Hidden Gems: Things to do with Toddlers in Jacksonville

There is ALWAYS something going on in Jacksonville and A TON of places around town to have fun with the family. Being that Jax is the largest city in the United States, sometimes those places can get a little crowded.

Long lines, difficulty parking, crowds and toddlers do not always mix well.

If you’re looking to literally go off the beaten path and try something a little different, consider these toddler-friendly Hidden Gems. They are guaranteed to not only broaden your activity agenda, but ensure a solid nap time afterward.

Hidden Gems

Cancer Survivor Park

My 3 year old has been obsessed with bridges since I took a wrong turn on the way to take some listing pictures and get breakfast in Riverside. That wrong turn resulted in us going over the “blue bridge”, where he saw the “red bridge”, and sent us on a mission to go over the “green bridge”, etc…

Cancer Survivor Park Jacksonville, FL Bridges
Cancer Survivor Park Bridges Jacksonville, FL

At that point, I remembered seeing this park once after showing riverfront condos and knew we had to swing by. It was a great way to burn off some energy and go over all his favorite bridges of Jacksonville again.

Cancer Survivor Park Bridges Jacksonville, FL
Cancer Survivor Park Bridges

Personally having had loved ones go through the “maze” of cancer, the overall purpose of the park really hits home as well.

Cancer Survivor Park Jacksonville, FL
Cancer Survivor Park Jacksonville, FL

 

 

Bird Island Park

Bird Island Park Ponte Vedra Beach Library
Bird Island Park

Books and nature and firetrucks- oh my!

A secret garden of sorts, this Ponte Vedra park is able to be completely forgotten unless you know its there.

Sea Turtle Maze Bird Island Park Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Sea Turtle Maze

Perfect for a break with littles, it is small but packs a big punch. There is a Sea Turtle shaped maze to run through, a playground, animal statues to pose with, and a dock where you can watch countless turtles, fish, and birds make their way around the island.

Bird Island Park Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Part of the Playground

You could also pack a picnic lunch and eat in the shade of the Rookery Pavilion or the Story Telling Area.

Bird Island Park Ponte Vedra Beach, FL Pavillion
Bird Island Park Rookery Pavilion

The park backs up to the Ponte Vedra Fire Station as well, so if you’re lucky, you may get a chance to see the Fire Trucks!

St Johns County Fire Department
SJC Firetruck

 

From time to time, Ponte Vedra Public Library offers Baby & Me classes and Toddler story events. With a little planning, you could make an entire daytrip out of this visit!

Bird Island Park Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Bird Island Park- Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

 

 

Sweet Pete’s Candy Shop

“A candy store?” you may be thinking…

Sweet Pete's Jacksonville, FL Candy Factory and store
Sweet Pete’s Candy

Yes. A candy store. Like something out of Willy Wonka’s!

This three story wonderland not only has an ice cream shop, toy store, and full-on retro candy store where the candy is actually made on site, but also puts on classes where they will teach you how to make the candy,  boasts a full  restaurant and hosts private events.

AND they have special Toddler Times where you not only get to enjoy a Pete the Cat story, make a craft, and get a tidbit, but also meet Pete!

Sweet Pete's Jacksonville, FL Candy factory
Glimpse into the delicious candy making process.

Wow. Just. Wow.

Grab the kiddos a bite to eat and some treats to add to your secret stash, then head across the street to walk some of it off while you look at the sculptures in Hemming Park.

Hemming Park Jacksonville FL Mouth MOSH
Former Jacksonville, FL MOSH exhibit moved to Hemming Park

 

 

Hanna Park

Hanna Park is not only a really fun place to camp, but it is also a great place to spend the day with your kiddos.

As long as your babes are less than 4 feet tall, they are able to play in the splash pad area. This will allow them run around being silly while cooling off at the same time.

There are also bike and hiking trails, an enormous lake for water sports -and- some locals don’t even know:  the park has beach access!

Hanna Park Beach Jacksonville, FL
Hanna Park Beach

It’s nice and quiet and has some prime surf (but shhhhh don’t tell anyone).

 

Tree Hill Nature Center

You’d never guess that there would be a nature center in the heart of Arlington, but there is!

If you’re looking to delve into some stellar nature walks as well as have fun with farm animals, then this is your place. There are over 50+ acres of trails to explore and most are even stroller friendly (bonus points!).

Tree Hill Nature Park

Looking to have your kids think you are the G.O.A.T.? Then you definitely have to hit up the amazing pygmy goat exhibit.

There’s also a museum to cool down in with touch tanks, and a popular Butterfly festival in the spring.

 

 

These are just a few of the Toddler Approved Hidden Gems we’ve stumbled upon around town. Are there any more that you’d recommend?

 

 

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