How to Experience Jacksonville with Kids ~ #OnlyInJax

Jacksonville with Kids

Jacksonville has everything you seek for a fun-filled vacation with your kids. There is no shortage of exciting attractions to visit and beautiful experiences to explore when you visit Jacksonville. Read on to get ideas on how you can have an amazing family vacation in Jacksonville. 

How to Experience Jacksonville with Kids

1. Kayaking on the Amelia Island

When to visit: All year round

Entry Fees: N/A

When you visit Amelia Island, ensure that you take a couple of hours to enjoy paddling or kayaking. There are several kayaking trips on Amelia Island and each offers you a unique set of experiences. The most popular one is the Lofton Creek in Yulee. The water is calm, perfect for beginner kayakers (and kids) and it takes you through beautiful sceneries where you get to enjoy wildlife and lush landscapes. Bird-watching enthusiasts love this creek because they get to see numerous bird species. 

The two other kayaking trips may not be moderate but if your kids have some kayaking experience, they will enjoy the thrill. There is the Egan’s Creek that launches from the Dee Dee Bartels End Boat ramp, onto the Amelia River. You will have fantastic views of the surroundings but be warned that it could get bumpy, especially on windy days. The Cumberland trip also launches from Dee Dee ramp and although you will still have amazing views of your surroundings, you need to be careful while kayaking here with your kids. Large boats and other vessels use this route frequently. This is not the most ideal kayaking spot if you are looking for peace and tranquility.

2. Visit the Big Talbot Island State park – Boneyard Beach

When to visit: Any time of the year

Entry Fees: N/A

This reserve is the perfect place to take stunning photos. It may be a bit tricky getting to the beach, especially if you are not following the walkways but once you get down there, the views will be worth the trouble. Boneyard beach was named so because of the numerous tree ‘skeletons’ that line up the beach. Your kids (and probably you as well) will enjoy climbing onto the fallen tree trunks that create the perfect backdrop to take beautiful photos. This would be a great location for a picnic.

Jacksonville with Kids

3. Go Skydiving indoors at iFLY

When to visit:  All year round

Entry Fees: See more information here

If you love getting an adrenalin rush, indoor skydiving should be something to look forward to when you are visiting Jacksonville. You do not need to be skilled to do this (there are instructors on-site) and kids as young as 3 years can enjoy the experience as well. You won’t be falling thousands of feet from the sky, but rather you will be floating on a cushion of controlled air. The location also allows for other activities such as birthday parties, corporate events, private events, and social outings

4. Visit the Jacksonville Zoos and Garden

When to visit: Open year-round

Hours: 9am – 5pm

Entry Fees: Varies

The 73 acres of Jacksonville Zoos and Garden are home to over 2,000 animals and a beautiful combination of plants and wildflowers that will keep you excited and engaged during your visit. Plan to spend a few hours here if you want to have an immersive experience. 

Some of the sections you should check out include the Animal wellness center, the art section, the gardens, and of course, the wildlife. Some of the fascinating animals here include the African elephants, jaguars, stingrays, African bullfrog, bald eagles, Brazilian Boa, Burmese Python, Bongos, Florida’s cottonmouth, Cormorants, kudus, and mandrill. If you love color, walk through the River of Color to see the Savanna Blooms. This 2-acre garden has a unique combination of beautiful flowers, vines, and lilies. The Riverview Gardens, Asian bamboo gardens, and the Gardens at the Range of the Jaguar are also worth a visit.

How to explore Jacksonville with kids

5. Enjoy creativity at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)

When to visit: All year round

Entry fees: Varies

MOCA Jacksonville has a rich history, spreading back to almost 100 years.  It began as an art society and today, it is home to the most robust art collection and exhibitions in Jacksonville. There are over 1,000 pieces of artwork that include sculptures, paintings, photography, and new media collected from over 500 artists. This will be an educational and engaging tour for your family.

6. Eat Candy at Sweet Pete’s

When to visit: All year round

Entry fees: Free – But Fees for Tours

Sweet Pete’s is the sweetest spot in Jacksonville where they do much more than just selling hundreds of delicious candy, chocolate, and ice cream flavors. Chocoholic tasting is a fun and popular activity here. You will be taken around to learn how they make their chocolate, learn about the history of different types of chocolate, and get to taste all the flavors. If you have time, enroll in a short candy-making class here. Birthday parties, corporate events, and private events are also held at Sweet Pete’s. The dessert bar and creamery is a must-visit for ice cream and confectionery lovers.

7. Learn some history at the Museum of Science & History (MOSH)

When to visit: All year round

Entry fees: Varies 

Located on the Southbank of Jacksonville, MOSH is a private, non-profit institution that houses scientific and historical exhibits (Mostly local ones). There are many interactive exhibitions here, such as Atlantic Tails, the Currents of Time, and the JEA Power Play. You also get to see the planetarium, a live animal show, and other fascinating activities that will keep your kids entertained for the duration of their visit.

8. See Cats at the Catty Shack Ranch Wild Life Sanctuary

When to visit: All year round

Hours: 1 -3 pm

Entry fees: $12 Adults, $5 Children

Catty Shack Ranch is a nonprofit sanctuary that acts as a refuge and wellness center for rescuing ‘cats’. Here, you will find tigers, lions, leopards, cougars, bobcats, arctic foxes, and coatimundis living in peaceful coexistence. Most of the employees who take care of the animals are volunteers.

9. Take a river cruise at St. Johns

When to visit: All year round except when cruises are closed

Entry fees: Varies

A River Cruise in Downtown Jacksonville is always something to look forward to inside the city. There are several cruises you can book, and many attractions to see. Hotels, museums, parks, beautiful restaurants are at your disposal near the water. You can join a specialty cruise or charter a cruise boat down the river. Expect to see dolphin shows and fireworks on your cruise.

Jacksonville with Kids

To have a proper experience visiting Jacksonville with kids, schedule enough time because you will be spending a lot of time in each spot. Each attraction offers unique experiences and this is what makes a visit to Jax with your kids more exciting. The attractions we have highlighted here are just a tip of what you can expect to find inside the blossoming city. Three days would be perfect for exploring most (if not all) the attractions inside the city. However, if you are pressed for time, be sure to hit the spots recommended here for a wholesome ‘Jacksonville experience’ with your kids. 

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