Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens#11 in Best Things To Do in Jacksonville
Sitting on the edge of the Trout River, about 7 miles north of downtown Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is a must if you're visiting the city with kids. This 115-acre facility is the only walking safari in northeast Florida; you are invited to wander the grounds, where you'll find opportunities to get up close and personal with animals like giraffes, great apes, big cats and elephants. The sprawling grounds also house Stingray Bay (where you can feed stingrays) and the ever-popular Play Park and Splash Ground (where you can cool off after a day in the Florida heat). In all, more than 2,000 animals and 1,000 plants call the zoo home.
Past visitors were impressed with the variety of animals at the zoo and highly recommend making a stop here if you're in Jacksonville with kids. Since most of the exhibits are outside, reviewers advised wearing sunscreen and a hat. Outside water bottles are allowed and can be refilled at any of the water fountains throughout the property. Other than that, no outside food or beverages are allowed. If you or your little ones get hungry, you'll find snack stands stationed throughout the property, as well as a café.
The Jacksonville Zoo is open every day (except for Christmas day) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission costs $24.95 for adults and $19.95 for children ages 3 to 12; infants ages 2 and younger can enter for free. If you'd like to take advantage of all the zoo's facilities, including unlimited train rides and unlimited carousel rides, you can purchase a total experience ticket, which costs $32.95 for adults and $25.95 for children ages 3 to 12. To learn more about the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, check out the official website.
More Best Things To Do in Jacksonville
#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.
Explore More of Jacksonville
If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.