The city of Jacksonville was founded in 1833 and named in honour of President Andrew Jackson.
The land on which the city sits was purchased from Chief Ladiga, a well-known Creek Indian chief in the area, and today, you can follow a trail of the same name just outside Jacksonville.
It’s a city with a welcoming atmosphere, vibrant community spirit and small-town values, featuring family-friendly parks and nearby wildlife and nature preserves.
If you enjoy spending time in the great outdoors, Jacksonville may be the perfect place for you, as it offers abundant mountain biking and hiking trails, verdant vineyards and several bird-watching areas.
1. Choccolocco Mountain
Outdoor enthusiasts will adore a day trip to Choccolocco Mountain.
Not only is the mountain park only a mile from Downtown Jacksonville, it’s also home to woodland campsites, hiking trails, mountain biking and off-road adventures.
Whether you wish to traverse moderate to extreme tracks by 4×4 or dirt bike, or trek along nature trails amongst flora and fauna, you can do it all here.
Afterwards, spend time in the wilderness with family and friends, enjoying a fun barbeque or picnic under the stars.
2. Chief Ladiga Trail
The 33-mile-long Chief Ladiga Trail outside Jacksonville is the perfect place to spend time amongst nature.
The park follows a former railroad named after Creek Indian Chief Ladiga, who relinquished land as part of a treaty so that the city of Jacksonville could be built.
You can enjoy leisurely hikes close to pastures and wetlands, or mountain bike along woodland trails with flowing streams, farmlands, and views of the Talladega Mountains.
3. Anniston Museum of Natural History
Located 12 miles south of Jacksonville, Alabama, Anniston Museum of Natural History is a fun day out for all the family.
The museum displays more than 2,000 fascinating exhibits, ranging from fossils to rare animals and minerals.
Its diorama-style portrayals begin from pre-history and transport you through the North American Wild West to the savannahs and deserts of Africa.
With several themed exhibit halls showcasing everything from ancient Egyptian mummies, to wildlife gardens and space themes, it’s a superb place to learn, enjoy and browse different continents and time periods throughout history.
4. Jacksonville Opera Theatre
When Jacksonville Opera Theatre formed in 2003/2004, they produced their first two operas on an incredibly modest budget of just $200. It was the first time an opera had been performed in Jacksonville for over almost 15 years, and citizens welcomed it back with open arms.
Today, the stage sets and performances are more elaborate, and their audience has expanded from around 150 people to over 3,000 throughout Alabama.
Showcasing favourites such as The Mikado, Cosi Fan Tutte and The Pirates of Penzance, it’s a superb evening out for all the family.
Tickets are reasonably priced, so if you happen to be in the local area, venture to the opera theatre for an exciting night of music and storytelling.
5. Berman Museum of World History
This museum, close to Anniston Museum of Natural History, is stacked with items accumulated by an American GI and his wife, a French spy.
The museum, founded by Farley Berman, contains fascinating World War II artefacts including a silver tea set which belonged to Hitler, a vast collection of sculptures, unusual Asian furnishings and historical firearms.
It’s not your average city museum, but it has an intriguing story behind it, and the bizarre items on display make it well worth a visit.
6. Cooter Brown’s Rib Shack
This quaint rib shack is a family-owned restaurant in Jacksonville whose delicious rack of ribs was listed on “100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die”. The restaurant isn’t just about ribs though, you can also dine on succulent smoked wings with a choice of mild or hot BBQ sauce, or a selection of sandwiches, burgers, and family-style platters.
The portions are generous and prices reasonable, but make sure you leave room for the mouth-watering homemade peanut butter pie.
7. White Oak Vineyards
Situated on 52-acres of land at a 1,000-foot elevation, 14 miles from Jacksonville, Alabama is White Oak Vineyards.
Southern Oak Wines are produced here by husband and wife team Randal and Dana Wilson, and you can plan a tour of the picturesque winery by appointment.
If you are looking for a souvenir bottle of your stay in Alabama, pick up some Southern Gold wine – a semi-sweet blend, or select one of the vineyards famous Blackberry fruit wines, a delicious wine which pairs well with desserts and chocolate.
8. World’s Largest Office Chair
In the nearby city of Anniston sits an unusual tourist attraction known as the “World’s Largest Office Chair”. This huge chair was built in 1981 by Miller’s Office Furniture, and today it still sits outside their warehouse on Noble Street.
This 31-foot-tall gigantic chair was built to withstand up to 85mph winds and was constructed with ten tons of steel.
Since it was built in the early 1980s several U.S cities have tried to compete for the title, however, to date, the mammoth chair in Anniston still holds the trophy for “World’s Largest Office Chair”.
9. Cheaha State Park
If there’s one place you should make time to visit during your Jacksonville stay, it’s Cheaha State Park.
The world “Cheaha” means “high place” in the Native American Muskogee language, and when you stand on Cheaha Mountain looking down onto Talladega National Forest it’s easy to see why.
Cheaha State Park offers a wealth of hiking and mountain biking trails.
You can traverse through forests passing cascading waterfalls, stop for a picnic, or even enjoy a spot of fishing and swimming.
At the summit of Cheaha Mountain, the old stone Bunker Tower has an observation point boasting magnificent scenic vistas.
There’s also a cliffside restaurant where you can enjoy a delicious dinner with a loved one or friends while admiring breath-taking sunsets.
Bring your walking shoes, picnic and a camera and enjoy a fabulous day out in one of the most awe-inspiring locations in Alabama.
10. Coldwater Mountain Bike Trail
If you’re into mountain biking and seeking a variety of trails to ride in Alabama, look no further than Coldwater Mountain Bike Trail.
With a mix of easy loops and challenging ascents and descents to suit all levels of expertise, there’s something for everyone.
Baby Bear is perhaps the easiest flat trail offering great views, giving you the opportunity to get a good feel for the region.
Alternatively, if you prefer something daring, get yourself to the Bomb Dog trail, a fast 4-mile descent with plenty of camel and table-top jumps.
11. Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Preserve
Located on the former site of Fort McClellan, an old army training post near Anniston, Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Preserve is one of the best sites in Alabama to discover endangered species of flora and fauna.
During your walks, you may be fortunate enough to see the white-fringeless orchid and 11 other rare species of plants and flowers.
The red-cockaded woodpecker lives here and the grey bat, so if you are a wildlife lover bring your binoculars as you may catch a glimpse of these protected species as you wander along woodland trails.
12. Quintard Mall
If you fancy indulging in some retail therapy, head for Quintard Mall in nearby Oxford, Alabama.
With a variety of shopping and dining outlets, there’s something for everyone.
Stores such as Bath & Body Works, J.C Penney, Victoria’s Secret and American Eagle Outfitters are here, plus there are several sports shops, a cinema, and fast food restaurants if you want to break for something to eat.
It’s the perfect place to pick up the latest fashions, a piece of jewellery, or a gift for family and friends back home.
13. The Rocket Diner
For some of the best burgers in Jacksonville venture to The Rocket.
This compact and bijou diner on Pelham Road is known for serving good ole’ fashioned southern comfort food.
Whether you fancy a plate of barbeque meat with baked beans and slaw, or a mouth-watering cheeseburger with a side of onion rings, you can find them all here.
It’s a family-friendly diner popular with both locals and tourists, set in the heart of Jacksonville.
14. Mad Hatter Cupcake Shop
Mad Hatter Cupcake Shop in Jacksonville is the ideal place to find an array of delicious sweet treats.
The store is decorated in pastel pinks with black and white chequered flooring, and you can easily imagine placing it in a scene from Alice in Wonderland! Whether you’re having a party, an outdoor picnic, or simply fancy something sugary to nibble on, this shop has it all.
They offer a vast selection of freshly-made cupcakes, plus a daily menu with flavours such as buttercream, caramel, pecan and colour frosted cupcakes.
The cakes are well-priced and scrumptious, so next time you are in Jacksonville, pick up a box, or even a cupcake tower.
15. Germania Springs Park
This park is located just off Highway 21 in Jacksonville, Alabama.
It’s a great place to walk the dogs or bring the children for some leisure time.
With recreational facilities and play areas, walking trails, shaded streams and several places to sit with a picnic, you can chill out with family and friends until the sun goes down, or if you feel more energetic bring a frisbee or tetherball with you.