Planning your Northeast Florida vacation? Carving out time to visit the beaches in Jacksonville, FL, is a must. This large city on Florida’s Atlantic Coast is a popular spot for its white-sand beaches and natural beauty. For beach vacations, it’s one of the hottest spots on the USA’s East Coast.
The most populous city in Florida, Jacksonville has fun for couples, friends, or the entire family. The best part is you can easily escape the city and go to some of the world’s prettiest beaches within minutes. Spend time sunbathing, snorkeling, and relaxing water activities. For nature lovers, there are also miles of nature trails perfect for hiking and running.
Ready to plan an amazing Jacksonville beach vacation? Find the perfect spot on one of these favorite Jacksonville beaches.
Top-rated Jacksonville beaches for travelers
Looking to visit the most popular beach in the Jacksonville area? Head over to Jacksonville Beach. The beach offers some of city’s best recreational activities, including fishing and water sports. Known as Jax Beach by locals, it’s the perfect place to go surfing and golfing.
All the parking lots have public restrooms, making it convenient for you to shower off or change clothes. If you’re planning to fish, definitely check out Jacksonville Beach Pier. This well-known fishing pier is over a quarter-mile long with fishing cleaning stations and a bait shop. Daily fishing charters depart from the pier where you can fish with local boat owners.
Once you’re done with your day in the sun, skip on over to Beaches Town Center. It’s right on the Atlantic Ocean with plenty of restaurants offering outdoor seating. Grab a cold drink and watch the beautiful sunset. The town center regularly hosts events where you can listen to live music, taking a painting class, or hear a poetry reading.
For a quieter beach vibe, head to Neptune Beach. North of Jacksonville Beach, this secluded coastal community is more common for locals and laid-back beach lovers. It’s also a perfect vacation spot for families with young children.
The entire area is a pet-friendly beach. Feel free to bring your dog to splash alongside you in the water. With the hard-packed sand, popular things to do in Neptune Beach include cycling, running, and walking. A large number of biking trails and nature trails easily make it one of the best beaches in Jacksonville.
During the evening, a variety of restaurants and bars are sprinkled along the white-sand beach and coast. End your day at the North Beach Fish Camp where you can eat fresh-caught fish. For a drink, check out the Flying Iguana Taqueria & Tequila Bar, a popular late-night spot for tacos and margaritas.
Located on the barrier island just off the coast of Jacksonville, Atlantic Beach is a small coastal community with a rich history, incredible beaches, and an amazing nature trail. Atlantic Beach is still considered “Old Florida” by many Jacksonville natives. Its island is known as the first Native American settlement in North America.
Atlantic Beach is one of North Florida’s hidden secrets. The secluded beach is just a half-mile from the city but feels is far enough away from the city to give you a romantic and peaceful atmosphere. Bring your surfboard as the waves are some of the best on the east coast. Spend the day relaxing among the sand dunes or swimming in the clear water of Atlantic Beach.
The area’s small beach bungalows and inns are among the top places to stay in Jacksonville, FL, for small families or couples on vacation. Despite it being a quieter area of town, there are still endless eating options. In the area, you’ll find pizza eateries, Cajun food, and a gourmet chocolate dessert cafe.
Ponte Vedra Beach
Want to get further away from the city? Ponte Vedra Beach is 18 miles south of downtown Jacksonville. It’s also only 26 miles from the historic city of Saint Augustine, making it a perfect beach to stay at if you plan to explore both cities.
Many people staying in Ponte Vedra Beach spend their day in the sun and then drive to one of the two cities for an evening of eating and dancing.
Mickler’s Landing is the most popular beach in the area because it’s dog-friendly and is one of the largest beach communities in the area. It’s a top destination for golf for both residents and visitors. Make sure to bring your golf clubs with you or rent some at one of the many courses.
RELATED: Top-Rated Beaches in Saint Augustine
Featuring 40-foot beautiful sand dunes and amazing salt marshes, Ponte Vedra Beach is a beautiful place to explore. The beach resorts and private chalets are perfect to end the day in this charming tropical oasis.
Exploring Amelia Island on your to-do list? Fernandina Beach is the northernmost city on Florida’s Atlantic coast on Amelia Island. Known for great golf courses and the famous Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, Fernandina Beach has a rich history and is uniquely Floridian.
On the very north of the island, the public beach, one of the most beautiful Amelia Island beaches, offers 13 miles of calm waters and soft sand. It’s also a popular place for wildlife viewing. Downtown Fernandina has numerous boutique shopping opportunities and local restaurants with specialty food.
Amelia Island is quaint but elegant. Stay in an amazing resort with a world-class spa. Bed & breakfasts outside of downtown are also readily available with rooms. It’s a great option if you’re craving a more laid-back vibe and want to be closer to the historic sites.
Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park
Also known as Manhattan Park by locals, Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park is a 450-acre park perfect for nature lovers and family fun. This oceanfront park has endless opportunities for outdoor activities for both solo travelers and families. The kids’ splash park is a perfect way for your little ones to cool off in the summer sun.
Boasting over 20 miles of hiking trails and biking trails, Hanna Park is a great place to keep active while away from home. The trails vary in difficulty with a mix of paved, dirt, and gravel trails. Don’t forget your swimsuits to enjoy the 60-acre lake for canoeing and kayaking.
For an amazing surf spot, check out The Poles on the north end of the shoreline. The waves are great for beginners and more experienced surfers. Hanna Park is also pet-friendly and has large picnic areas.
Fort Clinch State Park
Looking for a spot for nature lovers and history buffs in your group? Fort Clinch State Park has a historic fort dating back to the Civil War. They also have cannon firings on the first weekend of every month and guided tours. The tour includes viewings of the fort, art galleries, and the battlegrounds.
Fort Clinch State Park is over 1,400 acres with a natural beach and numerous hiking trails. Head on over to the sandy beach on the Atlantic Ocean for fun activities like shark-tooth hunting, fishing, and shelling.
You can also rent a camping spot on the beautiful beaches. Animal lovers will feel right at home among the amazing wildlife in the park. Keep your eyes peeled for over 100 species of birds, painting buntings, and gopher tortoises.
Founded in 1935, American Beach has stunning views of Amelia Island. It’s a quiet oasis full of resorts and cottages. Make sure to visit the American Beach Museum where you can learn about the area and its significance during Jim Crow Segregation.
American Beach is located 40 miles north of downtown Jacksonville. It’s a fantastic place to learn about the Black Heritage Trail and Jacksonville in the 1930s and 1940s. Lesser-known by tourists, it’s a calming place for tanning, swimming, and playing with the kids in the sand.
Huguenot Memorial Park
Even if you only have 24 hours in Jacksonville, visiting Huguenot Memorial Park should be a priority. Huguenot Park is almost completely surrounded by water. It has bike trails, kids’ activities, and bird observation opportunities all in a nice and secluded spot.
Huguenot Memorial Park is one of the top birding sites in North Florida. Some of the rarest birds are regularly spotted here including the Bar-Tailed Godwit and the Razorbill. Home to the Great Florida Birding Trail, the park has over 251 species of birds. Nesting and breeding are also common within the park on the hard-packed sand and within the mudflat areas.
Little Talbot Island State Park
Located in the northeast part of Jacksonville, Little Talbot Island State Park is one of the only undeveloped barrier islands left in the state. The natural beauty and diverse ecosystems draw thousands of visitors every year. If you want some peace and quiet on your beach vacation, visiting Little Talbot Island State Park should be at the top of your list.
The barrier island has five miles of beaches and three miles of nature trails. Camping sites are available if you want to spend the night. You can spend the day beachcombing, birdwatching, hiking, kayaking, or surfing.
Searching for an uncrowded spot to sunbathe? Mayport Beach is one of the top places to see in Jacksonville, FL, with 22 miles of white sand and just a few minutes from downtown Jacksonville. The stretch of sand is a perfect place for water activities. Options include snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
The seafood restaurants are casual, fun, and right on the water. Enjoy the fresh-caught fish while you watch the sunset or gaze at the beautiful views of the stars. Be sure to check out the historic Fish Camps for a taste of its legendary Mayport Shrimp.
Mayport Beach is also one of the best parts of Jacksonville for nightlife with the many bars and dance clubs. The souvenir shops have everything you need to bring home to remember your Jacksonville vacation forever.