North Florida Attractions: The Top 5 Things to Do Around Jacksonville, FL

In 2017 Florida State Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships takes place in Jacksonville, FL at the end of March. What a great opportunity to explore the northern part of Florida! We want our gymnasts and their parents to have an extremely positive competitive experience – so, check the schedule and find some ideas about how to brighten your trip! Discover a bunch of family-friendly attractions around Jacksonville to visit after the competition or on your way back home to Miami! Animal adventures, arts and science, ancient architecture, nature wonders – we’ve covered them all!

Top 5 things to Do Around Jacksonville

1. Take Part in an Animal Adventure

The best places to see the animals around Jacksonville are the Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary Attraction and Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.


The Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary rescues unwanted big cats and invites the public in during a few days and evenings each week to meet them and witness a feeding (night tours only). There you can see so many graceful big cats – Siberian  and white tigers, lions, black leopards, cougars, and a bobcat along with coatimundis and foxes.

Address: 1860 Starratt Rd., Jacksonville, FL,


Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens

Five separate loops take visitors into the habitat and wildlife of Florida, Asia, Australia, South America, and Africa. In South America, you will find one of the zoo’s signature exhibits: the Range of the Jaguar. Around recreated Maya ruins, you can see live jaguars, which just so happen to be the mascot of Jacksonville’s pro football team, so the town is somewhat obsessed. Jacksonville’s version of zoo takes it a step beyond animal gazing with a splash play park, a wildlife carousel, a Discovery Building with toys and activities, giraffe feeding, a 4-D theater, Butterfly Hollow, and a choo-choo train that loops the entire park and saves wee feet.

Address: 370 Zoo Parkway, Jacksonville, FL 32218,

2. Enjoy the Beauty of Arts and Nature

Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens

Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens is one of the most family-involving art museums in the nation, its efforts to involve the young in art extend well beyond its children’s wing, known as Art Connections. The gardens have azaleas and camellias blooming right now. They are very pretty to walk through and enjoy the nice weather.

For the small kids, the Gallery Under Five is a shrunken version of the museum with touchable art they can explore. Many of the paintings in this museum have been donated from collections all over the world. After spending 1 to 2 hours in the museum, be sure to stroll the gardens that abut the St. John’s River.

Address: 829 Riverside Avenue, Jacksonville, FL 32204,

3. Discover the Wonders of Science



Jacksonville’s Museum of Science and History is all about educating kids on the world, and the wonders of science. So they have created a number of fun, hands-on activities which can teach the kids as they have fun! Sounds pretty cool to us!

The Museum of Science and History have core exhibits, so you know that you can always return to your favorites if you like. These cover a whole range of fascinating topics, like The Body Within, where you can actually stroll through a mouth (don’t worry, not a real one!) and have a wander down the digestive tract…and well, you get the idea! A fun way to learn all about the human body!

Address: 1025 Museum Cir, Jacksonville, FL 32207,

3. Visit America’s Oldest City


St. Augustine is an easy, fun place this is to visit for the day! Top family attractions in St. Augustine are:

  • Castillo de San Marcos is a great place to take the whole family. Forts are such a cool thing to see to really get a taste of history. Kids will enjoy running in the grass or pretending they are knights. A walk across the street will lead you to the Project Swing Park where you’ll find a playground for kids.
  • The Alligator Farm – Apart from gator’s feeding they have Crocodile Crossing – a zip-line, opened in 2011. A one-of-a-kind experience, participants zip over the entire park, literally seeing live crocodilians, lemurs, and tropical birds from a new perspective.


  • Davenport Park and a ride on the historic carousel is a great way to complete an excursion to St. Augustine.

4. Hit the beach!

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Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park is a 450-beach front city park featuring picnic area, beach access, freshwater lake for fishing, kayaking, paddle boats and canoes, and biking/hiking trails. Unlike many other beaches in the area, it is not crowded. For great sand and quiet this is the place to go. What makes this park unique in addition to all of the space is having the beach on one side and lake on the other.

5. Admire the Beauties and Wonders Created by Nature

The North of Florida is full of natural beauty and sights definitely worth to drive 50-60 miles from Jacksonville:


Big Shoals State Park features the largest whitewater rapids in Florida. Limestone bluffs, towering 80 feet above the banks of the Suwannee River, afford outstanding vistas not found anywhere else in Florida.

Address: 11330 SE Co Rd 135, White Springs, FL 32096,

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Devil’s Den Pre-Historic Spring is one of North America’s most prehistoric places. It is a natural wonder has been transformed from a simple scuba diving site to a world class tourist attraction. This underground spring inside a dry cave has been home to many extinct animal fossils dating back to the Pleistocene Age, which are on display at The University of Florida’s Museum of Natural History. With crystal clear water, year round 72 degree water temperatures,  ancient rock formations with stalactites, fossil beds dating back 33 million years, and much more, you’re guaranteed to leave with memories that will last a lifetime!

Address: 5390 NE 180th Ave, Williston, FL 32696,

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Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park. In the midst of north Florida’s sandy terrain and pine forests, a bowl-shaped cavity 120 feet deep leads down to a miniature rain forest. Small streams trickle down the steep slopes of the limestone sinkhole, disappearing through crevices in the ground. Lush vegetation thrives in the shade of the walls even in dry summers. A significant geological formation, Devil’s Millhopper is a National Natural Landmark that has been visited by the curious since the early 1880s. Researchers have learned a great deal about Florida’s natural history by studying fossil shark teeth, marine shells and the fossilized remains of extinct land animals found in the sink.

Address: 4732 Millhopper Rd, Gainesville, FL 32653,


Juniper Springs Recreation Area is a great combination of hiking trails, short walk ways, paddling trails, and historic sites. A special bonus to this park is the old water wheel by the spring head. Showcasing sparkling springs in a subtropical setting, Juniper Springs is one of the oldest and best known recreation areas on the East Coast. The setting is unlike any other found in the United States, with hundreds of tiny bubbling springs and massive springs gushing out of crevices in the earth beneath a dense canopy of palms and oaks, an oasis within the heart of the desert-like Big Scrub.

Gymnastics competition is a great opportunity to explore new places and to spend some quality time with your family! IK School of Gymnastics in Miami wishes you a great trip to Jacksonville! Be positive and have fun!


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