15 Fun Things to Do in Jacksonville, NC

Jacksonville is a charming town in North Carolina that offers plenty of things to do for residents and visitors alike. From cultural attractions to outdoor recreation, there is something for everyone in this vibrant community.

It’s been said that Jacksonville is the “most livable city in North Carolina.” It’s a small town with big-city amenities. You’ll find friendly people, excellent schools, and affordable housing. Plus, it’s only an hour from the coast.

What are you waiting for? Come visit! Here are fifteen of the best activities in Jacksonville to get you started.

Lejuene Memorial Gardens

The Lejeune Memorial Gardens is a 27 acre garden dedicated to different memorials of war all over the world.

A visit here includes walking trails through beautiful gardens, viewing the many monuments and markers, and taking advantage of educational opportunities at the Visitors’ Center. It’s peaceful and serene, yet moving.

Some of the memorials here are the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Beirut Memorial, the Montford Point Marine Memorial, and the 9/11 Memorial Beam.

Bayonet Cruises at New River Marina

One of the best way to see and explore New River is with a cruise. Bayonet Cruises offer 3, 4, and 5-hour tours that include a nice meal along with the opportunity to see dolphins in their natural habitat.

Some of your choices include a lunch, dinner, or sunset cruise. You can also opt for a relaxing sightseeing cruise up and down the river!

Come experience New River from a different perspective on a Bayonet Cruise.

Freedom Fountain

Relaxing in the fountain’s cooling mist is an ideal way to escape summer’s heat. But it also serves as a monument to those who sacrificed their lives so that we could enjoy our freedoms today. This includes those who served or currently serving in any of the branches of the military.

The soothing sound of water spilling from one level to another adds to its serenity.

Vietnam Memorial

One of Jacksonville’s most impressive pieces is the Vietnam Memorial located in the Lejuene Memorial Gardens.

This memorial honors the men from Onslow County who gave their lives in Vietnam during that war, and pays tribute to everyone who served. The names of the fallen are inscribed on a black granite wall which rises from a reflecting pool. It’s a moving reminder of the sacrifices made by so many.

Zing Zumm, Children’s Museum of Jacksonville

The Zing Zumm, Children’s Museum of Jacksonville is an interactive play area for children 12 and under.

Some of the things you can do here include climbing, digging, building, painting and playing. There are plenty of colorful things to explore including a barnyard, airplane cockpit and alpine scene complete with tiny village. All the play areas are designed to foster creativity while kids burn off extra energy.

Sturgeon City Park

Sturgeon City Park is a Jacksonville gem. If you’re looking for a quiet place to relax after spending time in the city, this park is perfect.

The park features walking and hiking trails that wind through its greenery, offering great views of Sturgeon Lake and beyond.

Bring your binoculars if you want to bird watch or spot blue herons along the shore. You can also enjoy fishing off the dock or bring your own boat if you prefer. There are areas for camping and grills if you want to cook out. It’s a great place to spend time with family or just enjoy some quiet time alone.

Beirut Memorial

Another memorial in the Lejuene Gardens you might be interested in is Beirut Memorial. It honors the four Marines who died in Beirut, Lebanon during the Beirut bombing.

The memorial is made of marble with a granite base that has the names of all servicemen who died at this location inscribed. The phrase “They Came in Peace” are also engraved here.

9/11 Memorial Beam

The 9/11 Beam is a memorial dedicated to those killed in the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001.

The sculpture weighs almost two tons and came from Ground Zero as a small token of support and remembrance. It has found a home at Camp Lejeune where it serves as a silent reminder that freedom isn’t free. You’ll find it between the Beirut Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Lynnwood Park Zoo

Lynnwood Park Zoo is one of the area’s most popular family destinations. This Jacksonville attraction features a variety of wild animals from around the world, from white tigers to sloth bears, plus an aviary and petting zoo where you can get up-close and personal with a few critters.

Beside the regular entrance fee, most attractions have additional prices so be sure to check all this information before going in.

There are over 100 animals at this zoo including species from across North America, Africa and South America. You’ll also find several endangered species, most of which are rescues.

Hammocks Beach State Park

If you’re looking for something off-the-beaten-path, try a day trip out to Hammocks Beach State Park. You’ll find it in the heart of Bear Island, a 4-mile long unspoiled, white sand beach. It’s only 30 minutes from downtown Jacksonville.

You can explore the beach, picnic in the great outdoors, hike landscapes of live oaks and red cedar trees or attend one of several ranger-led programs on wildlife, plants, reptiles and other environmental issues.

If you choose to camp overnight at this park, you can enjoy both peace and quiet. It’s perfect for those looking to get away from the crowd.

Jeff’s Burgers, Dogs, & Shakes

Jeff’s is a small burger stand that has developed quite a following among locals.

The burgers, dogs and shakes are all made to order and come with the option to add cheese or bacon. This might not sound like much, but it adds up to one of the tastiest fast food meals you could ask for.

Diners will enjoy the laid back atmosphere and outdoor seating area. Nothing fancy here just good quality food that will keep you satisfied.

Milk Road Coffee Shop

Milk Road Coffee Shop is where you want to go if you’re looking for gourmet coffee, tea or chocolate.

The menu features lots of vegan and vegetarian options, so this is also a good place to check out if you’re looking for something other than greasy fast food. One of their specialties are the liege waffles, don’t miss out on them.

They don’t offer much in the way of seating, but there are a couple of small tables available. This is the place to go if you’re looking for great coffee in a relaxed atmosphere.

Walton’s Distillery

Walton’s Distillery is one of Jacksonville’s most popular distillery. It features real moonshine, vodka, whiskey and other spirits.

Here’s a tip when planning your visit to Walton’s, call ahead of time because it can get quite busy during the weekends. You’ll find this distillery a few miles from downtown in a small house filled with character.

There is an option for tours from Monday to Saturday to get an in-depth look at the moonshine and whiskey-making process.

Mike’s Farm

If you’re looking for some local flavors, stop by Mike’s Farm. This Jacksonville destination is where you can buy fresh produce and locally made snacks. Stop by the on-site restaurant too so you can try their food right there and then. They recommend their signature Mac ‘n Cheese to try.

While there are quite a few stands here, the vibe is comfortable so take your time browsing through them all. You’ll find this local spot a bit west of downtown.

Riverwalk Park

Riverwalk Park is one of Jacksonville’s most popular outdoor destinations.

The park hosts plenty of events throughout the year and features a performance stage for special events. There are also two beautiful fountains in the park that add a nice touch to the landscape.

Visitors will find a playground, a water fountain and plenty of picnic areas here.

Jacksonville is such a great place. We only covered 15 fun things to do in Jacksonville, NC, but there are so much more to explore. From zoos and outdoor parks, to restaurants and distilleries, there’s always something new for visitors to experience here.

If this sounds like the kind of city you want to call home or if you’re just passing through – we hope we’ve given you plenty of ideas with our list of the best places to visit in Jacksonville.