Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Jacksonville Beach, FL

  • Published 2022/11/09

A gem in the First Coast region in Florida, Jacksonville Beach was settled in 1831 and has long been a favored beach destination.

It was originally called Ruby Beach, renamed Pablo Beach in 1886, then renamed again to Jacksonville Beach in 1925.

A railroad brought many tourists to the area to enjoy its amazing features.

Come and enjoy exciting activities on the beach or ride the great waves.

It has much more to offer, including restaurants, luxurious hotels and resorts, and recreational facilities.

So make sure to check out the best things to do in Jacksonville Beach below.

Pay a Visit to Castaway Island Preserve

Waterbody with a wooden bridge over it at Castaway Island Preserve

Donna Kaluzniak /

Situated just next to the city, Castaway Island Preserve takes you to an enchanting natural environment.

Take a scenic stroll along the boardwalk or bring your own food and have a picnic.

Follow the animal prints as you walk along the trail.

Rainbow over the Marsh at Castaway Island Preserve

Lynne Neuman /

Stop and read the interpretive signs to learn more about nature and wildlife.

There are various birds here, and you can even take your dogs here for a walk.

You can even launch your own kayaks and paddleboards on the creek.

A man and his dog enjoying the views of Castaway Island Preserve from the dock

Lynne Neuman /

Catch Some Fish at the Pier in Jacksonville Beach

Colorful sign board of Jacksonville Beach with surfboards in the background

Felix Mizioznikov /

You can spend a whole day filled with activities at Jacksonville Beach, one of the main beaches in the area.

The beach is easily accessible, as it is located close to the city’s downtown area.

One of the best things to do here is fishing at its pier, equipped with facilities, such as a bait shop and concession stand.

It spans about a quarter of a mile, and you can catch varying species of fish from one end to the other.

Sunrise in Jacksonville Beach Pier

Anna Tripp /

The best part is that the fishing pier doesn’t require a fishing license.

If you’re looking for an adventure, you can also brave the waves here on your surfboard, and you can get surfing lessons for beginners and surfboard rentals.

After all the activities, you can have a meal to replenish your energy.

Look around the restaurants nearby for a delicious meal while appreciating the beach views, or set up your grill and have a barbecue with the whole gang.

Sunset at Jacksonville Beach Pier

StephanieFarrell /

Appreciate Artworks at the First Coast Cultural Center

An establishment dedicated to the arts, the First Coast Cultural Center fosters and showcases the talent of local and national artists.

There are multiple ways to appreciate and study art.

Here, you can tour the exhibits full of well-crafted artworks.

You can also attend classes or workshops and listen to lectures.

There are events held here throughout the year.

Take a look at the items they have for sale in their online market.

You can also get a gift certificate for your loved ones.

Relax at Moroccan Hammam and Day Spa

Pamper yourself with amazing treatments at Moroccan Hammam and Day Spa.

Clear your mind and detoxify your body with their hammam hydrotherapy treatment, which uses all-natural products and is conducted through many steps.

This includes a steam room therapy session, which helps to rejuvenate your whole body.

Avail of their day spa packages, which come with extras such as massages, scrubs, snacks, drinks, and more, and have a thoroughly relaxing spa day.

You can also just get separate treatments, such as massages, body scrubs, peels, and facials.

They also offer tons of organic products, so you can get that spa experience at home.

Send a gift card to your family or friends so they can unwind here.

Explore the City’s History and Culture at the Beaches Museum

Exterior of the Beaches Museum

Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dedicated to preserving the area’s rich history and culture, the Beaches Museum hosts multiple permanent and temporary exhibits.

Take a dive into the city’s past, exploring the interactive exhibits and studying the collections.

There’s information on the establishments and artifacts that show early life here.

You can also observe the photographs or even order a copy of some for yourself.

A few palm trees outside Beaches Museum

Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Go for a tour around the History Park and marvel at the historic structures.

Discover the inside of the 1903 post office, the intricacies of the steam locomotive, or the depot’s past.

The Heritage Garden features six garden areas, each with a different set of plant species and themes.

The chapel, one of the oldest structures in the museum, has its own story, and you can be a part of it.

It’s available for rent and is a perfect space for events like weddings.

Beaches Museum's closer exterior view

Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

For other events, there are three other rentable spaces: the Lobby, the Dickinson Gallery, and the Permanent Gallery.

If you want to learn about the museum and the area in the comfort of your own home, the museum also has online exhibits.

To add to that, you can have a group tour, and the kids can go on a field trip too.

Before you leave, drop by the museum store for books, merchandise, and other great finds.

Get a Whole Load of Thrills at Adventure Island

Get ready for a day full of thrills and enjoyment at Adventure Island, featuring a large waterpark and much more.

Splash around and enjoy the activities at Shipwreck Island Waterpark, including a wave pool, splash cove, and more.

Wade in the Little St. John’s River, spin around in the Eye of the Storm, or have an exhilarating ride on one of the many huge slides.

There are also lots of other stuff to try without getting wet.

Get a pole and feed the in-house alligators.

Compete with your family and friends at the mini-golf course, with 18 holes of lush plants and pure fun.

Have another kind of competition at the Laser Tag arena while deciphering mazes and devising your winning strategies.

Have a crack at the games at the arcade and exchange your winnings for fabulous prizes.

Race against other speedsters and polish your driving skills at the go-kart track.

Practice your swing at the batting cage.

If you want a thrilling ride but don’t want to get wet, try out the Wacky Worm Roller Coaster.

You can also have a virtual one at the 3D Max Flight, but that’s not all.

It has features for space flight, submarine adventures, and more.

The space is available for all kinds of events, such as birthday parties, and also holds field trips and summer camps.

Take home the fun by grabbing toys at the Island Gift Shop or get a shirt to remember the experience by.

Have a Golf Match with Your Friends at the Jax Beach Golf Club

Have a friendly match at the Jax Beach Golf Club while enjoying the gorgeous scenery, with fields dotted with trees and pristine lakes.

Book a tee time and challenge the 18-hole golf course.

If you just want to train or perfect your swing before a match, you can stop by the driving range and practice greens.

They also offer golf lessons if you want a professional to teach you.

Rent a golf cart, so you’ll have a hassle-free experience.

After your games, you can lounge at the clubhouse.

Join the summer camp for more in-depth training.

You can also participate in tournaments to see how you hold up against other golfers.

Discover the Waterways at the Cradle Creek Preserve

Narrow wooden pathway at Cradle Creek Preserve

Donna Kaluzniak /

Have a scenic trip to Cradle Creek Preserve, offering 45 acres of natural beauty.

Discover the intricate system of waterways and go on an outdoor adventure exploring the forests and marshes.

You’ll find tall oaks and magnolia trees, and multiple creeks.

Marshes at Cradle Creek Preserve

Donna Kaluzniak /

You can follow the trails here and get magnificent views at the boardwalk.

It also has a canoe and kayak landing pier, perfect if you want to step out of land and into the waters.

Various kinds of local wildlife inhabit the area, including endangered and threatened species such as the Bald Eagle, the Least Tern, the Wood Stork, and more.

Scenic view of Cradle Creek Preserve with dark clouds and green grass

Lee Reese /

Celebrate the Holidays during the Deck The Chairs Event

Celebrate the holidays with a whole bunch of lights and art during the Deck The Chairs event.

It started as a lifeguard chair exhibit in 2013 and has continued to grow ever since.

Take a look at the chairs decorated in bright lights or visit the major art installations.

If you want to be bedazzled, watch the light shows and stage performances.

On top of that, you’ll be staying seaside, which means you’ll have breathtaking views as well.

The young ones will surely love the Kids’ Creative Space, a place where they can play and interact with the structures.

You can also get some of their merchandise available on their online store.

Go around the Booths at the Jax Beach Arts Market

For a whole day of almost only art, bring the whole gang to the Jax Beach Arts Market, which showcases the works of local artists.

Get a piece of jewelry for your significant other.

You can be sure of their authenticity, as only handmade jewelry is allowed here.

The artwork here cannot be bought from or made by someone other than the vendor.

You can find a wide variety of art pieces, such as paintings, photography, woodwork, and more.

Check out the business booths, too, where you can look for opportunities.

The booths, set up with tents and tables, are located outdoors, so you can take in the fresh air while exploring.

Test Your Problem-Solving Skills at the Mind Bender Escape Rooms

Do you want to know what it feels like to be a detective?

Keep your wits around you as you solve your way through the puzzles and weave through the distractions to find clues in Mind Bender Escape Rooms.

Each of the rooms, some scary and mysterious, comes with themes and difficulty levels.

As this activity is performed easier when you work together as a group, it’s a fantastic opportunity for team building.

They even offer discounts if you book rooms for large groups or corporate teams.

You can also get a gift card so your family and friends can try it out too.

Engage in Recreational Activities at Huguenot Park

Beautiful view of Huguenot Park with the lake, grass and birds

Mary Harrell-Sesniak /

Have a peaceful trip at Huguenot Park, featuring a 3-acre lake full of fish.

Bring your gear to the fishing pier and boardwalk and cast your line.

Aside from fishing, you can also try other recreational activities.

Sweat out your stresses at the Jacksonville Beach Tennis Club.

View of the calm lake at Huguenot Park

Mary Harrell-Sesniak /

Play a game with your group or get a membership to join their leagues.

You can also get lessons if you’re still starting out or want to improve your skills.

In addition, there are also basketball courts here.

Take your kids to the playground for a fun afternoon.

Spend a Lovely Afternoon at the Oceanfront Park

If you want to spend a lovely time outdoors and have breathtaking beach views, you might want to pay a visit to Oceanfront Park.

It spans 2 acres and offers four covered picnic areas where you can rest and relax.

You can walk around the circular space in the middle, following the pathway bordering it, while enjoying a cool breeze.

There are trees planted around, too, adding to the scenery.

Right in the middle of the circular space lies the Sea Express, a bronze statue of a boy riding a dolphin, which serves as a reminder to preserve the environment for future generations.

For an enjoyable time, head to the sand volleyball court for a quick match under the sun.

The kids can run around the children’splayground too.

Watch Live Theater at Players by the Sea

The Players by the Sea theater started out in 1966 by three couples who would go out and rent spaces for performances.

Back then, it was comprised solely of volunteers, and in 1999, it finally had a permanent building.

Get a ticket, sit back, and be entertained by the action and music on stage.

If you’re interested in being a performer yourself, you can attend their summer camp and join the production at the end of the program.

You can also be a part of the Young Creative Artists Series, where they mentor students in the art of theater.

Bring the Whole Gang to the South Beach Park and Sunshine Playground

Try all sorts of sports at South Beach Park and Sunshine Playground.

Have a match at the basketball court, pickleball court, tennis court, or volleyball court.

There’s a multi-purpose turf field as well.

Get your adrenaline pumping by riding the ramps at the skate park.

Go at your own pace on the fitness trail, equipped with exercise stations.

Take the kids to the playground for games or have a picnic with the family.

Grill some fresh meat for a truly satisfying meal.

Discover a Heroine’s Life at Rhoda L. Martin Cultural Heritage Center

When visiting Jacksonville Beach, you shouldn’t miss exploring the life of a local heroine.

Despite her small stature, Rhoda L. Martin was a strong and fearless young woman.

She was born into slavery in 1832.

Before settling in Jacksonville, her family traveled from South Carolina to Florida, Live Oak, and Pablo Beach, Spain.

Rhoda and her six children—four sons and two daughters—lived in a two-story wooden house.

She founded Jacksonville Beach School for African-Americans, later renamed Rhoda L. Martin Cultural Heritage as a tribute to Martin.

The museum now features an extensive collection of items aimed at preserving and promoting African-American history.

Hop in a Yoga Class at Seaside Power Yoga

Seaside Power Yoga can work with students of varying experience levels.

Instructors are kind and well-informed, and no one here will ever pass judgment on you.

Seaside Power Yoga is a brainchild of friends and fellow yoga instructors Erin and Leah, who dreamed of creating a welcoming, inclusive space for all levels of practitioners.

In 2021, the two put their plan into motion and established Seaside Power Yoga on Jacksonville Beach.

The yoga studio offers vigorous vinyasa flow and mellow yin lessons.

Each practice and position becomes an adventure in self-discovery because of the numerous ways you may alter them.

The classes aim to leave participants feeling renewed and reenergized.

Come get to know yourself and the others in Seaside while you sweat it out and have a good time.

Enjoy the Sea Breeze at Mike McCue Park and Boat Ramp

The Mike McCue Park and Boat Ramp is ideal for an afternoon stroll.

It features two boat ramps, but the southern one is the most popular with locals and visitors alike.

Having adequate depths and security makes using the ramp a breeze.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that it becomes packed, especially on weekends.

It’s the place to be if you need quiet time to reflect or get fresh air.

Catch Live Music Performances at Shim Sham Room

A trip to Shim Sham Room, a lively and eccentric bar in Jacksonville Beach, is a must for any tourist looking for a night out.

You may dance and groove the night away at this rock ‘n’ roll cocktail pub.

The lounge is the perfect spot to unwind with a drink from among the many tasty options available.

Inside, you’ll find a warm greeting from the staff and locals, a gorgeous, well-stocked bar, and comfortable seats.

Shim Sham Room has skilled bartenders and fantastic live music by the resident DJ and local musicians.

Bring Home a Garden Addition from Beaches Green Market

When in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, you must stop at Beaches Green Market and shop.

A seasonal market every Saturday, the Beaches Green Market is known for its high-quality produce and other merchandise.

The market brings together a wide variety of local vendors and farmers selling various goods.

Among the many things for sale are in-house cheeses, eggs, grass-fed meats, herbs, trees, freshly trimmed flowers, fresh produce, and more.

In addition to a wide variety of foods, crafts, jewelry, and more, the Beaches Green Market also sells dog food, roasted coffee, baked goods, and so much more.

Final Thoughts

Explore all the seaside adventures at Jacksonville Beach.

You can go fishing, surf, or simply enjoy a scenic trip to one of the many available parks.

For an unforgettable stay, check out the best things to do in Jacksonville Beach listed above.

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