Jacksonville Beach is a small city, but a popular tourist destination that’s located along the northeastern coastline of Florida.
It’s a resort city, where you can find hotels, restaurants and bars, and of course, beautiful beaches too.
Jacksonville Beach is just a short journey away from Jacksonville – the largest city in Florida – but you’ll find that this coastal resort is far removed from the big city. You can relax on the beach, enjoy the delights of the pier, or explore the coastline to both the north and south.
There are islands to visit, nature preserves and state parks to enjoy, and much, much more. Here are 15 things to do in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.
1. Jacksonville Beach
The city of Jacksonville Beach is named for the sandy beach that it’s built around, and it’s a great place to visit.
It has been a popular holiday destination since the late 19th century when visitors began arriving from ever-expanding Jacksonville looking for an outdoor retreat. The beach was perfect, and ever since, it has become a popular place to enjoy the ocean views, the sea breeze, and the sunny weather.
You can stroll along the boardwalk that runs parallel to the beach itself, walk along the sand, and take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean if you’re looking to cool down.
2. Jacksonville Beach Pier
Extending from the boardwalk, across the sands, and out into the Atlantic Ocean is the Jacksonville Beach Pier, one of the most iconic landmarks in the city.
At just over a quarter of a mile long, it’s a wonderful place to take a walk. You can look out over the ocean and back to the city itself to admire the ocean and the skyline.
The pier is the perfect place for sunrise or sunset as it gleams beautifully in the sunlight. If you’re into fishing, you can buy permits that allow you to fish off the end of the pier.
3. Beaches Museum and History Park
Although Jacksonville Beach is best known for its resorts and eponymous beach, the city also has a fascinating history behind it that’s often overlooked by those who holiday here.
Take the time to discover more about the city while you’re visiting by stopping in at the Beaches Museum and History Park.
You can learn all about the area’s fascinating local history – from the indigenous cultures that lived here before the arrival of the Europeans, then the Spanish, British, and US history of the area.
See local artifacts and slices of important history up close, and find plenty of old photographs showing you how Jacksonville Beach evolved into the popular tourist resort you see today.
4. Ponte Vedra Beach
Jacksonville Beach isn’t the only great resort city that’s found along the northeast coast of Florida.
The wider Jacksonville Beaches area is home to plenty more gorgeous stretches of sand and appealing getaway destinations, including Ponte Vedra Beach.
Ponte Vedra Beach is just a ten-minute drive from Jacksonville Beach, but you can simply walk along the boardwalk to get there if you fancy a scenic stroll. Just head south and follow the coast.
As well as boasting an attractive stretch of sandy beach, Ponte Vedra is one of Florida’s most famous golfing destinations; you’ll find some excellent courses and clubs where you can practice your game.
5. Daytona Beach
It’s a bit further south along the coast from Jacksonville Beach than Ponte Vedra Beach is, but if you’re looking for a great day trip, then head down to Daytona Beach.
Easily one of the most iconic names in Florida, it’s a city famous for its beaches and for being the home of NASCAR racing.
Daytona Beach is an hour and a half by car from Jacksonville Beach. You can enjoy the excellent coastline, visit the Daytona International Speedway, and if you’re here at the right time, watch an action-packed NASCAR race.
6. Adventure Landing
Adventure Landing is one of the top things to do in Jacksonville Beach. The amusement park is perfect for families, as you can find a huge range of activities and events here.
There’s miniature golf, laser tag, go-karts, and baseball batting cages, to name just a few attractions. It’s the perfect place to take the kids.
7. Shipwreck Island Water Park
Although it’s part of Adventure Landing, Shipwreck Island Water Park is well worth a whole day out by itself.
It’s a great place to visit in summer when the hot Floridian sun is out in full force.
There are huge water slides, epic attractions, and an enormous wave pool. You can hang out at the undercover cabanas, enjoy the cafes, and have a refreshing day out at Shipwreck Island.
8. Cradle Creek Preserve
Cradle Creek Preserve is found along the Intracoastal Waterway that separates Jacksonville Beach from Jacksonville city. It’s a lovely nature reserve where you can enjoy Florida’s great outdoors without ever straying too far from the city itself.
There are boardwalks following the creeks and waterways, where you’ll have excellent views over the preserve from the viewing platforms.
If you’re feeling adventurous and would like to get a bit closer to nature, rather than following the boardwalks, you can bring along a kayak or canoe and paddle along the creek.
Watch out for wildlife in the trees; the preserve is home to everything from snakes and other reptiles to birds and raccoons.
9. Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve
The Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve is located along the coast, across the St Johns River from Jacksonville Beach.
A great place to spend the day, the preserve covers almost 200 square kilometers of wilderness and historic sights, meaning there’s plenty to see.
You can tackle the hiking routes to explore some of Florida’s best natural scenery, take to the mountain biking trails if you’re looking for a downhill thrill, or explore the rivers and creeks via kayaks or canoes.
There are also important sights such as Fort Caroline to visit, where you can learn more about the area’s history. Fort Caroline is a recreation of a French fort which would have stood here several centuries ago when Europeans only first began pioneering in Florida.
10. Black Hammock Island
On the northern edge of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, you can visit the quiet climes of Black Hammock Island.
This is a historic part of the state, as ancient indigenous artifacts have been uncovered on the island. You can also find remnants from the early colonial days when Europeans began fighting over Florida.
Steeped in history, it’s a charming place that doesn’t see nearly as many visitors as it deserves.
11. Amelia Island
Continue along the coast from Black Hammock Island and you’ll quickly reach Amelia Island, another of the many islands which form the Sea Islands – and the most northern of the islands along the Florida coastline.
Amelia Island is known for its excellent, sandy beaches, as well as the beautiful nature that’s found across the island.
It’s a great place to escape it all. You’ll find all the amenities you need to enjoy a day out or a longer trip, from restaurants and cafes to hotels and other lodgings.
12. Cumberland Island
Cumberland Island is the largest of the Sea Islands; however, it’s actually found across the state border in Georgia.
It’s still an easy day trip from Jacksonville Beach, and you can explore the long coastline and soak up the excellent Atlantic views.
The island is bursting with history; you can visit old plantations and even see the Dungeness Ruins – a famous mansion that was once home to the wealthy Carnegie family.
13. Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park
To the north of the beach on the outskirts of the city, you can find Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park.
This is a lovely place to escape the resort-like atmosphere of Jacksonville Beach, as it’s a protected stretch of coastline that hasn’t been built too heavily on.
Enjoy the nature, and if you really want to get away from it all, you can camp out at Hanna Park overnight.
Jacksonville is fast becoming a popular surf destination, as the Atlantic Ocean with its big swells provides excellent conditions for hitting the waves.
One of the most popular spots along the coast is by the Jacksonville Beach Pier, and you’ll find surfers here all through the year.
Check conditions before you head out, of course, because the Atlantic can be a stormy place. If you’re a beginner, this is a great place to learn when the waves aren’t too big.
Of course, no trip to Jacksonville Beach would be complete without a trip to the city of Jacksonville itself. Florida’s largest city is close to the northern border, and therefore, the gateway to the state.
From Jacksonville Beach, the city lies over the Intracoastal Waterway, and it’s just half an hour to the city center.
The city has a great many museums; you can visit the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, the Museum of Science and History, and the local Fire Museum.
Soak up the culture, enjoy dining out on the banks of the St Johns River, and stay for a few drinks in the evening.