Nestled along the northeastern edge of Florida, Jacksonville Beach offers oceanfront views with the Atlantic Ocean on one side of town, and the Intracoastal Waterway along the other. It’s just a short drive southeast from Florida’s capital city of Jacksonville. This coastal community provides the perfect backdrop for your family to rest and relax. Spend long days on the beach, building sandcastles, and playing in the surf. If you crave a little adventure, enjoy kayaking, canoeing, and hiking along the waterways. After booking your Jacksonville Beach vacation rental, check out these top 12 things to do with your family during your stay.

1. Beaches Museum and History Park

On a rainy afternoon, stop by the Beaches Museum and History Park to learn more about the area’s history. Open Tuesday through Saturday, the museum offers a variety of interactive exhibits along with first-hand accounts of the community’s history. Your kids will enjoy seeing the artwork of local artists and the exhibit on the Mayport Naval Station. Check the schedule before leaving your vacation rental to see if there are any upcoming talks or presentations from staff members.

2. Hit the Amusement Park

At Adventure Landing, your kids can ride the roller coasters or chill on the merry-go-round. This amusement park has a ride for everyone in your family. There are batting cages so the ace player in your family can get in a little practice and go-karts for the older kids and adults to find out who has a lead foot. Hit the arcade for some video games of the vintage or more modern variety to help bridge the generations.

3. Shipwreck Island Water Park

Escape the sand and saltwater while still enjoying the waves at the Shipwreck Island Water Park. With a desert island feel, the park offers four extreme slides for your teens and older kids to enjoy while the younger tots can while away the day at the Shipwreck Island Play Village with a playground set in shallow water with small slides, water cannons, and waterfalls. Laze away the afternoon on a floating tube on the Little St. Johns River.

4. Jacksonville Beach Pier

Gather your fishing poles and sunscreen for an afternoon of fishing and family time on the Jacksonville Beach Pier. Carry a cooler with you to bring home the catch of the day for a fish fry. If fishing isn’t your thing, soak up the sun on a bench or watch the boats go by out on the ocean. With a pair of binoculars, it’s possible to catch some dolphins playing in the waters off the beach.

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5. Fort Clinch State Park

Hop in the car and visit the Fort Clinch State Park to learn more about what life was like living in a military garrison in the 1800s at Fort Clinch State Park. Make sure to take the time for a guided tour with a staff member in period dress who provides you with interesting background and details of daily life. There’s a seven-mile hiking path around the park with the chance to see the native wildlife.

6. Castaway Island Preserve

Stop by the information kiosk for trail maps before launching kayaks to explore the waterway trail or walk around the hiking trails at the Castaway Island Preserve. This 225-acre park abuts the Intercoastal Waterway offering a great place to check out the local flora and fauna. Visit the educational center to learn more about what you saw and pack a picnic lunch to eat at the facilities at the park after your outing.

7. Guana Tolomato Mantazas Reserve

Check all the outdoor boxes with a day at the Guana Tolomato Mantanzas Reserve, including hiking, biking, fishing, and playing on the beach. This reserve is a favorite for bird watchers who hope to catch a glimpse of an osprey or bald eagle along with the other 240 species. Located on a barrier island, the park offers a beach for playing in the surf and fresh water for a relaxing paddle on your kayak.

8. Mini Golf

Spend an afternoon reconnecting with your family during a friendly game of mini golf. At Adventure Landing, you’ll find two 18-hole putt-putt courses, where the kids can take sibling rivalry to a new level. After the final putt is sunk, take the kids out for ice cream from one of the many shops in town before returning to your vacation rental.

9. Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Let the kids show off their wild side at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. This 117-acre zoo has more than 2,000 animals and 1,000 plants for you to learn more about. Check out the stealthy cats at the Range of the Jaguar or step out of your comfort zone at the exotic Asian Bamboo Garden.

10. South Beach Park and Sunshine Playground

Unwind after a day at the beach with a stroll around the South Beach Park and Sunshine Playground while your teens play in the skate park or let younger kids tackle the playground and keep an eye on them from a nearby bench under the shade of a tree. Pack a cooler from your vacation rental and throw some burgers on one the park’s grills for an evening meal served alfresco. During the summer months, let the kids cool off at the Splash Pad, where water shoots up from fountains.

11. Florida State Road A1A

Hop in the car or rent bikes and explore Florida State Road A1A. This scenic road winds its way along the Atlantic River as it leaves Ferdinand Beach and extends all the way down to Key West. Of course, you probably don’t want to go that far, but enjoy the scenery and the collection of funky beach towns on your ride. When hunger strikes, stop in one of the little towns and enjoy a fresh seafood meal at a locally-owned restaurant.

12. Mind Bender Escape Rooms

Put an end to any competitive tendencies among your kids with an hour at the Mind Bender Escape Rooms. This attraction “locks” your family into a themed room, where you all must work together to solve clues and escape before the hour ends. This adventure offers four themes, including Jack the Ripper and the Jewel Heist with varying degrees of difficulty. If you finish up quickly, try another one or save it for another afternoon.

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