Things to do in Jacksonville, NC

Activities, attractions and tours

Jacksonville Attractions

A half-century of breakneck growth has made Jacksonville into a vibrant small city surrounded by the beautiful green spaces of North Carolina’s coast. The woodland trails, wetlands, and beaches offer a great selection of things to do in Jacksonville, from biking and kayaking through the countryside to checking out the memorials around Camp Lejeune. While you’re in the town of Jacksonville itself, the attractions range from bistros and an organic market to bars, bike shops, and ball fields along the calm, tree-lined streets.

Top things to do in Jacksonville

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What to do in Jacksonville

Free Things to Do in Jacksonville

An escape to Jacksonville doesn't have to hurt your hip pocket. You can leave your wallet behind if you check out:

Onslow Pines Park - Plenty of fun is what you'll find at this great place.

Coastal Carolina Community College - Stop by this local landmark and admire its distinctive design.

Onslow Pines Park - Grab your blanket, pack some food and find a shady area to be with nature.

Areas & Neighborhoods in Jacksonville


Held within a bend of the New River, the Jacksonville city center features century-old storefronts and churches standing alongside the sprawling, modern civic buildings built to keep up with all the new residents. It’s still infused with small-town charm, and a chain of local parks provide room to relax with the cheery Southern shrubbery.


An upscale, modern development built just east of downtown, Bayshore features placid parklands along Wilson Bay and rows of suburban-style homes with tall trees and wide lawns that look almost like extensions of the park. The boardwalk offers a peaceful vantage point to admire the waters, while chic shops and boutique markets form a border with the rest of the town.

Jacksonville Commons

Home to the recreation center of the same name, the Commons lies near the outskirts of Jacksonville, where buffets and fast-food restaurants share the space with superstores and the string of hotels along US Route 17. The campus of Coastal Carolina Community College lies just to the south, with the Jacksonville Mall shopping center just beyond.

What to See in Jacksonville

Trees and water dominate the scenery around Jacksonville, from the little creeks that run out of Hofmann Forest to the wide, lazy current of the New River. You’re just a few miles away from the barrier islands that mark the Atlantic coast. A string of piers and marinas run straight through town, along with raised walkways that take you out into wetlands that the city never fully claimed.

The urban landmarks of Jacksonville include Pelletier House, a little Greek Revival-style cottage that began as a one-room home back in 1850 and is now the oldest structure left in the state, and a number of memorials to the Marines who passed through Camp Lejeune. You can find monuments that commemorate the servicemembers who fell during the Vietnam War and during the Beirut barracks bombing in 1983, as well as a recovered piece from the World Trade Center gifted by the police and firefighters of New York.

Sightseeing in Jacksonville

Hosting an active military base has left Jacksonville with quite a legacy to explore. The Montford Point Marines Museum tells the story of the first African Americans to serve in a still-segregated Marine Corps, who trained on these grounds during World War II. The Freedom Fountain by Jacksonville City Hall commemorates the tens of thousands of personnel who passed through town during their service.

And while active training grounds take up a lot of Jacksonville’s surrounding lands, there’s still plenty of space to get out into the country. You can go kayaking along the New River, or try fishing on the shore at Wilson Bay. More than 17 miles of trails lead you through the shaded green spaces from the waterfront to the winding, nature-filled path of the Jacksonville Commons Labyrinth. A collection of historical photos and paintings are housed at Slavin’s Art Gallery, and you can see the animals at the Lynnwood Park Zoo or head down to Sneads Ferry for a chance to relax by the Atlantic and add some sea breeze to your visit.

Things to Do in Jacksonville with Kids

Jacksonville boasts plenty of nearby fun things to do for you and your kids. Our family friendly experiences will keep everyone entertained for hours.


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