History Tours

From the days of the Timucuan Indians to the architectural renaissance following the Great Fire of 1901 to the 21st century hosting of the Super Bowl XXIV, Jacksonville has made it's mark on history.

Take a look at our suggestions below, if you have questions along the way ask a local their advice!

Things To Do

Rent a bike at a neighborhood shop or set out on foot around the Riverside Avondale neighborhood which forms one of the South’s largest neighborhoods designated on the National Register of Historic Places. The Riverside Avondale Preservation Society has created a free, multimedia podcast to guide you along the historic, moss-draped streets of the neighborhood. Explore the trails and historic sites of the Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve. Hike around Kingsley Plantation or find lesser-known sites like the foundation of the home of Willie Browne, the last private owner of the Preserve's Theodore Roosevelt Area.

Take in a first-run movie at one of Jacksonville's historic movie theaters. Both the Sun-Ray Cinema and San Marco Theatre serve food and drinks while showing new movies and cult classics. Jacksonville is rich with African American history; explore stops along Florida's Black Heritage Trail, including the Catharine Street Fire Station, now home to the Jacksonville Fire Museum and the Clara White Mission, founded by a former slave and in operation for over 100 years.

Four Forts of the First Coast Are you a history buff? Ever wondered what life was like long before Columbus made the journey across the Atlantic? Check out four historical forts spanning the “first coast” of Florida – the first settled area in America. Fort Caroline, Fort Clinch, Fort Matnazas, and Castillo de San Marcos.

Only In JAX

Visit Jacksonville Beach and the The American Red Cross Volunteer Life Saving Corps. It is the oldest, still-operating of its kind in the country. The unique structure is in the heart of Jacksonville Beach, surrounded by lunch hotspots, oceanfront bars and shops.

Join General Andrew Jackson as you walk to the top and to the bottom of the city with Adlib Tours, “Top to Bottom Tour”, a unique and exciting history tour of Jacksonville’s core. Tours available by reservation only. Hear stories of the Great Fire of 1901 and visit Hemming Plaza to take a step back in time.

Grab a margarita or some tasty Southwest food at Mossfire Grill in historic Riverside. The restaurant's name is cleverly inspired by the Great Fire of 1901. In the early years of the 20th century, Jacksonville earned the title of “Winter Film Capital of the World.” which attracted more than 30 movie studios. Today, in historic Old Arlington, you can find the home of Norman Studios, the only known remaining silent film studio complex in Jacksonville. The studio is being transformed into the Jacksonville Silent Film Museum.

Timing Is Everything

On May 1, 1562 Captain Jean Ribault first sailed into the St. Johns River here in present day Jacksonville and claimed the land for France. Each May we celebrate our French Heritage with our annual French Week. Jacksonville is the birthplace for Southern Rock, a genre with roots of blues, jazz, soul, R&B and rock and roll. Explore more ideas from the experts, look for our History blogger, Gary Sass.

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