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Day Trips From Jacksonville, Florida

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Day Trips From Jacksonville

This piece of article list 15 best day trips from Jacksonville you can choose from when planning to explore destinations nearby.

Located in northern Florida, Jacksonville is a lovely coastal city with plenty to offer residents and visitors. If you are in town checkout our list of best things to do in Jacksonville, It’s also close to several excellent destinations in Florida and nearby states that you can visit in one day.

If you’re looking to expand your horizons, here are the best day trips from Jacksonville, Florida

1. Amelia Island, Florida

Day trips from Jacksonville
Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Florida | Photo Credit – Tom Woodward

Amelia Island is one of the best day trips from Jacksonville to get away from the big city. The charming barrier island is only 30 miles away and can be reached by road or by boat. Once there, spend some time relaxing at Fernandina Beach.

More active visitors can explore the maritime forests and inland marshes. Or go hiking, biking or horseback riding in Amelia Island State Park. There are also plenty of water activities to enjoy, like a guided kayak tour. Afterwards, tour the historic downtown on the Amelia Island Trolley or explore Fort Clinch State Park.

Browse the many cute boutiques and galleries where you can pick up some art or souvenirs. Before leaving the island, enjoy a meal of fresh seafood and grab a drink at the Palace Saloon, the oldest still operating saloon in Florida.

2. St. Augustine, Florida

Day trips from Jacksonville
St Augustine| Photo Credit – Doug Kerr

A visit to St. Augustine, around 40 miles south, is one of the best day trips from Jacksonville for those with an interest in history. The oldest city in the country, St. Augustine is filled with beautiful architecture, cobblestone streets and lovely plazas.

There’s a decidedly European ambience here. Climb the St. Augustine Lighthouse for panoramic city views. Then explore the historic Spanish Quarter. Drink from Ponce De Leon’s Fountain of Youth. Afterwards, explore the historic Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, the oldest masonry fort in the country.

Learn all about pirate lore at the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum or board an authentic pirate ship. Or get up close to alligators at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park.

There are also plenty of pretty parks and white sandy beaches for those who want to enjoy the outdoors. End your day trip with a lovely sunset cruise.

3. Cedar Key, Florida

Day trips from Jacksonville
Cedar Key Museum State Park | Photo Credit – mbarisson

Criendly and laid-back island city in the Gulf of Mexico, located around 130 miles away from Jacksonville. Nature lovers will appreciate the Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge, which offers trails and wonderful birdwatching.

At the Cedar Key Museum State Park, you can explore a nature trail and a historic home. To learn more about the region’s history, visit the Cedar Key Historical Museum. Fishing is a popular activity here and the quality of the seafood here, particularly shellfish, is excellent.

Don’t leave Cedar Key without trying some fresh seafood for yourself. Popular options include The Island Place and Tony’s Clam Chowder. Or join a guided food tour to sample a range of dishes.

4. Gainesville, Florida

Day trips from Jacksonville
Children Garden, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, Gainesville, Florida | Photo Credit – Kate Heskell

Located around 70 miles southwest of Jacksonville, Gainesville is a vibrant college town with plenty of natural beauty.

Gainesville is home to the University of Florida. Besides a lively atmosphere, you can find the excellent Florida Museum of Natural History and the Harn Museum of Art on campus.

There are also seven Florida State Parks in the area. One of the best is the Ichetucknee Springs State Park. See beautiful gardens at the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, or wildlife at the Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation.

At the Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park, you can explore a 120-foot sinkhole. There are also plenty of options for shopping, dining and entertainment to round out your day trip.

5. Orlando, Florida

Day trips from Jacksonville
Spaceship Earth at Dinsey’s Epcot Center, Orlando, Florida | Photo Credit – Eric Danley

Located 140 miles south, Orlando is one of the best day trips from Jacksonville for families and thrill seekers.

The Orlando area is home to over a dozen theme parks. You can easily spend at least an entire day at each of the top theme parks – Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, LEGOLAND Florida Resort and SeaWorld Orlando.

There are also lots of interesting museums, such as Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition and the Orlando Science Center. See animals up close at the Central Florida Zoo, Giraffe Ranch or Gatorland.

You can shop until you drop at many shopping malls and outlets. Or to experience the area in a different way, try an airboat tour or take to the air in a hot air balloon or helicopter tour. 

6. Ocala, Florida

Day trips from Jacksonville
Juniper Springs, Ocala, Florida | Photo Credit – apasciuto

Escape the crowds and enjoy nature in Ocala, located around 100 miles southwest of Jacksonville.

At Alexander Springs, you can swim, snorkel and scuba dive. If you’d rather be on the water instead of in it, head to Silver Springs State Park. Explore the water on a glass-bottomed boat or in a kayak. Alternatively, soar through the air zip-lining or on a canopy tour.

Ocala is also known as horse country, so horse lovers will have plenty of options. See a wide range of art at Appleton Museum of Art, one of Florida’s top art museums.

For an educational day, head to the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention.

7. Cocoa Beach, Florida

Day trips from Jacksonville
Cocoa Beach Morning | Photo Credit – A. Strakey

For a day of surfing and science, head to Cocoa Beach. Located around 165 miles south of Jacksonville, Cocoa Beach is considered the best spot in Florida to surf.

Catch some waves while you are here. Surf lessons are available if you want to learn. You can pick up everything you need at Ron Jon’s, the largest surf shop in the world. There’s even a surf museum inside the store. Be sure to spend some time strolling along the iconic Cocoa Beach Pier or historic Cocoa Beach Village.

Once you’ve had your fill of sun and surf, head north to the Kennedy Space Center in Port Canaveral. Here, you can learn all about the space program and see actual rockets and vehicles that have gone into space

8. Blue Springs State Park

Blue Springs State Park | Photo Credit – Paul Clark

Located around 115 miles south, Blue Springs State Park is one of the best day trips from Jacksonville to see manatees in their native habitat.

Several hundred of these gentle giants, also known as “sea cows” can be found in the springs along the St. John River. There’s even a boardwalk that you can easily view them from. Or you can hike around the park on the Pine Island Trail.

The waters here are at a constant 72 degrees, making it ideal for swimming, kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding. Gear rentals are available in the park. Guided tours are also available and will provide more insight into this natural attraction.

9. Daytona Beach, Florida

Welcome to Daytona Beach, Florida | Photo Credit – Matt Kieffer

Located around 90 miles south of Jacksonville, Daytona Beach is known as a capital of car racing. Definitely catch a race if there is one scheduled that day. Even if there isn’t, you can tour the Daytona International Speedway and the Motorsports Hall of Fame America.

There are also more than 20 miles of beaches in Daytona Beach if you want to relax or enjoy some fun in the water. For even more thrills, check out Daytona Lagoon. A stroll along the boardwalk and pier is a must before you leave.

There are also plenty of options if you want to shop, or visit a cultural or historical site. Top museums include the Museum of Arts & Sciences and the Cici & Hyatt Brown Museum of Art. 

10. Ponce Inlet, Florida

Ponce Inlet, Florida | Photo Credit – Bahador

Located around 105 south of Jacksonville, Ponce Inlet is home to the tallest lighthouse in Florida. Climb 203 steps to the top of the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and you will be rewarded with stunning 360-degree ocean and water views.

There’s a museum and light station on-site where you can learn more. Afterwards, keep up the learning at the Marine Science Center and the Ponce Historical Museum. Be sure to spend some time exploring the natural beauty around Ponce Inlet. There are plenty of beaches to enjoy.

To explore some different terrain, head to Ponce Preserve. Or paddle, kayak or canoe down the Wilbur Rose Blueway, and keep your eyes open for manatees and dolphins.

11. Savannah, Georgia

Riverboat cruise is one of the best ways to see this oldest city in Georgia | Photo Credit – Tom Driggers

Experience southern charm and elegance on a day trip to Savannah. The oldest city in Georgia is located around 140 miles north of Jacksonville.

Start off your day exploring Savannah’s Historic District. A sightseeing trolley makes it easy to visit all the top highlights, such as the Mercer Williams House and Bonaventure Cemetery. Spend some time in pretty Forsyth Park, and see the iconic Forsyth Park Fountain.

Afterwards, stroll along River Street. This is a great place to grab some delicious southern food or pick up some souvenirs. Alternatively, get your shopping done at City Market.

Before leaving the city, take a river cruise down the Savannah River or enjoy the outdoors on Tybee Island.

12. Hilton Head, South Carolina

Sunset Viewing at Hilton Head, South Carolina | Photo Credit – Chad Sparkes

Enjoy a day in the South Carolina Lowcountry with a visit to Hilton Head Island. Located around 175 miles north of Jacksonville, the island boasts more than 10 miles of great beaches.

Coligny Beach is a beautiful and popular option. Explore Lowcountry history and heritage at the Coastal Discovery Museum. Then learn more about Gullah culture. Other sites of interest include historic homes and Civil War sites.

Animal lovers will enjoy wildlife spotting at the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge. Or look for dolphins on a guided cruise.

Climb up the Harbour Town Lighthouse and Museum for wonderful views of the island. Harbourtown also offers a wealth of shopping, dining and entertainment options for the whole family.

13. Palatka, Florida

Palatka, Florida | Photo Credit – Stephanie Conrad.

Located around 60 miles south of Jacksonville, Palatka is a charming and historic town & there are many reason for this to be listed on our day trips from Jacksonville.

Historic sites include the Bronson-Mulholland House, the Tilghman House, the Putnam Historic Museum and the David Browning Railroad Museum. Discover more than 30 murals on the Palatka Mural Tour.

The downtown area offers great shopping and dining options. Palatka hosts several popular events and fairs through the year, such as the Blue Crab Festival and the Azalea Festival, the oldest festival in Florida. 

Before leaving the area, spend some time at the Ravine State Gardens Park. The park is known for its impressive ravines, some of which are nearly 120 feet deep. 

14. Cumberland Island, Georgia

Cumberland Island, Georgia | Photo Credit – majunznk

Situated off the coast of Georgia, Cumberland Island is one of the largest undeveloped barrier islands in the Atlantic. Much of the island is protected wilderness, part of the Cumberland Island National Seashore. Relax, swim or pick up seashells on pristine beaches.

Explore maritime forests and salt marshes on foot or by bike. Plenty of wildlife call the island home, including alligators, white-tail deer, feral horses, loggerhead turtles and more than 300 species of birds.

See the Dungeness Ruins, the remains of a mansion built by Thomas Carnegie in 1884. Guided tours of another Carnegie estate, Plum Orchard, are also available.

15. Palm Coast, Florida

Flagler Beach, Florida | Photo Credit – Matthew Juzenas

Palm Coast is only 60 miles south of Jacksonville, making for an easy day trip from Jacksonville, Florida. There are nearly 20 miles of beaches in the Palm Coast and Flagler Beach area so you can easily spend all day at the beach or in the water.

Get in touch with nature at the Washington Oaks Gardens State Park, or at the Graham Swamp Preserve. Explore the inter coastal waterways and look for dolphins and manatees. Or have a guaranteed dolphin encounter at Marineland Dolphin Adventure.

To experience the history of the region, take a tour of the Florida Agricultural Museum or pay a visit to Bulow Plantation Ruins State Park.

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