Jacksonville, Florida is the largest city, by area, in the United States, so there’s an endless amount of free activities and attractions to enjoy if you know where to look. It’s possible to have a great vacation without spending a single penny, in fact. To keep a little bit extra cash in your pocket, check out our list of the best free things to do in Jacksonville, Florida! We’ve got 20 entries total, including our top 10 favorites.
Top 10 Free Things to Do in Jacksonville, Florida
1. Stroll along Jacksonville Beach
I have a secret love affair with the ocean, so it’s the number one destination on my list of places to see anytime I visit a coastal city. If you also adore the sea, you’ll be happy to learn that Jacksonville Beach lies less than a half hour away from downtown Jacksonville on Florida’s East Coast and stretches over 4 miles. Parking is free, and you can always find a spot. The beach itself is also never too crowded. There’s a pier that juts a quarter of a mile into the ocean, but it will cost you a dollar if you wish to walk its length to enjoy the view. Otherwise, you can just enjoy its aesthetics and snap photos from afar.
Jacksonville Beach is a popular surfing location, and I found myself content with just sitting on the sand as I watched the locals ride the waves. The curve of the shoreline juxtaposed against the tall buildings as they rise from the background also makes for stunning photographs, so don’t forget to bring your camera.
Jax Beach is bordered by Neptune and Atlantic Beaches to the north and Ponte Vedra Beach to the south, so it’s easy to spend an entire day just walking or driving along the coast. We never intended to explore them all, but after hopping in the car to “just drive a little ways,” we found ourselves in awe of all the scenery, shorelines, and even exquisite oceanfront houses that we couldn’t stop, and next thing we knew we had accidentally driven 20 miles south all the way to St Augustine, where we dined at one of the most beautiful seaside restaurants I’ve ever visited in my life. Oops.
Location: 2 Ocean Front North, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
2. Friendship Fountain
When it first opened in 1965, Friendship Fountain was the world’s largest and tallest fountain, ejecting 17,000 gallons of water per minute to a height of over 100 feet. Today it no longer holds that title but still remains one of Jacksonville’s most popular and recognizable attractions. You’ll find it at the western end of the Southbank Riverwalk in Downtown Jacksonville’s Friendship Park (St. Johns River Park).
Location: 1015 Museum Cir, Jacksonville, FL 32207
3. Southbank Riverwalk
The Southbank Riverwalk overlooks the St. Johns River and is a scenic place to take a stroll day or night. A pedestrian-only path, you won’t have to worry about traffic or looking both ways as you leisurely stroll along the river, admiring the skyscrapers and city lights that dominate the horizon. Benches and awnings line the riverwalk, offering a quiet place for rest and relaxation.
Location: 1001 Museum Cir, Jacksonville, FL 32207
4. Jacksonville Landing
This marketplace is particularly special because it’s nestled alongside the scenic St. Johns River and is home to year-round entertainment. At any given moment, you’re bound to see multiple boats docked along the water’s edge as their owners join the bustling crowd to partake in the local festivities. Jacksonville Landing is home to free concerts, specialty fireworks, shopping, waterfront dining, and even nightclubs. Although purchases require a fee, of course, there’s absolutely no charge to visit the area, mingle with locals, and enjoy the atmosphere, so I highly recommend adding this stop to your list of free things to do in Jacksonville. It has to be seen at least once!
Location: 2 W Independent Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32202
5. Dames Point Bridge
One of the most iconic landmarks of Jacksonville, the Dames Point Bridge spans 10,646 feet, with the longest section reaching 1,300 feet while towering 175 feet high. It’s also the longest concrete cable-stayed bridge in the United States. Traveling over Dames Point is a rite of passage for any first-time visitor to Jacksonville, and the scenic view provided by the short drive can’t be beat.
Location: E Beltway 295, Jacksonville, FL 32226
6. 250-Year-Old Treaty Oak
This magnificent tree is not only 250 years-old but may also be the single oldest living thing in Jacksonville, predating even the founding of the city in the 1820s. Its outstretched limbs look more like an octopus than a tree, and stepping under its canopy feels like entering a magical world or a childhood fort, closed off from the rest of the world. You can find the Treaty Oak inside Jesse Ball DuPont Park on Prudential Drive in Southbank. If you are a nature lover, definitely don’t skip this free attraction in Jacksonville.
Location: 1123 Prudential Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32207
7. Take a Photo with the MOSH Mouth in Hemming Park
Hemming Park is Jacksonville’s oldest public park. It hosts concerts as well as art and cultural events, but my favorite attraction is the MOSH Mouth. This unforgettable 18.5 foot long sculpture head once belonged to the Museum of Science and History’s body exhibit but was moved in 2016 to Hemming Park’s Kids’ Zone, where it became a permanent installation. Of all the free things to do in Jacksonville, it’s definitely the quirkiest entry that made our list. And that’s exactly why you should stop by to see it. You won’t find something like this anywhere else!
Location: 135 West Monroe St, Jacksonville, FL 32202
8. Riverside Arts Market
The weekly Riverside Arts Market is hosted under the Fuller Warren Bridge along the St Johns River every Saturday from 10 AM to 3 PM, rain or shine. The beloved attraction features local artists, farmers, bakers, live entertainment, crafts, and even street performers.
Location: 715 Riverside Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32204
9. Downtown Jacksonville Art Murals & Mosaics
You could probably spend an entire day just photographing all the street art in Jacksonville. Downtown is an Instagram hotspot, and the level of detail painted into some of the art murals is truly astounding. This mural located outside of MOSH (the Museum of Science and History) is one of my favorites, but there are dozens of other stunning works scattered throughout the city.
Untitled mural by artist Shaun Thurston, Location: 1025 Museum Circle, Jacksonville, FL 32207
10. Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens
The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens offers free admission every Tuesday from 4 to 9 PM as well as on the first Saturday of each month from 10 AM to 4 PM. College students with ID can also enjoy free admission every Tuesday through Friday from 10 AM to 4 PM. If you’re part of a military family, you can delight in the gardens for free anytime from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The museum showcases art spanning from 2100 BC through the 21st century, and its gardens contain 2.5 acres of historic 20th century design featuring reflecting pools, arbors, fountains, and sculptures. It’s by far one of my favorite free attractions in Jacksonville, Florida.
Location: 829 Riverside Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32204
Even More Free Things to Do in Jacksonville, FL
11. Ride the Jacksonville Skyway
The Jacksonville Skyway, or JTA Skyway, transports passengers to popular city attractions as it glides over the St. Johns River and crowded city streets on a two and a half mile track between Northbank and Southbank. During peak hours, the automated trains arrive every 4 minutes, providing easy access to food, entertainment, and hotels. It’s completely complimentary, so you can use the service for all your downtown transportation needs without spending a single penny.
12. Museum of Science and History (MOSH)
Get free admission to the Museum of Science and History, also known as the MOSH Museum, on the first full weekend of every month by presenting your picture ID with a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch debit or credit card.
Location: 1025 Museum Cir, Jacksonville, FL 32207
13. Free Tour of a Robot Factory at the Sally Corporation
The Sally Corporation, makers of dark rides and animatronics, offers free hourly tours to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 AM to 1 PM (except in July and August). A reservation is required in advance, and children must be at least 7 years old in order to participate. But it’s all completely free fun!
Location: 745 West Forsyth St, Jacksonville, FL 32204
14. Cancer Survivor’s Park
This free attraction features a pretty pond with scale replicas of Jacksonville’s beautiful bridges dissecting its middle. Motivational plaques, sculptures, and an interactive computer bearing the names of local cancer survivors are the focus of the park, and their combined message of hope, encouragement, and celebration is truly inspiring.
Location: 101 W State St, Jacksonville, FL 32202
15. Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens
The Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens is a 120-acre urban forest full of over 3 miles of rustic hiking trails that wind their way around a lake, over ravines, and through a series of distinct ecological habitats. If you’re a nature lover, then this free Jacksonville attraction is definitely for you!
Location: 1445 Millcoe Road, Jacksonville, FL 32225
16. Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve
The Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve is one of the last unspoiled coastal wetlands on the Atlantic Coast and depicts over 6,000 years of human history. It’s also home to both the Kingsley Plantation and Fort Caroline National Memorial. Both free!
Learn about Jacksonville’s dark past at the oldest plantation house in Florida.
Location: 11676 Palmetto Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32226
Fort Caroline National Memorial
Explore a replica fort built by the first European settlers and discover artifacts from the days of the Timucuan Indians.
Location: 12713 Fort Caroline Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32225
17. Jacksonville Art Walk
Every first Wednesday of the month, Downtown Jacksonville hosts a free Art Walk. The event features live music, magic shows, arts, crafts, and other performances.
18. Jax Beach Art Walk
Every second Tuesday of the month, from 5 to 9 PM, Jax Beach hosts a free art walk along 1st Street to showcase the talent of local artists.
19. The Beaches Museum and History Park
The Beaches Museum and History Park is completely free for anyone to attend. They offer an ever-changing schedule of interactive exhibits that celebrates the arts, culture, and history of the Jacksonville Beach communities.
Location: 381 Beach Boulevard, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
20. Jacksonville’s Other Public Parks
Jacksonville has the largest outdoor urban park system in the United States, and many (if not most) of them are completely free to explore. There’s over 80,000 acres of parks total, and you can learn more about them on their website here. (Note: You’ll need to create a free profile in order to access all features of the website.)