Answers from Our Experts (1)
There are plenty of ways to enjoy your time in Jacksonville without having to spend a penny. Here are my favorite cost-free activities:
1. Walk (or jog) the Northbank Riverwalk. Located right on the beautiful St. Johns River, the Riverwalk is a paved walkway that's a favorite among walkers and joggers. It feeds right into the popular "Bridges Loop," a running route that crosses the Main Street and Acosta bridges. Swing by any evening around dusk, and you'll see runners of all ages and ability levels enjoying the pretty skyline views as they work up a sweat.
2. Get your art fix. On the first Wednesday evening of each month, rain or shine, Downtown becomes an art-lover's dream as galleries offer free admission, artists sell their wares in Hemming Plaza and live music fills the air. It's a Jacksonville tradition that's gained tons of traction with the creative community in the past few years, and it's worth checking out if only for the free admission to the Museum of Contemporary Art. (Insider tip: you can also visit the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens every Tuesday evening, starting at 4 p.m., for free. The Riverside museum is a stunning community asset that features local and international artists from a wide range of time periods.)
3. Build a sandcastle. Jacksonville Beach is only 20 minutes away from downtown. Simply hop on Beach Boulevard or Atlantic Boulevard and head east until you see the shore. Just don't try making this trip around rush hour.
4. Reconnect with nature at the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens. I almost hate to share this tip, as it's one of the city's best-kept secrets! The Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens is a natural park filled with walking trails, hidden in the city's Arlington neighborhood. From the moment you set foot on the trail, you'll find yourself amidst creeks, trees and birds — and very little else.
5. Toss a frisbee at Memorial Park. Jaxsons are very proud of the St. Johns River, and one of the best places to see it is at Memorial Park in Riverside. Grab a coffee from nearby Starbucks or pick up a few picnic items from Publix (they're both located just across the street), bring along a book or magazine and sit back for an afternoon of sunbathing and people-watching.