With miles of beaches and tons of fun attractions for families, Jacksonville makes a great destination for a weekend getaway with the kids. Here are a few of can’t miss spots for your next Jacksonville vacation.
Hit the Beach at Hanna Park – If you’re looking to hit the beach with the kids Hanna Park is a great option. There’s a $5 fee per car to enter, but the amenities make it worth the cost. You can hit the beach, hunt for shark teeth, enjoy a picnic, explore the amazing playground, even rent kayaks. Hanna Park also offers camping and bike trails. If you’re visiting during the summer months be sure to check out the newly renovated splash park for the kids.
Learn to Surf – With 22 miles of beach, kids young and old can take a advantage of those Atlantic waves with a surf lesson. Most surf schools in Jacksonville will arrange a private or small group lesson for visitors and while you might not become a pro during your visit, the memories made will be unforgettable.
Hunt for Shark Teeth – Another favorite spot to hit the beach is Mickler’s Landing in Ponte Vedra Beach. There’s free parking, bathrooms, and picnic tables, but what Mickler’s is known for by locals is the abundance of shark teeth. Check the tide schedule and try to visit at low tide for your best opportunity to find some hidden gems.
Murals & Street Art – You might not expect a city like Jacksonville to be bursting with murals and street art, but we’re proud to boast over 200 works of art available at no charge throughout the city. You can take the kids on a mural scavenger hunt, or use some of these gigantic artworks as the backdrop for your family photos. Trying to fit them all in can be overwhelming, so do your homework ahead of time and pick a few to see while you’re here.
Sweet Pete’s Candy Shop – If you love candy, and what kid doesn’t, be sure to make plans to visit Sweet Pete’s while you’re in Jacksonville. Located downtown, it’s the perfect stop while you’re out hunting for murals. If you can work it into your schedule, we highly recommend taking one of their candy classes while you’re visiting. The My Bar My Way Store Tour is also one of favorites and is a great low cost option.
Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens – One of the best kid friendly attractions in Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens has something for everyone with more than 2,000 rare and exotic animals and 1,000 varieties of plants. You can easily spend the better part of a full day at the zoo if you want to see all the animals and educational attractions. If you’re visiting during the hot summer months, don’t worry, the Jacksonville Zoo has a kid friendly splash pad that’s included with your admission.
Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary – While the Jacksonville Zoo might appeal to younger kids, Catty Shack Ranch is a Wildlife Sanctuary that’s is perfect for big kids and teens. Every Friday & Saturday night they offer a Night Feeding Tour which includesfascinating and fun facts about the different species as well as the background and personal care of the animals themselves while you roam from cage to cage watching the big cats devour 600 pounds of beef and chicken, bone and all.
Learn some History at a Fort – There are several historic forts you can visit in and around Jacksonville but two of our favorites are just a short drive outside of town. Fort Clinch is located an hour north of Jacksonville in Amelia Island, and Castillo de San Marcos is located an hour south of Jacksonville in St. Augustine. Both cost a small fee to enter and are great for kids of all ages to explore. Choose Fort Clinch if your family also wants to do some hiking, picnicking, or hunt for shark teeth on the beach behind the fort. And choose Castillo de San Marcos if you also want to do some shopping in historic St. Augustine. If you decide on Fort Clinch be sure to check the Mayport Ferry for a fun way to get there.
Explore Nature – Although Jacksonville is a large city (the largest by land mass in the contiguous US) there are lots of great parks and green spaces to explore while you’re here. Two of our favorites are Tree Hill Nature Center and Jacksonville Arboretum. Both attractions have trails that are great for big and little kids. Tree Hill charges a small fee and also has a nature center with lots of animals that kids can learn about.
Enjoy some Family Friendly Dining – There are tons of great family friendly dining spots in Jacksonville. A few of our favorites are Dockside Seafood in Jacksonville Beach, where you can sit outside with a view of the water. The Bearded Pig has two locations, both with great food and outdoor spaces for kids. Whitey’s Fish Camp offers families great food and water views that are a crowd pleaser. Mini Bar Donuts is a can’t miss for tiny treats that kids will love. Mayday Ice Cream has several locations throughout Jacksonville and some of the best flavors you’ll find anywhere.
Bonus: Where to stay in Jacksonville – One our favorite spots to recommend to visiting families is Hotel Palms. This small boutique hotel in Atlantic Beach is just a short walk to the ocean as well as great dining and shopping at the Beaches Town Center. It has reasonable rates and several options for connecting rooms making it a great choice for small and large families visiting Jacksonville. Hotel Palms books up early so make sure to reserve a room as soon as you’ve picked a weekend for your next getaway to Jacksonville.
About Jacksonville Beach Moms:
Jacksonville Beach Moms is a local guide to the best of Jacksonville for families. We love everything North Florida has to offer and we’re dedicated to sharing the best attractions, restaurants, venues and events for parents and care-givers.
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