This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure for more information.
Check out these free things to do in Jacksonville!
We recently took a trip to Yulee, FL and while we were there, we headed to Jacksonville, FL to find some free things to do!
It’s a beautiful city so of course, we just had to go exploring!
8 Free Things to Do in Jacksonville
Hit the Beach
Jacksonville is located in the northeast section of Florida only 30 minutes from the beach. There is no admission charge for visiting the beaches (Jacksonville, Atlantic, Neptune, and Ponte Vedra). But you’ll need to plan ahead to find free parking and may have to take a shuttle bus to your destination. Any hassle you may encounter with parking will be soon forgotten once you see the beautiful white sandy beach that stretches as far as the eye can see.
You’ll join beachgoers who are on vacation and those who call the beach their hometown. Together you’ll enjoy the fun of swimming (lifeguards are present on most beaches during the summer months), walking, beachcombing, jogging, bike riding, surfing, riding boogie boards, building sandcastles, throwing Frisbees, and during certain hours even pets on a leash are welcome.
Kingsley Plantation is the oldest plantation to exist in Florida. Lucky for Jacksonville residents it’s only a few minutes away. They provide free tours, guided by a ranger, of the slave quarters and the plantation house. This is a great way to learn about Northeast Florida’s history. The plantation is open seven days a week and the guided tour starts at 2 pm.
MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art)
Located in Downtown Jacksonville, MOCA collects and preserves extraordinary pieces of contemporary art for Jacksonville locals to enjoy. MOCA also has an event called Art Walk that is free to the public between 5 pm – 9 pm. This place is truly amazing, especially for families. Every floor of the museum offers something different for every age group. Make this a family field trip or date, go enjoy and appreciate what MOCA has to offer.
Get Up Close And Personal With Nature
The best way to see things is through your own eyes. Go visit the University of North Florida’s Nature Trails for free. The Nature Trail is open 365 days out of the year during daylight hours. If you would like a trip, ask if they are having any free trips or demonstrations for the day. They also have maps available on their website for joggers.
Riverside Arts Market
Are you wondering where the creative energy is in Jacksonville? I’m guessing it’s safe to say you have not experienced the Riverside Arts Market. This event mixes food, music, and the arts. The market is open every Saturday from April through December and runs from 10 am – 4 pm. It is located in the center of Jacksonville between the intersection of I-10 and I-95.
Rails to Trails
Jacksonville is proud to have a segment of the Rails to Trails system running west to Baldwin, Florida. The unused railroad track has been removed and paved to create a multiple-use path for cycling, walking, and horseback riding. Although the 15-mile trail is relatively flat, it traverses a variety of wetlands and hardwood forests.
The trail is clearly marked and does not require a guide to follow. Also enjoying the trail from time to time are rabbits, gopher tortoises, alligators, and snakes. But be careful, Florida has several varieties of poisonous snakes.
Much of the path is shaded by trees which are home to many interesting birds including hawks and kingfishers. Use of the trail is a free activity, but you must supply your own energy to have fun.
Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens
The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens is a welcoming place to visit and soak up the beauty of art and nature. Entrance to the Cummer is free on Tuesdays from 4 pm – 9 pm. Several of the galleries open to a well-established garden along the river.
A portion of the garden is based on the formal English garden and the other is modeled after Italian gardens. Both are in the shade of huge oak trees. The Cummer artwork includes porcelain, paintings, and prints with frequent visiting exhibits. The atmosphere is quiet and encourages leisurely meandering and reflection – a welcome change from a hectic vacation chocked with all the activities recommended by the usual journal or magazine.
Downtown Jacksonville is working hard to become the hip new “place to be”. A major hub for activity downtown is Hemming Plaza. Visitors to the plaza will find the Main Library and the Museum of Contemporary Arts or MOCA.
Hemming Plaza is also the perfect spot for visitors to get their hands on some new duds. It hosts the monthly ArtWalk an exciting mix of food, fun, and fabulous works of art.
Jacksonville Landing is another popular spot for visitors and locals alike. The Landing sits along the beautiful St. John’s River. It features not only great river views but also an outdoor stage where live concerts are held on a weekly basis. Hungry travelers can sate their appetites at one of the many Landing restaurants.
You’re sure to find just what your taste buds crave from sushi to traditional Irish fare. Those with a hunger for culture can also pay a visit to the many artists in residence at this versatile downtown location.
Seeking a celebrity to grace your walls? You can pay a visit to the Adrian Pickett Gallery where you will marvel at the realism of his charcoal renderings. If a brief diversion from reality is what you desire then feel free to visit one of the many Landing bars. Whether you seek art and food or sun and fun Jacksonville has you covered.