Families love to play here. Vacation starts when you pick your hotel and find your fun. Kids and adults love our hotels and restaurants where you’ll find something for every taste. Many hotels and restaurants are conveniently located along Western Boulevard. Jacksonville is only 30 minutes from the beach with family-friendly room rates and enticing amenities.
Photo: Dogs by the dunes at pet-friendly North Topsail Beach
Beach or Bust
Grab your chairs, gear and cooler. Drive east to Hammocks Beach State Park in Swansboro, NC or south to North Topsail Beach.
At Hammocks Beach State Park, you’ll park for free in the visitor center lot. Check the ferry schedule before you go. The ferry runs April to October in good weather. Be prepared to walk about half a mile from the ferry landing to one of the most pristine stretches of uninterrupted shoreline in the state. Light concessions and restrooms are available.
At North Topsail Beach, enjoy the waves and sand just past the dunes. This coastal community with beach homes and condos is a laid back, family beach. Onslow County Parks and Recreation will guide your parking plan.
Insider Tip: Did you forget your cooler? Five Below on Western Boulevard is a great place to pick up reasonably-priced gear for last-minute beach runs.
Photo Credit: NC Tripping, Family fun at Mike's Farm
Fun at Mike's Farm
Mike’s Farm in Richlands offers seasonal berry and pumpkin picking. The holidays welcome hayrides with light displays and music shows. Call ahead to get these tickets. Year-round, guests can pet and feed farm animals, or take in the view from a rocking chair on the wrap around porch. Family-style dinners featuring fried chicken and serious mac and cheese keep kids and grownups smiling.
Insider Tip: Be sure to visit the bakery before or after your meal. It opens up to a festive Christmas shop. Need even more of a shopping fix. Take in the large and newly opened NC Products Barn right on the farm!
Wilson Bay Park offers a mix of water views, boardwalks, and recreation space
Play at a Park
Explore more than 17 miles of trails and greenways by foot or by bicycle. We’re a BYOB (bring- your-own-bicycle) town. Here, you can throw a baseball, meander through the woods or watch your little ones swing and climb a jungle gym. Pack a picnic lunch and spread a blanket on Jacksonville's highest hill overlooking Wilson Bay at Sturgeon City Park. Enjoy one of our playgrounds or follow the Sturgeon City boardwalk trail over the river marsh. Find frisbee golf courses, gazebos, playgrounds and more.
Meet the Animals at Lynwood Park Zoo
Lynnwood Park Zoo is an animal and reptile sanctuary with a mission of connecting the public with wildlife through education. Animals hail from various backgrounds, including owner surrenders and rescues. Occasionally, facilities downsize or shut down and ask the facility to care for animals unfit for release into the wild. Zoo employees and volunteers take special care of the animals here.
Insider Tip: The Lynwood Park Zoo is closed on Thursdays. Find more tips for your visit here.
Photo: Family fishing in Jacksonville NC with Just Got Reel Inshore Charters
Family Fishing Trips
Our favorite family fishing recommendation is Just Got Reel Inshore Charters. Knowledgeable and fun Captain David Fountain has never met a stranger. He loves to take families fishing on the New River. At the end of the trip, he will drop you off at the Marina Cafe where the day’s catch is cooked and eaten. Talk about a fresh seafood! Captain Fountain guides beginners and experienced fishing families. Learn more about our guides and fishing.
Photo: Children playing together at Zing Zumm Children's Museum
Fun For Every Age and Interest
Practice your baseball batting and golf skills at Swingin’ Things. For indoor fun, get some hands-on playtime at Zing Zumm Children’s Museum, an interactive museum popular with younger children, and Mega Play. Tweens and teens enjoy Altitude Trampoline Park, Roller City skating rink and Glo-Mania Lazer Tag. CrackedIt! Escape Games is a clever escape room experience for friends or family outing. Perfect for teens, this experience engages your entire family’s wit and imagination to solve the mystery. For an artistic outing, visit one of Jacksonville’s art studios, Wine and Design, where your family will have fun painting and creating their newest masterpiece.
Honor Our Military
To learn more about the area's military history, visit Lejeune Memorial Gardens, home to the second largest Vietnam Memorial in the United States. Here, every name is etched in glass around the serene dome and fountain. You can share the story of the Montford Point Marines, the first African-American Marines, with your children at the Montford Point Marine Memorial. The 9/11 Memorial Beam was presented to Camp Lejeune in recognition of the Marines who were first into the War on Terror. And the Beirut Memorial, the largest military memorial constructed entirely from private funds, honors those who gave the greatest sacrifice for their country. At the Freedom Fountain, flags represent all five branches of the military. Take a family portrait or Instagram shot here.
Fun For Every Age and Interest
For more outdoor fun, enjoy horse-riding lessons or a trail ride at Equine Country or a kayak tour at Hammocks Beach State Park with Paddle NC. Practice your baseball batting and golf skills at Swingin’ Things. For indoor fun, get some hands-on playtime at Zing Zumm Children’s Museum, an interactive museum popular with younger children, and Mega Play. You older kiddoes and younger too, will enjoy Altitude Trampoline Park, Roller City skating rink and Glo-Mania Lazer Tag. CrackedIt! Escape Games is a clever escape room experience for friends or family outing. Perfect for teens, this experience engages your entire family’s wit and imagination to solve the mystery. For an artistic outing, visit one of Jacksonville’s art studios, Wine and Design, where your family will have fun painting and creating their newest masterpiece.
Hotels and Restaurants to Satisfy Every Taste
With a very diverse population from all over the world, you’ll find chains here you may not find in your hometown. Hotels along Western Blvd offer excellent pricing. These hotels are surrounded by chain restaurants to satisfy all tastes, preferences, and price points. Hotels such as Home2Suites, The Courtyard by Marriott, The Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton Inn & Suites offer outdoor space. Some offer grills for those who want to host a family cook-out. Check the hotel amenities list for firepits to make s’mores at the end of the day.