Located east of Jacksonville along the northern portion of Florida’s Atlantic coast, Neptune Beach is a beachfront city in Duval County that’s one of the area’s most popular vacation destinations.
Neptune Beach’s coastal location, as well as its proximity to a large urban area, state and national parks, and wildlife preserves, give visitors an impressive variety of recreation activities to choose from.
The area is also known for great food and lodging options, abundant fairs and festivals, and pleasant weather year-round.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Neptune Beach, Florida.
For dog and beer lovers who find themselves with a few hours to kill in Neptune Beach, there’s no better destination than BrewHound.
The idea behind BrewHound is simple – beer and dogs – and with so many sunny days in Florida, it’s possible to enjoy both together outdoors.
BrewHound is known for its unique, dog-centered design and friendly staff. In addition to beer, they offer coffee and other non-alcoholic beverages.
Long-term memberships are available for those who’ll be in the area for a while, and previous guests have noted that it’s a great place for dogs of all sizes and dispositions.
2. Cousins Maine Lobster
Though the water around coastal Florida is too warm for the venerable Maine Lobster, there’s one place in Neptune Beach where it’s possible to enjoy them.
Cousins Maine Lobster has only been open for a year, but local seafood aficionados and vacationers agree that they serve up New England classics unlike any other restaurant in the area.
From Maine and Connecticut lobster rolls to fried clams and grilled cheese, there’s probably a little something for everyone regardless of taste, and they offer non-seafood options as well.
It’s been said by visiting Northeasterners that the rolls at Cousins are the best and most authentic they’ve ever had.
3. Jarboe Park
Small municipal parks often get overlooked for more well-known and commercialized attractions, but for those traveling on budgets who’d rather not spend hours in the car going to faraway parks and preserves, they’re wonderful community resources that really should be taken advantage of.
Located just north of Florida Boulevard and west of Route A1A a few blocks inland from the ocean, Jarboe Park is an excellent place for a morning or afternoon walk.
The park is within walking distance of popular city hotels and features a small pond; it’s common to see fish, turtles, and birds around the shore.
4. Jax Beach Golf Club
Jax Beach Golf Club is a municipal facility that’s owned and managed by the nearby town of Jacksonville Beach. It has been a favorite destination for value-minded golfers for more than five decades.
Though it started as a 9-hole course, it’s evolved into 18-holes and has recently undergone several major renovations that have improved its greens and fairways while eliminating some water hazards.
Players enjoy the course’s abundant par-4s and natural scenery, as well as the new bar and grill and fully-stocked pro shop.
If you’ll be playing during peak times, consider booking your tee time in advance.
5. Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier
When the sun begins to rise over the Sunshine State’s Atlantic horizon, it often casts impressive colors over the shimmering waters. There’s no better place for early-risers to check it out than the Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier.
The pier is on 4th Avenue North and stretches more than 1,200 feet out into the ocean. It opens at 6 AM to accommodate walkers, anglers, and photographers.
It’s most well-known for its fishing, but there are many shops and eateries as well as restrooms. During the cooler months, there’s even live entertainment, so plan on spending a few hours.
6. Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival
Located in Fernandina up the coast from Neptune Beach, the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival has been going strong for more than five decades and takes place over the first weekend in May.
The festival is held in the quaint downtown area and is a free event that includes hundreds of vendors. Though shrimp are the festival’s main attraction, there are also arts and crafts, live entertainment, and a variety of non-seafood fare too.
Area lodging tends to fill up quickly during the festival, so if you’re planning on spending a night or two, make your reservations in advance.
7. Castaway Island Preserve
Tucked along the Intracoastal Waterway just outside of Jacksonville, Castaway Island Preserve is a relatively undisturbed natural area that includes some varied environments, like tidal streams and salt marshes. It has a way of making visitors feel like they’re farther away from the city than they really are.
The preserve is comprised of more than 300 acres and is crisscrossed by a variety of, well-marked multi-use trails, making self-exploration easy.
The preserve is a favorite escape destination for hikers, bikers, and nature photographers. It’s also a great fit for those traveling with little ones in dire need of fresh air, exercise, and wide-open spaces.
8. Amelia Island
Though it’ll take a bit of time to get to from Neptune Beach, Amelia Island is one of those north Florida attractions that many travelers choose not to pass-up.
Featuring more than a dozen miles of natural white beaches in addition to historic attractions and all-around quaint charm that’s in a class of its own, Amelia Island is the perfect day-trip destination, and most visitors end-up spending an entire day there.
Sporting a history museum, state park, and a variety of guided tour and cruise options, it’s perfect for every kind of traveler. There are abundant dining and lodging options too, but they’re not as inexpensive as those found elsewhere.
9. Beaches Museum
Located on Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville Beach, Beaches Museum is a unique area attraction that combines culture, art, and education into one convenient location in a way that few other venues do.
The museum features a number of engaging exhibits touching on history, science, the natural world, and culture; they also offer a variety of performances regularly.
Their calendar of events includes classical music, guest speakers, and art shows, to name a few. The staff offer an array of programs and activities appropriate for both children and adults with varied interests. Tickets to popular shows often sell out quickly, so plan accordingly.
10. Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville
Located downtown, the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville is North Florida’s premier destination for lovers of art, culture, and events.
The museum’s permanent collection includes famous works from nationally acclaimed artists in a variety of mediums, and with many international influences.
Many residents find themselves visiting the museum several times throughout the year, and for some, it’s their special events that are the big draws.
Temporary exhibits from other institutions are popular, as are the guest speakers, holiday parties, and independently produced movies. If you’ll be around the first Wednesday of each month, there’s an art walk from 5 until 9 PM.
11. Museum of Science & History
Though it’s not a large city by east coast standards, Jacksonville is a cosmopolitan place that offers guests a unique array of attractions, many of which are usually only found in larger urban hubs.
The Museum of Science & History is situated near downtown Jacksonville just across from the St. Johns River. Though it’s not the largest museum in the city, it’s one of the most engaging and is a place that often ends-up consuming larger chunks of time than visitors had originally intended.
Exhibits touch on everything from the human body and local history to art and technology, and much of what you’ll see and experience has been designed with kids in mind.
12. Comedy Zone of Jacksonville
With its natural beauty and abundance of cultural attractions and museums, the north Florida coast around Neptune Beach is a wonderland for outdoor lovers and history-minded travelers. But for those in need of a change of pace and a good laugh or two, there’s really no better evening destination than the Comedy Zone of Jacksonville.
The club’s schedule features nationally-known headliners like D.L. Hughley and Rob Schneider, as well as lots of local, up-and-coming talent that are often just as hilarious as the big-name performers.
Previous guests have appreciated the club’s intimate atmosphere, and it’s often one of the most memorable experiences of visitor’s trips.
13. Kingsley Plantation
The Kingsley Plantation is located on the grounds of the Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve just up the coast from Neptune Beach; it’s one of the area’s most poignant and well-preserved historical sites.
Though the plantation thrived during the early and mid-19th centuries and employed slaves, it has a unique history that was far different than other area plantations; at its height, it included more than 30,000 acres.
The site now consists of the plantation home, slave residences, and farm buildings. Along the paths connecting them, there are a number of historical markers that let visitors know the historical significance of the things they’re seeing.
14. Riverside Arts Market
Jacksonville’s Riverside Arts Market is open every Saturday and is full of individual, local vendors selling everything from handmade jewelry and health and body products to t-shirts and fresh vegetables.
The market’s vendors number in the hundreds, and there are often street-performers on-hand that give it a unique festival atmosphere that you just won’t find at other markets.
Food options include great coffee, tasty sandwiches, and mouth-watering baked goods. It’s all just a short walk from the river, which is an excellent place for a post-shopping stroll, especially when the weather is perfect in the spring and fall.
15. Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
Zoos and botanical gardens are ever-popular attractions that are always big hits with children and adults alike.
Located just a few miles from the downtown area, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is known for its walking safaris that lead visitors through a number of exhibits featuring exotic African animals like lions, zebras, and giraffes.
Those visiting with little ones in the summer months will be pleased to learn that there’s an onsite splash pad and waterpark as well. Between the animal exhibits and activities, it’s common for families to spend the better part of a day inside.