Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Jacksonville, NC

  • Published 2023/01/12

Jacksonville is a city located within Onslow County in North Carolina.

Its total land area comprises 44.5 square miles of land and 0.7 square miles of water.

Jacksonville is also the seat of Onslow County.

The city’s population reached 72,723 based on the 2020 census, making it the 14th largest city in the state.

Based on demographics, Jacksonville is the youngest city in the United States.

Despite that, the city has established itself as the commercial hub of the county and home to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River.

Its low cost of living, diverse and rich culture, and various activities and attractions make it a good place to live.

It has museums, gardens, parks, and more!

Check out all these free things to do in Jacksonville, North Carolina:

Pay Respects to the Veterans at Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Jacksonville

C_Hill /

Vietnam Veterans Memorial is situated inside the Lejeune Memorial Gardens on Montford Landing Road.

This memorial was built in commemoration of all the men and women who served and sacrificed their lives during the Vietnam War.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a present reminder that there were almost 10 million people who served during that era.

It is the second-largest Vietnam War memorial next to Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.

You’ll easily recognize this structure through the flags and medallions at its entrance.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial also has a walkway and a bridge adorned with French design, a glass wall with the names of the veterans, and a dome.

Enjoy Free Liquor at Walton’s Distillery

Walton’s Distillery is located on Ben Williams Road.

This craft distillery is where you can find top-notch Moonshine, Bourbon, and Whiskey.

Walton’s Distillery’s first-ever product is the “E.M. Walton’s Corn Whiskey,” named after the owner’s great-grandfather.

It is made from 100 percent corn mixed with flash-aged and toasted Appalachian oak chips.

Walton’s Distillery is a full production facility where mashing, fermentation, distillation, and bottling are executed.

You can book a free tour here to learn more about the process of creating liquor.

You can even try all the products at Walton’s Distillery for free.

Aside from that, Walton’s Distillery also houses a gift shop where you can check out some antiques and souvenirs.

Visit the Lejeune Memorial Gardens

Lejeune Memorial Gardens is situated n Montford Landing Road.

It was created to honor and remember the veterans of the Vietnam War.

This is also where you can find the famous Beirut Memorial, Montford Point Marine Memorial, Onslow Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the 9/11 Memorial Beam from the World Trade Center.

Lejeune Memorial Gardens also features walking trails and greenways leading you to military bases and other city trails.

While you’re at Lejeune Memorial Gardens, make sure to check out the Beirut Memorial, which is the largest military memorial funded by private funds.

This memorial honors 273 Marines who lost their lives after a bomb destroyed their barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.

Visit also the 9/11 Memorial, which displays an actual beam from the Twin Towers.

Stroll at Richard Ray All-America Park

Richard Ray All-America Park is a seven-acre urban oasis on North Commons Drive.

It was named after Richard L. Ray, a visionary and statesman who dedicated his life to the city.

He is known for being a wise businessman and a good civic leader.

Richard Ray All-America Park features a playground with slides, swings, monkey bars, and more.

Richard Ray All-America Park also has trails perfect for an afternoon stroll, hike, and bike ride.

Benches are available within the park so you can sit back and relax while enjoying the beauty of nature.

You’ll also love Richard Ray All-America Park’s pond, gazebo, and picnic shelters.

This is also where you can find the Gardens of the States, which houses horticultural examples from the seven regions of the country.

Take a Photo of the Freedom Fountain

Freedom Fountain is a landmark on New Bridge Street.

It is a symbol of respect and honor for the individuals who served the country and those who passed away while in the service protecting Onslow County.

You can reach Freedom Fountain just a few steps from Lejeune Memorial Gardens.

Freedom Fountain has a pool with a disappearing edge which symbolizes the efforts to preserve the country’s freedom.

It also has 50 bubblers representing the 50 states.

At the center, you’ll see the Freedom plume, which is the tallest of the fountain jets.

At night, Freedom Fountain’s waters turn red, white, and blue.

Bring the Whole Family to Wilson Bay Park

Wilson Bay Park is a waterfront park on West Bayshore Boulevard.

It has a playground perfect for children of all abilities.

If you want to spend the day outdoors with the whole family, this is the right one for you.

Wilson Bay Park also features gazebos over the water as well as shelters and well-maintained restrooms.

You may bring food, but alcoholic beverages are not allowed.

At Wilson Bay Park, you can take a walk and enjoy the fresh air, spend a relaxing moment with nature, and even practice your nature photography skills!

Take a Moment to Relax at Sturgeon City Park

Sturgeon City Park is located on Loyola Drive.

This park is attached to the Sturgeon City Institutes.

Sturgeon City Park offers a beautiful and spacious landscape of green grass and lush trees.

It also has playgrounds where your little ones can play while you take a walk around the whole park.

Sturgeon City Park is also the former Wilson Bay wastewater treatment plant.

See the Pelletier House

Exterior view of Pelletier House

Jdcollins13, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pelletier House is a historic home on Old Bridge Street.

Rufus Ferrand Pelletier built it in the 1850s on top of the Wantland Spring on the banks of the New River.

Pelletier House is the oldest surviving structure in Jacksonville.

It has survived numerous storms, hurricanes, and other disasters.

View of Pelletier House

Hammerattack at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You’ll recognize this unique home through its Greek Revival style architecture.

Pelletier House was also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This house was occupied by Pelletier’s daughter until her death in 1954 and was later acquired by the Onslow Historical Society.

Let Your Kids Have Fun at Northeast Creek Park

Northeast Creek Park is an urban park on Corbin Street.

This is where you can play sports with friends and family while letting your little ones have fun with other kids in the playground.

Northeast Creek Park also has a disc (frisbee) golf course and a boat launch that serves two boats at a time.

Other amenities you’ll love in this attraction are its kayak launch and fishing area.

Boat and trailer parking are also available at Northeast Creek Park.

Northeast Creek Park’s Disk Golf Course also hosts an annual fall tournament in which amateurs and professionals gather to compete with each other.

Take note that a splash pad is open every Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day.

Have Some “Me Time” at Riverwalk Crossing Park

Riverwalk Crossing Park can be found on Court Street.

This grassy park is a favorite venue for community events and festivals like the New River Festival and Palooza and National night out.

Riverwalk Crossing Park is also recommended if you want to have some peaceful time alone and de-stress.

You can walk on its paths that lead to the New River or rest and read a book in its seating areas.

Riverwalk Crossing Park also boasts a stage where concerts and other performances are held.

You can also spend some time in its gazebo near the water’s edge.

Watch the Sunset at New River Waterfront Park

New River Waterfront Park is nestled on Riverview Street.

This water-facing park is the best and most romantic place to watch the sunset.

New River Waterfront Park has a boardwalk where you can take a closer look at the New River water, fishing pier, and picnic areas.

These picnic sites are equipped with tables and benches where you can grab a bit while enjoying your surroundings.

Make sure to bring your camera and take lots of photos of the majestic sunset at New River Waterfront Park.

While waiting for that, you can also take a walk on its paved trails covered by lush and towering trees.

Revisit the Past at Montford Point Marine Museum

Montford Point Marine Museum is located on Bldg M101 Camp Johnson.

This museum preserves the legacy of the Montford Point Marines.

Montford Point Marine Museum houses a wide variety of collections, records, and other displays that are connected to the critical history of the marines.

This is also where you can find the largest collection of documents, papers, photographs, and memorabilia that reflect the history of African American Marines dated from 1942 to 1949.

Students and locals who want to revisit their nation’s history also visit Montford Point Marine Museum.

Play Sports at Phillips Park

Phillips Park is a small park on Phillips Road near the Infant of Prague Catholic Church.

If you want to exercise and break a sweat, bring your friends and play some sports at Phillips Park.

It has basketball courts and baseball fields that are free to use.

Your kids will also love Phillips Park’s spacious play area.

This is also a waterfront park where you can relax and admire the view of the waters after an exciting game with friends.

Phillips Park has available shelters for rent equipped with charcoal grills.

It can hold up to 50 people.

Have Fun at Jack Amyette Recreation Center

Jack Amyette Recreation Center is an outdoor adventure center on South Drive.

You’ll have the best time here as it has basketball courts and a spacious multipurpose field where you can play with your loved ones.

Jack Amyette Recreation Center also boasts a gymnasium that you can use to exercise or warm up before playing sports.

This recreation center also has a TV room where you can relax and enjoy your favorite show.

It also features a large lobby area perfect for an afternoon chat with friends.

Jack Amyette Recreation Center is perfect for a day out with family and friends; it can accommodate up to 250 people.

Wander in Nature at Oakhurst Nature Park

Oakhurst Nature Park is situated on Riverbend Road.

It is protected by Coastal Land Trust together with Onslow County.

It is known for its 1,500-foot nature trail that will lead you to an enchanting forest.

Oakhurst Nature Park also has another 3,400-foot trail with a parking lot and a separate entrance at the end of Pollard Lane.

Kayaking and canoeing are some of the best activities at Oakhurst Nature Park.

The kayak and canoe launch in Oakhurst Nature Park is also ADA-accessible.

You’ll have a fun and relaxing time amid nature through this destination.

Final Thoughts

Jacksonville in North Carolina is a place worth visiting.

It has a lot of attractions waiting to be discovered—from parks, museums, landmarks, and more.

Pack your bags and try all these free things to do in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

© All rights reserved.