Are you looking for affordable family fun? Do you want to plan a fun day with friends without breaking the bank?
Jacksonville is home to an endless amount of free activities and attractions if you know how to find them. From public parks, free shows, community events, museums, and so much more, it’s possible to have a great day or night in Jacksonville without spending a penny.
Check out our list of free things to do in Jacksonville, Florida, below!
#1. Attend The Riverside Arts Market
Every Saturday (rain or shine), the Riverside Arts Market hosts a slew of farmers, small businesses, artists, makers, and customers alike.
Vendors from around the state offer goods in this flea market-style venue. Artists, food stores, and entertainers set up shop each weekend.
From 10 am to 3 pm, you can sample treats, hear live music, check out local art, and pick up your produce for the week. The market is free to enter, and the venue provides shade to keep you cool during the blazing summer months.
#2. Hit The Beach
Jacksonville Beach is just half an hour away from downtown Jacksonville and stretches over 4 miles of sea, sun, and sand. Parking is free, and there are plenty of spots to go around. JAX Beach is a popular surf spot, and it’s not overcrowded compared to other popular vacation spots in the area.
Spend the day swimming, boarding, tanning, building sandcastles, or people watching. The beach is one of the best ways to soak up everything Jacksonville has to offer without breaking the bank. Check out our beach guide for all the seaside tips!
#3. Explore The Cummer Museum of Art
If you’re an art fan looking for things to do in Jacksonville, this is the place to be. The Cummer Museum has around 5,000 pieces in the permanent collection, ranging from 2000 BC to the 21st century. You can check out the largest fine arts museum in Northeast Florida for free, but you will have to come at a specific time.
Check out the museum’s hours and FREE ADMISSION times here.
#4. Tour a Robot Factory
This isn’t something you can do every day. The Sally Corporation is a dark ride and animatronic manufacturing company responsible for things like T-Rex at Disney World and plenty of other famous attractions. Experience the magic that makes dark rides happen on a free tour of the robot factory. Tours are offered Tuesday, and Thursday hourly from 9 am until 1 pm (except in June-August). You will need to make a reservation in advance and kids but be at least 7 years old to participate.
Call 904-355-7100 or make an online reservation here.
#5. Take a Ride on Baldwin Rail Trail
If you like biking and trail riding, add the Jacksonville Baldwin Rail Trail to your list of things to do in Jacksonville. The trail is located west of downtown and features a 15-mile paved trail encompassed by beautiful uplands, picturesque wetlands, and dense tree canopies. The trail is an easy ride, and walkers, skaters, and horseback riders are welcome.
#6. Cool off at Sunshine Park and Splash Pad
This popular park located in JAX Beach is the perfect place to entertain kiddos while beating the Florida heat. Amenities include a playground, splash pad, basketball court, and tennis court. The best part? Admission is free. Kids can play in the sand, splash in the water, and get their energy out on the playground.
The park also has public restrooms and other amenities like large picnic tables to take a lunch break in the middle of the fun.
#7. Go on an Art Walk
There are a couple of free Art Walks in Jacksonville that you don’t want to miss. Catch the Downtown Jacksonville Art Walk every first Wednesday of the month and the JAX Beach Art Walk every second Tuesday of the month.
The events showcase the talent of local artists. You’ll enjoy live music, arts & crafts, magic shows, and more performances. This is the place to pick up a fun souvenir from your trip to Jacksonville!
#8. Catch a Festival
Jacksonville hosts plenty of festivals throughout the year. Here are a few FREE popular festivals for things to do in Jacksonville.
- Seawalk Music Fest: Hosted by Community First, this 2-day family-friendly event showcases local artists, food vendors, small businesses, and musicians. The entire family can come and enjoy the fun, food, and music.
- The Great Atlantic Seafood & Music Festival: This popular event is back! Add the Great Atlantic Seafood & Music Festival to your list of fun, free things to do in Jacksonville. Each year the event held at Jacksonville Beach allows visitors to try delicious local seafood while listening to live music.
- Jacksonville Springing the Blues Festival: Enjoy three fun-filled days at the Seawalk Pavilion. Every spring, the festival welcomes local, regional, and national blues artists. Springing the Blues is one of the most highly anticipated music events of the year.
- Jacksonville Jazz Festival: This fall is the 40th Anniversary of this iconic music festival. Each year world-renowned jazz musicians perform on several stages. This is the spot for live, free entertainment. The vibrant festival atmosphere is completed with local eats, drinks, and plenty of entertainment.
#9. Learn a Little History at Fort Caroline National Memorial
If you’re a history buff, add the Fort Caroline National Memorial to your list. Fort Caroline memorializes the short-lived French presence in sixteenth-century Florida. You’ll learn all about the territorial battles, stories of exploration, survival, and the first contact between American Indians and Europeans.
Keep in mind the actual location of Fort Caroline is lost; however, this replica encompasses almost 50,000 acres in the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. While you’re there, you may want to check out the Timucuan Preserve Visitor Center. The national park covers 46,000 acres of wetlands, waterways, and other habitats.
#10. Visit the Oldest City Park
James Weldon Johnson Park (formerly Hemming Park) is Jacksonville’s oldest public park. The 1.54-acre public park in Downtown Jacksonville hosts concerts and cultural events throughout the year. This cultural and entertainment family hub offers daily programming, food trucks, and special events every weekend. The park has an outdoor play area for kids, and there’s plenty of coffee shops nearby when you need a pick-me-up. People often bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the beautiful outdoors.
While you’re there, be sure to check out the MOSH Mouth! This impressive 18.5-foot long by 8-foot wide giant mouth sculpture once belonged to the Museum of Science and History. The MOSH Mouth is by far one of the quirkiest sculptures you’ll come across – but it’s totally worth stopping to take a picture of the massive jaws.
From good eats to even better music, Jacksonville doesn’t lack when it comes to fun and free things to do.
You CAN have a great vacation or day trip, even if your budget is tight. Enjoy the city, make memories, and never sacrifice having a great time!