Top Summer Activities in Jacksonville
Beach trips, Bicentennial festivals, patriotic celebrations and on-water exploration — summer in Jacksonville, Florida, is filled with thrilling, can’t miss experiences sure to entertain the whole family.
In addition to our diverse arts and culture scene, plentiful shopping options, and many family-friendly attractions — like the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens — here are a few events and experiences that are perfect for rounding out any visitor’s summer itinerary.
1. Catch some rays (and waves) at a local beach
Every season is beach season in Jacksonville, but there’s something about our 22 miles of white sand beaches that just feels “right” during the summer months. A short drive from downtown Jacksonville, the beaches of Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, Mayport Beach, and Atlantic Beach offer plenty of ways to relax as you listen to the waves of the Atlantic roll in. After a full day on the sand, spend time exploring the local restaurants, nightlife hotspots, amusements, and shops that fill the surrounding towns, or learn more about the beaches at the Beaches Museum.
2. Cool off with on-water experiences
Keep cool all summer long by swimming, surfing, paddleboarding or boating around Jacksonville. Take advantage of some of the best surfing in Florida as you shred the waves off the coast of our area beaches, or gently propel yourself around with a standup paddleboard. Water enthusiasts looking for a less thrilling adventure can opt to explore the St. John’s River, area creeks or the Atlantic Ocean by kayak or aboard a motorboat or sailboat.
Visitors searching for a “deeper” aquatic experience can discover the wildlife and reefs that live under the waves with the help of one of Jacksonville’s popular diving charters and outfitters.
3. Get drenched at area splash pads in local parks
Another great way to beat the heat in Jacksonville is with a trip to a local splash pad. A number of area parks and playgrounds are equipped with splash pads that keep the little ones cool, including Murray Hill Playground and Losco Regional Park. Jacksonville Beach’s South Beach Park and Sunshine Playground features a splash pad in addition to a skate park, basketball and tennis courts, three volleyball courts and multiple picnic areas — making it a top choice for a family-friendly day in the park.
4. Explore the nation’s largest urban park system
Clocking in at over 80,000 acres, Jacksonville is home to the largest urban park system in the United States, and long summer days are the perfect opportunity to explore the city’s 400 parks, seven area state parks, nearby beaches, and the networks of hiking, biking and running trails that run through them. A visit to the 46,000-acre Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve is an absolute must-visit for those looking to catch a glimpse of local wildlife, including local bird species.
5. Sip local suds along the Jacksonville Ale Trail
What better way to beat the summer heat than with an ice cold craft beer from one of Jacksonville’s many area breweries and bottle shops? The Jacksonville Ale Trail helps you navigate this hop-filled journey, which includes stops at 20 plus breweries and dozens of bars and bottle shops with craft beer on tap. Pick up a Jacksonville Ale Trail Passport at one of the participating breweries and begin collecting stamps redeemable for prizes, including a koozies and t-shirts.
6. Sample some of Jacksonville’s best tacos and margaritas
On June 4, 2022, the Jacksonville Taco & Margarita Festival at TIAA Bank Field and Daily’s Place will bring together over 40 of Jacksonville’s best Mexican and Central American restaurants, food trucks and carts, offering attendees the chance to bite into some of the city’s top tacos. Fittingly, on-site bars and beverage stations will have plenty of refreshing margaritas and tequila shots flowing, alongside craft beer and other, non-alcoholic beverages. As you hunt for your next favorite taco, enjoy live music from local bands and a DJ, or entertain the young ones with on-site amusements and activities.
7. Share the room with wrestling greats
Each summer, Jacksonville hosts River City Wrestling Con — a two-day event filled with thrilling live wrestling matches and wrestler meet-and-greets at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds Expo Center. When not watching wrestlers fly off of the top rope, fans can shop from a collection of pop culture vendors and artists and snap photos and snag autographs at in-person appearances by emerging and legendary professional wrestling stars. 2022’s special guests include superstars Booker T, the high-flying Hardy Boyz, Bret Hart and Diamond Dallas Page.
8. Rock out at an oceanfront summer concert
Free-to-attend, the Beachella Music & Arts Fair in early June is one of Jacksonville’s most popular annual events and summer concerts. The family-friendly festival at Jacksonville Beach features live music from alternative rock bands, plus a wide array of local food and drink vendors, a festival marketplace, and amusement rides and games at the Seawalk Pavilion.
9. Celebrate America’s birthday with fireworks, food and more
Jacksonville sure knows how to put on a show to celebrate Independence Day. On the evening July 4, watch the skies erupt into glorious color during spectacular free firework displays in Downtown Jacksonville and in Jacksonville Beach. The fun doesn’t stop there, though, as area attractions, restaurants and rooftop bars host special all-American events in honor of the holiday. Enjoy extended hours at the Museum of Science & History, take advantage of all-you-can-race packages at Autobahn Indoor Speedway, or head to Bread & Burger for an all-day family-friendly party complete with music, food, drinks and more. For more Jacksonville 4th of July tips, click here.
10. Reel in a big one (or watch expert anglers compete)
With more than 1,110 miles of interior shorelines, plus convenient access to the Atlantic Ocean, Jacksonville is an angler’s delight and there is no better time to take to the shores and waters than summer. Those looking to hand at fresh and saltwater fishing in Jacksonville can venture out on a local charter for deep sea fishing, or cast a line from one of the city’s top fishing spots.
Each July, Jacksonville hosts the largest kingfish tournament in the country, the Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament & Festival. Here, anglers of all experience levels take to the city’s waterways to compete for thousands of dollars in prizes, with more than 300 boats launched for the weeklong festival — which also includes a food festival and live entertainment.
11. End summer and kickoff football season with a roar
The end of summer also marks the beginning of football season for our professional NFL team, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Enjoy the best tailgating in the NFL and cheer on the Jaguars during a home game at TIAA Bank Field in Downtown Jacksonville. Can’t make it to a game? Watch the NFL (or NCAA) action from a local sports bar, like Scoreboard Sports Bar & Grill or Players Grille.