Affordable, Family Fun in Jacksonville

By: Carrie McLaren


I’m a Jacksonville native, and I have so many great, childhood memories of experiencing the city with my parents. Now that I’m a mom, I’m enjoying exploring Northeast Florida all over again, with my own children. 

Here’s just a small sampling of some of the local favorites here in Northeast Florida -

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is home to 2,000 rare and exotic animals and over 1,000 unique plant species. There’s also a fun splash park for kids, train rides and a carousel that features zoo animals. My favorite place at the zoo is the giraffe overlook, which offers great views of the animals; you can even feed the giraffes.

In the summer months, ShipWreck Island Water Park at Adventure Landing Jacksonville Beach is the place to be. My personal favorite is the Little St. Johns Lazy River – a perfect spot to relax. There’s also Typhoon Lagoon, the giant wave pool, and three extreme slides: the Rage, the Hydro Half-Pipe and the Eye of the Storm. If you don’t want to get wet, challenge the family to a round of adventure miniature golf, indoor laser tag or take a swing in the batting cages. 

Chocolate fans, don’t miss the Peterbrooke Chocolatier Production Center in the historic San Marco neighborhood. Enjoy sampling and indulging yourself with chocolate-covered popcorn, chocolate-covered strawberries, fresh-baked cookies and more.  With numerous locations throughout Northeast Florida, the production center offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the creations come to life! 

The Riverside Arts Market is another of our favorite spots. Every Saturday from March through December, the market comes alive along the banks of the St. Johns River with local food vendors, artists, musicians and fun. It’s a great place to pack a picnic lunch or buy local fare and enjoy the sights. We especially enjoy watching the jugglers each week. The amphitheater features musicians throughout the day, making the market an affordable and fun event for families. 

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