Heading to Jacksonville on a budget? Don’t worry! I’ve got you covered with a bunch of FREE things to do in Jacksonville!
*Affiliate links ahead…Don’t worry, I’ll use the money for something practical, like wine…. or a pony!
If you’re heading to Jacksonville and want to experience the wonders of this amazing city without going broke you’ll be glad to know that you CAN have a great vacation even if your budget is tight. You’ll be able to enjoy the city and make treasured memories without breaking the bank or sacrificing a great time!
From historic tours, eclectic piers and family beaches there are a ton of activities and things to do in Jacksonville that won’t cost you a dime. I’m a huge fan of freebies and want to share with you some of the amazing experiences that Jacksonville offers and all for FREE.
10 Free Things to Do in Jacksonville, Florida
Cancer Survivors Park
A small park but by far the coolest in the area; Richard and Annette Bloch’s Cancer Survivors Park is a place to inspire and encourage those with cancer and to celebrate and recognize the journey the survivors have been through. The park includes miniature versions of the major bridges in the Jacksonville area, motivational plaques and sculptures and some wonderful photo opportunities for tourists. You’ll get a true sense of what this park is about and feel inspired whether you’re a survivor or not. Cancer Survivors Park is often included in travel guides for the area and I highly recommend visiting at least once.
Be a Beach Bum at JAX Beaches
I highly recommend Jacksonville Beach because of its white sand, flat beach, easy public access and free parking. Having visited multiple beaches throughout Florida I can attest that JAX beaches rank with the best of them. The beach is large, not crowded compared to other popular vacation spots and the restaurants in the area are excellent. A day at the beach is great for swimming, boarding, building sandcastles or looking for shark’s teeth.
Visit the Riverside Arts Market
A fun place to visit on Saturdays, rain or shine, the Riverside Arts Market welcomes amazing vendors offering collectibles flea market style. You’ll find a lot of hustle and bustle going on here with a selection of food vendors, live music from many artists and family friendly. Spend some time wandering the booths, watch the musical acts perform and gain some entertainment for little or no money. It sits next to restaurants and a park by the water. This venue offers some water and shade for keeping those little ones cool during the blazing summer months. If you enjoy people watching at all, this is a wonderful place for it.
This view of the Atlantic Ocean and Jacksonville’s shoreline from the Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier is simply breathtaking. The pier extends nearly a quarter mile into the ocean making this a must-see for everyone in your crew. Unfortunately, it’s not entirely free. They charge a small fee of $1 for pedestrians (children under six are free) and $4 for fisherman. The pier hosts a 20 feet wide wooden deck, stations for cleaning your fish and sell snacks and drinks. You don’t need a fishing license to fish from the pier can rent rod and reels and purchase bait and tackle. The pier itself is a wonderful experience and a stunning view with or without the fishing. Check it out!
Ride the Jacksonville Skyway
The Jacksonville Skyway is an automated monorail train that glides above the streets of downtown and across the St. Johns River. Riders gain easy access to hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues and it’s all complimentary. The Skyway is FREE for all riders! The trains depart the station approximately every three minutes during peak times. Once you see the excitement on the kids’ faces you’ll be so glad you ventured out for this.
Sunshine Park and Splash Pad
A popular park and a great place to beat the summer heat, this park is perfect for entertaining the kiddos. Like most Jacksonville Parks, entrance is free. Your little ones are sure to make friends and will most likely not want to leave. There is an area for older kids and a nice area designed specifically for the smaller children. Water features, swings, sandy areas for the kids to dig and all fenced in; what more do you need?! In my experience, the bathrooms have been clean and the park itself hosts a ton of amenities including picnic tables, which would make packing a picnic lunch a great addition to this day out.
Explore Local Museums
The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens is just one of the museums that reside in Jacksonville. The gardens are lovely and the flowers beautifully arranged while being framed by the St. Johns River. The museum itself is educational and fun. This Museum is in a traditional setting as opposed to the modern museums making it a great ‘starter’ museum for your children. The tour of exhibits offer exposure to National exhibits and offers incredible community outreach. The Cummer museum has free entry days on the first Saturday of the month and on Tuesday’s from 4-9pm. Visit their website for the schedule. We like to visit museums on days the weather isn’t cooperating.
Visit the Jacksonville Friendship Fountain
Sitting adjacent to the Museum of Science and History and at the west end of the Southbank Riverwalk is the Friendship Fountain. This fountain is one of the largest self-contained fountains rising to a height of 100 feet. This is a peaceful relaxing walk with big views! The blue skyline and riverfront makes a wonderful backdrop for scenic pictures. At night you can enjoy the 265 lights that have been added. The area offers green spaces and landscaping. You can also grab free parking underneath the bridge instead of paying for the premium parking on-site; You’re welcome.
Tour the Sally Corporation
Sally Corporation is a very creative and inventive company that makes animatronics, like T-Rex for Disney World, dark rides etc. On Tuesday and Thursdays, they offer free tours of their robot factory from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. You must call or email for reservation as they can only take 30 people per tour. Kids and adults both enjoy this tour; a truly unique experience and not one you’d get to see often. The only downside is that they don’t offer the tours from June through August which is high season for vacationers; maybe they’ll change that by the time you visit. Call and see.
Enjoy Nature at the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens
This hidden gem consists of 120 acres of urban woodlands for your enjoyment. The Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens is full of trails for young and old to explore, The grounds are nicely designed and many nameplates have been placed throughout identifying trees and plants from the area. A small park but it makes good use of the space and offers more privacy than you’d expect. You’ll find a beautiful two-acre lake and a babbling stream. Still in its infancy, you won’t find a visitor center or formal buildings. Restrooms and shelter are available. Pet-friendly and cost is free but they do accept donations. A wonderful place to get in some good exercise, get in touch with nature and take advantage of this beautiful educational park.
Festivals in Jacksonville, Florida….ALL FREE
Jacksonville offers a ton of festivals throughout the year. Here are a few of my favorites and totally FREE.
Jacksonville Science Festival: Enjoy hands-on science, technology, arts and math activities while enjoying live music. Activities are set-up at each booth and kids love every minute of it.
Seawalk Music Fest: Thanks to Community First this beachfront festival celebrates local artists and musicians while hosting local businesses and food vendors. The whole family is welcome to enjoy the music, food and the just added, Ferris wheel.
Veg Fest: Celebrate our community at Riverside Park. Organizations include those that are eco-friendly, healthy and organic. Witness cooking demos, live music, pie eating and the kid’s zone. A fun time to be had for all.
Gastrofest: Held downtown around Hemming Park, Gastrofest is a festival for foodies. Adults can learn to make beer and taste vegan wine, speakers will discuss eating locally and growing your own food.
The Great Atlantic Seafood & Music Festival: A popular event held at Jacksonville Beach. Taste delicious local seafood while enjoying live music such as jazz, zydeco and blues.
Jacksonville Springing the Blues Festival: Held at the Seawalk Pavilion you can enjoy three days of live performances by local, regional and national blues artists. The festival is one of the most highly anticipated music events in Florida.
Railroad Days Festival: Hosted by the West Nassau Historical Society at the Callahan Train Depot this weekend festival is true to please any train lover. Complete with live entertainment, classic cars, restored rail cars, fire trucks, Shriners and floats.
Jacksonville Jazz Festival: World-renowned jazz musicians perform on several stages downtown over the Memorial Day Weekend. Offers a fun vibrant street festival atmosphere coupled with local food, drinks, shopping and entertainment.
Where Kids Eat FREE in Jacksonville, Florida
The cost of dining out can really add up, especially when you have little ones. Jacksonville offers some fantastic deals for kids to eat free every night of the week!
Woody’s BBQ: Every Monday night, Woody’s BBQ hosts a family fun night. Kids eat free with adult purchase from 3-9pm. Enjoy free Kid’s Karaoke from 6-8pm with a visit from Mr. Happy the Clown. They also offer FREE face painting and balloon animals.
Hurricane Grill & Wings: Every Tuesday from 3-11pm kids eat free with the purchase of an entrée. You can sit in the backroom or near the pool table. Outside kids can enjoy a game of cornhole, hula hoops or take advantage of the fun yard toys provided.
Brucci’s Pizza: On Wednesday’s, kids eat free with the purchase of adult entrée. Family bingo starts at 5:30. They offer hand-tossed homemade dough in your choice of shapes.
Shane’s Rib Shack: A kid-friendly restaurant with hand-chopped pork and hand-breaded chicken tenders. Kids (10 and under) eat free on Saturdays from 11am-9pm with purchase of adult meal.
Two Dudes Restaurant: Seven days a week from 11am-10pm kids 8-under eat free with the purchase of adult entrée.
Bruster’s Ice Cream: With the purchase of an ice cream treat, children under 40” and their furry friends get free baby cones and doggie & kitty sundaes. Any day, Any time.
More Free things to do in Jacksonville!
Kids Free November
Y’all this is my favorite part of Jacksonville! Throughout the month of November, your kids (12 and under) can discover all the family fun that Jacksonville has to offer for FREE! So many amazing attractions participate in Kids Free November like The Cummer Museum of Art, MOSH, Jacksonville Zoo and so much more! Check out a full list of participating attractions here.
If you are looking for more family fun in Jacksonville, check out my post on Things to do with Kids in Jacksonville!