Jacksonville. Also known as The River City. Or simply Jax.
Jacksonville is one of the largest cities in the United States — both by area and population — and a major tourist destination. The city’s history, amazing beaches, numerous golf courses, parks, and trails, and great good attracts millions of visitors every year.
If you plan to visit the city or are already there and thinking about exploring it, here are some of the best places to visit in Jacksonville.
Cummer Museum Of Art And Gardens
Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens is a relatively small but impressive museum with a permanent collection of over 5,000 works of art spanning thousands of years. The collection is especially strong in European and American paintings and also includes substantial holdings of Meissen porcelain.
The notable works of art in the museum’s collection include those by Peter Paul Rubens, Winslow Homer, Thomas Moran, Norman Rockwell, and Romare Bearden.
The three delightful gardens — English Garden, Italian Garden, and, The Olmsted Garden — are located on the banks of the St. Johns River and feature reflecting pools, fountains, arbors, antique ornaments, and sculptures.
The view of the river is captivating.
Standing prominently over the gardens is a large oak tree — the Cummer Oak — estimated to be between 175 and 200 years old.
There’s a nice gift shop and a cafe too.
The Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife
On the home page of its website, The Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife rightly boasts of being number one on the list of things to do in Jacksonville.
The sanctuary states its mission is “to provide a safe, loving, forever home for endangered big cats, and to educate the public about their plight in the wild and captivity.” Its mission and the way the sanctuary chooses to pursue it make visitors and others who know about the place fall in love with it.
The sanctuary focuses on rescuing exotic animals from serious situations. It does not breed, trade, sell, or buy any of the animals housed there so that their well-being is not jeopardized by irresponsible growth. Its current residents include tigers, lions, pumas, leopards, bobcats, lynx, foxes, and coatimundis (the last two species being “honorary cats”).
One of the main attractions of the place is the Night Feeding, a program that includes a self-guided tour of the sanctuary (with volunteers to help) and allows visitors to watch the amazing and beautiful big cats devour 600 pounds of food — beef and chicken.
Jacksonville also has a nice zoo, but I would visit the sanctuary if I had to choose. No doubt about that.
Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park
Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park is a public beach and city park with plenty of options for fun activities.
The 1.5-mile beach is lovely and has about a dozen access points.
The campground is nice and reasonably clean. There are hundreds of campsites with fire rings, picnic tables, and other facilities. There are a few small cabins available for rent too.
Then there are a number of trails of varying difficulty levels if you are interested in hiking or biking.
There’s also a freshwater lake where people can enjoy different activities, including fishing, kayaking, paddle boating, and canoeing.
If you have kids with you, there are playgrounds to keep them entertained.
Overall, a great place — quiet and peaceful — to relax and have some fun away from the usual city life.
So these were some of the places you must visit if you’re in Jacksonville. I must add that due to the pandemic, some sections might not be open, or there could be certain restrictions. So make sure you do the necessary research before visiting.
Also, please follow the guideline. Have fun but stay safe.