Our research is editorially independent but we may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

14 Best Things To Do in North Florida

Featuring a mix of white sand beaches, natural springs, and state parks, North Florida is home to some of the Sunshine State’s most beautiful, untouched landscapes. Aside from its natural beauty, it also boasts historic landmarks and family-friendly attractions without the crowds of tourists you’re used to in other parts of the state. From outdoor adventures to world-class cultural institutions, here are the best things to do in North Florida.

Explore Amelia Island and Downtown Fernandina Beach Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island
Credit: Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island by Madison Y Photo/shutterstock.com

Explore Amelia Island and Downtown Fernandina Beach

Amelia Island is a treasure trove of history and heritage, with plenty of exciting things to do for the entire family. Walk along the brick streets of Fernandina Beach and admire buildings listed on the National Register, or go beachcombing for seashell treasures. Hop on the Amelia Island Trolley for a tour of the town, stop by the Palace Saloon for a drink at Florida’s longest-operating saloon and head out for a sunset sail along the waterfront.

Enjoy Outdoor Adventures at Ginnie Springs Ginnie Springs
Credit: Ginnie Springs by Ginnie Springs

Enjoy Outdoor Adventures at Ginnie Springs

Ginnie Springs really puts on a show with its mesmerizing natural landscapes, boasting one of the clearest springs in the state. You’ll find a plethora of outdoor recreation on offer here, from canoeing up the river to tubing, snorkeling, and diving excursions. Its 72-degree water temperatures are ideal for an afternoon swim, while cave divers will find plenty to explore in its unique underwater cave system.

Bask in the Sunshine at Henderson Beach State Park - Destin Henderson Beach State Park
Credit: Henderson Beach State Park by © Lunamarina/dreamstime.com

Bask in the Sunshine at Henderson Beach State Park - Destin

Home to one of the best beaches in Florida, the shoreline at Henderson Beach State Park has Appalachian quartz sand. It’s sugar white sand lines its 6,000 feet of scenic shoreline, where you can soak up the sunshine on a towel or take a dip in the emerald Gulf of Mexico waters. Rent a bike and cruise the area, pack a picnic, or spend the afternoon exploring the walking trails.

See the Ancient Sinkhole at Devil's Millhopper - Gainesville Devil's Millhopper
Credit: Devil's Millhopper by floridastateparks.org

See the Ancient Sinkhole at Devil's Millhopper - Gainesville

Devil’s Millhopper boasts one of Florida’s most unique geological wonders. A National Natural Landmark, visitors who come here will discover a 120-foot deep, 500-foot wide, and 10,000-year-old limestone sinkhole. Located in Gainesville, this 71-acre park features an observation deck where you can see its half-mile bowl-shaped cavity that sits amongst a miniature rainforest filled with towering live oaks.

Go Swimming at Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park Wakulla Springs
Credit: Wakulla Springs by Paul Clark via Flickr

Go Swimming at Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park

You’ll find one of the largest and deepest freshwater springs in the world at Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, where its 6,000 acres of natural surroundings offer a tranquil escape throughout the year. Its swimming area is the perfect place to cool off in Florida’s heat, while the popular glass-bottom boat tours and hiking trails are a haven for nature lovers.

Meet Wildlife at the Jacksonville Zoo Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
Credit: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens by Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Meet Wildlife at the Jacksonville Zoo

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens stretches out across 117 acres and features over 2,000 animals. Take the entire family to this top attraction in Jacksonville, where you can get up close to a range of exotic animals, from jaguars to giraffes and tigers, in its collection of exhibits. You can also feed stingrays, admire curious elephants and cool off in the on-site Play Park and Splash Ground.

Paddle through Ichetucknee Springs State Park Ichetucknee

Paddle through Ichetucknee Springs State Park

One of the most beloved state parks in North Florida for paddlers and tubers, Ichetucknee Springs State Park in Fort White is a hotspot for outdoor adventures. Its six miles of cool, crystalline spring-fed waters and nine crystal clear springs will melt your stress away, where you can float or paddle under the canopy of shaded hammocks of live oak and cypress trees.

See the Butterfly Rainforest at Florida Museum of Natural History - Gainesville Florida Museum of Natural History
Credit: Florida Museum of Natural History by floridamuseum.ufl.edu

See the Butterfly Rainforest at Florida Museum of Natural History - Gainesville

Visit the Florida Museum of Natural History to see live butterflies from around the world in its Butterfly Rainforest exhibit. There are other animals to see here, including turtles and fish, while the colorful flowers and waterfalls create a tranquil ambiance. You can learn something new about Florida’s unique habitats, and browse through its exhibits on the natural and cultural history of the area.

Walk the Walls of Castillo de San Marcos - St. Augustine Castillo de San Marcos
Credit: Castillo de San Marcos by bigstock.com

Walk the Walls of Castillo de San Marcos - St. Augustine

St. Augustine is full of charm with its centuries-old buildings and historic downtown area, and the Castillo De San Marcos is a must-see. Constructed in 1672, it is the oldest masonry structure of its kind in the United States. After you explore this National Monument, see cannon firing demonstrations and musket drills in the Colonial Quarter, then sample the water from the famous Fountain of Youth.

Admire Artwork in Cummer Museum of Arts and Gardens - Jacksonville Cummer Museum of Arts and Gardens
Credit: Cummer Museum of Arts and Gardens by Cummer Museum of Arts and Gardens

Admire Artwork in Cummer Museum of Arts and Gardens - Jacksonville

Home to one of the finest art collections in the Southeast, the Cummer Museum of Arts and Gardens in Jacksonville holds nearly 5,000 objects in its permanent collection. There are interactive features that the kids will enjoy, while history enthusiasts will be impressed with the American and European paintings that date back to 2100 BC. Outside you’ll find a collection of beautifully manicured gardens with reflecting pools and ornate fountains.

See the Unique Shoreline at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park - Palm Coast Washington Oaks Gardens State Park
Credit: Washington Oaks Gardens State Park by Washington Oaks Gardens State Park

See the Unique Shoreline at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park - Palm Coast

Home to one of Florida’s most famous shorelines, Washington Oaks Gardens State Park in Palm Coast is known for its picturesque coquina rock formations that line its beach. Aside from its 400 acres of coastal scenery that sits between the Atlantic Ocean and Matanzas River, you can walk along the footpaths to discover beautiful floral displays and citrus trees in the garden or go fishing along the seawall.

Smell the Roses at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens - Gainesville Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
Credit: Kanapaha Botanical Gardens by Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

Smell the Roses at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens - Gainesville

Gainesville is home to Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, where you’ll find 26 unique gardens and Florida’s largest display of bamboos. Spread out across 62 acres, you can take a stroll through the picturesque ginger garden, water garden, hummingbird garden then visit the herb garden to see a range of exotic flora and fauna and cascading waterfalls.

Catch a Live Performance at Florida Theatre - Jacksonville Florida Theatre
Credit: Florida Theatre by Florida Theatre

Catch a Live Performance at Florida Theatre - Jacksonville

Open since 1927, the opulent Florida Theatre is an iconic piece of Florida history, standing as one of only four remaining high-style movie palaces in the state. A premier destination for arts and culture in Jacksonville, you can see the stage where Elvis once played, catch captivating ballet and opera performances or see a live music show.

Admire Historic Aircraft at National Naval Aviation Museum - Pensacola National Naval Aviation Museum
Credit: National Naval Aviation Museum by National Naval Aviation Museum

Admire Historic Aircraft at National Naval Aviation Museum - Pensacola

The world’s largest Naval Aviation museum and one of the most-visited museums in Florida, the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola features 150 beautifully restored aircraft. Explore the Pensacola’s rich history, and browse through exhibits and more than 4,000 artifacts that highlight the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Aviation.

Travel Deals

11-Day Greek Island Tour | Save Up To $400

$3699+

7-Day British Escape: London to Edinburgh Tour

$1599+

Med Cruises | Up to 45% Off, Ship Credit up to $300

$779+

Mexico | Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta All-Inclusive Resort

$301+ pp/pn

Up to 77% Off R/T Business Class Flights to Europe

$1405+

$500 Off | 8-Day Ireland by Design Guided Tour

$2199+

Earn Points for Perks at Choice Hotels Worldwide

BOOK

Ocean Edge Resort, MA | Golf Getaway

$150+

Unleash Your Wild - Discover Anchorage Today

VISIT

Aer Lingus R/T Flights To More Than 25 Europe Cities

$563+

45% Off | Air & 9-Day Ischia, Amalfi Coast & Pompeii

$1899+

Alaska Cruises Up to 45% Off + Up to $300 Ship Credit

$349+

Mega Airline Seat Sale | Top Airlines to Manila & Cebu

$729+

11-Day Customizable Best of Ireland Self-Drive Tour

$3450+

$350 Off Custom Australia Journey w/ Air - Ends 4/30

$2999+