectic Boutiques in Five Points: Lose yourself in the eclectic charm of Five Points, a hip and happening neighborhood known for its unique boutiques, art galleries, and vintage shops. Browse through an eclectic array of clothing, jewelry, home goods, and gifts while soaking in the neighborhood’s bohemian vibe. Afterward, grab a cup of locally roasted coffee or savor artisanal treats at one of Five Points’ cozy cafes.
  10. Unwind at Treaty Oak Park: Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and retreat to the tranquil oasis of Treaty Oak Park. Named after the legendary 250-year-old oak tree that stands at its center, this peaceful park offers a serene setting for picnics, leisurely strolls, and outdoor recreation. Pack a picnic basket and enjoy a relaxing afternoon beneath the shade of the majestic oak, surrounded by lush greenery and blooming flowers.
  11. Embark on a Culinary Adventure in Avondale: Treat your taste buds to a culinary adventure in Avondale, a charming neighborhood known for its diverse dining scene and historic architecture. From farm-to-table eateries and cozy cafes to upscale restaurants and international cuisines, Avondale offers a smorgasbord of dining options to satisfy every craving. After dinner, take a leisurely stroll along the tree-lined streets and admire the neighborhood’s beautiful historic homes.
  12. Discover Art and Culture at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens: Immerse yourself in the world of art and culture at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, home to an impressive collection of artwork spanning thousands of years and diverse cultures. Explore the museum’s galleries, featuring works by renowned artists such as Winslow Homer, Norman Rockwell, and Thomas Moran. Afterwards, wander through the museum’s lush gardens, adorned with fountains, sculptures, and vibrant blooms.
  13. Catch Live Music at The Florida Theatre: Experience the magic of live music and entertainment at The Florida Theatre, a historic landmark and cultural icon in downtown Jacksonville. From concerts and comedy shows to Broadway productions and film screenings, The Florida Theatre offers a diverse lineup of events to suit every taste. Step inside this beautifully restored venue and immerse yourself in the timeless elegance and art deco glamour of yesteryear.
  14. Explore the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens: Surround yourself with the beauty of nature at the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens, a hidden gem tucked away in the heart of the city. Wander along scenic trails that meander through lush woodlands, tranquil wetlands, and vibrant gardens bursting with native flora and fauna. Keep an eye out for resident wildlife, including songbirds, butterflies, and even the occasional deer, as you explore this peaceful sanctuary.
  15. Soak Up the Sunset at Friendship Fountain: Conclude your Jacksonville adventure with a spectacular sunset at Friendship Fountain, an iconic landmark located on the picturesque St. Johns River. Watch in awe as the sky transforms into a canvas of brilliant hues, casting a golden glow over the shimmering waters below. Snap photos of the fountain’s dazzling light display as it dances to the rhythm of the night, creating a magical atmosphere that captures the essence of Jacksonville’s beauty.

In conclusion, Jacksonville offers a wealth of experiences waiting to be discovered by both locals and visitors alike. From pristine beaches and lush parks to vibrant neighborhoods and cultural attractions, this dynamic city boasts something for everyone to enjoy. So, why not embark on your own Jacksonville adventure and uncover the hidden gems that await in this charming coastal paradise?