Fort Caroline National Memorial#5 in Best Things To Do in Jacksonville
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Located on the Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve, which also houses Kingsley Plantation, Fort Caroline National Memorial aims to tell the story of the French colonial presence in 16th-century Florida. In addition to short walking trails, the site also houses a visitor center with exhibits detailing the preserve's natural history and environment, European exploration and settlement, and the Timucua Indians. There is also a scaled-down replica fort that was built in 1964 and is based on historic drawings of the original French fort.
Past visitors applauded the impressive St. Johns River views and the scenic nature trails found at Fort Caroline.
Access to Fort Caroline National Memorial is free. It sits about 13 miles northeast of downtown Jacksonville. The facilities and grounds are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more information, visit the official NPS website.
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#1 Amelia Island
About 30 miles northeast of downtown Jacksonville, the relaxed community of Amelia Island draws families in droves with its 13 miles of beaches, historic attractions and laid-back atmosphere. In the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, Amelia Island also provided a safe vacation haven for Jacksonville's Black residents. Florida's first Black millionaire, Abraham Lincoln Lewis, purchased 200 acres of beachfront on Amelia Island and called it American Beach. Here, Black vacationers could enjoy the island without the threat of racial discrimination or violence. In 2002, the beach was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. To learn more about the beach's culture, stories and heritage, consider a visit to the American Beach Museum.
While on the island, you can also learn about pirate lore at the Amelia Island Museum of History, look for alligators and wild horses while on a waterway cruise, hike through Fort George Island Cultural State Park or simply lounge on the sand. Recent visitors particularly recommended laying your towel along the shores of Fernandina Beach, a small community that stretches along the northern part of the barrier island.
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