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23 Best & Fun Things to Do in Jacksonville (North Carolina)

Jacksonville is a city located within Pillow county in North Carolina.

Nicknamed “J-ville,” this Costa town is a beaming wonder adjacent to North Carolina’s Crystal Coast area.

Many tourists may think big cities are undoubtedly great vacation destinations compared to smaller cities.

Jacksonville has, however, proved otherwise because of its great attractions.

Meanwhile, its low cost of living, diverse and rich culture and various activities and attractions make it an excellent place to live.

Its total land area comprises 44.5 square miles of land and 0.7 square miles of water.

Jacksonville is also the seat of Onslow County.

The City’s population reached 72,732 based on the 2020 census, making it the 14th largest city in the State.

Also, based on demographics, Jacksonville is the youngest city in the United States.

Despite that, the city has established itself as the commercial hub of the County and home to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air station New River.

It’s a perfect destination to spend a vacation with family because it has several attractions like parks, gardens, museums, and more.

Whether you’re a first-timer or a returning visitor, the selection of things to do in Jacksonville will never disappoint.

Things to do in Jacksonville

1. Sturgeon City Park

Things to do in Jacksonville

The Sturgeon City Park

Sturgeon City Park is among the numerous top attractions making Jacksonville gain prominence among travelers.

It’s a beautiful attraction attached to the Sturgeon City Institutes in Jacksonville.

This park features many different amenities, including playgrounds, picnic areas, basketball courts, grills, public restrooms, lit shelter areas, and, above all else, nature at its finest.

Visitors can enjoy the scenic view of the park, hike the trails, take a walk through the waterway, and do other activities when they stop at this park.

In fact, the boardwalk along the river is ideal for walking, running, and biking. Besides, there are shelters for picnics and outdoor gatherings.

The playgrounds are suitable for kids, teens, and kids at heart.

You’ll surely enjoy every minute spent in the park’s greenery, even as nature lovers.

Additionally, There’s enough space to host various events all year round.

Moreover, the park is pet-friendly, so don’t hesitate to come with your four-legged friend.

It’s accessible every week from 7 am to 9 pm.

Address: 110 Loyola Dr, Jacksonville, NC 28540, United States

2. Hammocks Beach State Park

Things to do in Jacksonville

Hammocks Beach State Park

Whenever you’re in Jacksonville, Hammocks Beach State Park is a great destination to connect with Nature and enjoy outdoor adventure.

It’s located 19 miles southeast of Jacksonville.

This park comprises a mainland area and three barrier islands, including the 4-mile-long Bear Island.

From Picnicking to hiking to swimming, there is no end to the activities visitors can enjoy while stopping at this park.

Also, a passenger ferry transports visitors to the pristine beach, providing an opportunity to camp oceanside.

Besides, a private concessionaire in the park offers kayak, canoe, and paddleboard rentals and guided kayak and paddleboard tours.

Campers can enjoy their time in this park with the availability of many Tent sites, showers, and other camping facilities.

Furthermore, the Concession stand, boat ramp, picnic shelter, auditorium, and other amenities are not lacking to give tourists a memorable stay at this park. 

It’s accessible all days of the week from 8 am to 6 pm.

Address: 1572 State Rd 1511, Swansboro, NC 28584, United States

3. Lejeune Memorial Gardens

Things to do in Jacksonville

Jacksonville NC / Flickr

One of the best and most free things to do in Jacksonville is to visit and pay tribute to servicemen and women who have given the most incredible service to the nation’s freedom.

Lejeune Memorial Gardens is situated on Montford Landing Road.

It honors and remembers the veterans of WWII, the Vietnam War, and the War in Iraq.

Also, it’s home to the famous Beirut Memorial, Montford Point Marine Memorial, Onslow Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the 9/11 Memorial Beam from the World Trade Center.

In addition, Lejeune Memorial Gardens also features greenways and walking trails that lead to military bases and other city trails.

While at Lejeune Memorial Gardens, don’t hesitate to check out the Beirut Memorial, the largest military memorial funded by private funds.

This memorial honors and remembers the 273 Marines who died after a bomb destroyed their barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.

Visit also the 9/11 Memorial, which displays an actual beam from the Twin Towers.

What’s more, there is free parking at the entrance to the Garden; it’s accessible 24 hours all day a week.

Address: 109 Montford Landing Rd, Jacksonville, NC 28540, United States

4. Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Things to do in Jacksonville

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Jacksonville, North Carolina, is one of the cities in the United States that pay tribute to veterans who forgot and sacrificed their lives for the nation.

So Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Lejeune Memorial Gardens on Montford Landing Road exists for Citizens to pay their respect to these lives.

This memorial was built many years ago to commemorate all the servicemen and women who served and sacrificed their lives for the nation during the Vietnam War.

Do you ever know that also 10 million countrymen served during the era of the Vietnam War?

This Memorial is a present reminder and honor to them all.

In fact, It is the second-largest Vietnam War memorial in the States, next to Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.

This Memorial is easy to locate while in Lejeune Memorial Gardens because of its structure through the flags and medallions at its entrance.

Furthermore, Vietnam Veterans Memorial also has a walkway and a bridge adorned with French design.

There’s also a glass wall with the names of the veterans and a dome.

Address: Jacksonville, NC 28540, United States

5. Bowlarena Lanes

Things to do in Jacksonville

Bowlarena Lanes

One of the best places to enjoy family fun in Jacksonville is the Bowlarena Lanes.

It’s a recreational and sports facility that a group of Marine Corps opened on LeJeune Boulevard.

This eight lanes Bowling center offers a family-friendly atmosphere for all ages.

Bowling is a recreational and sport activity in which a player rolls a ball toward pins or another target.

While the goal of the game is to knock over pins, the player aims to achieve a strike on the first roll.

In Bowlarena Lanes, there’s a league for Adults and Youth.

Therefore, Bowlarena Lanes is a place where you can have fun with your children, spouse, and adult friends.

In addition, game rooms are available with lots of sized arcade machines for kids.

Furthermore, there’s a snack bar with plenty of snacks, and it’s a bit typical of Bowling centers.

What’s more? The prices of various activities and snacks are relatively low.

Address: 433 Western Blvd, Jacksonville, NC 28546, United States

Passing through Wilmington? Check out some of the best Restaurants in Wilmington to dine in!

6. Zing Zumm, Children’s Museum of Jacksonville

Things to do in Jacksonville

Cing Zumm, Children’s Museum

The Zing Zumm children’s Museum of Jacksonville is a top attraction for kids in Jacksonville.

This museum is interactive with hands-on activities that allow kids to follow their interests for as long as they desire.

Established in 2008, it aimed at engaging all children in Onslow county through hands-on learning experiences that promote play, inspire imagination, and foster creativity in a fun and family-friendly environment.

Furthermore, the present building was purchased in 2017, fully renovated, and opened in 2018, and since then has been a humble host to several events.

From fundraisers to community development soirees to birthday parties and holiday retreats.

Overall, this Children’s Museum is ideal for all types of play and exploration that promote the learning experiences for kids.

It’s inaccessible on Mondays; however, visitors can check in on other days in the week from 9 am to 5 pm and Sundays 12- 5 pm.

Address: 625 New Bridge St, Jacksonville, NC 28540, United States

7. The Kettle Diner

Things to do in Jacksonville

The Kettle Diner

While in Jacksonville, if you need to enjoy excellent American or Italian dishes, the kettle Diner is a place for mouth-watering delicacies.

Its founder, a well-experienced chef, saw a need to Bridge the gap between getting an excellent selection of meals in on-site restaurants and online deliveries.

The Kettle Diner is a local Jacksonville treasure you won’t want to miss.

As a tourist, a great way to get soul-satisfying delicacies is to get through every barrier and visit the Kettle Diner.

With daily specials and homestyle cooking in the heart of downtown, you’ll be begging for seconds!

Moreover, Its design looks stunning with the vintage neon signage and the red-topped stools pulled up at the countertops.

Its menu is designed to offer breathtaking delicacies like Federal Hill Omelet, burgers, shakes, and cups of beverages at all hours of the day.

If you are looking for a perfect place to have a great breakfast and Lunch, the Kettle Diner offers the best of the best

Address: 300 Marine Blvd, Jacksonville, NC 28540, United States

8. Jacksonville Mall

Things to do in Jacksonville

Jacksonville Mall

If you crave something enjoyable in Jacksonville, Jacksonville Mall is perfect for your itinerary.

As distinct from what’s obtainable at parks, this fantastic site is a shopping mall with many opportunities.

It was opened in 1981 and is located near Camp Lejeune.

This shopping destination has three anchor tenants with over 60 stores.

From various ready-to-wear fashions to technological gadgets to jewelry and other stuff, you can be sure to get quality items in this mall.

Furthermore, visitors can enjoy top-notch dining experiences at various restaurants here.

Also, there’s an AMC theatre for blockbuster movies and lively shows.

In fact, there is a spacious conference room for events. 

Most encouragingly, the various offerings are with fair price tags.

Although considering the number of fun-seekers that come here, this location is highly trafficked; hence, parking may be tricky.

Nevertheless, that’s not enough excuse; the memorable moments will outweigh the little drawbacks.

Address: 375 Western Blvd, Jacksonville, NC 28546, United States

9. Walton’s Distillery

Things to do in Jacksonville

Walton’s Distillery

For all lovers of wine and spirits, Walton’s Distillery is a place for memorable experiences.

It is located on Ben Williams Road, Onslow county.

This craft distillery is where you can find top-notch Moonshine, Whiskey, and Bourbon.

E.M. Walton’s Corn Whiskey, the first-ever product of Walton’s Distillery, is named after the owner’s great-grandfather.

The product is from 100 percent corn mixed with flash-aged and toasted Appalachian oak chips.

Walton’s Distillery is an entire production facility where mashing, fermentation, distillation, and bottling are executed.

Visitors can book a free tour around the distillery to learn more about the process of creating liquor.

Also, there’s an opportunity to even take all the products at Walton’s Distillery for free.

If you are in Jacksonville, don’t be an exception to the list of meticulous fun-seekers who come here for fun galore.

Aside from that, Walton’s Distillery also houses a gift shop with many branded items. You can also check out some antiques and souvenirs.

Address: 261 Ben Williams Rd, Jacksonville, NC 28540, United States

Exploring other cities in North Carolina? Why not check out the list of our top attractions in Raleigh and the Outer Banks?

10. Tryon Palace Jacksonville

Things to do in Jacksonville

Tryon Palace

Calling on all history buffs, Tryon Palace is to learn the history of North Carolina during the era of British rule in Jacksonville.

Located in New Bern, it was the official residence and headquarters of British governors of North Carolina from 1770 through 1775. 

Although the original building was destroyed by fire, three local women formed a group to rebuild the structure on the original foundation. 

Today, the palace is a state historic site with guided tours and exhibits showcasing the artifacts and other items back to the British colonial era. 

There are tours through the Governor’s Palace with the guides in period dress and thrilled visitors with their knowledge of the historic landmark and interaction with everyone.

The new Soldiers Camp and interactive demonstrations are fantastic for all ages and give detailed information about the people and the rich history of New Bern.

Overall, the expansive gardens give just a glimpse of the opulence of the early colony and the beauty of coastal horticulture.

Address: 529 S Front St, New Bern, NC 28562, United States

11. Phillips Park Jacksonville

Phillips Park

Phillips Park

Another fantastic spot for outdoor activities in Jacksonville is Phillips Park.

It is a moderately sized park on Phillips Road near the Infant of Prague Catholic Church.

Phillips Park features a playground, Basketball courts, shelter, and waterfront.

If you want to engage in mind-blowing sporting activities and burn some calories, come along with family and friends to spend some memorable time playing at Phillips Park.

The basketball courts and baseball fields are absolutely free to use.

In fact, kids will enjoy themselves in Phillips Park’s spacious playground.

The Park’s waterfront is suitable for visitors to relax and admire the view of the waters after an exciting game with friends.

Phillips Park has available shelters for rent equipped with charcoal grills.

It can hold up to 50 people.

Address: 150 Phillips Rd, Jacksonville, NC 28540, United States

12. Lynnwood Park Zoo

Lynnwood Park Zoo

Lynnwood Park Zoo

Many big cities in the United States have places for wildlife display; Jacksonville is no exception.

Lynnwood Park Zoo is owned and operated by Veterans in wells Road.

It was opened in 1990 and has since been home to various species of animals with multiple backgrounds, such as private owner surrenders and rescue situations, other facilities downsizing or shutting down, and rehabilitated animals unfit to be released back into the wild.

The Zoo displays over 50 species of Animals ranging from mammals, reptiles, birds, and many more.

Mammals you can meet in this Zoo include Zebra, Silver Fox, Grey Fox, Llama, Bobcat, Fennec Fox, Coatimundi, Mara, Pigmy Goats, Donkey, 

Serval Cats, Caracal, Degus, Potbelly Pigs, Barbary Sheep, Black-bellied Sheep Prairie Dogs, and more.

Birds available include Barred Owl, Screech Owl, Emu, Red Golden Pheasant, Rhea, Red-tailed Hawk, Turkey Vulture, Turkey, Lady Amherst Pheasant, Reeves Pheasant, Elliots Pheasant, Peacock, and more.

When you visit this Park, you support the excellent work of preserving endangered species and giving them a peaceful abode where they are cared for.

Address: 1071 Wells Rd, Jacksonville, NC 28540, United States

13. Oakhurst Nature Park

Oakhurst Nature Park

Oakhurst Nature Park

Another spot for lovers of Nature to enjoy the serenity provided by Nature is to visit Oakhurst Nature Park.

This Park is situated on Riverbend Road. 

It is known for its 1,500-foot nature trail, making it one of Jacksonville’s best spots for travelers to enjoy hiking, biking, and Bor cycling.

Coastal Land Trust, in conjunction with Onslow County, protects Oakhurst Nature Park.

It also has another 3,400-foot trail with a parking lot and a separate entrance at the end of Pollard Lane.

Furthermore, Kayaking and canoeing are some of the best activities at Oakhurst Nature Park.

The kayak and canoe launch in Oakhurst Nature Park is also ADA-accessible.

You’ll have a fun and relaxing time amid nature through this destination.

It’s accessible 24 hours all day a week.

Address: 399-373 Willbarry Rd, Jacksonville, NC 28540, United States

14. North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort

North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort

North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort

Another free thing to do while in Jacksonville is to visit North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort.

The Beaufort Museum focuses on North Carolina’s cultural maritime heritage, coastal environment, and natural history.

Exhibits in the display include shells from over 100 countries, fish models, shipwrecks, ship equipment, types of watercraft historically used in North Carolina, whaling, oyster catching, waterfowl hunting equipment, and duck decoys, and venomous snakes found in North Carolina. 

Furthermore, the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort reflects coastal life and interprets lighthouses, lifesaving stations, the seafood industry, and more.

It also provides studies in marine life, science, and ecology that are available for all ages. 

Admission is free and accessible all days of the week; Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm; Sundays from 12 noon to 5 pm.

Address: 315 Front St, Beaufort, NC 28516, United States

15. Montford Point Marine Museum

Things to do in Jacksonville

CherryPoint / Flickr

Another exciting spot for history buffs, Montford Point Marine Museum, is located on Bldg M101 Camp Johnson.

It was established to preserve the legacy of the Montford Point Marines.

Montford Point Marine Museum houses a wide variety of collections, artifacts, records, and other displays connected to the marines’ critical history.

This is also where you can find the most extensive collection of documents, photographs, papers, and memorabilia that reflect the history of African American Marines from 1942 to 1949.

Students and locals who want to revisit their nation’s history also visit Montford Point Marine Museum.

Address: Bldg M101 Camp Johnson, Jacksonville, NC 28542, United States

16. Freedom Fountain

Freedom Fountain

The Freedom Fountain

Freedom Fountain is a historic landmark on New Bridge Street.

It is a symbol to commemorate and honor servicemen and women who served the country and those who passed away while in the service protecting Onslow County.

Freedom Fountain is located a few miles from Lejeune Memorial Gardens and is an essential landmark for citizens in Jacksonville.

It has a pool with a disappearing edge, symbolizing the efforts to preserve the country’s freedom.

Freedom Fountain also features Flags and fountain jets representing federal, state, and local governments, as well as water jets representing each of the 50 states.

You’ll see the Freedom plume, the tallest fountain jet at the center.

Freedom Fountain’s waters come alive at night with red, white, and blue.

What’s more? It is a great spot for some breathtaking photographs.

Address: 895 New Bridge St, Jacksonville, NC 28540, United States

17. Wilson Bay Park Jacksonville

Wilson Bay Park

The Wilson Bay Park

Wilson Bay Park is one of the numerous landmarks making Jacksonville gain prominence among locals and visitors.

It is a waterfront park on West Bayshore Boulevard.

Wilson Bay Park has a playground that keeps children entertained during their trip here.

Visiting Wilson Bay Park outdoor activities with the whole family will surely be memorable this weekend.

It also features gazebos over the water, shelters, and well-maintained restrooms.

At Wilson Bay Park, you can take a walk and enjoy the fresh air, relax with nature, and even practice your nature photography skills!

Whether you will be in Jacksonville for a short trip or vacation, this is a great spot to spend some hours.

It’s accessible all days of the week from 7 am to 9 pm.

Address: 5 W Bayshore Blvd, Jacksonville, NC 28540, United States

18. Altitude Trampoline Park

Altitude Trampoline Park

The Altitude Trampoline Park

Altitude Trampoline Park is an indoor park in Jacksonville.

For all lovers of active play, this is a perfect place for all kinds of free, lively, and healthy play.

Brimming with all sorts of fun, Altitude Trampoline Park offers exciting activities for kids, teens, and kids at heart.

There’s something for everyone with rousing games of Ultimate Dodgeball, dunking some Skyhoops, jumping around in the Foam Zone, and even Gymnastic tumble track.

Adults can blow off steam and join the adrenaline-pumping adventure at the Freestyle Jump area, where jumping around can satisfy one’s youthful exuberance.

Whether you’re going with friends or family, the Altitude is the place to be.

With activities just about for everyone in your group, there’s no end to the fun available here.

Furthermore, this park is an Idea space for hosting kids’ birthday parties.

Head to Altitude’s website to learn more about this park and ticket reservation.

Address: 1030 Henderson Dr, Jacksonville, NC 28540, United States

19. The Flip’N Axe Jacksonville

The Flip'N Axe

The Flip’N Axe

It’s time to try out something unique as you spend your vacation in Jacksonville, and the Flip’N Axe is where to unleash the inner lumberjack.

The Flip’N Axe was founded by Robert E Miller II and David J Green, veterans who have served the nation for many years.

At the Flip’N Axe, you can learn the basics of throwing sharp Axes at wooden targets in a safe and friendly environment; this axes throwing is like a sport with darts or bowling.

Therefore, safety-focused talented axe-throwing coaches are on hand to show you how to throw and orchestrate competitive games.

The atmosphere is electrified with the lively music and the hilarious jokes of the instructor.

Additionally, you can come with your wine or beer to enjoy after hitting the bullseye a few times.

Indeed, it is an ideal spot for a fun outing with friends.

Address: 305 Blue Creek School Rd #1, Jacksonville, NC 28540, United States

20. Richard Ray All-America Park

Richard Ray All-America Park

Richard Ray All-America Park

Another Park for outdoor activities for all ages is the Richard Ray All-America Park.

This Park is a seven-acre urban oasis on North Commons Drive.

It was named after Richard L. Ray, a visionary and statesman who dedicated his life to the city.

He is known for being a wise businessman and an excellent civic leader.

Richard Ray All-America Park features trails perfect for hiking, bike riding, and an afternoon stroll through the scenic park.

Impressively, this picturesque trails offer an opportunity that varies from easy to complex.

This Park also has a playground with swings, slides, monkey bars, and more.

Furthermore, it’s an ideal spot for Picnics and family gatherings.

Benches are available within the park so you can sit back and relax while enjoying the beauty of nature.

You’ll also love the pond, gazebo, and picnic shelters.

Indeed, it’s a place worth exploring anytime you’re in Jacksonville 

Address: 1200 Commons Dr. N, Jacksonville, NC 28546, United States

21. Pelletier House Jacksonville

Things to do in Jacksinville

L. Allen Brewer / Flickr

Another one for all history buffs, Pelletier House, is a must-do in Jacksonville.

It was built in 1850 and owned by merchant Rufus Ferrand Pelletier to serve as his office and home.

Pelletier House remains today on top of the Wantland Spring on the banks of the New River.

The Pelletier House survives as Jacksonville’s oldest and only remaining antebellum home.

Initially, the house probably consisted of two rooms, divided by walls on both sides of the fireplace, the front serving as a business area and the rear as the living area.

This Greek Revival building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 13, 1989.

It has survived numerous storms, hurricanes, fires, and other disasters.

You’ll recognize this unique home through its Greek Revival style architecture.

When you visit this historical place, you will be thrilled by the solid outstanding structure that has stood for almost 200 years.

Pelletier’s daughter occupied this house until she died in 1954, and the Onslow Historical Society later acquired it.

Note the Pelletier House is open for group tours by request.

Address: 100 Old Bridge St, Jacksonville, NC 28540, United States

22. Big Branch Bike Park Jacksonville

Big Branch Bike Park

Big Branch Bike Park

One of the best spots for adrenaline-pumping adventure in Jacksonville is Big Branch Bike Park.

Big Branch Mountain Bike Park was built about a few years ago.

It’s known for its scenic trails for hiking and bike riding adventures.

Since you will be in Jacksonville soonest, why not consider a stop at this worthwhile Park?

If you would, this Park boasts over 6.2 miles of Bike trails that every rider will definitely find delightful.

There are trails for beginners as well as intermediate trails for advanced bikers and runners.

The beginner course is about 1.5 miles long and is pleasant for anyone who wants to start biking.

Also, the intermediate trails are about 4.5 miles and are fun, flowy, and non-technical. More trails are being constructed here as well.

Alongside its biking riding adventure, Big Branch Bike Park offers hikers opportunities, and its scenery will surpass your expectations.

Most impressively, its picturesque trails are ideal for hikers of different difficulty levels.

There are amenities for visitors’ comfort, including Bike Repair Station, Restrooms, Changing Rooms, and Bike Wash Station.

The use of trails is open from dawn till dusk.

Address: 311 NW Corridor Blvd, Jacksonville, NC 28540, United States

23. Huffman Vineyards

Huffman Vineyards

The Huffman Vineyards

Huffman Vineyards is a family-owned Winery in Richlands, Jacksonville.

It is one of the best in North Carolina.

At Huffman Vineyards, there is an assortment of wines that are handcrafted in small batches. 

This is a paradise for every wine lover, from muscadine to vinifera to fruit and other great wines ranging from sweet to dry.

If you are in Jacksonville, you won’t want to be an exception to the list of meticulous fun-seekers who come here with fun galore.

Impressively, the cost of wines is relatively low, and they are sourced from homegrown grapes.

Also, there’s wine tasting for visitors; you can taste up to ten tasty wines.

Even if you don’t fancy wine that much, a variety of beers is added to their excellent selection to give visitors the best.

Furthermore, this spot is good for live events with music and a food truck.

Similarly, Food options are plentiful with the complimentary menu.

Overall, Huffman Vineyards is Worth exploring because there’s something for every palate!

Remember that it’s accessible from Wednesday to Saturday while it’s closed on other days.

Address: 221 Haw Branch Rd, Richlands, NC 28574, United States

Start Planning Your Trip to Jacksonville

Jacksonville offers classic museums, parks, and other beauty.

You’ll always find pretty things to do here, every day of the week and both indoors and outdoors.

When you come to this beautiful city, you can look forward to breathtaking experiences that characterize the city and sightseeing that makes your visit unforgettable.

So pack your bags and let the journey begin.