Kid-Friendly Day Trips from Jacksonville

day trips from jacksonville

Day trips are the best way to make memories with the family. This summer, the kids and I are ready to go! Here is an excellent list of kid-friendly day trips or weekend trips that offer plenty of fun, educational activities for the kids (and us parents too)!

Before you set off on your day trip, there are a few things to remember to make your day a perfect success: Consider packing a snack and drink to keep little ones from getting cranky! Be sure to have fun activities for the long car ride (or Minivan). And definitely plan a stop to Buc-ees!

Day Trips In or Close to Jacksonville

day trips from jacksonville, fl

Amelia Island/Fernandina

Amelia offers a ton to do just 45 minutes north of us. Take a horseback ride on the beach, explore Fort Clinch, rent a kayak, and explore the wildlife. Downtown is beyond charming and home to plenty of delicious kid-friendly restaurants. For a quick, casual, kid-friendly meal, head to Timoti’s Fry Shack. You order at the counter and can sit outside, where you can watch your kids play on a fantastic pirate ship playground. It’s every parent’s dream to have a playground at a restaurant that isn’t Chick Fil A, right!? After dinner, head to Fantastic Fudge on Center Street for some yummy ice cream!
Distance from Jacksonville: About an hour 

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Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary

Who knew there was a cool place to get up close and personal with endangered “big cats”!? Located on the Northside of Jax, Catty Shack is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide a safe, loving, forever home for endangered big cats and to educate the public about their plight in the wild and captivity. If your kids can stay up a little later (7:30), word on the street is to go to their nighttime feeding and watch as 450 pounds of meat are distributed to these kitties. Check their calendar for exact times and dates.
Distance from Jacksonville: Located in Jacksonville on the Northside!

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Diamond D Ranch

Diamond D Ranch is where you and your kids can find your inner Cowboy or Cowgirl! Located on the west side of Jacksonville off Normandy Blvd, it’s a super easy drive for a fun day. Diamond D Ranch is a natural setting for horse lovers and metropolitan people looking to experience the great outdoors. During your trail ride, your guide will tell you the history surrounding the ranch, dating back to the early 1800′s. Riding around the ranch, you will see various animals such as American Bison, Water Buffalo, Emus, Rheas, Deer, Sheep, Goats, Antelope, and more. Kids 7 and older can go on the longer trail rides, but they also offer hand-led rides for kids 6 and under!
Address: 5903-1 Solomon Rd. Jax, FL 32234
Distance from Jacksonville: Locate in Jacksonville on the Westside!

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Fort Clinch State Park

Amelia Island is another given but offers a ton to do just 45 minutes north of us. Take a horseback ride on the beach, rent a kayak, and explore the wildlife. Exploring Fort Clinch

is a great way to spend the long summer days. Be prepared to pay for parking unless you have a National Park Pass. Once on the grounds, you are immediately surrounded by beautiful Spanish moss trees as you drive toward the Fort. Along the drive, there are multiple opportunities to stop and walk along the different trails. One trail, called the Willow Pond Nature Trail, has guided nature walks every Saturday at 10:30 a.m Downtown is beyond charming and home to plenty of delicious kid-friendly restaurants. For a quick, casual, kid-friendly meal, head to Timoti’s Fry Shack. You order at the counter and can sit outside, where you can watch your kids play on an awesome pirate ship playground.
Address: 2601 Atlantic Ave., Fernandina Beach FL 32034
Distance from Jacksonville: About an hour north of Jax

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Ichetucknee Springs 

This a great, relaxing, beautiful tour of untouched Florida nature. Head to the Ichetucknee Springs, rent a tube, and float away in the cold, crystal-clear water on a hot summer day. This is a great day trip from Jacksonville, located close to Lake City. I feel like this was a Florida tradition growing up. Tubes, rafts, kayaks, etc., can be rented from various companies. I would recommend a raft or a tube with a bottom for smaller kids, as the water is cold, and your kids will have blue lips before you know it if they are in the water for a while. Also, don’t forget to rent or bring life jackets!
Address: 12087 S.W. U.S. Highway 27, Fort White, FL 32038
Distance from Jacksonville: About 1.5 hours

day trips from jacksonville, fl

Marineland Dolphin Adventure

Located in South St. Augustine, Marineland offers a variety of dolphin experiences for kids and adults alike. Programs include swimming with the dolphins for participants 5 and older or the popular Touch and Feed program for kids three and older. For a list of all the programs offered, see their website here. This experience is pure magic!
Address: 9600 Oceanshore Blvd, St. Augustine, FL 32080
Distance from Jacksonville: About 1.5 hours

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St. Augustine

If you are looking for a laid-back kind of day, Project SWING Park is a fab playground (similar to Sunshine Park in Jax Beach), located right next to the parking garage downtown. This is a great place to start a day of fun. A walk across the street will lead you to the Castillo de San Marcos, where kids will enjoy running in the grass or pretending they are conquistadors! Head towards the Bridge of Lions, and you will find the Black Raven at the Marina. Hop aboard for a pirate adventure the kids will LOVE. Also, it’s a must-do if you haven’t been to the Alligator Farm. An excursion to St. Augustine isn’t complete without a stop at Davenport Park and a ride on the historic carousel. It is always our last stop on the way out of town!
Distance from Jacksonville: About an hour

Jacksonville Day Trip, Washington Oaks Gardens State Park

Washington Oaks Gardens

Tucked away off of A1A Highway, just south of Marineland and St. Augustine, is Washington Oaks Gardens State Park in beautiful Flagler County. We are lucky to live an hour away from this gem, and one morning I randomly decided to trek there for a day trip. Definitely check out Alina’s review before you go! 
Address: 6400 N Oceanshore Blvd Palm Coast, Fl 32137
Distance from Jacksonville: About 1.5 hours

Day Trips Worth the Drive

day trips from jacksonville

Branford Farm Stand

Just an hour and a half west of Jacksonville is the adorable family-owned Branford Farm Stand, offering farm-fresh produce, a strawberry u-pick field when in season, and fresh flowers you can pick yourself in their u-pick flower field (must bring own flower cutters)! They also offer homemade ice cream and milkshakes, as well as authentic Mexican fare served daily. 
Distance from Jacksonville: About 1.5 hours

day trips from jacksonville, fl

Crystal River

Just a few hours to our southwest on the Gulf coast lies an “Old Florida” town home to some amazing Florida wildlife. When the temperatures drop in the winter, Manatees head from the Gulf to Crystal River, one of the few places you can SWIM with manatees! I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to swim with the manatees when I was in high school, and it was an unforgettable experience. What a neat thing to be able to do with your kids and an excellent way for them to learn a little about Florida wildlife and some Florida history too.
Distance from Jacksonville: About 2.5 hours

Cumberland Island

Cumberland Island

On car-free Cumberland Island, Georgia’s largest barrier isle, the wide, natural beaches invite swimming, fishing, bird watching, and quiet strolls. Hop the ferry from St. Mary’s for a day on the unpopulated sands, or stay for stargazing at the 18-site Sea Camp. Kids (6-12) can pick up a Junior Ranger activity booklet at the Sea Camp Station and return it once completed to earn a Jr. Ranger Badge. Your kids will have plenty of opportunities to expend all that energy and have a great time searching for unique seashells, shark teeth, and Cumberland Island’s famed wild horses! Check out their website for more information on visiting!
Distance from Jacksonville: About 1.5 hours

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Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach has a lot to offer when it comes to fun on the beach for kids, but two attractions, in particular, would make for one incredible day trip.

For a hands-on way to explore the intercoastal waterway ecosystem, take a tour with Ponce Inlet Watersports. The 90-minute eco-cruise features commentary from a marine biologist who will help you spy and identify sea turtles, dolphins, and manatees in the river. Mid-may through the end of October is sea turtle season in Daytona Beach. To learn more about these majestic sea creatures, head to the Marine Science Center, where you can view sea turtles close up and visit a kid-friendly teaching lab—complete with microscopes. Other exhibits include horseshoe crabs, needlefish, pufferfish, and hermit crabs. And don’t forget about Daytona Lagoon Water Park!
Distance from Jacksonville: About 2.5 hours

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Dinosaur World

Dinosaur World, located off I-4 between Orlando and Tampa, is a self-guided outdoor museum with over 200 life-size dinosaurs in a natural setting. Dig for fossils in the Fossil Dig, uncover a life-size dinosaur skeleton replica from under the sand in the Boneyard, visit Exploration Cave for a guided tour with a Paleontologist, and try your hand at trivia during the Triviasaurus Rex Game Show! Check out the museum with real artifacts, animatronic dinosaurs, and their NEW Florida Fossils Museum! Pan for real gems and minerals at the Dino Gem Mine, and crack your geode at the Geode Cracker!
Address: 5145 Harvey Tew Rd, Plant City, FL, United States, Florida
Distance from Jacksonville: About 4 hours

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The Florida Aquarium

Located in Tampa, The Florida Aquarium features more than 20,000 plants and animals from both fresh and saltwater environments. The primary exhibit areas reflect the diversity of Florida’s natural habitats — Wetlands, Bays and Beaches, Ocean Commotion, and Coral Reef. Recent additions include dives with mild-mannered sharks and sea turtles for certified divers over 14, shallow water swim with reef fish, and a shark-feeding program. There is also an outdoor Explore a Shore exhibit, an aquatic playground with a water slide, water jet sprays, and a climbable pirate ship.
Address: 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa, Florida 33602
Distance from Jacksonville: About 3 to 4 hours

day trips from jacksonville

Kennedy Space Center

Your little astronauts will love seeing these spacecraft up close and enjoy the Junior Astronaut Playdome, a play area where their imaginations can soar with space-themed rock walls, slides, and more! For information, visit the Kennedy Space Center website
Address: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island, FL 32953
Distance from Jacksonville: About 3 hours

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Single Vision, Inc.

Single Vision, Inc. was founded to help educate the public about the plight of tigers in what is left of the WILD and to provide a lifelong permanent home for two beautiful Bengal Tigers and many other beautiful big cats and wildlife animals. Located in Melrose, Florida, their mission is to educate the public on the dangers exotic wildlife are facing in the wild. Through educational programs and exhibiting their animals, they hope to inspire people to help change the plight of these rare creatures. You can call and set up an appointment to go and visit Single Vision and their animals. Visit their website for more information!
Address: 8185 Forest Hills Rd., Melrose, FL 32666
Distance from Jax: About 1.5 hours

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St. Marys Railroad

For the train-obsessed (aka my son), head up to St. Marys for a nostalgic ride on the St. Marys Railroad. It was 1908 when St. Marys rail service began. Back then, the trains were pulled by wood-burning locomotives. Today’s St. Marys Express is powered by a General Motors Electromotive Division GP-16u locomotive built in 1952. You’ll be moving at a whopping 10 miles per hour in your adventure through woodlands, marshlands, and across the picturesque Borrell Creek. Along the way, narrators will treat you to a glimpse into yesteryear. St. Marys Railroad offers different themed excursions throughout the year in addition to their normal schedule. Your experience may include live scarecrows, hoboes, zombies, cowboys, pirates, or even Santa, depending on the excursion you choose!
Address: 510 West Gallop Street, St. Marys, Georgia 31558
Distance from Jax: About 1 hour

day trips from jacksonville

St. Marys Aquatic Center

I love this hidden gem of a water park in St. Marys, Georgia. Perfect for younger kids, this place has a great zero-entry play structure, a lazy river, and a water slide. Also, I love their year-end tradition of having dogs come and play in the splash area each closing day of the year! The schedule and prices for the season can be found here.
Address: 301 Herb Bauer Drive, St Marys, GA 31558
Distance from Jax: About 1 hour

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Summer Waves Water Park

Opening again in May 2023! Located on gorgeous Jekyll Island, Summer Waves Water Park is a water park with a view! Surrounded by beautiful southern marshland, Summer Waves offers fun for everyone in the fam. Lazy River, thrilling slides, and a kiddie pool area. Read more about a day trip to Jekyll Island with kids here.
Address: 210 S Riverview Dr, Jekyll Island, GA 31527
Distance from Jax: About 1.5 hours

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Weeki Wachee Springs

Since 1947, the Mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs have been performing shows in their underwater theater. This is Old Florida at its finest! This place is a legend and a significant part of Florida’s history. Today, Weeki Wachee Springs is still home to the famous underwater theater of performing mermaids. For kids, the mermaids perform their version of The Little Mermaid. Also great for the whole family is Buccaneer Bay, a small water park with waterslides and splash areas. There are also riverboat cruises and animal encounters!
Address: 6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34606
Distance from Jacksonville: About 3.5 hours

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Wild Adventures

If you are looking for the thrills of roller coasters, but don’t want to pay Orlando theme park prices and deal with Orlando theme park crowds, head to Wild Adventures in Valdosta, Georgia. The park features approximately 59 rides and attractions, including eight roller coasters, hundreds of exotic animals, shows, Splash Island water park, and concerts from country, pop, rock, and Christian to oldies superstars. There are rides for children of all ages! Visit their website for tickets and upcoming special events and concerts!
Address: 3766 Old Clyattville Road, Valdosta, GA 31601
Distance from Jax: About 2 hours

day trips from jacksonville, fl

Winter Park

If you have kids who LOVE trains like my son, this is a must. We are lucky enough to be able to hop a train from the Amtrack station in Jacksonville and take a ride to Winter Park, FL, just outside of Orlando. While our Amtrak station is not located in the most convenient place, Winter Park’s train station’s location is PRIME! From the station, you can walk around this charming, quaint town with shopping and restaurants galore! For a list of train times, check here.
Distance from Jax: About 2.5 hours

Kacey Roache
Kacey Roache is a Jacksonville native who lives in Ponte Vedra with her husband, TJ, and her three kids, Lucy, Lucas and Lola. Kacey graduated from Florida State University (Go Noles!) with a degree in interior design. She is passionate about the arts and arts education and has served on the board of Art with a Heart in Healthcare, Ponte Vedra Public Education Foundation for the Arts, Christ Church Creative Academy as well as the PTOs at her kids' school. In her spare time you might find her channeling her inner Serena Williams on the tennis court, performing in community theater, or enjoying the beach with her friends and family. Follow her family's chaos on Instagram: @kaceyroachepvb



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