Things to Do Within 150 Miles of Jacksonville

Posted: Monday, Apr 12 2021
While Jacksonville, Florida has endless activities for visitors from everywhere, you won’t be disappointed in taking a day trip from the city.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the best stops you can make in less than a three-hour drive from Jacksonville. From must-try restaurants to scuba diving, relaxing at the beach to ax throwing, long hikes to orange picking and more, there’s something for everybody. Keep reading to start planning your trip!


PLACES TO EAT

Salt Life Food Shack

Salt Life Food Shack has a great view of the ocean for you to enjoy as you eat, no matter if you visit on Amelia Island, Jacksonville Beach, or St. Augustine Beach. They offer outdoor and rooftop seating as well for you to enjoy the fresh air. With a laid-back atmosphere, great views, delicious cocktails, and fresh seafood, you’ll be glad you stopped in. Check out their website for menu specifics for the location you plan to visit.

Distance from Jacksonville: 1 hour and 10 minutes (Amelia Island) or 1 hour (St. Augustine Beach)

Photo courtesy of Salt Life Food Shack

Casa Benedetto’s Ristorante, St. Augustine

Who doesn’t like Italian food? Visit the family-owned Casa Benedetto for the taste of a home-cooked meal. They serve classics like chicken parmesan and fettuccine alfredo, and you can branch out with their eggplant rollatini or veal piccata. Gluten-free and vegetarian options are also available, and of course, they’re saving some tiramisu and cannolis for you.

Distance from Jacksonville: 55 minutes

Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grill

Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille has dishes that pay homage to New Orleans and are described as “southern, cajun, and creole” — the best of several worlds at one place. It has locations in Ocala, St. Augustine, and Gainesville, and each spot has a full bar to pair the perfect drink with your entree. Notable menu items include the French Market Pasta, Shrimp and Scallop Orleans, and the Bourbon Street Salmon. 

Distance from Jacksonville: 55 minutes (St. Augustine), 1 hour and 20 minutes (Gainesville), or 1 hour and 50 minutes (Ocala)

Photo courtesy of Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille

Satchel’s Pizza, Gainesville

After visiting the eclectic Satchel’s Pizza, you’ll see why this pizza place has been ranked as one of the best restaurants in Gainesville. Their table options are in a van, under a plane, or in a greenhouse, and you’ll be surrounded by art as you enjoy a calzone or a slice of pizza. They use fresh ingredients and have homemade sodas for a noteworthy down-to-earth dining experience.

Distance from Jacksonville: 1 hour and 15 minutes

The Ordinary Pub, Savannah

If you’re walking through Savannah and see a set of stairs that lead down, look up and search for a sign that says “Ordinary Pub.” Of course, that’s not the only way to find this restaurant, but it would be a fun scavenger hunt! The Ordinary Pub offers a casual atmosphere and creatively reimagined pub food with fresh ingredients. Stop in to taste their award-winning menu for lunch, dinner, or after-dinner drinks.
Distance from Jacksonville: 2 hours and 10 minutes

Photo courtesy of The Ordinary Pub

THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Silver Springs State Park

Hike, paddleboard, camp, and explore this 4,000-acre park just east of Ocala. The park and river are home to many wildlife species — deer, manatees, turkey, armadillo, and more. You can hop on a glass-bottom boat and cruise through the Silver River, seeing aquatic wildlife, Spanish and Native American artifacts, and Mammoth Spring, which is the largest spring in the river. Planning just a day trip to the park? There are a restaurant and dessert shop you can fuel up at before making your way out.

Distance from Jacksonville: 2 hours

Hiking

There’s a variety of hiking options throughout the Sunshine State, and no matter what experience you have hiking, there’s something for you.

  • Little Talbot Island
    This underdeveloped barrier island offers five miles of pretty beaches to explore and the unique four-mile-long Dune Ridge Trail. On the trail, you’ll see Spanish moss, magnolia trunks, and of course, the sand trail where you can leave your footprints or see where wildlife has scuttled by.

    Distance from Jacksonville: 30 minutes
  • Bulow Creek State Park
    Just over an hour from Jacksonville is Bulow Creek State Park, a perfect spot to hike, picnic, and see the Fairchild Oak, one of the oldest oak trees in the South. Of the 5,600 acres of land at this park, some 1,500 acres are actually submerged, giving you a unique experience of Florida’s ecology.

    If you need a break from the busyness of city life, hike the seven-mile-long Bulow Woods Trail that leads to the Bulow Plantation Ruins State Park. For hikers who want a quicker loop, the Wahlin Trail is only 0.3 miles and will take you around the Fairchild Oak and let you explore a beautiful section of the park. There’s no entrance fee, and it’s open from 8:00 a.m. to sundown every day. As with any hike in the Florida weather, you’ll want to pack water, snacks, and some sunscreen.

    Distance from Jacksonville: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Photo courtesy of FloridaStateParks.org
  • Just south of Gainesville is Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park with eight hiking trails that will take you through diverse landscapes. You may even see some American bison or wild horses roaming the prairie! Trail lengths vary from 2.5 miles to 16 miles, and for a nice little photoshoot, check out the boardwalk on the La Chua Trail.

    Distance from Jacksonville: 1.5 hours

There are five main trailheads on the paved Withlacoochee State Trail, which makes sense for the 46-mile trail. As you walk, jog, or bike, you’ll get to enjoy different plant and animal life, as well as see the occasional horse on the parallel equestrian path. The trail may be man-made, but there are several sections where you’ll find yourself in stunning scenes of nature, such as the Croom Wildlife Management Area.
Distance from Jacksonville: 2 hours and 40 minutes

Visit Retired Horses

About an hour and a half southwest of Jacksonville is Mill Creek Farm, a retirement home for horses who have been neglected, abused, or abandoned. They now have a restful 335-acre home where they can be cared for and welcome visitors. The admission price to say hi to these sweet creatures is simply two carrots, and visitors are welcome every Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Distance from Jacksonville: 1.5 hours

Photo courtesy of Mill Creek Farm

Cedar Key

Cedar Key is a small community of islands that’s full of trails, wildlife, birding, and more. Off the Florida coast in the Gulf of Mexico, this community is only accessible via Highway 24, and you’ll start dreaming of where to explore once you see the view from the bridges as you drive in. The Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge is where you’ll want to go to fish, birdwatch, observe dolphins, or simply to enjoy the beauty of nature.

Distance from Jacksonville: 2 hours and 20 minutes

WHERE TO RELAX

One of the (Many) Beaches

If you haven’t studied our Jacksonville Beach Guide yet, make sure to read through for tips on the best beaches to relax, surf, paddleboard, or kayak, as well as some hot spots for where to eat after your fun in the sun. You don’t want to miss out on the twenty-two miles of shoreline that the city has to offer, including the city’s four main beaches: Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach, and Mayport Beach

Aside from the beaches you can find in the Jacksonville vicinity, we also recommend visiting the white sands of Daytona Beach, perusing the pier at St. Augustine Beach, and trying your hand at surfing at Cocoa Beach near Orlando.

Amelia Island

Just forty-five minutes north of Jacksonville is the peaceful Amelia Island. It’s consistently ranked as one of the best island destinations with thirteen miles of shoreline, few crowds, boutiques to explore, and spas to relax in. On the north side of the island, you can meander around the quiet Fernandina Beach on foot or even take a picturesque horseback ride on the beach. 

Distance from Jacksonville: 45 minutes

The Golden Isles

Across the Georgia state line, the Golden Isles offer a sweet and enjoyable getaway. Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island, Brunswick, Sea Island, and Little St. Simons Island make up this little pack, and there are some memorable activities that the easygoing traveler will enjoy.

Photo courtesy of TheGoldenIsles.com
  • Jekyll Island is home to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center where you can learn about nesting sites for sea turtles and see them firsthand. The best time to visit is mid-July through October when hatchlings start emerging. Just ten minutes from the turtle center is the must-see Driftwood Beach, where driftwood trees are waiting to give you a beautiful and unique photoshoot location.
  • A walk around St. Simons Pier Village on St. Simons Island will give you a local, small-town feel with its small shops and restaurants. Hang out at the nearby Neptune Park and see the lighthouse museum. Don’t leave St. Simons without checking out the Avenue of the Oaks, a double row of giant oak trees that lead to the Lodge at the Sea Island Golf Club.
  • Little St. Simons Island is the perfect getaway for the nature-lover who wants to see more of the ecology of Georgia’s barrier islands. It’s such a small island that all visitors must make a reservation before coming! Little St. Simons is only accessible by boat and allows a limited number of guests, so be sure to make your reservation to guarantee your trip here.
  • Brunswick is the historic port city of the Golden Isles. It has near-perfect weather year-round, so you can stroll through the city streets and squares no matter when you visit. Catch a guided tour of the city or jump aboard the Emerald Princess Casino ship for a lively evening. With high-quality seafood coming in daily, you can bet that the catch of the day at a local restaurant will always be fresh.
  • Sea Island is the ultimate resort island and is the only resort in the world to be given four Forbes Five-Stars for thirteen years in a row. The amenities offered through its restaurants and hotels will truly help you feel rejuvenated after you spend time here. You can observe sea turtles, go horseback riding on the beach, leisurely play a few games of golf, or take a spa day. For membership opportunities, be sure to visit their website.

Forsyth Park in Savannah

Forsyth Park is a 30-acre beauty in the historic district of Savannah, Georgia. As the largest and oldest park in the city, you know it has a lot to boast about. Its famous fountain was modeled after the fountains at the Place de la Concorde in Paris, it hosts several large festivals and events annually (not to mention a farmer’s market every Saturday throughout the year), and its green lawns are perfect for unwinding from a city tour with a cup of coffee. (There’s even a coffee shop across from the park — the Sentient Bean. Talk about convenient!)

Distance from Jacksonville: 2 hours

Image courtesy of Savannah.com

Sholom Park in Ocala

If, while enjoying the city of Ocala, you need space and time for reflection or a quiet walk, Sholom Park is the place to go. Over 100 species of plants and trees are rooted in this 44-acre botanical garden. Sholom Park’s natural beauty comes from the founders’ desire to steward nature and bring peace to those who walk through it.

Distance from Jacksonville: 2 hours

FOR THE ADVENTUROUS

Boat and Water Tour in Savannah

Amphibian Air in Savannah is a boat and water tour that will literally send you flying. As the name “amphibian” suggests, the tour is conducted on a “plane” that’s both a boat and an aircraft. You’ll be paired with an FAA-certified flight instructor, and the open cockpit will give you views of the landscape that you wouldn’t be able to see anywhere else. Don’t be too hesitant — safety is their top priority, and you’ll be flying “low and slow” so that you can fully enjoy the tour. 

Distance from Jacksonville: 2 hours and 10 minutes

Ax Throwing in Gainesville

The Hatchetbury is an ax-throwing bar in Gainesville that serves as both fun and a chance to blow off some steam. After a tutorial and a review of safety procedures, you can get to throwing. Expect to be there for at least an hour, and if you have a larger group, your crew may be there for a minimum of two hours. The Hatchetbury has drinks available for purchase, and you can even bring your own ax. 

Distance from Jacksonville: 1 hour and 20 minutes

Scuba Diving in an Underground Spring

Devil’s Den Spring is an underground, prehistoric spring where you can scuba dive and snorkel. This spring stays 72-degrees Fahrenheit all year, making it a great adventure for a winter trip, and you’ll see ancient rock formations and fossil beds dating back 33 million years! If you plan on diving, make sure you bring your dive buddy and that you’re scuba certified at the Open Water level or above. There’s even an option for night diving! Just make sure you make your reservation ahead of time.  

Distance from Jacksonville: 1 hour and 45 minutes

Zip Lining through Canyons in Ocala

If you’re looking for something that will get your heart racing, you must visit Zip the Canyons near Ocala. This adventure park has plenty to offer across two canyons and four lakes. You can do horseback tours, kayak through Big Cliff Canyon, embark on a wine and chocolate tour, or saunter right up the top of the canyons and zip line hundreds of feet through them. Zip the Canyons gives several different course options including one at night. You can choose between courses with three, five, or nine zip lines and different views. Without a doubt, you’ll be blown away by the sights and excitement that this park has to offer.

Distance from Jacksonville: 1 hour and 40 minutes

Visit an Alligator Farm in St. Augustine

Of course, many people think of “Florida” and “gators” belonging in the same sentence like two peas in a pod, but the St. Augustine Alligator Farm is an experience that will solidify that connection for you! Opened in 1893, the farm is Florida’s oldest alligator attraction, and offers more than just wildlife shows. You can zip line above the zoo on one of two courses, giving you a safe and exciting view of the 24 crocodilian species that live here. You can also sign up for an animal encounter with a slot, or a 1,250-pound crocodile named Maximo. You choose. One thing’s for certain: you shouldn’t plan a trip to St. Augustine without considering this experience.

Distance from Jacksonville: 50 minutes

Swim with Dolphins in St. Augustine

If you’ve ever dreamt of being a marine biologist, you need to visit Marineland in St. Augustine. Not only are there sailboat tours and boat or kayak eco-tours through the Matanzas River Estuary, but you can actually swim with dolphins! Isn’t that why most people want to become marine biologists anyways? Marineland also offers visitors the chance to be a trainer for the day. Shadow their training crew as you feed, learn about, and encounter dolphins up close and personal.

Distance from Jacksonville: 1 hour and 15 minutes

GET A TASTE OF FARM LIFE

See Florida’s Fruit Scene

The Sunshine State is certainly known for oranges, as well as other fruits. Florida oranges are staples in any grocery store, but did you know that you can have fresh Florida oranges shipped directly to you? Check out the varieties from Reeds Groves and Pell’s Citrus and Nursery, as well as a few other notable options below.

Photo courtesy of The Orange Shop
  • The Orange Shop is a small, local store that’s been in business since 1937. They’re well-known for some of the best orange varieties you can find. After you fall in love with this shop and its high-quality fruits, you can sign up for a subscription to get their oranges shipped throughout the US and Canada.

    Distance from Jacksonville: 1.5 hours
  • Pick your own fruits and vegetables at Vo-LaSalle Farms! They’re open Thursday through Sunday each week, and you can visit their website ahead of time to see which foods are ready for picking. If you’re not in the mood to get your hands dirty, their store has fresh produce waiting for you, as well as honey, jellies, and more.

    Distance from Jacksonville: 1.5 hours
  • Family-owned Blu by U Blueberry Farm is a great stop to pick your own blueberries and strawberries. They also have farm animals that you can see up close and personal and a butterfly garden.

    Distance from Jacksonville: 30 minutes

Slow Down at the Congaree and Penn Farm

The Congaree and Penn Farm began as a tiny rice farm and has developed into a beautiful stop for some good old-fashioned agritourism. Take a goat tour, wagon ride, or a private sunset cruise through the farm. You can also pick your own blackberries through June and July or pick olives and grapes in August. They offer a unique beekeeping experience during spring and autumn, or you can wander around Congaree and Penn on your own. Be sure to make a reservation before you head here!

Distance from Jacksonville: 22 minutes

Photo courtesy of Congaree and Penn

Visit the Horse Capital of the World

Marion County, less than 100 miles southwest of Jacksonville, is known as the “Horse Capital of the World.” You can find horse farms in the county that are open for visitors to come and check out what makes them the best of the best. 

  • Farms Tours of Ocala makes it easy for you to explore three different horse farms in a short period of time. Each tour lasts about three and a half hours with stops at three different locations. These farm tours will take you behind the scenes with equine experts, and there’s also an option to create your own custom tour experience.

    Distance from Jacksonville: 2 hours
Photo courtesy of Farm Tours of Ocala

Visit the Gyspy Gold Horse Farm for a close look at the Gypsy Vanner horse breed. Even if you didn’t know what their breed was called, you’ll recognize these horses by their usual small Shire stature and hooves that are covered with “feather hair.” Gypsy Gold Farm offers a two-hour walking tour of the farm on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Distance from Jacksonville: 2 hours

EXPLORE CITY STREETS

St. Johns Town Center

Now, most everything on our list is outside the city of Jacksonville, but the St. Johns Town Center on the southeast side of town had to be mentioned. It covers over 50 acres of land and has something for everyone. Read through our guide on the Top 27 Things to Do in the St. Johns Town Center for an expanded list of how to make the most of your time here.

Savannah’s Historic District

There’s almost too much to see in the historic district of Savannah, Georgia, but however much time you spend here, you won’t be disappointed in what you find. You can explore over twenty city squares that are home to churches, museums, art, and monuments. Walk through cobbled streets as you get a view of the Savannah River, stop at an outdoor café to refuel, and enjoy Savannah’s nightlife at a dueling pianos bar or a comedy show. 

Distance from Jacksonville: 2 hours and 20 minutes

St. Augustine

St. Augustine is the oldest occupied city in the United States. The waterfront city is still full of Spanish colonial architecture and cobbled streets to make you feel like you’re walking back in time, but there are plenty of shops and eateries that feel fresh and new. Walk along the Matanzas River and daydream while looking over the water, or visit the drawbridges of Castillo de San Marcos, North America’s oldest fort. Consider visiting the St. Augustine Lighthouse or the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in Florida, for a beautiful view of the city and the coast.

Distance from Jacksonville: 50 minutes

Gainesville

This city is mainly known for the University of Florida, home of the Gators and the Butterfly Rainforest, but walking through downtown Gainesville is worth at least an afternoon or evening. Get caught up in the sights of the Spanish moss and tree-lined avenues in downtown Gainesville before looking around Bo Diddley Plaza or the Union Street Station Pedestrian Mall. As you make your way through the city, you’ll also find that restaurants here offer a range of cuisines, from Caribbean to pub food and beyond.

Distance from Jacksonville: 1 hour and 20 minutes

CHECK OUT A MUSEUM

The Cummer Museum of Arts & Gardens

Located near downtown Jacksonville off the St. Johns River, the Cummer Museum is the largest fine arts museum in northeast Florida. The museum holds more than 5,000 works of art, and you can relax in its café and garden area while overlooking the riverfront.

Photo courtesy of the Cummer Museum

Florida Museum of Natural History

The Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida in Gainesville is one of the nation’s top five natural history museums. It focuses on Florida’s biological diversity, which you can get a small taste of by hiking or camping. They always have intriguing visiting exhibits, as well as engaging outdoor ones. A must-see is the extraordinary Butterfly Rainforest, a 6,400 square foot living exhibit with tropical trees, growing flowers, waterfalls, and 50 species of butterfly. While general admission is free, there is a small admission fee for the Butterfly Rainforest.

Distance from Jacksonville: 1.5 hours

Photo courtesy of The Florida Museum of Natural History

Appleton Museum of Art in Ocala

The Appleton Museum of Art, College of Central Florida, features both visiting and permanent exhibits, an outdoor sculpture walk and garden, and over 18,000 art pieces. Even the building itself has stunning architecture with clean lines and beautiful marble. After viewing the extensive collections, you can relax in their café and courtyard.

Distance from Jacksonville: 2 hours

DISCOVER SPIRITS AND WINE

Ghost Coast Distillery in Savannah

After a leisurely stroll through Savannah’s historic district, make your way to Ghost Coast Distillery, rated one of the best distilleries in the country by both Yelp and USA Today. Their unique cocktails are made from small-batch spirits and liqueurs that you won’t be able to find anywhere else. To see what their seasonal cocktail menu is, check out their website, or just allow yourself to be surprised when you visit! Ghost Coast is open Thursday through Sunday, and visitors under 21 years old are welcome with a parent or legal guardian. 

Distance from Jacksonville: 2 hours

Photo courtesy of Ghost Coast Distillery

Log Cabin Winery

Taste as many samples as you’d like for only a dollar each! Located by the St. Johns River, the Log Cabin Farm, Vineyard, and Winery has ten acres of quality Muscadine grapes that make for quality wine. You can also make a reservation for a walking tour to see the property’s wild grapes and native plants. 

Distance from Jacksonville: 2 hours

San Sebastian Winery

The San Sebastian Winery sits just a few blocks away from St. Augustine’s historic downtown. Enjoy a complimentary tour and wine tasting seven days a week through their 18,000 square foot production facility. On the weekends, you can listen to live jazz and blues at their rooftop bar, The Cellar Upstairs, while relaxing with a glass of wine.

Distance from Jacksonville: 45 minutes

Photo courtesy of San Sebastian Winery

St. Augustine Distillery

Since it opened in 2013, the St. Augustine Distillery has been committed to building its community through investing in local establishments such as Habitat for Humanity, while still serving great bourbon. This locally-owned distillery offers free tours seven days a week that include a sampling of four signature cocktails. Add this stop to your list for a cool experience that gives back.

Distance from Jacksonville: 45 minutes

Flagler Beachfront Winery

This winery is thirty minutes north of Daytona Beach with a spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean. Their menu changes regularly, but they always have their unique wine slushie available! You can even get it in a tumbler and enjoy it on the beach.

Distance from Jacksonville: 1 hour and 10 minutes

KEY THEME PARKS

Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning two of Florida’s biggest theme parks: Disney World and Universal Studios! People come from all over the world to experience these parks, even in the Florida heat. That can only mean one thing: they’re worth it! 

Photo courtesy of Disney World

Disney World is still home to Mickey and Goofy, Timon and Pumba, It’s a Small World and the Mad Tea Party, but it seems like the magic never runs out no matter how many times you visit. Pick your park for the day (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, or Hollywood Studios), and we recommend investing in a Park Hopper pass so you can make the most out of your trip.

Universal Studios is the spot to “ride the movies” and experience exciting heart-elevating rides. Because it’s made up of Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay water park, multi-day tickets are the way to go to see as much as possible. 

At both parks, remember to prepare for the sunshine, wear comfortable shoes, and bring your camera and your smiles.

Distance from Jacksonville: 2.5 hours

What are you waiting for?

If you’ve always wanted to venture around Jacksonville and beyond, you’ve now got a starter for your bucket list. There’s a little something for everyone, as well as new sights to see and adventures to have!

If you’re looking for some local cuisine options…

Check out the best places to eat in Jacksonville!

BACK TO TOP