Jacksonville has so much to offer from downtown to “Jax Beach” and even in-between, there is a lot to do. I visited here with my mom on a trip around northeast Florida. We had four jam-packed days to try the coolest things to do in Jacksonville.
Before visiting, I did a lot of research and planned out a pretty epic itinerary if I do say so myself. Since it was a mother-daughter trip, my focuses were doing an activity like a craft, doing something active like SUP or yoga, trying a spa, good local food, shopping, and exploring both the beach and downtown.
There are so many cool things to do in Jacksonville and I think these are some of the best! Definitely consider them for your trip because we had the best time here and I’d go back to do them all over again. While these are things to do in Jacksonville on a mother/daughter trip this could easily be for a girl’s getaway or even with your boyfriend or kids!
13 Unique Things to do in Jacksonville Florida
1. Choose a Fun Hotel
We stayed at two hotels. We stayed first at Four Points by Sheraton for a night on Jacksonville Beach (more South) which was perfect but then we stayed at Hotel Palms for some more “boutique hotel” vibes at Hotel Palms which is by Neptune Beach and near Beaches Town Center which is a really cool area. This hotel is a restored motel and it’s so unique. The rooms are actually really big, comfortable, and they serve coffee at a fun coffee bar in the morning. You can take bikes for free and ride to the beach.
I highly recommend both hotels and love the style and vibe more, but if you’re desperate for a pool keep, go for the Sheraton.
2. Get Sporty with SUP or Yoga
My mom and I love to do SUP, even though my arms get sore and she could go for hours. We went out with Jax Surf and Paddle at Dutton Island Preserve which is a great way to see the park and learn about the ecosystem while you paddle around. We had so much fun with our instructor, Kristen, and it was beautiful.
You could also try a yoga class at Yoga Mix, which is really popular in Neptune Beach. You can bring your own mat or rent one.
3. Massages at One Ocean Resort
One Ocean Resort at Atlantic Beach is one of the most popular luxury resorts in Jacksonville. While we didn’t stay there, we did go for a spa day! When you use the spa, you can also pop out and use the pool, steam room, and sauna which is a nice bonus. The massages were amazing and it was a great way to kick off the trip! We both did the “signature” massage which was therapeutic, light, and relaxing.
4. Dinner at North Beach Fish Camp
We wanted fried food ASAP so went to one of the most popular restaurants in town, North Beach Fish Camp, which has a variety of food from comfort food like fried fish baskets with hush puppies to Mediterranean meals like my chicken, pictured above. We also tried the clam chowder and it was all delicious. Go early because there is a wait!
5. Wine and Dine at the Coolest Wine Bar in Town
Please go to Royal Palm Wines and have tapas! This was one of my favorite meals all week in Florida. EVERYTHING was good. We ordered 4 plates to share and it was enough because the portions are huge. We had veggie flatbread, mac and cheese, sliders, and a bean dip. This is a must!
It did get crowded at the night went on, so get a table early or make a reservation. This place is cool because you get get a bottle of wine (they are all around the restaurant on the walls) and pay an un-corking fee, so the wine is basically at the same price as a grocery store. We didn’t want a whole bottle, so paid by the glass and it was really reasonable, I think around $5 a glass.
6. DIY Wood Board Signs
Making a wood sign at Creative Grains was one of my favorite activities. I love doing crafts when I travel because it’s such a cool souvenir and it’s nice to “do” something and get creative. My mom loved it as well. We always see these on Pinterest so it was cool to pick a design we liked most, and do it ourselves.
There were a group of fun ladies there at the same time as us who were making family signs for their houses. It’s also cool just to see what other people are making (and secretly judge their color choices, lol). My cat is jealous he didn’t get called out in the sign.
7. Shop Til You Drop at St John’s Towncenter
Between the Beach and Downtown, is St John’s Towncenter. With over 200 stores from Tiffany’s to Target, it’s one of the biggest malls in Florida. My mom and I couldn’t believe the size of it – it’s like 20x bigger than our mall in Columbus. We had about four hours here but I’m telling you, I could have stayed all day or even come back the next day! Living in Mexico, I love shopping days in the USA even more than before.
There are some really unique stores there, too, that are more local. We picked up my nephew some toys at Kool Kids in the Marcus Lemonis store (he is the guy from the TV show The Prophet). One store that I really loved was Natural Life which is kind of a like a wholesale store with all the cute nick-nacks and gifts you love like fluffy socks, mugs, little planters, jewelry dishes, etc. The woman who started it just did an Etsy store at first, but now she stocks stores like Fransescas! Yep, all that pretty stuff you see in there is actually all from this brand! This is their only flagship store.
8. Fill Up At Moxie
What is a shopping day without a boozy lunch? We went to locally-owned Moxie which is just around the corner from the mall, and it is THE BEST MEAL I’ve had all year. I kid you not. Did those pictures not make you drool!? The chicken and waffles came with a maple syrup mousse, the deviled eggs change daily and they are always some kind of cool creation, the meatloaf had a huge slap of provolone cheese on top, and the PIMENTO CHEESE DIP is the best thing I’ve ever eaten. I have to go back here one day!
9. See What Local Event is Going On
While I was in Jacksonville, Beaches Oktoberfest was going on right outside the hotel on Jacksonville Beach. Free live music? Awesome! There is something going on every month, usually many events that are free to enter, so check out what’s going on while you are there.
10. Spend Time Shopping and Boozing at Beaches
From having a sunset drink at Lemon Bar overlooking the sea to checking out the boho boutiques like Sailors Siren, Drift, Fig & Willow, and Jax Surf and Paddle. It’s a small are here with trendy restaurants are cool homewares stores. It’s definitely a place to spend some time. I think it’s best to go before dinner and shop before you have a meal here. The shops mentioned are carrying tons of items from the Natural Life shop I mentioned above. This is where we ate at North Beach Fish Camp and is just a two-minute walk from Hotel Palm.
11. Sunday Brunch at Casa Marina
Casa Marina has a Sunday Brunch which I believe was $40 per person. Make sure to make a reservation! You can sit inside or outside. The poached egg on a fried green tomato and sausage and gravy were my favorite! I had too much bacon and WAY too much whipped butter on my waffles! It was all delicious.
12. Breakfast at Maple Street Biscuit Company
This was one of the things I wasn’t going to leave Jacksonville without doing. Maple Street Biscuit Company is famous for being the best breakfast in town. Look at that chicken biscuit with sausage gravy! I wish I could have it again – so so tasty. I put maple syrup IN MY COFFEE, haha! This place is the bomb.
I would also like to note they didn’t know I was a blogger when I came in and the manager came over and explained the menu and was so nice and welcoming to us which really makes a place even more special.
13. Tour Downtown & Lunch at Cowford Chophouse
On our way out of town to head onward to St. Augustine, we went through Jacksonville city. There is a lot of history in Jacksonville and it’s important to go check out this part of the city and not just the beaches even if just for a few hours.
We did a tour with Ad Lib Tours to get a quick insight to the city, and see some of the most iconic murals, statues, and even an old bank vault which doubled as a bomb shelter during the scare of the Cuban Missile Crisis (you can see all the drinking water above which was stored there). We grabbed a fancy lunch at Cowford Chophouse before leaving town. You’ll learn on the tour why “cowford” is a famous word here!
Pin the coolest things to do in Jacksonville for later!
This trip was a paid campaign with Visit Florida. I choose the activities I do and places I visit; all opinions are my own.