11 Best Things To Do In Jacksonville, North Carolina - Updated 2022

things to do in jacksonville north carolina

Jacksonville, North Carolina has the distinction of being the youngest city in the United States with an average age of 22.8 years old, which is due to the fact that Jacksonville has a large military presence as it is home of the US Marine Corps training facility, Camp Lejeune and New River Air Station. Jacksonville has good proximity to local beaches such as Hilton Head, South Carolina and North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks area.

Jacksonville offers indoor and outdoor activities that can be enjoyed throughout the year such as a Frisbee golf course, skate park and Splash Pad. There are miles of trails and greenways throughout Jacksonville where you can bike or take a leisurely stroll. The yearly calendar is full of fun festivities such as Oktoberfest, Winterfest, National Night Out, ArtBlock, Summer Concert Series, and the Jacksonville Jamboree. If you’re planning to stay awhile, why not book a vacation rental? There are options from several rental companies, including Vrbo. Plan your perfect trip now, and read on to learn more about the best things to do in Jacksonville!

1. Lejeune Memorial Gardens

Lejeune Memorial Gardens, A place to reflect 141002-M-IY869-121
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Cpl. Jackeline Pe... used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Lejeune Memorial Gardens is home to the Beirut Memorial, the Onslow Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Montford Point Marine Memorial, and 9/11 Memorial Beam from the World Trade Center. The Beirut Memorial is a tribute to the 273 Marines who lost their lives in Lebanon and Grenada on October 23,1983. It is set in a wooded site with beautiful landscaping.

The 9/11 Memorial houses a beam from the Twin Towers that was presented by the New York police and firefighters to the first troops to invade Iraq following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is the second largest Vietnam Veterans Memorial after the memorial in Washington, DC. The Montford Point Marine Memorial honors the Montford Point Marines, African American Marines who served in WWII. The marines were the first to serve in the US Marine Corps.

Lejeune Memorial Gardens

Address: Montford Landing Rd, Jacksonville, NC 28541, United States

Website: Lejeune Memorial Gardens

2. Walton's Distillery

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

If you don’t know what to do in Jacksonville, why not visit a distillery? Walton’s Distillery is a family-owned and operated business that became fully operational in 2013. To find it, go past the winding Black Creek Road, and just beyond the bank of Black Creek, you will find the small-batch distillery located on a site where numerous illegal stills had previously operated. Today, corn whiskey is legally made at the distillery. One of the unique aspects of the distillery is the naming of their spirits. The founder and owner, Donald Walton, names his spirits after family members and the labels bear the name of the family member. His first spirit, E.M. Walton’s Corn Whiskey, was named in honor of his great-grandfather.

Once the whiskey production was fully underway, Walton expanded his product offering by adding moonshine which is concocted in the traditional moonshine stainless steel still with a copper condenser. Adding moonshine was his cousin, Norwood Rochelle’s, idea as he had made moonshine illegally for approximately 50 years in the woods of surrounding counties. The name of the moonshine is “Junior Walton’s Authentic Carolina Moonshine,“ named after Walton’s grandfather.

Walton's Distillery

Address: 261 Ben Williams Rd, Jacksonville, NC 28540

Opening Hours: 10:00 am-5:00 pm (Monday-Saturday). Closed on Sundays

Website: Walton’s Distillery

3. Bayonet Enterprises Cruises

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Beautiful this afternoon

Posted by Bayonet Enterprises Cruises on Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Bayonet Enterprises is a family-owned and operated business that provides quality leisure experiences on the waterways of the New River. For tourists looking for fun things to do in Jacksonville, this business offers a variety of cruises for all types of occasions and celebrations. Cruises include Let’s Do Lunch, Sunset Wine and Cheese, Champagne Brunch, Family Picnic, Sunset Dinner Cruise, and longer cruises such as the five-hour mini getaway, a six-hour day on the water, and an overnight getaway. The boat is equipped with towels, soap, sunscreen, fleece, blankets, and first-aid items. Children under eight years old cruise for free.

Bayonet Enterprises Cruises

Address: 223 Leonard St, Jacksonville, NC 28540

Website: Bayonet Enterprises Cruises

4. Lynnwood Park Zoo

Aviation technicians volunteer, clean up Lynnwood Park Zoo 141206-M-BZ918-064
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Cpl. James Smith used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Lynnwood Park Zoo is a beautifully landscaped park and is the only animal exhibit in Jacksonville and the Camp Lejeune area. The zoo displays over 80 animal exhibits, with many different species of exotic and domestic animals, reptiles, and birds from around the world such as zebras, wallabies, pigmy goats, sheep, alligators, python turtles, owls, emus, turkeys, geese, hawks and more. Visitors can meander along over a mile (1.6 km) of walkways between exhibits.

There is a nature center and a picnic area with tables at the entrance. Self-guided and guided tours are available too. Children can get up close personal with a “hands on” look at small animals, birds and reptiles on the guided tours. The zoo is an exceptional family destination, where visitors have learning opportunities, can stroll through leisurely nature trails, and enjoy a picnic before or after a visit.

Lynnwood Park Zoo

Address: 1071 Wells Rd, Jacksonville, NC 28540

Opening Hours: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm (Friday - Monday)

Website: Lynnwood Park Zoo

5. Wilson Bay Park

Located on the New River, Wilson Bay Park is a perfect place for a picnic, fishing or catching a spectacular sunrise over the water. The picnic shelter, which holds approximately 60 people, is located right on the water and has playground equipment and restrooms nearby. Take a stroll along the waterfront on the boardwalk or head to the dock to fish, maybe even for some shrimp. At the end of the boardwalk over the water is a beautiful gazebo which is a favorite spot for weddings.

Wilson Bay Park

Address: 5 Bayshore Blvd W, Jacksonville, NC 28540

Opening Hours: 7:00 am - 9:00 pm (Monday - Sunday)

Website: Wilson Bay Park

6. Northeast Creek Park

Northeast Creek Park
Source: Photo by Flickr user NC Wetlands used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Northeast Creek Park has something to offer the whole family. The park has a large play area and a water play area at the Splash Pad & Inclusive Playground. The latter gives the chance for adults and children to cool off in the hot weather. Next to the splash pad is a playground with equipment for the kids and benches for parents to relax and watch. A regulation size Disc (Frisbee) Golf Course is available for golfing fans. The boat launch in the park gives access to Northeast Creek and provides two spots to launch boats and kayaks with plenty of space for vehicle and trailer parking. The park also has well-maintained ball fields, a fishing area, bathroom facilities and a number of picnic shelters. Northeast Creek Park is perfect for a day out in the sunshine.

Northeast Creek Park

Address: 910 Corbin St, Jacksonville, North Carolina, United States

Website: Northeast Creek Park

The following content is contributed by Trip101 writer, Anne

7. Zing Zumm, Children's Museum of Jacksonville

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

One of the best places to go in Jacksonville with kids is Zing Zumm Children’s Museum of Jacksonville. The museum provides a safe environment for children, and families can spend quality time together here. This attraction is set in the former Boomtown Furniture building in downtown Jacksonville. While most museums offer exhibits for people to look at, Zing Zumm is a hands-on, interactive experience that allows children to play, explore their interests, and discover. While it is colorful and fun, children also learn by playing, and this allows them to build foundational skills. Zing Zumm Children’s Museum of Jacksonville is a non-profit organization, so it invites people to donate to the museum in order to continue the creative programming and exhibits for children.

Zing Zumm, Children's Museum of Jacksonville

Address: 625 New Bridge St, Jacksonville, North Carolina, United States

Website: Zing Zumm, Children’s Museum of Jacksonville

Opening hours: Wed - Sat: 9am - 5pm (closed from Sun - Tue)

Price: 8 USD

8. Sherwood Forest Park

Sherwood Forest
Source: Photo by Flickr user Mandy Shelton used under CC BY 2.0

Jacksonville, North Carolina, has a number of green spaces where local residents can get out to enjoy the fresh air, walk and exercise, or simply relax on the grass. One of these spaces in Sherwood Forest Park. The park offers a fun playground for the children, with the usual swings and slides. There is a secluded, forested area to explore in the shade during the summer months. Throughout the park, a number of charcoal grills have been set up for families to enjoy a barbeque or picnic together. There is also a handy shelter that accommodates 10 people, with benches and tables set up under a shaded roof. Musical events are also held in Sherwood Forest Park, including the popular Movies in the Park event.

Sherwood Forest Park

Address: 212 A Nottingham Rd, Jacksonville, North Carolina, United States

Opening hours: 7am - 9pm (daily)

9. Pelletier House

Pelletier House Jacksonville NC 08
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jdcollins13 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Pelletier House was built in the 1850s as the home and office for merchant Rufus Ferrand Pelletier. This Jacksonville attraction is the only remaining antebellum home in the city. Constructed in the Greek Revival style, the home was originally set in the turpentine distillery lot owned by Pelletier and his brother, William Pelletier, who was the Civil War postmaster in Jacksonville. Eventually, Rufus became the postmaster and used the house as a post office. In the 1880s, Rufus became a magistrate and used Pelletier House to conduct weddings. The attractive and small house originally had two rooms, with the front room being a business area and the rear room his living area. A kitchen and dining room wing was added later, along with another wing with a number of rooms. Unfortunately, these extensions were destroyed by a fire in the 1950s. The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

Pelletier House

Address: 100 Old Bridge St, Jacksonville, North Carolina, United States

10. Onslow County Parks: Oakhurst Landing and Nature Trail

Located on Riverbend Road, Jacksonville, Oakhurst Landing and Nature Trail offers a kayak launch where visitors can paddle on the New River and enjoy the surrounding wilderness. For those planning to hike, there’s a 1,500-ft (457-m) nature trail that runs through a beautiful forest. A second nature trail runs for 3,400 ft (1, 036 m), starting from Pollard Lane, and has a separate entrance and parking lot. This trail also heads through the forest, allowing people to explore nature and the wilderness while staying close to downtown Jacksonville. Take a picnic basket with you when visiting the nature trail, and remember to carry water, especially during the warmer months.

Onslow County Parks: Oakhurst Landing and Nature Trail

Address: 244 Riverbend Rd, Jacksonville, North Carolina, United States

Opening hours: 10am - 8pm (daily)

11. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

Cracker Barrel
Source: Photo by Flickr user Mike Mozart used under CC BY 2.0

At Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, visitors can purchase household items, clothing, and more. However, this is more than just a general store. It is also a great place to enjoy homestyle breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast is served all day and includes their signature favorite, Grandma’s Sampler. Choosing this option gives patrons two buttermilk pancakes served with syrup, two eggs, a smoked sausage patty, and a strip of thick-sliced bacon. This delicious breakfast is served with fried apples or a hashbrown casserole. All other meals include delicious Southern comfort food. While waiting for their meals, visitors are welcome to shop in the store, relax by the fireplace, or play checkers.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

Address: 02 Chaffee Point Rd., Jacksonville, North Carolina, United States

Website: Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

Opening hours: Sun - Thu: 8am - 9pm; Fri - Sat: 7am - 10pm

Just have a great time in Jacksonville!

Jacksonville at Night (39527326802)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Gregory Urbano used under CC BY 2.0

Jacksonville, NC offers a wide range of recreational activities, from well-planned greenways for walking to water activities. Located near the New River, Jacksonville has some of the best paddling and fishing in eastern North Carolina. If you’d rather sit back, relax, and let someone else do the work, there are leisurely river cruises to enjoy. There are festivals that welcome visitors throughout the year as well. December is Winterfest and an annual Jazz Festival is held in February. Spring brings the Jacksonville Jamboree, and in August the National Night community event is held with live music, fireworks, food, and family fun. Whether it’s spending time on the New River or experiencing one of the yearly festivals, visitors will find a number of cool things to do in Jacksonville.

Frequently asked questions about the best things to do in Jacksonville, North Carolina

1. What are the top attractions to visit in Jacksonville?

Some must-visit attractions in Jacksonville include Pelletier House, for a look at the only antebellum home in the city, and Walton’s Distillery, for a chance to tour and taste corn whisky. You can also check out Lynnwood Park Zoo, Northeast Creek Park, and Wilson Bay Park.

2. What are the best outdoor activities in Jacksonville?

Jacksonville is home to some beautiful parks that offer the perfect spot for family picnics, hikes, or relaxing strolls. Check out Wilson Bay Park if you want to go fishing. Northeast Creek Park has a disc golf course, and Oakhurst Landing and Nature Trail offers two trails perfect for avid hikers.

3. What are the most popular things to do with kids and family in Jacksonville?

If you’re visiting Jacksonville with your kids, add Zing Zumm, Children’s Museum of Jacksonville to your itinerary. This place is perfect for children of all ages. Lynnwood Park Zoo is a great place to introduce your kids to small animals, birds, and reptiles. After a jam-packed day, head to Cracker Barrel to indulge in their all-day breakfast selections.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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I have been a freelance writer for 10 years writing for local and regional publications as well as online travel sites. I have been a traveler most of my life going back to my first trip to Europe...Read more

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