Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens

#15 in Best Things To Do in Jacksonville
Jared I. Lenz Photography/Getty Images

Key Info

1445 Millcoe Rd.

Price & Hours



Free, Parks and Gardens, Recreation Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend


  • 5.0Value
  • 2.5Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

For a quiet escape into nature that doesn't require much of a drive, head to the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens. Spanning 120 acres, the arboretum offers 3 miles of hiking trails, a 1-acre lake and a variety of plants and flowers.

Past visitors appreciated the serene atmosphere of the gardens and applauded the many benches stationed along the trails. Others were happy to find the flower and plant varieties clearly labeled, offering a learning opportunity for both kids and adults.

The Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens are open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. You'll find the gardens less than 10 miles east of downtown Jacksonville. Entrance is free, though the gardens suggest a $3 donation per visitor. For more information, visit the official 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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