Activities & Restaurants

Things to Do in Jacksonville

Nestled in Northeast Florida, Jacksonville is a dynamic city that beckons students with its unique blend of culture, stunning beaches, and outdoor opportunities. As you embark on your Jacksonville journey, this guide will help you uncover the city's hidden gems, exciting activities, and delectable dining options. Whether you're interested in exploring museums, basking in the sun, or savoring international cuisines, Jacksonville has something for every discerning palate and adventurer at heart.

Information below is pulled from individual experiences as well as organizations like Visit Jacksonville, 904 Happy Hour, City of Jacksonville, and City of Jacksonville Beach.

Neighborhoods of Jacksonville

The guide below is organized by neighborhood and overall distance from JU for easier planning!

map of Jacksonville neighborhoods from Visit Jacksonville


JU's Dolphin StatuesSettled by Europeans back in the 1564, Arlington boasts a rich historical past that history enthusiasts will appreciate when exploring places such as the Fort Caroline National Memorial. Additionally, Arlington provides a diverse range of opportunities for shopping, dining, entertainment, and outdoor recreation. This is the neighborhood JU is apart of!


Eat & Drink
Distance from JU (by car)
Donut Shoppe (Cash Only) 2 minutes
Grounds of Grace 2 minutes
Wally’s Gyros & Subs 3 minutes
Spices Caribbean Restaurant 4 minutes
Tabouleh Mediterranean Café 5 minutes
Rice & Noodles 10 minutes
The Baker’s Son 18 minutes
Catullo’s Italian 21 minutes


Distance from JU (by car)
Jacksonville Arboretum & Botanical Gardens 10 minutes
AMC Regency 24 12 minutes
Regency Square Mall 12 minutes
Alhambra Theatre & Dining 16 minutes
Fort Caroline National Memorial 17 minutes

Beaches & Mayport

Jax Pier Image From COJ.netJacksonville is home to  68 miles of ocean coastline, has the longest stretch of the St. Johns River in the state of Florida at 300 miles, and is the birthplace of the Salt Life movement. Beach Blvd and Atlantic Blvd boasts a fantastic selection of dining options in Jacksonville, making it a go-to destination for delicious eats.


Eat & Drink
Distance from JU (by car)
Kung Fu Tea 18 minutes
Hong Kong Bistro & Dim Sum 21 minutes
TacoLu 25 minutes
Dockside Seafood Restaurant 27 minutes
North Beach Fish Camp 28 minutes
O-Ku 30 minutes


Distance from JU (by car)
Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park 24 minutes
Springing the Blues Festival (April) 27 minutes
904 Pop-Up at the Seawalk Pavilion 27 minutes
Jacksonville Beach & Pier 27 minutes
Neptune Beach 29 minutes
Atlantic Beach 29 minutes
Jacksonville Beach Pier 30 minutes


St. John's Town Center from Visit JacksonvilleThe Southside has blossomed into a vibrant and bustling hub of entertainment, shopping, and dining that has become the city's premier destination for all things upscale and trendy.



Eat & Drink
Distance from JU (by car)
Culhane’s Irish Pub 17 minutes
Maggiano's Little Italy 18 minutes
DOMU 18 minutes
Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse 18 minutes
Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant 18 minutes
Mission BBQ 18 minutes
Soupa Noodle Bar 19 minutes
The French Pantry 21 minutes


Distance from JU (by car)
St. John's Town Center 18 minutes
Costco Wholesale 18 minutes
The Escape Game Jacksonville 18 minutes
Topgolf 18 minutes
IKEA 20 minutes
Flight Adventure Park Jacksonville 22 minutes
Autobahn Indoor Speedway & Events 24 minutes
Breakout Games - Jacksonville 27 minutes


Historical Piece from Mandarin MuseumOnce called "a tropical paradise" by author and notable resident Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mandarin is known for its history, ancient oak trees draped with Spanish moss, parks, marinas and water views. In 1830, Mandarin was named after the mandarin orange by Calvin Reed, a prominent resident of the area.


Eat & Drink
Distance from JU (by car)
Le Petit Paris Café 33 minutes
Blue Bamboo Canton Bistro 33 minutes
Julington Creek Fish Camp 36 minutes


Distance from JU (by car)
Trader Joe's 31 minutes
A Day At Walter Jones Historical Park 32 minutes

Mandarin Art FestivalWinter Celebration

About 35 minutes

San Marco

Lion Statues from Resident Community NewsExplore the unique boutiques and art galleries of San Marco, and savor the vibrant dining scene featuring numerous outdoor cafe options. Be sure to visit the San Marco fountain adorned with majestic lions, symbolizing the neighborhood's connection to Venice, Italy's commercial hub. It is home to several of Jacksonville's craft breweries.


Eat & Drink
Distance from JU (by car)
The Bearded Pig 16 mintues
The Olive Tree Mediterranean Grille 16 minutes
Southern Grounds & Co. 16 minutes
European Street Cafe 16 minutes
Taverna 18 minutes
Fuji Sushi 18 minutes


Distance from JU (by car)
Museum Of Science & History (MOSH) 12 minutes
Southbank Riverwalk 13 minutes
Balis Park 18 minutes
San Marco Historic Neighborhood Tour 18 minutes

Riverside & Avondale

Birdseye of RAM from Riverside Avondale PreservationExplore the delightful tree-shaded avenues of Riverside & Avondale, known for their fantastic dining options, antique shops, lively bars, and stylish boutiques. Riverside, a neighborhood with a rich history and a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, stands as one of Jacksonville's most historic and hip locales.


Eat & Drink 
Distance from JU (by car)
Greenhouse Bar & Coffeeshop 15 minutes
River & Post 17 minutes
Hawkers Asian Street Food 18 minutes
Al's Pizza 18 minutes
Cool Moose Café 22 minutes
Iguana on Park 22 minutes
Blue Fish Restaurant & Oyster Bar 22 minutes
Brick Restaurant 22 minutes


Distance from JU (by car)
Riverside Arts Market (Saturdays Only) 16 minutes
Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens 16 minutes
Memorial Park 18 minutes
Boone Park 22 minutes


Stinson park Image from Mitch Marcus, Google ReviewIts riverside charm, historic ambiance, and proximity to downtown offer a unique blend of relaxation and city life. With scenic views, parks, and a welcoming community, Ortega provides a peaceful yet vibrant environment for visitors to step back into time and explore the areas of history within the community.

Eat & Drink
Distance from JU (by car)
mesa 23 minutes
J.L.Trent's Seafood & Grill 29 minutes


Distance from JU (by car)
Chamblin Bookmine 24 minutes
Stinson Park 25 minutes
Stockton Park 26 minutes


NAS Air Show Image from News4JaxHome of Naval Air Station Jacksonville, the Westside is the birthplace of the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy’s world-renowned flight demonstration team. The area boasts a diverse community and is known for its family-friendly atmosphere, making it a desirable place to live.

Eat & Drink
Distance from JU (by car)
Soul Food Bistro 23 minutes


Distance from JU (by car)
Jacksonville Baldwin Rail Trail 31 minutes
Camp Milton Historic Preserve 33 minutes
NAS Jax Air Show (mid-October) 34 minutes

Murray Hill

Murray Mural from News4JaxMurray Hill has become one of Jacksonville's trendiest neighborhoods, thanks to its vibrant local art scene, delectable cuisine, craft beer offerings, and a community of local artists.


Eat & Drink
Distance from JU (by car)
Moon River Pizza 20 minutes
flamingo coffee 20 minutes
Community Loaves 20 minutes
Vagabond Coffee 20 minutes
Dreamette Ice Cream 21 minutes


Distance from JU (by car)
Axe Champs 20 minutes
Murray Hill Theatre 21 minuts

Downtown & Brooklyn

Jax Downtown Skyline - Shutterstock Royalty FreeExplore the vibrant heart of Jacksonville in Downtown which features a riverfront skyline, historic charm, and cultural gems. From concerts to river cruises to art walks to NFL games at EverBank Stadium, there's something for everyone to enjoy year-round.


Eat & Drink
Distance from JU (by car)
De Real Ting Café 11 minutes
The Bread & Board 11 minutes
Burrito Gallery Downtown 11 minutes
Indochine Downtown 11 minutes
The Happy Grilled Cheese 11 minutes
Estrella Cocina 11 minutes


Distance from JU (by car)

Various Festivals such as:

8 minutes
St. John's River Taxi & Tours Various Locations
Jacksonville Jaguars & Concerts at EverBank Field 8 minutes
Jumbo Shrimp at 121 Financial Ballpark 8 minutes
Icemen & Concerts at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena 8 minutes
Ritz Theatre & Museum 11 minutes
Museum Of Contemporary Art (MOCA) 12 minutes
Jacksonville Center for the Performing Arts 13 minutes
Chamblin's Uptown 13 minutes

Rail Yard District

Image from Jax Farmers MarketThe district gets its name from its rail yards which has been in operation since 1858. It is also home to the oldest continuously operating Farmers Market in Florida (established in 1938).



Eat & Drink
Distance from JU (by car)
Blume's Grill 13 minutes


Distance from JU (by car)
Jacksonville Farmers Market 13 minutes
Eco Relics 14 minutes


Welcome Mural from Visit JacksonvilleA historic neighborhood dating back to the 19th century, known for its well-preserved Victorian homes. This diverse community near downtown offers a blend of tradition and modernity, with local shops, dining, and a thriving arts scene.


Eat & Drink
Distance from JU (by car)
Social Grounds Coffee Roasters 10 minutes
Wafaa & Mike's Cafe 10 minutes
Fred Cotten's Landmark BBQ 10 minutes
Crispy's Springfield Gallery 11 minutes
Island Tropics Restaurant 11 minutes


Distance from JU (by car)
Porch Fest (November) 11 minutes
Henry J. Klutho Park 11 minutes
 Stumpy’s Hatchet House 11 minute

Northside & Airport

River City Marketplace Image from UpHomesHome to the Jacksonville International Airport, the JAXPORT Cruise Terminal, and the Amtrak station, this area is where you'll discover some of Jacksonville's most picturesque State and National Parks as well as the bustling River City Marketplace.


Eat & Drink
Distance from JU (by car)
Joseph's Pizza on Main Street 15 minutes
Palms Fish Camp Restaurant 18 minuts
Masala Mantra - The Indian Bistro 21 minuts
Aloha Waffle Bar 22 minutes
Sandollar Restaurant 25 minutes


Distance from JU (by car)
Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens 18 minutes
River City Marketplace 22 minutes
The Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary 24 minutes
Congaree and Penn 28 minutes
Big Talbot Island State Park 31 minutes
Kingsley Plantation 39 minutes

Just Outside of Jacksonville

Old Town Image from St. Francis InnSt. Augustine

A historic city in Florida that features charming cobblestone streets, Spanish colonial architecture, and a rich cultural heritage. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, it's the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in the continental United States. Its scenic bayfront, vibrant arts scene, and historic sites make it a popular tourist destination. It is just shy of one hour from JU.

Birdseye View Image from 'Travel & Leisure'Fernandina Beach

Nestled on Amelia Island, it is a picturesque coastal town known for its Victorian-era charm, pristine beaches, and vibrant downtown. With a rich history dating back to Spanish colonial times, it offers a blend of historic architecture, outdoor recreation, and a relaxed, beach-town atmosphere, attracting visitors year-round. It is also just shy of one hour from JU.


Nighttime View Image from Clay TodayClay County Fairgrounds

Host to a milieu of annual events such as the Buckler’s Bar-B-Q Festival (January), Strawberry Festival (March),  Agricultural Fair (late March - early April), Watermelon Festival (June), First Annual Fall Harvest Festival (October), Vintage Market Days (December). It is also just shy of one hour from JU.


Disclaimer: ISS and JU have no affiliation with any of the organizations mentioned above. The following links are provided for informational purposes only. ISS and JU is not responsible for the content, accuracy, or any consequences that may arise from accessing or using the linked websites. This guide is a compilation of personal experiences and is intended to serve as a reference during your time here in the River City.