Jacksonville, Florida: home to miles of unspoiled coastline, some of the best shrimp in the country, and your next best date. If you’re visiting Jax with your loved one or are looking for unique options for your dating life, chances are you need some fresh, new date ideas in Jacksonville.
Read on to uncover some of the city’s finest picks for a romantic day or night out.
Nothing says romance like a picnic in a beautiful setting—and there’s no better place to do that in Jacksonville than at the beach. The city and region are practically surrounded by water, from creeks and tributaries to St. Johns River and, of course, the Atlantic Ocean. Grab your picnic basket and your partner and head to two of the best beaches in the Jacksonville area.
Boneyard Beach is off the beaten path but so worth the extra miles (the scenic drive itself is rewarding!). Situated in Big Talbot Island State Park, Boneyard Beach is known for the vast number of bleached live oaks located right on the sand and even in the water. These trees make for a breathtaking scene, especially at sunrise or sunset. Either set up your picnic on the sand if it’s low tide or walk back up the path to the designated picnic area on the bluffs.
Another great location for a beachside picnic is Jacksonville Beach, a popular spot for sunbathing and a swim. For date ideas in Jacksonville Beach after your day in the sun, head toward the Jacksonville Beach Pier, which is surrounded by great restaurants.
Say Cheers at a Rooftop Bar
Florida’s largest city has the number of bars to match, so make it a date to remember by heading to a rooftop bar. Here are two local favorites to choose from, depending on how you want to set the mood:
- Hoptinger Bier Garden and Sausage House: This lively joint has a casual, cool rooftop hangout space, complete with market lights and comfortable patio furniture. But the space is only half the fun: You and your date can choose from more than 60 beers on tap, plus a full menu with its famous German sausages. There’s even a late-night menu so you can keep the date going into the wee hours.
- River & Post: Two blocks away from Hoptinger and one block from the water lies River & Post, a modern restaurant with an upscale rooftop lounge on the ninth floor. Cheers your date while enjoying panoramic views of St. Johns River and downtown Jacksonville.
Kayak in Little Talbot Island State Park
One of the best date ideas in Jacksonville for outdoor enthusiasts is exploring the local waterways. There’s nothing like a little nature adventure for sparking some romance.
Check out Kayak Amelia, located in Little Talbot Island State Park, which offers guided tours in and around Simpson Creek. For solo adventures, there are also several hand-launch sites in the park so you and your date can venture into the creeks and view the serene estuarine grasslands on your own.
Have Dinner and a Show
Forego your typical dinner-and-a-movie date, and make it a live entertainment night! Alhambra Theatre & Dining is your go-to spot for a unique, indoor date idea in Jacksonville.
Here, you’ll be transported back to the era of dinner and a show, where lamp-lit tables surround a large stage. Guests are presented with a delicious three-course meal to enjoy throughout the show. But it’s not just the food that draws crowds. Every musical performance will make you feel like you’re witnessing a show on Broadway. Your partner will be so impressed, it’s a no-brainer that you’ll get a second date.
Make a Friday Night Reservation at the Farm
Get in touch with the land at this working farm and restaurant in an idyllic setting 20 minutes north of downtown Jacksonville. Congaree and Penn offers guests farm-to-table menus with locally sourced ingredients. The weekly fish fry is reservation only, but other nights of the week and brunch can be first come, first served.
Before your reservation, explore the farm (you need to buy a farm pass), viewing trees laced with Spanish moss, wildflowers, the tree farm, and even some wildlife. This is one of the top date ideas in Jacksonville for couples interested in delectable, local food and agritourism.
Race Go Karts
It’s no secret that Florida can be quite hot and humid, so on those sweltering summer days, you’re probably looking for indoor date ideas in Jacksonville. But indoor doesn’t need to mean boring. Fulfill your need for speed by racing go karts at K1 Speed. The challenging indoor track will get your heart pumping and introduce a competitive edge to your date night. Here, you can save the first-date etiquette of being polite and courteous for before and after your race. May the best person win!
Stroll Through Manicured Gardens
If your idea of a successful first date involves a walk on the beach, well, you can definitely do that. Or you can change up the scenery with a stroll through some of Jacksonville’s curated gardens.
Jacksonville Arboretum & Botanical Gardens is a top choice due to its expansive grounds (120 acres total), meaning that you and your love can meander all day long. Walk hand in hand with your date through 13 different ecosystems, and you can even bring your dog!
Another great option for a daytime stroll is exploring Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens. While this doesn’t have near the outdoor footprint as the arboretum, it does incorporate beautiful architecture, sculptures, and other artwork into its exceptionally designed landscaping. Plus, its location next to St. Johns River can’t be beat (photo ops, anyone?).
Both of these spots make for cheap date ideas in Jacksonville: the arboretum is only $3 to visit, and the Cummer Museum of Art offers free admission several days a month.
Paint and Sip
Change up your first-date routine with this date idea in Jacksonville that involves testing your artistic limits.
Reserve two seats at Painting with a Twist, an art studio that hosts guided painting events that are BYO (hint: that’s the twist!). Instead of offering wine or beer for purchase, you can bring your preferred liquid courage—just don’t forget the necessities, like a corkscrew, plastic cups, and so on. As you paint mountainscapes or still lifes, you and your date can have easy conversations while participating in a focused activity. Plus, depending on your art skills, there might be a couple of laughs along the way.
Round out your paint night with soft serve from San Marco Dreamette in the surrounding quaint neighborhood of San Marco.
Sunset River Taxi Cruise
One of the most romantic ways to spend an evening with someone you love (or like) is cruising through the waters of St. Johns River. Book two spots on the Jax River Taxi specialty sunset cruise, where you and your date will enjoy over an hour of relaxing music and sunset colors as you float past Jacksonville landmarks. If you’re meeting someone new, don’t forget these first-date conversation starters.
Whether you’re on the search to find your person or you’ve been with your partner for years, you’re sure to impress with these date ideas in Jacksonville.