Fun things to do in Jacksonville amid a pandemic

Hayley Simonson, Police Reporter

Whether you are new to the University of North Florida, a returning student, or a permanent resident in the area, Jacksonville has a lot to offer. Popular city activities have adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic that we were introduced to last spring. Here are some fun activities to do with friends or by yourself that are safe and socially distant when you’re not hitting the books.


829 Riverside Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32204

The museum is rich with fascinating history to explore. It holds thousands of works of art dating from 2100 BCE to the current century. In the back of the museum, you will find beautiful botanical gardens that complement a nice view of the St. Johns River. This is a great location to take some pictures and enjoy being outside on a nice day. To minimize close-contact and to keep the gardens from being overcrowded, the museum has created a system where you must reserve your tickets online in advance of your visit. Face coverings are required and visitors are expected to cooperate by maintaining six ft apart. Each gallery and garden will have maximum capacity signs and the museum is strongly following healthy guidelines to keep people safe. 

If going to the museum is out of your comfort zone, fear not, because the museum offers the chance for people to engage in their community through their website. On their website, an “Art Making at Home” guide has been made available that allows you to participate in art tutorials inspired by the Museum. They also have virtual tours on their website that allow you to explore their permanent collections, gardens, or current exhibitions.


370 Zoo Pkwy, Jacksonville, FL 32218

A popular, fun attraction in Jacksonville is the zoo. It is a beautiful place to walk around outside and opens up fun opportunities for animal-lovers of all ages to interact with the animals. At the zoo, you have the chance to feed stingrays, giraffes, or lorikeets. To enforce social distancing, the zoo has required that you buy tickets online and reserve your future visit to promote crowd control of the park. The zoo also offers to-go meals at the Trout River Grill from 10am to 4pm and the Main Camp Café from 8:30am to 4pm. Some outdoor seating is available.You can check out some of their animal exhibits and hours of operation online.


Big Talbot Island State Park : A1A North, Jacksonville, FL 32226

Little Talbot Island State Park : 12157 Heckscher Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32226

Big Talbot Island and Little Talbot island are Florida State Parks located in Jacksonville. They are undeveloped barrier islands with beautiful shoreline sand dunes and ecosystems vibrant with unique nature and native animals such as otters, bobcats, and interesting birds. They are famously known for their eroded trucks of cedar and palm that have created a natural jungle gym for people to explore. The parks create an environment for all sorts of activities such as kayaking, canoeing, biking, swimming, and fishing. Due to COVID-19, the parks have limited hours and require face coverings in certain indoor areas, while also expecting people to maintain their distance from each other. Some parking lots, amenities, and facilities remain closed. Restroom availability is limited. However, if you want a day to escape the craziness of classes and absorb nature’s beauties, this is the place for you.

MOCA MUSEUM (Museum of Contemporary Art) 

333 N Laura St, Jacksonville, FL 32202

The downtown Jacksonville museum recently reopened August 11th and they are doing everything they can to keep the public safe. While they do offer online registration for tours of the museum available to book in advance of visiting, they also offer takeout and grab & go from their café if you want a safe bite to eat after your tour. They also offer virtual tours from the safety of your room and that you can register for online as well. The best part is that all admission is free for UNF students and Employees. Employees can also include one guest for free. Their current exhibitions are Breaking Boundaries “The Vision of Jacqueline B. Holmes,”

Recent Acquisitions : History In The Making, and Project Atrium : Rina Banerjee.


715 Riverside Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32204

A farmers market that is held from 10am to 3pm every Saturday under a bridge on the St. Johns River that typically offers live music and unique vendors. A friendly social-distancing option that the market offers is an online shopping experience and option to pre-order food at the food trucks to avoid standing in lines.  All items purchased are required to be taken off the premises and not eaten on site. The market is still in phase one of their reopening so they only have essential businesses such as farmers, pre-packaged sellers, food trucks and makers of PPE bath and body works.The booths sit six feet apart to help with social distancing and crowd control. All vendors must wear masks and sanitize their booths continually throughout the day. Face coverings are not required but strongly recommended. There are hand washing stations on site. It is recommended to get there as early as possible if you want to avoid as many people as you can. This is a great way to get out of your house or dorm and support some local businesses!


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