Be sure to try these 10 under-the-radar experiences in Jacksonville

Jacksonville is sometimes overshadowed by Florida's other great cities, but it has plenty of worthy attractions of its own. (mage by 12019 from Pixabay)

If you’re looking for a unique and memorable vacation, you might want to consider Jacksonville, Florida. This city has more than just beaches and golf courses. It also offers a variety of offbeat experiences that will make your trip unforgettable. Here are 10 of them:

Explore the history of Kingsley Plantation

Kingsley Plantation is the oldest surviving plantation house in Florida. It was built in 1798 by Zephaniah Kingsley, a slave trader and plantation owner who married one of his slaves, Anna Madgigine Jai. You can learn about their lives and the lives of the enslaved people who worked on the plantation through guided tours, exhibits and interpretive programs.

Meet the big cats at Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary

Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary is a non-profit organization that provides a safe and loving home for endangered big cats such as lions, tigers, leopards and cougars. You can visit the sanctuary during their daytime tours or their night feeding events, where you can watch the cats enjoy their dinner and hear them roar.

Watch a ballet performance at Jacksonville Ballet Theatre

Jacksonville Ballet Theatre is a professional ballet company that showcases both classical and contemporary works. They perform at various venues throughout the city, including the historic Florida Theatre and the Ritz Theatre. You can catch their annual production of The Nutcracker during the holidays or one of their original creations the rest of the year.

See rare manuscripts at Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum

Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum is the world’s largest private collection of original manuscripts and documents. It displays rotating exhibits of historical and literary significance, such as the original draft of the Bill of Rights, the first map of America and even the handwritten lyrics of Bob Dylan. You can also admire the beautiful architecture of the former church building that houses the museum.

Connect with nature at Tree Hill Nature Center

Tree Hill Nature Center is a 50-acre urban wilderness that preserves and protects native flora and fauna. You can hike along the trails, visit the butterfly house, see live animals at the animal encounters, or join one of their educational programs. You can also enjoy scenic views of downtown Jacksonville from the highest point in the city.

Discover the story of Fort Caroline National Memorial

Fort Caroline National Memorial commemorates the first French colony in North America, which was established in 1564 near present-day Jacksonville. The colony was short-lived, as it was attacked and destroyed by the Spanish in 1565. You can explore the reconstructed fort, visit the museum and walk along the nature trails.

Admire contemporary art at MOCA Jacksonville

MOCA Jacksonville is a museum of contemporary art that features works by local, national and international artists. The museum has a permanent collection of over 1,000 pieces, as well as temporary exhibitions, public programs and educational activities. You can also enjoy a meal at their award-winning restaurant, NOLA MOCA.

Kayak through Amelia Island

Kayak Amelia is a family-owned business that offers guided kayak tours through the salt marshes and creeks of Amelia Island. You can paddle along the scenic waterways, spot wildlife such as dolphins, manatees and birds, and learn about the history and ecology of the area. You can also rent a bike, a stand-up paddle board or a Segway to explore the island on land.

Visit the historic Evergreen Cemetery

Evergreen Cemetery is the oldest and largest cemetery in Jacksonville, dating back to 1880. It is the final resting place of many notable figures, such as James Weldon Johnson, Eartha M.M. White and A. Philip Randolph. You can take a self-guided tour or join one of their themed walking tours to learn about the history and stories of the cemetery.

Indulge your sweet tooth at Sweet Pete’s Candy

Sweet Pete’s Candy is a candy store and factory that offers a variety of treats, from chocolates and caramels to gummies and lollipops. You can watch the candy makers at work, take a candy-making class, or enjoy a dessert at their cafe. You can also visit their rooftop patio and bar for a drink and a view.

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