Looking for the top things to do while in Jacksonville? People come from all over the country to visit St. Johns Town Center, and with over 175 premium stores, 20+ eateries, and so much to do, why wouldn’t you?
Whether you’re looking for a new outfit, fine food, entertainment or just a little me time, St. Johns Town Center ticks all the boxes for a great day out. One thing’s for sure – you won’t be bored!
St. Johns Town Center opened in March 2005 and now covers over 50 acres. There’s a lot of ground to cover here (literally and figuratively), so we’ve narrowed down the top activities, places to eat, stores to visit, and even places to stay nearby, so you don’t waste a moment of your time here.
What’s the History of St. Johns Town Center?
40 years ago there were cattle grazing here, but the 1980s saw the area develop into an employment center. Gradually, both single-family developments and apartment complexes grew up. So it had employment and accommodation but nowhere for residents to shop and relax.
Ben Carter Properties and Simon Property Group (the largest real estate investment trust in the US) were chosen to develop what became the St Johns Town Center. The two companies had recently completed the Mall of Georgia and understood what was needed to create this vast, stylish, open-air mall.
It now covers nearly 1.5 million square feet, has parking for 5000 vehicles, and includes condos, apartments and hotels under its umbrella – calling it a mall really doesn’t do it justice. Its palm tree-lined boulevards are spacious and elegant, and the architecture is classic and fashionable. The model has since been copied around the country.
Best Things to Do at St. Johns Tower Center
With so much to do, where do you begin? Don’t panic! It’s worth taking a little time before you visit to decide your must-sees. Fortunately, we’ve done all the hard work for you and have rounded up the best of the best, so you know where to head when you visit. Of course, you can step into any store that interests you as you walk between these must-visit stores, restaurants, and activities.
#1 Shop at a Luxury Store
Whether you’re a regular customer or just want to window shop, St. Johns Tower Center offers some of the best designer stores out there. You’ll find:
#2 Browse the Latest Technology
#3 Get Pampered
Fancy getting someone to take care of you for a change? St. Johns offers plenty of opportunities for a pampering. Natural Body, Bluemercury, and Hand & Stone are all popular choices for spa treatments and massages, and if you prefer a mani-pedi, Venetian Nails & Spa and Polish are extremely popular.
#4 Go Indoor Skydiving
iFly Indoor Skydiving is perfect for the acrophobe (that’s scared of heights, if you don’t know!) – all the fun of freefall at four feet from the ground! There is no jumping and no falling, just a vertical wind tunnel and a qualified instructor to make sure all goes well. Everyone from three-years-old and up can do this, and it’s perfect for parties. You don’t even need to be athletic. Have no mistake, though; it’s still exhilarating and is definitely worth doing if skydiving is something on your bucket list.
#5 The Escape Game
Have you ever tried an escape room? If not, you absolutely should, and if so, this is one you must try. The Escape Game offers 60-minute adventures that will make you feel like you are far from the mundane world of St. Johns Town Center. With 5 different escape rooms, you could even do a different room each day of your stay.
If you’ve not tried an escape room, you step into a room that is fully themed and acts as a 3D puzzle you and your teammates (2 people or more) have to figure out before the time runs out.
The Escape Game Jacksonville’s current games are:
- Prison Break – it’s 1955, and you’ve been wrongly accused of a crime and sentenced to life. Your new cell once belonged to an inmate who disappeared without a trace… or did he? Can you get out before the time runs out? This one is hard (9/10 difficulty) and is designed for 2-8 players.
- The Heist – After a masterpiece is stolen from a prestigious art museum, all fingers point to Vincent Hahn, the egotistical curator. Your job? Slip inside Hahn’s office and recover the painting. The catch? He’s not made your job an easy one… The Heist is relatively difficult (8/10) and designed for 2-8 players.
- Special Ops: Mysterious Market – You’re a group of Special Ops agents, and you’ve been sent to a mysterious market that leaves you with more than you bargained for! Special Ops is relatively difficult (8/10) and designed for 2-7 players.
- Gold Rush – Ready to get rich? You have the perfect opportunity to find crazy old prospector Clyde Hamilton’s stash, but you’ve got to beat the mob to it! Gold Rush has a 7/10 difficulty rating and is designed for 2-8 players.
- Playground – School’s out! Well, sort of – first, you’ll need to finish your work and get your final report card. Problem is, these assignments aren’t like anything you’ve seen before! Band together with your classmates to finish your assignments or be doomed to summer school! With a 6/10 difficulty rating, this is a good choice if you’ve got younger team members or just want to have a blast! Playground is designed for 4-12 players.
Reviews absolutely rave about The Escape Room Jacksonville, so make sure you make time for a game while you’re here!
Whether you love or find the real thing boring, TopGolf is fun for all ages and abilities. At TopGolf, you can practice your swing and compete with friends for points. In your heated bay (only necessary in winter!), you can enjoy good food, drinks, and a good time with your friends and family. Simply aim for one of the dartboard-like targets on the outfield and hope for the best – the closer you are to the bullseye, the more points you win. (This is the perfect opportunity for Dad to win a family competition.)
#7 See a Show at the Alhambra Theater
The Alhambra Theater isn’t in St. Johns itself but is only a couple of miles away and offers the opportunity to watch top-shelf shows and enjoy a high-quality three-course meal. The 2021 schedule includes the Glass Menagerie, Seussical the Musical, and The Sound of Music. This is a great way to spend an evening and feel very swanky.
#8 Try Paddleboarding at SUP Jacksonville
Jacksonville Surf and Paddle Stand Up Paddleboarding (yes, there’s a reason they’ve abbreviated to SUP!) is for the active – stand-up paddling is the fastest growing water sport in the country, and this center is less than a mile away from St. Johns. They do group lessons, trips and parties, or if you’re experienced, you can hire a paddleboard and take yourself off for your own tour.
#9 Paint and Sip Wine
Pinot’s Palette is such a unique premise, and everyone who visits loves it. You are encouraged to paint – and drink wine. What a combination! Top instruction and a wonderfully relaxing atmosphere. It’s a seriously good time whether you’ve got any artistic talent, or not. (And who knows, the wine may bring some out in you!)
#10 Take a Craft Beer Bus Tour
Jax Brew Bus tours set out just a couple of miles from the Town Center. They take nearly five hours to complete but is totally worth it if you are into craft beers. Three of a dozen breweries, and you get to try 10-12 beers. A beer drinker’s heaven! (Plus, you don’t have to drive to any of the locations – awesome!)
#11 Eat at Ted’s Montana Grill
Ted’s Montana Grill is perfect if you’ve had a particularly hard day’s shopping (or just feel like eating steak – who needs a reason?). Bison and beef steaks, burgers and grilled chicken are all on the menu and completely delicious. Don’t worry; there’s a vegan option or two, so as long as your meat-free friends don’t mind eating somewhere so meat-oriented, you can all find something to satisfy!
#12 Race Gocarts!
Who wouldn’t want to race around in Gocarts for an hour or so? Autobahn Indoor Speedway is an awesome place to take younger ones or for the overgrown kids among us to shamelessly try to beat our friends. It’s perhaps not the best place to go right after you finish your craft beer tour, but it’s a ton of fun, and kids love it.
#13 Eat at Cantina Laredo
Cantina Laredo is great for all lovers of Mexican food, and that surely includes us! Traditional dishes cooked with a modern touch delivering flavorsome fish, chicken and steaks. The only problem is deciding what to have!
#14 Stay at Hyatt Place
The 160 room Hyatt Place is right next door to St. Johns Town Center, so it is the perfect place to stay for multiple days enjoying the activities, stores, and eateries at St. Johns. Hyatt Place includes free breakfast, wifi and gym, and a pool. It’s also pet-friendly, so feel free to bring the furry ones along if you need to!
#15 Go Fishing
Beaches Fishing Charters is the perfect way for individuals, small groups, and families to get out on the water and have some success out fishing. It’s a small business with rave reviews, and you can choose from inshore or nearshore fishing. It’s a great way to enjoy Jacksonville from the water.
#16 Stay at Home 2 Suites for a Home-from-Home
Every pet-friendly suite has its own kitchen giving you the freedom you might like to cater for yourself, though it would be a shame to miss out on the fabulous eateries of St. Johns Town Center! You can walk to the open-air mall in minutes, and you’ve got all the benefits of a small suite.
#17 Go Tuk’n (a Tuk Tuk Tour)
A Tuk Tuk is an electric three-wheel luxury vehicle, and with Go Tuk’n, you can take a 3-hour tour to see all the sights there are to see in Jacksonville and get a ton of recommendations for places to visit (as if you needed more!). If you’d like to see the city’s historical side, Go Tuk’n should be on your list of things to do while you’re here.
#18 Stay at the Sheraton
Prefer a little luxury? You will enjoy easy access to St. Johns while staying in luxury accommodation at this premier hotel. It boasts an indoor pool and fitness center along with its own fine restaurant, Bold City Grill. Every room and suite is spacious with all the facilities you would expect from a Sheraton hotel.
#19 Visit the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens
After all the excitement of the escape room, skydiving and beer tour, it will be time to slow down. The Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens is a great way to spend an afternoon or morning at any time of year. See our native birds, wildlife, and plants, and just relax.
#20 Stay at the Ponta Vera Inn
If you’re really looking to treat yourself, stay at the Ponta Vera Inn. This hotel is truly luxurious and has a beach-side situation. It offers a range of beautiful rooms and suites and fine dining at its own Seahorse Grille. With golf, tennis, spa and gym available, you might just not want to go home!
#21 See the Jacksonville Zoo
The Jacksonville Zoo has been transformed over the last 15 years and now is a conservation leader and the perfect place to take the kiddos. They support over 45 conservation efforts globally and have a 4D theater, train, carousel, and regular animal feedings with stingrays, giraffes, and lorikeets.
#22 See the Cummer Museum of Art
The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens is the largest fine art museum in northeast Florida, with over 5,000 works of art. They have a permanent collection that spans from 2100 B.C. to the modern-day and features art by Mildred Thompson, Winslow Homer, Norman Rockwell, and other incredible artists. They also have regular visiting exhibitions, so it’s well worth looking up what’s there before you visit.
#23 Take Your Kids to the Museum of Science and History
The Museum of Science and History is a stunning modern museum especially popular with kids. Children can learn more about how they move, the coastal creatures of the area, how energy works, local history, and more with interactive, engaging experiences. Like the Cummer Museum, they also have visiting exhibits, so check out what’s on before you visit.
#24 Head to Little Talbot Island
Little Talbot Island offers five miles of unspoiled shoreline together with a maritime forest, a haven for native wildlife species. It’s one of just a handful of undeveloped islands and offers bike trails, pristine beaches, and a diverse ecosystem for visitors to explore.
#25 See Some of Jacksonville’s History
Kingsley Plantation is part of Florida’s history. Here, you can visit the preserved 1814 plantation house and see the tabby houses where slaves lived. This is an important piece of Jacksonville history and should be a must-visit, but it is especially important for children. Take the plantation audio tour, discover stories of those who once walked the grounds, and see history come to life.
#26 Island Girl Cigar Bar
Back so something for the adults, now, the Island Girl Cigar Bar can be found on the beaches and is something to be experienced if you like (or want to try) cigars. You’ll find a fully stocked bar, a walk-in humidor, and a relaxing space to kick back and enjoy a cigar and strong drink with friends.
#27 Catch a Show at the Comedy Club
The Comedy Club of Jacksonville is a great place to spend a night laughing and working those ab muscles! They have shows most nights and serve food and drink so you can eat and watch the show.
Of course, there’s always more! You must visit St. Johns Town Centre and, if you can, use the trip to take in the other sites Jacksonville has to offer. Make a break of it, stay in one of our fabulous hotels, eat at a great restaurant and relax. Your trip to Jacksonville is what you make of it!