Located in north-central Florida’s Baker County, Macclenny is a city of about 7,000 residents that lies between Jacksonville to the east and Lake City to the west.
Though it’s in one of the state’s most rural areas, Macclenny is close enough to both Jacksonville and Gainesville to make day-trips popular options, and a number of world-class east coast beaches are just a short drive away as well.
Natural and historical attractions are popular recreation activities for those who’d rather not spend lots of time in the car, and for a small city, there are plenty of dining and lodging options as well.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Macclenny, Florida.
1. Heritage Park Village
Heritage Park Village is located on South Lowder Street in Macclenny and is an especially popular place for history-minded travelers and those visiting the area for the first time.
The park and village are full of engaging and insightful historical attractions that give guests unique insights into the history and culture of the area, stretching back to the pre-settlement days more than a century ago.
Heritage Park Village is also known for its live events, including holiday festivals, an outdoor movie series, and even a circus. It’s also a great place to relax and walk, especially during the cool morning and evening hours.
2. The Coop
Though Florida’s abundant and fresh seafood usually steals the culinary spotlight, many visitors would just rather stick to the basics, likes burgers, chicken wings, and sandwiches.
The Coop is located in Macclenny and has been serving Baker County since 2014. It has earned a reputation as a go-to destination for those interested in hearty food, reasonable prices, and a comfy, no-frills atmosphere.
Much of The Coop’s business is carry-out, but keep in mind that unlike nearly all other restaurants in the area, they’re closed on Saturday and Sundays, so plan to visit during the week if you’ve got a flexible schedule.
3. Pier 6 Seafood & Steaks
From world-class steaks and succulent crab legs to jumbo shrimp and fried mushrooms, Pier 6 Seafood & Steaks is a local foodie icon that keeps many customers coming back time and time again.
In addition to its steaks and seafood, Pier 6 is known for its tasty deserts, great appetizers, and selection of beer, wine, and cocktails.
The restaurant is located in South 6th Street in town and can get crowded, especially during peak evening times on the weekends. If your empty stomach won’t permit you to wait for a table to become available, consider visiting before the dinner crowd or on a weekday.
4. Osceola National Forest
Osceola National Forest is named after the famous Seminole Native American warrior-chief Osceola; it’s one of the state’s most undisturbed and activity-packed natural attractions.
From shooting ranges and guided wildlife tours to historical attractions and an abundance of multi-use trails, it’s the kind of place that can keep visitors busy for days.
The forest’s trails are popular with bikers, wildlife enthusiasts, and amateur photographers. For those who’d rather not get their feet wet and dirty, there are long stretches of elevated boardwalk from which it’s common to see a variety of wildlife.
Due to its size and multiple access points, it’s wise to do a bit of research about the forest before heading out.
5. Crooked Rooster Brewery
Long days on your feet under the Florida sun can lead to sore muscles and empty stomachs; few things remedy these ailments more than a cold beer in an air-conditioned environment.
Crooked Rooster Brewery has been described as a hole-in-the-wale with a chill vibe. In addition to their impressive beer selection, they offer live entertainment and karaoke once a week.
The brewery only serves popcorn, but visitors are encouraged to bring their own food from outside. They feature an outdoor seating area as well that’s popular in the fall, spring, and winter months when the weather is usually perfect.
Dogs are allowed outside as long as they’re leashed.
6. The Riverside Arts Market
Jacksonville’s Riverside Arts Market is one of the city’s trendiest attractions and features more than 100 vendors selling everything from art, health, and body products to locally-made jewelry and prepared food items.
It’s also a farmer’s market that features fruit and vegetables and baked goods. There are often street performers like jugglers, fire-eaters, and jesters hanging around that give it a carnival-like atmosphere.
The market is located near the Fuller Warren Bridge at the north end of the Riverwalk. It is a great place for a scenic stroll along the river after you’ve perused the market stalls.
7. The Museum of Science and History
Located on Museum Circle in Jacksonville, The Museum of Science and History is one of north Florida’s premier attractions for those who value learning as much as entertainment.
The museum’s interactive exhibits touch on dinosaurs, Native Americans, and space – to name a few, and much of what you’ll see has been designed with little ones in mind.
It’s a great place to spend a few hours when the weather isn’t conducive to being outside. There’s a world-class planetarium on-site, as well as full-size dinosaur replicas and a theater that hosts a number of live performances, presentations, and community events.
8. Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
Jacksonville has no shortage of family-friendly attractions, and the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens are among the most popular for both locals and visitors alike.
Featuring thousands of animals of both native and exotic species, it’s one of those places that really stands out, and is located on a scenic plot of land overlooking the Trout River.
In addition to giraffes, tigers, and monkeys, the zoo’s grounds include several distinct garden areas each with its own theme. They’re connected by well-marked paths that include seating areas and informative signs so you’ll learn about the things that you’re seeing.
9. Cummer Museum of Art
Featuring more than 5,000 individual works of art in a variety of mediums, the Cummer Museum of Art is home to one of the Southeast’s most extensive collections. It’s housed in some stunning contemporary buildings overlooking the St. Johns River.
The works span a considerable chunk of history dating back thousands of years and come from nearly every corner of the globe. Many of the museum’s contemporary pieces are from local and regional artists.
Some of the museum’s outdoor gardens are more than 100 years old and include fountains, sculptures, and covered seating areas that are the perfect places for relaxation and contemplation.
10. South Bank Riverwalk
There’s no better place to get a good look at the Jacksonville skyline than from the South Bank Riverwalk.
The city view is characterized by towering skyscrapers that are often enveloped in the nearly cloudless Florida sky, and the Riverwalk area is characterized by a trendy urban buzz that includes cafes, shops, and chic restaurants.
During the afternoon and evening hours, many establishments offer live entertainment and food and drink specials, and most have outdoor seating too.
Lovers of iconic sunsets often flock to the Riverwalk in the afternoon, but on weekends, it can get downright crowded. To avoid the crowds, consider a morning or weekday visit.
11. Lake City Columbia County Historical Museum
Though they’re often overlooked and considered mundane by travelers, local historical society museums are great community resources that are always inexpensive. They offer visitors a wide array of historical and travel-related information that they may not find elsewhere.
The Lake City Columbia County Historical Museum is located on SE Hernando Avenue in nearby Lake City. It includes a number of exhibits that focus on the history and culture of the north-central Florida region.
The museum staff offers guided tours, temporary exhibitions, and even genealogical research. The museum itself is housed in an architecturally unique building that once belonged to a settlement-era family from the 1800s.
12. Olustee Battlefield State Park
During the Civil War, the state of Florida was hotly contested, and battles between Union and Confederate troops were common, especially in the northern portion of the state near its border with Georgia.
Olustee Battlefield State Park is located on Battlefield Trail Road and is a memorial to the historically significant battle that took place on the grounds in February of 1864.
That day, more than 10,000 Northern and Southern troops met, resulting in a Union retreat and nearly 3,000 casualties. The park also hosts an annual battle reenactment that draws history lovers and Civil War buffs from all over the country.
13. Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention
The Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention is located on South Main Street in Gainesville and is in a class by itself for those looking to be entertained, educated, and engaged all while under one roof.
The museum has been open for little more than a year and is primarily focused on introducing children to the worlds of business, creativity, and entrepreneurship, which are things that are usually overlooked in public schools.
The museum offers a variety of programs for children that promote problem-solving, critical thinking, and teamwork. They often include field trips led by local business owners, scientists, and community leaders.
14. Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation
Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation is dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of local and exotic animals that have been injured, orphaned, or abandoned in the wild.
The foundation is home to a unique collection of animals; though some are released back into nature, there are a few permanent residents that can’t be. For them, it’s a life-saving sanctuary.
The foundation’s staff are dedicated to conservation and habitat preservation worldwide, and much of their energy is focused on offering guided educational tours for children and school groups. Private tours are available too, but they’ll need to be booked in advance of your visit.
15. Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park
Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park is a unique natural attraction in Gainesville that often ends up being one of the most memorable experiences of visitors’ trips to Florida.
The state park’s centerpiece is a large sinkhole that dips more than 100 feet below the earth’s surface and is surrounded by steep, sandy walls.
The bottom of the sinkhole has its own unique microclimate and is home to a variety of fossils from long-extinct land and sea creatures. It’s possible to walk around the rim or descend the stairs to the bottom. Inexpensive and informative ranger-led tours are offered every Saturday.