Jacksonville is a small city found in Onslow County of North Carolina. With an average age of 22.8, it is the youngest city in the United States. It is also a significant city in American Marine history as it is home to the Marine Corps New River Station and Base Camp Lejeune.
With an extensive farming history, Jacksonville has transformed into a bustling centre for commerce, banking, retail, and healthcare in the county of Onslow. Despite this, they’ve always made it a mandate to care for their natural spaces and have earned themselves the nickname “Tree City.”
Despite its rich history, Jacksonville is a fun and relevant city filled with water-based activities, wildlife sightseeing, and many attractions that make it a tourist magnet. Let’s see all the exciting activities to do when visiting Jacksonville NC.
Since you’re in North Carolina, read this travel guide on: Fun Things To Do in Greenville, NC
Things to Do in Jacksonville NC
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Jacksonville is a hidden jewel of North Carolina. With a young population, there are plenty of adventures and activities on offer. Let’s take a look at some fun things to do in Jacksonville NC.
Lynwood Park Zoo
Established in June 1990, Lynwood Park Zoo is a wildlife sanctuary owned by veteran Gary Evans. The zoo was established with the purpose of providing children with an environment where they can be educated on wildlife. The four principles that it was founded on are conservation, recreation, education, and exhibition.
It is home to over 50 animal habitats, with an array of reptiles, mammals, and birdlife. Most animals have been rescued and rehabilitated by the wonderful staff, so be sure to ask about the stories of the amazing animals. Be sure to take a group visit to see unique animals at a discounted price.
Walton’s Distillery is a small batch craft distillery found in the heart of Jacksonville. They produce the best local bourbon, corn whiskey, and moonshine. Take a visit, and you’ll learn about the 50-year-old family recipe that is still used to craft moonshine to this day. You’ll also hear about the history and inspiration behind the product names.
A detailed tour will allow the friendly staff to show you around the fermentation, distillation, and packaging of the spirits while you get a free tasting of the final product. Be sure to stop at the gift shop and cement your memorable experience with a piece of branded merch.
Lejeune Memorial Gardens
Located at 109 Montford Landing Road, Lejeune Memorial Gardens is a historical monument for those who have sacrificed their lives to ensure freedom for the citizens of the United States of America. It houses significant memorials such as the Beirut Memorial Park, which remembers 273 marines that were peacekeepers between Lebanon and Grenada.
A visitor’s favourite is the 9/11 Memorial Beam which seeks to celebrate the troops that were deployed in response to this tragic event. It is also a symbol of the neverending war against global terrorism. Overall, it is the perfect place for every citizen to educate themselves on those who have fought for the freedom of the country.
Zing Zumm Children’s Museum
Zing Zumm Children’s Museum was officially founded in 2005 by two educators who had a vision. They identified a need for the young population in Jacksonville to have a designated place for them to express their creativity and learn in the best way possible. This is perfect for anyone looking for family things to do in Jacksonville, NC.
It has now developed into a non-profit organisation that acts as a learning centre for children from the ages of 0-10. The activities are specifically designed to encouraging learning by fostering creativity and problem-solving skills through age-appropriate games. With almost all the fun toys in child history, one thing you’ll struggle with is getting your child to leave.
Montford Point Museum
Montford Point Museum is a significant part of Jacksonville’s history. It was built in honour of the first African American marines that were enlisted into the US Marine Corps from 1942 to 1949.
History lovers will appreciate all the artefacts and monuments that have been preserved over the years. Children will gain better perspective on how we achieved equality and gain greater respect for those who have fought for their freedom. It is open during the weekdays and group visits need to book in advance.
Hammocks Beach State Park
Perhaps Jacksonville’s flagship attraction, Hammocks Beach State Park is a 4-mile island filled with many activities. Hire a boat, ferry or kayak and make your way to Bear Island. One the way, you can admire the salt marshes and marine life that surrounds it. Those with fishing licenses can slow down and catch a few blue fishes.
There are also forest trails for you to enjoy a peaceful walk accompanied by birds chirping in the trees. Campers can spend a weekend at the designated campsites, enjoying the coastal view and calming tides of the beach. This is a wonderful serene activity to help you take care of your mental health.
Twice as Nice Flea Market
A stay in Jacksonville isn’t complete without stopping by the Twice as Nice Flea Market. It is an indoor flea market that is open seven days a week, with the most activity during the weekend. From well-crafted wooden tables to unique pottery, it is filled with high-quality products sold at discounted prices.
Friendly staff are available to answer all your inquiries and help you find what you’re looking for. It’s safe to say, it won’t take too long until you find a hidden gem.
Havana 58 Cafe
Be sure to stop at Havana 58 Cafe for the best local Italian and Cuban coffee. With freshly ground coffee beans, it is perfectly brewed into a quality espresso.
If you’re not a coffee person, you can enjoy their various fruit smoothies and delicious Italian pastries on offer. It’s important to note that it’s drive-through only for your convenience.
Summary on What to Do in Jacksonville NC
Jacksonville is a young military city that has so much to offer—from the memorials that celebrate the marines and veterans, to the kayaking and camping at Hammocks Beach State Park. Not to mention the crocodiles of Lynwood Park Zoo or the free tasting at Walton’s Distillery. With so many fun activities, we’re not sure if you’ll want to leave Jacksonville.