There’s no denying the expansive city of Jacksonville, Florida, has a lot to offer – from the 22 miles of beaches to historic downtown and everything in between. But what if you travel a lot and are just tired of doing the same things in every city? Or maybe you’re just adventurous and want to try something new! Here are 10 unique things you can only do in Jacksonville that are sure to be memorable!
Our Favorite Things to do in Jacksonville, Fl
TIAA BANK FIELD | Swim in a pool while watching an NFL game
Here in the sunshine state we love football and we love water activities, and we’ve got a way to combine them like no one else. At TIAA Bank Field, not only can you watch the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars play during football season, but you can do so from the comfort of two in-stadium swimming pools! Nowhere else can you watch a football game poolside.
On the famous North End Zone, you can take a dip, sip on cold drinks and order food, all while cheering on your team. This experience needs to be booked ahead of time and it is best to contact the Jaguars’ ticketing center directly for quotes. As things to do go, this is one of Jacksonville’s coolest!
JACKSONVILLE ZOO: Zookeeper for the Day
Love rhinos, giraffes, elephants and more? Have you ever wondered what it is like to run a zoo? At the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, you can try it out. This incredible experience takes you on a behind-the-scenes tour of everything that goes into taking care of the zoo’s hundreds of birds, mammals and reptiles. The cost for a full day is $125 per person and includes admission into the zoo, known as one of the best in the country.
“Guest Keepers” receive a name badge and a photo opportunity with an animal they cared for during their visit as well. The minimum age is 14 and there are different experiences to choose from, check them all out here.
BIG TALBOT ISLAND: Wander a Driftwood Forest
Big Talbot Island State Park on the northside of Jacksonville has several trails for guests to hike and explore. Perhaps the best trail though, is the Black Rock Trail that offers incredible views of the outcroppings and fallen trees that have been weathered and bleached with time.
Also nearby are great trails for biking, and plenty of water for kayaking and boating. The park is open 365 days a year and costs $3 dollars per vehicle to enter. Check out the Florida State Park’s website for more information on what to bring and how to prepare.
CLARK’S FISH CAMP: Taste Snake, Kangaroo or Frog Legs and More
If you’re a foodie looking for some awesome local, and maybe not-so-local, catch, head over to Clark’s Fish Camp. Clark’s is known for its fresh seafood and family atmosphere and is also home to the United States’ largest public taxidermy collection.
Start with an appetizer of gator tail and make your way through the most unique menu of seafood, frog legs, kangaroo, snake and more, depending on availability. On Sundays, check out “Clarks After Dark”, a weekly event with a live DJ and yummy cocktails.
MAYPORT POLES: Surf Jacksonville’s Famous Break
Hanna Park is an incredible place to camp, hike, swim, etc. but the most exciting thing to enjoy there is surfing the Poles at Mayport. The name “The Poles” comes from the line of security poles that stretch from the beach into the water, separating the Mayport Naval Station and Hanna Park.
Amateurs and professionals alike can be found catching waves along a mile of beach with consist swells. There may even be a competition to check out during your visit!
CASA MARINA: Stay at Jacksonville Beach’s 1920s Celebrity Hotspot
The Casa Marina hotel, located right on the beach in Jacksonville, has been welcoming guests since 1925. Countless millionaires and celebrities including John D. Rockefeller, Al Capone, Presidents Roosevelt and Truman, and many more have stayed in the glamorous hotel over the years.
During World War 2, the government used the hotel for military housing. Following an extensive closing, in 1991 the Casa Marina opened its doors once again to welcome guests from all over to their 23 individually decorated bedrooms. The restaurant is also home to one of the coolest rooftop bars in all of Jacksonville – and their famous Sunday brunch – with stunning panoramic views of the ocean.
A1A ROAD TRIP: Drive Through History from Amelia Island to St. Augustine
The First Coast is so historically rich that you can cross three counties, countless beaches and centuries of history in one glorious road trip. And you can do it in a day or stretch it over multiple days without running out of things to do in North Florida.
It all happens along scenic A1A, extending from Key West all the way to Fernandina Beach. You can’t go wrong cruising along the North Florida section of the route. Starting in St. Johns County, visit the Castillo de San Marcos, part of the National Park System, and at around 350 years old, one of the oldest structures in the U.S.
As you make your way north, keep an eye out for wildlife at Guana Reserve – the birdwatching here is incredible! You’ll pass through Ponte Vedra, Jacksonville, Neptune and Atlantic Beach on the way toward Amelia Island, so be sure to stop for ice cream and to put your toes in the sand at any of Jacksonville’s best beaches.
By the time you get to Black Rock Beach or Driftwood Beach at Little Talbot Island, you might be happy to take a nap in the shade. But don’t dally too long, there’s so much more history and wildlife to see once you get to Amelia Island.
THE SHEIK: Eat a Camel Rider
You’ve probably heard of subs, gyros, and hoagies but the Camel Rider at The Sheik has all of those delicious sandwiches beat! The Camel Rider is a pita pocket packed with cold cuts, cheese, lettuce and tomato and drizzled with Italian dressing.
Opened in 1972, The Sheik has been offering these delicious sandwiches, along with breakfast pitas and the famous “Steak in a Sack” all over Jacksonville and has grown to over 8 locations along the East Coast. Check out the full menu on their website!
ALLIGATOR FARM: Zipline over Crocodiles
We always make exceptions on our Jacksonville lists to include St. Augustine, because really, the First Coast is just that big – you have to include the neighbors!
If you love daring adventures and one-upping your friends with crazy stories, you have to check out Crocodile Crossing at the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, just an hour south of Jacksonville. Crocodile Crossing is a wild ropes course and zipline, whizzing you through treetops, past aerial obstacles and over alligators and crocodiles across seven wooded acres.
There are multiple courses to take – the Nile River Course, a 90-minute journey with 17 ziplines is on of the most unique things you do in all of north Florida.
SKYWAY EXPRESS: Hop Around Downtown for Free
Imagine doing something most Jaxons haven’t even done! That’s a possibility if you take the Skyway Express, an underutilized complimentary public transportation system giving residents and visitors access to hotels, restaurants and many attractions on the Northbank, Southbank and Downtown. It’s also a unique way to just take in Jacksonville’s pretty skyline and the St. Johns River.
It’s a great way to spend a date night in Jacksonville – just try to time it right around sunset if you can! There’s nothing like zipping over the river just as the sun is casting gold light over the skyline.
The Skyway Express runs from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, and trains come every 4-8 minutes, and on weekends for special events. Learn more about schedules from the Jacksonville Transportation Authority.
Today is a great day to try something new in Jacksonville! #jacksonvilletravelerTweet
Today is a great day to try something new in North Florida! And hey – if there’s something on this list of unique things to do in Jacksonville that we missed, let us know. We’ll consider for a future update!