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Top 10 Jacksonville Attractions

The Best of Jacksonville


Compiling such a list is difficult, because entertainment preferences vary between people. What I've tried to do with this list is put together a nice mix of attractions that appeal to everyone. A few of the attractions, such as the beach and Friendship Fountain, are so embedded in Jacksonville's culture and mystique that they're impossible to ignore. Several of them, of course, revolve around the great St. John's River, the waterway that keeps life flowing through Jacksonville.

Disagree with any of the selections? Want to suggest something? Feel free to add your thoughts below.

The Beach

Jacksonville Beach, Florida
Diane Macdonald/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

A "Top 10" list for Jacksonville isn't complete without at least a passing reference to one of the city's most well-known attractions: the beach. Jacksonville's public beaches span approximately 20 miles across the Atlatnic coast and are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Jacksonville Beach is well known for its 1,000 foot fishing pier.

Jacksonville's Riverside District

Image © Edward R. Jenkins

The reasons for visiting Jacksonville's historic Riverside-Avondale district are plenty. For starters, it's one of the most well-preserved historic neighborhoods in the United States, with over 5,000 historic buildings. Riverside-Avondale was named one of the top ten neighborhoods in the U.S. by the American Planning Association. The Financial Times called it "the closest thing you'll find to Greenwich Village in Florida."

Riverside has a number of attractions, including the weekly Riverside Arts Market and the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens. Five Points, a section of Riverside, is known for its eclectic shopping and vibrant art culture.

Museum of Contemporary Arts

The Museum of Contemporary Art -- known as MOCA -- is one of the largest contemporary art galleries in the Southeast United States. It's across the street from the historic Hemming Plaza in downtown Jacksonville, the city's first park. MOCA is adjacent to the downtown Jacksonville library in the former Western Telegraph Co. building. It opened in 2003 in partnership with UNF.

Museum of Science and History

Photo by Edward R. Jenkins

The Museum of Science and History (MOSH) -- formerly known as the Jacksonville Children's Museum -- has seven permanent exhibitis, a new, state-of-the-art planetarium, and a specialty rotating exhibit. Past exhibits include Dinosaurs and Ice Age Mammals and Dinosaurs of the Deep -- both of which featured elaborate animatronics. MOSH is a must visit in Jacksonville, particularly if you have children.

Friendship Fountain

Photo by Edward R. Jenkins

Many first dates and kisses have taken place over the years in front of Friendship Fountain. Some local residents believe the fountain has special powers. Whether it does it not is certainly up for debate, but there's no denying the fountain's beauty. Friendship Fountain was constructed in 1941. At the time, it was the world's largest fountain. A 2011 renovation brought a handful of improvements to the fountain and surrounding area, which should preserve it for decades to come.

RELATED: Friendship Fountain Photo Gallery

Jacksonville Landing

Jacksonville Landing
Photo by Edward R. Jenkins

What would Jacksonville be without the St. John's River? One could easily argue it's the lifeline of Jacksonville. The Jacksonville Landing is a great place to walk alongside its waters, catch a boat ride, have dinner, and even do some shopping. The Landing is also a popular hangout following Jaguars games and features 300 to 400 special events each year.

RELATED: Jacksonville Landing Photo Gallery

Downtown Art Walk

Photo by Edward R. Jenkins

Jacksonville's downtown art walk takes place the first Wednesday of each month over a 15 block radius, between 5 and 9 p.m., rain or shine. Despite only being in existence for a few short years, Art Walk has quickly turned into one of Jacksonville's finest attractions. It features 30 or so galleries, live music, food and drink, and work from local artists.

RELATED: Art Walk Photo Gallery

Fort Caroline National Memorial

Fort Caroline National Memorial is part of the Timucuan Ecological and Historical Reserve, administered by the National Park Service. Fort Caroline was the first French colony in the United States, established in 1564. The memorial details nearly 6,000 years of human history, and is a must see for Jacksonville residents and visitors, paticularly history buffs. The Timucuan Reserve also includes the Kingsley Plantation, a well-preserved early 19th century plantation.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens features over 2,000 animals over 110 acres. It's also home to seasonal and other specialty events. The city zoo's roots can be traced back to the early 1910s, when it was originally located in Springfield, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is in Jacksonville's Northside.

EverBank Field

EverBank Field - Home of the Jaguars
Photo by Edward R. Jenkins

EverBank Field, formerly known as Jacksonville Municipal Stadium and Alltel Stadium, is the permanent home of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The team plays 10 home games in the stadium each NFL season. The Jaguars headquarters is also inside the stadium. EverBank is also the site of the widly popular annual Florida-Georgia game and a few other annual events, such as concerts and outdoor sporting events. It's full capacity is approximately 73,000. Unlike many other NFL stadiums, which are located outside of town, Jacksonville's is in the heart of downtown.

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