Hometown Tourist Parks

by erin thursby
If you’re looking for something free or very cheap to do on the weekends, Jacksonville’s park system is second to none. We’ve got quite a variety of parks for nearly every taste. That shouldn’t be surprising since Jacksonville has the largest urban parks system in the US.
Hanna Park (500 Wonderwood Dr.) is a favorite because it has something for everyone. A kiddie water park, beach access, canoe rental, inland waterways, bike trails for every class of rider and lots of Florida nature are what you’ll find there. Camping, both in tents and in cabins, can be part of the experience or you can just go for the day.
For a more focused experience, there’s Cuba Hunter Park (3620 Bedford Rd.). While it does have nature trails, it’s the skate park portion that’s most popular.
Memorial Park (1620 Riverside Ave.) doesn’t have a lot of amenities, but it’s got a spectacular view of the river, an iconic bronze statue and plenty of room for dog walking, picnicking and get-togethers. Around Valentine’s Day this pretty, open park sees its share of couples.
One of Jacksonville’s largest parks is Tillie K. Fowler Regional Park (7000 Roosevelt Blvd.). It’s got an historic brick trail, a high tower where you can watch owls and other birds, a butterfly garden, wetlands and a nature center.
Jessie Ball duPont Park (1123 Prudential Dr.) is known for the Treaty Oak. At only seven acres, it’s a small park, but it’s known for the gigantic and old oak in the center. The oak is about 150 years old. The name comes from a story told about a treaty between whites and Native Americans under its branches. In all probability, it’s not true, but the name stuck. Even so, it’s a sight to see. JEA uses the acorns from the tree as part of greenscaping throughout the city.
City activities often take place in Metropolitan Park (4110 Gator Bowl Dr.) but it’s also a great place to take the little ones. Kids Kampus features a terrific playground and water splash area.
With over 200 different parks in Jacksonville, we’ve barely scratched the surface. You can find a complete list of parks on coj.net. Activities and accommodations for various sports, boat ramps, swimming and playgrounds can be used to search the site. Jacksonville has surprising little parks, often in places you wouldn’t expect. You can also search for parks in your area, or go alphabetically.