Along the beautiful Heckscher Drive on Jacksonville's Northside, you will find the city’s oldest residential home. Follow the signs for Kingsley Plantation and you will soon be immersed in 18-century Jacksonville. A narrow rustic road will lead you to a parking lot designated for visitors to this unique Plantation.
Open from 9 to 5, you can begin your visit with a self-guided audio tour. Pick up the audio tour device & tour map at the visitor center which is located next to the Plantation house. The “Lion Teller” audio tour lasts about 1 hour and is at no cost to you. Each stop on the tour is clearly marked with an audio tour sign. The tour takes you to the plantation grounds, Kingsley home and its slave quarters. During it, you will learn about the history of the Plantation and the people who lived there in the late 1700’s and 1800’s. First built in 1798, this is one of the last remaining plantation homes in the state of Florida. Kingsley Plantation was named for an early owner, Zephaniah Kingsley, who spent 25 years there. After his death, his wife, a former slave, took over the plantation giving it a unique story.
If you don’t want to do the audio tour and want to roam yourself then check out the Grounds Tour Map. With 7 stops and descriptions on each stop. Also available in a kids edition! Park Rangers are nearby and happy to answer any questions and can help you understand how life was back in 1797.
INSIDER TIP: You can actually go inside the Plantation house but only during the weekends. Ranger led tours are available on a limited basis at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. To secure a spot, call ahead for reservations.
Take a water break and sit behind the plantation house along the river. Kingsley Plantation has a dock accessible by the public. You can arrive via boat or kayak. Go check out the waterfront and enjoy the sights. Cool fact is back in 1797 when it was built, it was only accessible by boats. Afterwards, you can visit The Ribault Club, also located on Fort George Island. Once an exclusive resort, it is now a visitor center with a meeting space available for special functions. Behind the club, small boats, canoes and kayaks can be launched on the tidal waters.
LUNCH: Before leaving the property swing by the Visitors Center where you can buy souvenirs and see some of the cotton the Plantation once produced. When you’re ready to leave Kingsley Plantation, head over to one of the local restaurants in the area. Sandollar Restaurant is only a few minutes away, you can also take the St. Johns Ferry and eat across the river at Singleton’s Seafood Shack.
This day is full of history at Kingsley Plantation!