Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- 1. Hit the Beach
- 2. Outdoor arts and Culture
- 3. Trees and Flowers
- 4. History Time
- 5. Kingsley Plantation
- 6. Live Music
- 7. Hike the Nature Trails
- 8. Take Another Hike
- 9. Tour a Brewery
- 10. First Saturdays
- 11. Art Walks
- 12. Ride the Monorail
- 13. Jax River Jams Concert Series
- 14. See a Fort
- 15. Animatronics and Dark Rides
- 16. Oldest Florida Market
- 17. Take a Selfie
- 18. Urban Parks
- 19. Story Time
- 20. Sculpture Walk
- Local Hotels and Vacation Rentals in Jacksonville, Florida
From museums to concerts and art walks, you’ll find plenty of free things to do in Jacksonville, Florida. This river city also has beautiful beaches and an extensive parks system for an array of outdoor family fun on the cheap.
Located in northeast Florida, Jacksonville has an ideal year-round climate for outdoor family fun. The river city has both ocean beaches and river walk attractions along the St. Johns River. Fun fact: The St. Johns River is a unique river that flows north.
Our list of 20 free things to do in Jacksonville, Florida offers a wide range of family-friendly activities. Plus, if you have your own kayak or bike you’ll find plenty of places for kayaking and biking – all free if you bring your own equipment. Find more free things to do in St. Augustine, a short drive away. And, if you’ve got some cash to spend, there are lots more fun things to do in Jacksonville that aren’t free.
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TravelingMom Tip: In these uncertain times, opening days and times can change without notice. Always call ahead or check the website for the most up-to-date info so no one is disappointed!
1. Hit the Beach
Our family fun always starts at the beach. Spend the day on the white sand at Jacksonville Beach. Little Talbot Island State Park and Big Talbot Island State Park also have prime beaches.
2. Outdoor arts and Culture
The Riverside Arts Market, held every Saturday, is like a farmers market on steroids. In addition to fresh produce and prepared foods, the market features musicians and local artisans. Spend the day enjoying the live entertainment along St. Johns River.
TravelingMom Tip: Every November, children receive free admission at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary, the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, the Museum of Science and History (MOSH), and more.
3. Trees and Flowers
Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens requests a donation, but you can visit without paying and explore nature and hiking trails. This is a great place for bird watching.
4. History Time
Beaches Museum explores Jacksonville’s growth from fishermen to pioneers to its heyday as a “gilded-age seaside resort.” It offers free admission to all.
5. Kingsley Plantation
Visit Kingsley Plantation, the oldest Plantation house in Florida. The site, operated by the National Parks Service, includes slave quarters, a barn, waterfront, the plantation house and kitchen house, and a garden. There is also a free audio tour available daily.
TravelingMom Tip: One of our favorite things to do when taking a vacation is to hire a photographer for family photos. This is a special gift and souvenir that we cherish. We use Flytographer to book a local photographer located in the area that we're traveling to. Use this link and you will get $25 off your photo session.
TravelingMom Tip: Pets are allowed, except in buildings.
6. Live Music
The Jacksonville Jazz Fest, held in fall, includes four days of live entertainment from world renowned jazz musicians.
7. Hike the Nature Trails
The 46,000-acre Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve includes a visitors center and hiking trails through diverse ecosystems. The area is also one of the last unspoiled coastal wetlands on the Atlantic Coast.
8. Take Another Hike
The Sawmill Slough Preserve has several short hiking trails, from one along a boardwalk with interpretative signs, to nature trails through swamps and woods. You can also hike to see a giant Cypress Tree that is over 600-years-old.
TravelingMom Tip: Bring bug repellent. You’re welcome.
9. Tour a Brewery
Take a tour of the Budweiser Brewery and enjoy a free beer tasting afterwards. Bring ID showing you are over 21. Kids can come on the Budweiser Experience, but they can’t sip the beer. The Budweiser Experience is temporarily closed due to COVID-19.
10. First Saturdays
The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens has free admission on the first Saturday of each month. You can enjoy interactive art-making activities for all ages in the gardens, live music, and a guided tour at 2 pm. The riverfront museum features art from 2100 B.C. to the 21st Century, with masterpieces by Peter Paul Rubens, Winslow Homer and Norman Rockwell.
11. Art Walks
The Jacksonville Downtown Art Walk, on the first Wednesday of the month, includes over 40 open galleries. The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville offers free admission. On the second Tuesday of the month, the Jacksonville Beach Art Walk includes galleries and live music. Both events are 5 – 9 pm.
12. Ride the Monorail
The 2.5-mile Jacksonville Skyway connects Jacksonville Landing in downtown Jacksonville on the Northbank to the Southbank’s Museum of Science and History and Friendship Fountain. You can get on and off, cross the St. Johns River, and get an elevated tour of the city.
TravelingMom Tip: The Jacksonville Skyway runs Monday – Friday only, with weekend service during special events.
13. Jax River Jams Concert Series
In April, enjoy live entertainment every weekend. The four-week concert series, at Riverfront Plaza, includes food trucks.
14. See a Fort
At Fort Caroline National Memorial, explore a replica fort built by the first European settlers. The Timucuan Preserve Visitor Center has artifacts from the Timucuan Indians.
15. Animatronics and Dark Rides
Tour Sally Corporation, the makers of animatronics and dark rides. The free tours are offered hourly on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 – 1 pm. There are no tours June through August. Advance reservations are required.
TravelingMom Tip: Minimum age is 7.
16. Oldest Florida Market
Browse over 50 booths with fresh produce, ethnic and specialty food at The Jacksonville Farmers Market. The daily market, the oldest farmers market in Florida, is a great place to pick up a low cost lunch to eat outdoors.
17. Take a Selfie
The Friendship Fountain on the Southbank of downtown is a perfect spot day or night for a family selfie. This is also where you can view July 4th fireworks.
18. Urban Parks
Jacksonville has the largest outdoor urban park systems in the United States, with over 80,000 acres of parks. Jacksonville has three national parks, seven state parks and over 400 city parks, so spend your getaway exploring the outdoors.
19. Story Time
The main branch of the Public Library, in downtown Jacksonville, has story times for kids. These are paused due to COVID-19. The library also features an atrium with a fountain.
TravelingMom Tip: The library is closed on Sundays.
20. Sculpture Walk
Take a self-guided sculpture walk through Jacksonville’s outdoor museums, with art around the city.
Local Hotels and Vacation Rentals in Jacksonville, Florida
Use this interactive map to help you find a place to stay when you’re visiting Jacksonville, FL.