Jacksonville contains a variety of kid-and-family friendly places for children of all ages to enjoy together. Whether exploring the city for the first time or returning, there are always fun places in Jacksonville, Florida to explore.
Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary
Rated by the community as one of the best attractions in Jacksonville, Catty Shack Ranch provides a home for big cats which are endangered, such as Siberian tigers, cougars, black leopards, lions, bobcats, and “honorary cats”–arctic foxes and coatimunds. This not for profit center seeks to educate the public on the life of these cats in the wild and in captivity. Public tours are given on certain days of the week, lasting about 45 minutes. Guided tours with night feedings are also scheduled for visitors to the sanctuary to observe and enjoy.
Standard tickets for Catty Shack Ranch are $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 3-11. Ages two and under are free. Night feeding costs are higher. www.cattyshack.org
Tree Hill Nature Center
Tree Hill Nature Center in the center of the city contains over fifty acres of trails with native animals, butterfly house, hummingbirds, gardens, three eco-systems, and the Florida Natural History Museum. This center is dedicated to promoting a healthy nature environment by offering educational opportunities and inexpensive open space access to the community.
The nature center is open to the public Monday through Saturday from 8:00am to 4:30pm. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for senior citizens, and $2 for kids ages 2-17. Children under two years old are admitted for free. An amphitheatre is available to reserve for special occasions or family events. www.treehill.org
Museum of Science and History/Bryan Gooding Planetarium
On the south bank of Jacksonville sits the Museum of Science and History (MOSH) with interactive exhibits, animal exhibits, and science programs such as The Body Within, a journey through the human body.
With its sixty foot dome, Bryan Gooding houses the largest single-lens planetarium in the entire world. Daily shows are available, as well as laser light shows set to music, called Cosmic Concert. History tours include local and regional artifacts and information dating back to early settlers. The naturalist center allows up close and personal visits with local natural wildlife such as snakes, owls, turtles, and alligators. A permanent exhibit dedicated to energy and conservation is by JEA PowerPlay.
Open to the public every day with various hours. $10 for adults and $8 for children under 12, seniors, and active military. Children under 3 years old are free. Special discount on Fridays. Planetarium programs are an additional fee. Special events include overnight camp-ins and movies in the planetarium. www.themosh.org
Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens
Beginning with the small private art collection of Ninah Cummer in the early 1960s, the museum’s collection now encompasses over six thousand pieces of art work dating back several thousand years. Special exhibits are featured from throughout the world on the riverfront campus. The historic gardens offer 1.5 acres of garden design from the early 20th century, complete with reflecting pools, arbors, fountains, and sculptures. This garden contains one of Jacksonville’s oldest trees, the almost 200-year-old Cummer Oak. The museum boasts a nationally recognized educational program for children and adults with interactive participation in art, music, history, literature, poetry, and dance.
Open Tuesday through Sundays, various hours. Tuesday evenings are free. Other times are $10 for adults, $6 for seniors and students. Children five and under are free. www.cummer.org
Fun Places at the Jacksonville, Florida Beach
Fun in Florida does not seem complete without a trip to the beach! Sandy beaches stretch for more than four miles, providing a safe and fun opportunity for beach activities with lifeguards on duty for residents and visitors. The fishing pier, which is nearly 1/4 mile long, is an attraction for those desiring a close look at the ocean as well as seasoned fishermen looking for deep fishing in the Atlantic. Also fun for visitors and residents is the Jacksonville Beach Golf Course which has been recently re-designed with Emerald Dwarf Bermuda greens and its signature 16th hole. Golf school educational opportunities are available for men, women, and juniors ages 12 and under. www.jacksonvillebeach.org
More in the way of museums, parks, theatres, nature preserves, and trails can be found in city of Jacksonville. No matter what your interests, this is just the beginning of the fun places in Jacksonville, Florida–for residents and visitors alike!
Image: “Jacksonville Beach” from Flickr by Paul Hamilton