Located just south of the Florida-Georgia border, Jacksonville is a favorite place to many. It is both a great place to live, and an exciting vacation destination. People come from all over to experience the city’s unique culture, temperate climate, fresh seafood, pristine beaches, and so much more. Best of all, it’s a great place to bring the kids. Spend the day at the beach building sandcastles, or take a trip to one of the largest zoos in the country. Jacksonville has something for family members of all ages to enjoy.
Go to the Beach
Of course, the number-one favorite thing for families to do in Jacksonville is head to one of the city’s famous white sand beaches for a little fun in the sun. Swim in the warm, clear waters, or meander down the beach collecting seashells. While there are plenty of beaches to choose from, the four-mile Jacksonville Beach is a family favorite. There is a boardwalk, fishing pier, and plenty of recreational activities to enjoy.
Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park is another kid-friendly favorite beach in Jacksonville. In addition to beach access, it has a freshwater pond for fishing, hiking and biking trails, a picnic area and a kids’ splash park.
Check Out the Local Wildlife
Kids love getting up close and personal with animals they may not see at home, and Jacksonville is the perfect city in which to do that. Starting with the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, you can visit over 2,000 animals and 1,000 plants from around the world. There’s also a splash park and playground on the zoo’s 120 acres.
The Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary is another exciting place in the Jacksonville area that allows kids to see animals they may never spot in the wild. This nonprofit organization takes in big cats, like lions, tigers, pumas and leopards, along with a few other exotic animals in need of a place to live.
Visit a Museum
Jacksonville is home to several museums that explore the area’s rich history and culture. The Museum of Science and History (MOSH) is a favorite with kids because of its planetarium shows and interactive exhibits. Kids (and adults!) can learn about 12,000 years of Northeast Florida’s natural history.
Kids get in free to the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, which features art from the past 8,000 years and over two acres of gardens. The museum has been serving the area since 1961, and is open 6 days a week. The Cummer Cafe has a great selection for lunch that can be eaten there or in the Museum Gardens, or to save some bucks, you feel free to pack your own lunch.
Kids get in free to the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens which features art from the past 8,000 years and two acres of gardens. The museum has been serving the area since 1961.
What could be more fun than racing around the track at Autobahn Indoor Speedway? Kids and adults can practice their racing skills in this safe and fun environment, at the largest indoor go-kart facility in Florida. If you don’t quite have that “need for speed”, you can still have plenty of fun playing video games in their arcade, or even honing in on your axe throwing abilities. Reservations are highly recommended for this establishment.
Try an Escape Room
Get the whole family’s adrenaline pumping as you work together to bust out of a room at The Escape Game Jacksonville. With 5 different escape rooms to choose from, you’ll use your problem solving skills as you race against the clock. While this may not be suited for your younger kids, they’re welcome to join in the fun, and children under 4 are admitted for free. Up to 12 players can join together for a breakout session.
Visit a State Park
Spend an afternoon outdoors studying nature and birdwatching on a unique sea island. Big Talbot Island State Park. Big Pine Trail walks you out to the marshes, where you can spot osprey, egrets, herons, or an endangered wood stork. The ranger station has birding checklists available, so you can mark down each species you see.
Biking is a great way to get around Big Talbot. You can bring your own bikes, or rent some right at the park. The 4 mile paved bike path will take you through maritime forest and wetlands. Beyond that there are miles of unpaved trails that are also open to biking.
Go to an NFL Game
You can take your kids to a real live NFL game at TIAA Bank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars. See some hometown Jacksonville pride as everyone roots for the Jaguars while they take down any team in their path. Every kid always remembers their first time at a professional sporting event. Make your trip to Jacksonville unforgettable by catching a game. If it’s not NFL season, check out what college games or touring music acts might be playing.
The Hands-on Children’s Museum
Boasting over 150 interactive exhibits, the Hands On Children’s Museum could keep any child busy all day. With a focus on imaginative interactive play, kids can captain a two story cargo ship, climb into an eagles nest, or create new foods while running their own restaurant. Exhibits at this exciting museum are mainly directed at kids under 10 years of age.
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
Your kids will be blown away by the massive collection of candy and treats over at Sweet Pete’s. A selection of over 1,000 different kinds of candy will hit the sweet spot of even the most indecisive candy lovers. Pete’s contains an actively running candy factory where you can watch your favorite confections being made. They also have a full restaurant and bar, so you can enjoy some real food and refreshments while your kids browse their wares.
Splash the Day Away at a Waterpark
Adventure Landing Shipwreck Island Waterpark is an exciting place to splash and play. Waterslides and water cannons aplenty will keep your kids busy for quite a while. When it’s time to dry off, head over for a game of mini golf or laser tag, or practice your swing at the batting cages. Don’t forget to swing by Gator Alley where you can see and feed real live alligators!
Gather Up the Kids and Just Have Some Fun
Whether you’re ready for a day in nature, or want an action packed day at one of these parks, it’s easy to keep the kids entertained with this list of fun activities and things to do. Jacksonville has everything you need for a memorable day with the family. Just get out there and enjoy yourselves!