This large, northeastern Florida city has it all, making it a prime destination to explore before or after a Caribbean cruise. While there are certainly plenty of activities to partake in while on your cruise vacation, you won’t want to miss out on the many things to do in Jacksonville either.
A cultural hub, you’ll find many museums, historical sites, top-rated restaurants, and, of course, luxurious beaches. Plus, Jacksonville boasts one of the largest urban park systems, with over 80,000 acres of outdoor experiences and activities. Consider arriving a day or two early in Jacksonville before your cruise to the Caribbean or spend a few days after your trip to The Bahamas. It makes a great weekend getaway!
Sightseeing in Jacksonville
The Jacksonville Zoo
This popular destination for both tourists and locals features over 2,000 animals and spans 117 acres. Visit a large number of animal and plant exhibits, and you can even pack your own picnic lunch to enjoy on the grounds.
Take a short day trip to this island located just off the coast of Florida, and engage in a number of different activities that make the island an unforgettable experience. From horseback riding along the beach to enjoying a meal of fresh shrimp and other shellfish, visiting the island is a great way to experience the beauty of Florida.
Nestled amongst historic Jacksonville neighborhoods you’ll find an assortment of museums and art galleries. You’ll find plenty of museums for the whole family to enjoy, as well as art, science, and history museums. There is also a tour of a historic plantation and the oldest home in Jacksonville.
Jacksonville features a large number of tranquil and beautiful nature preserves, where you can hike, walk, bike, or run along miles of trails. View local wildlife at some of the animal attractions, and even spend a night camping under the stars!
Shopping in Jacksonville
If you want to do some shopping in Jacksonville, you’ve got a lot of spectacular choices. You’ll be able to shop at everything from the trendiest boutiques to eclectic shops selling vintage treasures, and everything in between.
Five Points and Southside
Visit these areas when shopping in Jacksonville to find those one-of-a-kind pieces and plenty of antiques. With a large focus on the arts, you’ll also be able to find plenty of local designer clothing, jewelry, and more. The Southside area also features a very large antiques mall with over 200 dealers offering their hard-to-find wares.
Take a leisurely stroll through this upscale area to shop in fine boutiques and galleries. The historic area is also a great place to relax and unwind at many of the local eateries.
A beautiful riverfront marketplace offers a great mix of name brand shops alongside local retailers. Do some shopping and take in views of the river at the same time!
Dining in Jacksonville
You’ll find plenty of your favorite name chain restaurants in Jacksonville, along with lots of local favorites. Check out the A1A strip for plenty of top restaurants, or an assortment of family-owned restaurants in the Riverside area. You can also sample many culinary delights at the Jacksonville farmer’s markets. And be sure to try some of the local Jacksonville dishes to really enhance your dining experience!
While obviously not native to Jacksonville, shrimp and grits has nevertheless become quite a popular menu item at many restaurants. Another Southern favorite is also widely consumed in Jacksonville–biscuits and gravy. And steadily rising in popularity as well is chicken and waffles. Seek out all three and your taste buds will be singing you praises!
The Camel Rider
An odd name but a delicious sandwich! The camel rider offers a distinctive taste of Jacksonville, with its ingredients tucked neatly into a flavorful pita. The actual ingredients can vary from place to place, but typically consist of a variety of lunch meats, shredded lettuce, and Italian dressing. A side of tabbouleh usually accompanies the sandwich.
Okay, so you may have had fish tacos before, since it seems they are served almost everywhere these days. But in Jacksonville, the fish in the tacos come fresh from the surrounding waters, making these particular tacos a truly delectable treat.
Jacksonville Swamp Food
The ocean isn’t the only water near Jacksonville brimming with fresh food to enjoy. The local swamps, rivers, creeks, streams and lakes all have something to offer as well, from catfish to soft shell crab, to frog’s legs to alligator. Let your taste buds do a little exploring with this cuisine, and you’re likely to find a new favorite dish!
Beaches in Jacksonville
Of course, you’ll want to spend some time at one of Jacksonville’s stunning and peaceful beaches! Featuring over 22 miles of white sand beaches, Jacksonville will not disappoint beach lovers!
So before you embark on your cruise from Jacksonville (or when you get back) be sure to spend some time discovering more about the amazing city of Jacksonville. Doing so will greatly enhance your trip and give you even more lasting memories of your cruise.
Note: Onboard activities, shore excursions, and dining options may vary by ship and destination.