Located on the east coast of Florida, Jacksonville is one of the more underrated cities in the Sunshine State. Along with being the largest in the U.S. in terms of land area, the city is home to an endless coastline, sandy beaches, and almost 300 days of sunshine per year. If you’re new to living in Jacksonville, you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors any time of the year. So whether you just bought a house in Englewood or you’re renting an apartment in Beach Haven, here are some outdoor activities in Jacksonville to introduce you to your new city.
1. Visit one of many state parks in and around Jacksonville
The great thing about living in a city like Jacksonville is that with seemingly endless sunshine, there’s never a bad time to visit a state park. Luckily, the city is just a few miles away from a number of them.
“Florida has one of the best state park systems in the country,” says Samantha of Flashpacking America. “So don’t miss going to a state park near Jacksonville. “There are several coastal state parks along the Atlantic Ocean that are less than an hour from Jacksonville.”
Little Talbot Island State Park, Amelia Island State Park, Pumpkin Hill Preserve State Park, and so many more are located just east of the city. For a day filled with fresh air, stunning views of nature, and outdoor activities in the Jacksonville area, be sure to pay one of these parks a visit.
2. Charter a fishing boat
Living near water has plenty of perks, and Jacksonville’s location makes it a prime spot for fishing enthusiasts. From its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean to the St. John’s River flowing through the center of the city, there are plenty of options for fishing in Jacksonville. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or have never been fishing, you can charter a boat and fish off the coast or on the river. Beginners can learn the basics from experienced captains and possibly discover a new favorite outdoor activity in Jacksonville.
3. Enjoy a fun night of music and food in Avondale
Jacksonville is full of unique neighborhoods, with each offering its own distinct flavor. Elenis Camargo of Thirdstone Properties, a local property management company, recommends checking out the historic Avondale neighborhood in central Jacksonville along the west bank of the St. Johns River.
“One of the best ways to spend a Friday evening in Jacksonville is by strolling through the shops on St Johns Avenue in the historic neighborhood of Avondale while listening to local musicians play along the avenue,” says Elenis. “Every last Friday of the month, Historic Avondale hosts Music in Avondale from 6 pm to 9 pm. The shops and music are located on the cross streets of Talbot Avenue, Ingleside Avenue, and Dancy Street and have more than sixty locally owned and operated businesses, including bars, restaurants, and bouquet shops. We enjoy the outdoor seating at one of the many restaurants on the avenue and grab some Whit’s Frozen Custard for dessert.”
4. Relax on one of Jacksonville’s sandy beaches
As the capital of the Sunshine State, it’s no shocker that Jacksonville is home to several beaches, all within a few minutes of downtown Jacksonville. Outdoor activities like surfing or paddle boarding are just a few ways to have fun on the water. Whether you want to enjoy popular water sports or just sunbathe on the sand, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the beach. Among the most notable are Jacksonville Beach and Neptune Beach in the northern part of the city and Mayport Beach further south.
5. Take your dog to a local Jacksonville dog park
A huge part of moving to a new city is finding fun places to take your pets. Pets and owners alike will love spending time outdoors at Brewhound Dog Park and Bar. A day here can be a great outdoor activity in Jacksonville for people and their furry companions.
“Brewhound Dog Park and Bar in Neptune Beach, FL (Jacksonville Beach) is a great spot for dogs and their humans to mingle and blow off steam,” says Jacksonville local Oliver Langley of Accent Properties. “With a large selection of drinks and dog activities, everyone, dogs and humans alike, is sure to find something they like here.”
6. Visit the Treaty Oak and more near the Riverwalk
Known for its unique appearance and historical significance, the Treaty Oak is a 70-foot-tall oak tree located in the Southbank area of Jacksonville. It is estimated to be about 250 years old, predating the city itself. The tree got its name from a local reporter who started a false rumor that it was the site of a treaty between indigenous locals and settlers in an effort to save it from being chopped down.
“My recommendation for an activity that is always worth the trip is visiting the most photogenic spots in Downtown Jacksonville, ” says Jacksonville-based photographer Teresa Reichert. “Treaty Oak is a fan favorite. The history around such a beauty is just as intriguing as the very branches that kiss the ground. Also, be sure to visit the Riverwalk’s Mosaic Mirror Wall, which is only a few paces away on the nearby waterway. Friendship Fountain is along the Riverwalk as well, so enjoy every beautiful piece of this gorgeous scenery. And don’t forget to watch the sunsetting skies over the water. It’s breathtaking.”
7. Check out the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park
When you think of Florida wildlife, alligators are likely the first things that come to mind. There are 24 crocodilian species, all of which can be found at Jacksonville’s St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park. The facility also conducts research and assists in conservation efforts. In addition to the reptiles, the park features a zip line that runs throughout the park. They also host tours and educational exhibits highlighting a diverse array of animals.