- Things to Do
Things to Do
So you've found yourself in Jacksonville for a few days and want to see the sights. Welcome! Now comes the challenging part: how do you make the most of your time here? Between the food, memorials, nature and other attractions, how does one get the best taste of everything Jacksonville has to offer? We've got you covered. Whether you're doing a solo dive or traveling with family, this itinerary is designed to be an enjoyable mix for people who want a well-rounded experience. It's also packed with great food recommendations! You can thank us later.
US Marine Corps Camp Lejeune is what originally put our city on the map, so exploring the town's history with the armed forces is a great place to start. We officially begin the trip at the Freedom Fountain in downtown Jacksonville, a beautiful endless edge pool with fifty bubblers and three water spires. It's dedicated to those who pass through Onslow County in service to our country.
Just a few blocks away, stretch your legs with a stroll through the Lejeune Memorial Gardens. It offers peaceful winding trails, gorgeous flowers, and inspiring memorials for many pivotal moments in American history. It's as serene as it is inspiring.
After the walk, grab a coffee (or some fresh soups and salads) at Brewed Downtown! It's a weekday-only gathering spot with a menu that updates daily, so breakfast, brunch or lunch is the perfect time to go.
After lunch, treat yourself to a tasty sip at Walton's Distillery, blending local traditions of moonshiners and artisans with Kentuckian distillery methods to make truly exciting moonshine. See how it's made and taste test all of the various flavors.
For dinner, you have options. First, you can treat yourself to some fresh seafood at Captain Bob Beck's Marina Cafe, Jacksonville's best-kept secret for over twenty years. Alternatively, if you're traveling with a companion and would like something more romantic, hop on board Bayonet Enterprises Cruise and enjoy a sunset dinner on the water. Bayonet offers a memorable experience on the water where you can book for an early morning breakfast or lunch cruise as well -- or set out on an overnight excursion.
Rise and shine! Start the morning at either Angie's Family Restaurant or The Kettle Diner, two local favorites known for breakfast. Afterwards, it's straight on to Hammock's Beach State Park. Less than a half-hour drive from Jacksonville, it's an opportunity to enjoy scenic, undisturbed, undeveloped shoreline. Bear Island, the area with the best shoreline for sunbathing and playing in the ocean, is accessible by ferry. Paddle NC also offers kayak tours on the park site, for those who can't get away from the water.
For lunch, look to Jeff's Burgers, Dogs & Shakes, known for their hand-cut fries and hand-shaped patties. They also have a signature Paul Parker Sandwich, a favorite of the local radio personality by the same name.
Spend the afternoon at Mike's Farm, which hosts seasonal events throughout the year. The petting zoo and gift shop keep kids of all ages occupied. It serves as a popular spot for weddings and photographers. Their restaurant also serves fried chicken with all the fixin's, if you're craving some old-fashioned country food.
Dinner brings more options: both ethnic and fancy. Liliana's Colombian Restaurant & Bakery is one of the few authentic Colombian restaurants in North Carolina known for their food, fruit drinks, and cakes. Duck's Grille and Bar offers some of the area's best fine dining. Guests appreciate their local-sourcing and excellent presentation.
Coffee lovers can't leave Jacksonville without trying The Milk Road, a veteran-owned specialty coffee roaster known for their liège waffles (if you've never had one, it's an absolute must.)
After breakfast, check out one of the country's latest travel crazes with Cracked It! Escape Rooms. Discover clues, solve puzzles, and "escape" from themed rooms in 60 minutes or less. If you're traveling with family or friends, it's a great team-building exercise.
Rather continue your fun on the water? Check out these fun ways to enjoy water access in Jacksonville. Or, explore different parts of the New River when you hook up with one of our expert fishing charters.
- Captain Junior Sinclair of Fishbones Charters has fished the coast for more than three decades.
- Captain Ricky Kellum is known as the “Speckled Specialist.” He teaches tricks of the trade to guests and visitors, guaranteeing a great catch.
- Captain David Fountain of Just Got Reel Inshore Charters takes us along to see the fish and scenery. He shares his knowledge of the New River, too. He says his job “is to make it as easy as possible for visitors to experience what the fishing scene here has to offer.”
Before heading home, fuel up with another unique meal at Marrakesh Mediterranean Cuisine. With flavors and seasonings that delight the senses, the restaurant serves kabobs, pilaf, and shwarma. Certain nights throughout the week, there is also live belly dancing to entertain diners.
We look forward to welcoming you to Jacksonville, NC.