In Northeast Florida, Neptune Beach is a popular vacation spot. But with fewer resorts, it’s more laid back than its neighbors. On either side of the beach community lies Jacksonville Beach and Atlantic Beach. All these seaside towns have their own charms, but what draws travelers to Neptune Beach is its residential atmosphere.
The Duval County town has a pristine beachfront with no major resorts or hotels. A day at the beach here is calming, with just the sounds of the waves crashing on the soft white sand. To add to this experience, there are local parks that are great for the kids, along with the delicate and fascinating ecosystems along the Intracoastal Waterway.
Not sure what to do in Neptune Beach? Get a head start on your planning with this complete Neptune Beach guide.
Things to do in Neptune Beach, FL
Between Atlantic and Jax Beach, Neptune Beach is a beautiful stretch of sand that differs from her neighbors. It’s one of the most popular beaches around Jacksonville, with locals drawn to Neptune Beach’s quiet charm.
Despite its proximity to the happening Jacksonville Beach, Neptune is a tranquil beachfront community. Just like the beach’s name, the sunrises at Neptune Beach are ephemeral, with the early morning sun lighting up the beach in bright pinks and oranges. Getting up early for the sunrise is worthwhile and you’ll be joined by fellow early risers chasing the breaks offshore.
The tranquil trend continues throughout the day. Neptune Beach is a place to sit, check out from the world and relax. Spend some time working on the tan in between taking dips into the fun surf.
As the beachfront is mostly residential, you may have to park a few blocks back. In the area, you’ll also find some local restaurants for a midday feed.
Brewhound Dog Park & Bar
Two of the best things in the world combine at Brewhound Dog Park and Bar. Away from the white sand beach, take some time to enjoy a refreshing beverage while giving your furry friend some leisurely fun.
Brewhound Dog Park and Bar was inspired by owners Lauren and Jason’s love of dogs. But it snowballed into a way to bring the community together.
With no shortage of sunshiny days in Neptune Beach, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy this unique attraction. The park covers an acre and features well-appointed dog-run areas. There are also several nature paths that connect to the park for further explorations.
To enter the off-leash section, visitors will have to purchase a day pass. (Monthly and yearly passes are also available.) The resident Ruffaree (staff member) will maintain the park, allowing owners more time to relax.
Jarboe Park is set a few blocks back from the coast. The neighborhood park is a great way to enjoy some time outside without having to venture far from town. Whether you’ve got some restless kids, want to find a leafy picnic spot, or want to go somewhere other than the beach, Jarboe Park has you covered.
The park is in the heart of Neptune Beach and you’ll likely be able to get there on foot. Bring along some park games, picnic items, or a book, and enjoy the spacious green lawns.
Meandering through the park are several walking trails. The paths will take you alongside a lake, comprising a large section of the park. Here, you’ll also find an island, great for kicking back and enjoying the sun.
Other highlights of Jarboe Park include the tennis courts and a large playground.
Beaches Town Center
For dining, entertainment, and shopping, head north of town towards Atlantic Beach. Beaches Town Center harbors a large collection of shops, bars, and restaurants combining into one happening downtown district. In what’s otherwise a relaxing beachfront town, the center gives you easy access to big-city amenities.
Along Atlantic Boulevard, you’ll find a fantastic collection of restaurants serving everything from casual pub grub to upscale seafood. One place not to miss is Hawkers Asian Street Food. Come for the array of Asian dishes and stay for the vibrant decor and lively atmosphere.
If you’re in need of some last-minute items for your beach or park day, the Beaches Town Center is the place to go. It’s also the perfect spot for those seeking some retail therapy. A mass of shops is within close proximity, creating a fabulous outdoor mall.
Located in nearby Jacksonville Beach, the Beaches Museum celebrates the history of the region. Much of the surrounding Duval County merged in 1968. However, Atlantic Beach, Jacksonville Beach, and Neptune Beach decided to stay independent. The museum takes you through not just this part of local history but Neptune Beach culture, science, and the arts.
As the history museum is on Beach Blvd, it’s an easy attraction to reach. After arriving, you’ll enjoy a series of exhibits that showcase prominent events across several eras. You can also learn about the natural world around Neptune Beach, including the distinct geography in the many local preserves.
Your time at the Beaches Museum will extend beyond the exhibits. The museum plays a prominent role in local arts and culture, offering guests a packed calendar of events. These include programs, temporary exhibitions, and performances. Before arriving, check out what’s on when you’re in town, as events often sell out.
Castaway Island Preserve
Exploring Castaway Island Preserve is one of the best things to do in Neptune Beach. Covering 300 acres of varied marshlands and tidal streams, the preserve contains the kind of nature that will have you feeling hours away from the nearest town.
The preserve is right on the Intracoastal Waterway. But before you get hiking, begin with a visit to the education center, offering programs within their theater. You can then explore the park on a raised and accessible boardwalk that takes you between the multiple ecosystems with the chance to spot wildlife along the way. Explorers can also venture along the nature path. Stop along the way to read the interpretive signs to learn more about the world around you.
For splendid views across the waterway, head to the observation platform. You can also explore the marshland not accessible on foot with the help of the preserve’s kayak launch.
Jax Surf & Paddle
Neptune Beach offers travelers many ways to get out on the water, whether that be along the Intracoastal Waterway or among the surf on the Atlantic Coast. But to save you the effort of adding your favorite paddle craft to your checked baggage head along to Jax Surf & Paddle.
The store is the region’s premier retailer for all things: surfboards, paddleboards, and beach apparel. They’ll have you kitted out and ready for an adventurous day on the water.
But there’s much more to Jax Surf & Paddle than just gear: They also specialize in SUP and surf lessons, along with fitness classes.
Beginners can get up to speed with the store’s help so you’re ready to chase the waves or explore the preserve on a paddleboard. You can also sign up for their eco-tours and their surf camp.
Island Girl Cigar & Wine Bar
On First Street, just a few steps from the ocean, Island Girl Wine and Cigar Bar is a great way to end the day in Neptune Beach. The bar has a large walk-in humidor featuring over 500 different cigar brands.
You can either pick up a cigar and be on your merry way or join the lively atmosphere with guests making the most of the nightly drink specials.
Island Girl Wine and Bar has no shortage of vinos on offer, with 50 wines and ports available. This is complemented by the 28 beers on tap, one of the largest beer selections in Neptune Beach. The bar also has a busy calendar of events, with regular live music.
Where to eat & drink
Time spent in Neptune Beach will be about much more than sun, sand, and ocean. Like the neighboring beachfront towns, Neptune Beach has an exciting range of local restaurants that tap into its charming personality.
Seconds away from the shore, North Beach Fish Camp is one of those places. The modern building has plenty of natural light, creating a beautiful dining experience. Guests will have their choice of inventive and traditional seafood dishes along with a full-service bar.
For a high-end seafood menu, walk a few yards down First Street to Mezza Luna Ristorante. The chic Italian seafood restaurant has a romantic atmosphere complemented by the fireplace and outdoor patio.
Looking out across the Atlantic Ocean, Lemon Bar has one of the beach oceanfront patios in Neptune Beach. Indulge in some classic American pub grub in a laid-back environment.
Flying Iguana Taqueria & Tequila Bar is a popular choice for beachgoers looking for a casual midday feed. However, its vibrant atmosphere and dazzling neon lights make it a great place to be post-sunset. Enjoy their Latin fusion, a massive selection of tequila, and live music each week.
Speaking of places to be after dark, another choice is the popular Pete’s Bar. On First Street, the chilled hang-out spot has been slinging beer for over 85 years. Monkey’s Uncle Tavern is another great alternative, combining a wide beer selection with pub grub and music.
Where to stay
Located in Jax Beach, just south of Neptune, this 3-star hotel is perfect for beach bums looking to shave a few bucks off their stay. The property is a quick 15-minute walk to the Atlantic shores, and teems with superb amenities, including an outdoor pool and fitness center.
Sitting on a private Atlantic Ocean beach, the Hampton Inn Oceanfront is a fantastic choice for solo, couples, and family travelers on a mid-range budget. After a day of scooting around town, splash underneath waterfalls in the hotel’s outdoor swimming pool or enjoy a soak in the hot tub. End the evening with a laid-back nightcap at the Oceanfront Tiki Bar.
Looking for a dash of luxury? Book a room at the Four Points by Sheraton Beachfront. In the spacious suites, you’ll dazzle a spectacular ocean views while relaxing on your own private balcony. Take a dip in the Atlantic, just steps from the hotel, or cool down in the lovely outdoor pool.