On the Northeast corner of Florida is Jacksonville, the large metropolis that’s one of America’s oldest cities. Within its urban expanse, a surprising blend of history and natural beauty awaits, as Jacksonville boasts an array of captivating parks and gardens that invite exploration. Despite its status as a bustling city, Jacksonville holds within its heart a collection of green sanctuaries that offer solace from the urban bustle. As you traverse Jacksonville’s neighborhoods, you’ll uncover a spectrum of parks and gardens that reveal the city’s commitment to preserving its natural heritage. These oases of tranquility offer a respite from the daily grind, inviting you to bask in the serenity of nature’s embrace. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely autumn stroll amidst the changing leaves or planning a delightful summer picnic in a picturesque setting, Jacksonville’s parks and gardens provide the perfect backdrop for both relaxation and adventure.
On the north bank of the St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville is Metropolitan Park, a popular gathering space for locals. The large park has many facilities, the most notable a “bowl” with a performance pavilion capable of holding over 10,000 people, and home to the World of Nations Celebration and the Jacksonville Jazz Festival. In addition to the events, Metropolitan Park allows visitors to enjoy a peaceful river walk or have a picnic with close friends and family.
Fort Caroline National Memorial
In the St. John’s Bluff region is the Fort Caroline National Memorial. Visit here to learn the story of the first French colony in the United States and understand the culture of the Timucua people who were native to Jacksonville when explorers from Europe first arrived to Florida. Come here to read up on the long history of this area and enjoy the many walking areas that the preserve has to offer.
Yellow Bluff Fort Historical State Park
Another former military presence in the Jacksonville area is Yellow Bluff Fort Historical State Park, located near the mouth of the St. John’s River. Constructed during the Civil War, Yellow Bluff was a fortified camp that belonged to the Confederacy and it was used to protect shipments and supply lines from attacks from the Union army. An interesting and hidden area of Jacksonville, Yellow Bluff is a lovely area to walk through and reflect on how much history has changed since the purpose of this small encampment. The grounds here are open daily at no charge.
Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens
One of the most popular destinations in all of Jacksonville is the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, nestled in the Riverside district and overlooking almost three acres of historic gardens. The museum is renowned for its extensive art collection – with 5,000 art pieces spanning hundreds of years in the course of human history. Exit the museum and venture through the gardens, where one can gaze at the many sculptures and beautiful architecture exclusive to Jacksonville and the history of the museum.
Tree Hill Nature Center
Take a trip to the Tree Hill Nature Center, a non-profit and wilderness preserve that’s had its home in Jacksonville since 1971. Home to more than 50 acres of trails, butterfly and hummingbird gardens and a Natural History museum, Tree Hill is an educational experience for people of all ages. Affordable and friendly, Tree Hill is Jacksonville’s resource for education on the environment and sustainability. Come here for a one-of-a-kind experience in the wildlife of Jacksonville.
Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens
Similar to the Tree Hill Nature Center, the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens is a park of over 125 acres organized as a special and natural facet of the metropolitan Jacksonville area. With many marked paths, fresh ponds and abundant plants and wildlife, the Arboretum & Gardens is a must visit for a breath of fresh air. Come here for a refreshing hike and explore the many facets this extensive park has to offer.
Jacksonville Zoological Gardens
A stay in Jacksonville is incomplete without visiting the constantly growing and changing Jacksonville Zoological Gardens. A visit to the zoo enables guests to discover over 2,000 animals and 1,000 species of plants. The gardens have a number of exhibits, including a luscious botanical garden with themed sections correlating to the regions the zoo has to offer.
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meet our Local Insider
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WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
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I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.