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Sunrise at the Timucuan Preserve in Jacksonville, Florida



Despite summer being associated with long breaks and lazy days, it’s actually a busy, loud, and sometimes overwhelming time of year. If you need to get away from it all and enjoy the Jacksonville sun without the pace and noise of the season, head to one of these locations.

Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary

This nonprofit wildlife sanctuary is guaranteed to tick all the right boxes. Due to its limited visitor capacity, you won’t have to deal with huge crowds – and you can zip right in without having to wait in line if you buy your tickets online. Here, you’ll find rescued pumas, cougars, tigers, leopards, lions, and lynxes, just to name a few. You can purchase a day tour, and if you’re really adventurous and want to beat the summer heat, you can try their night tour and watch the cats eat their evening meal.

Atlantic Beach

Here in this little community, you’ll find a relaxed, quiet stretch of beach with stunning views. Check out Hannah Park while you’re there and look for shells or get in a little surfing. The trick is to visit on a weekday, when you’ll be able to skip the crowds.

Timucuan Preserve

This preserve celebrates 6,000 years of history in its woods, marshes, and waterways. Within its 46,000 acres are located several parks and other features. Head over to the Theodore Roosevelt Area for a hike that will take you through five different ecosystems and give you access to a bird observation platform. This is an easy 1.5-mile trip that’s perfect for a quiet day in the sun.

Boneyard Beach

This beach, located in Big Talbot Island State Park, features 3 miles of stunning views and unique shorelines. The name “Boneyard” refers to the huge driftwood giants that litter the beach and resemble bones. These incredible driftwood trees, though long dead, perform an important function that benefits all of Jacksonville: They disperse wind and wave energy, which protects the forest beyond from erosion and hurricane damage, thus keeping the urban area safer from storms and drastic changes in sea level. In the company of the driftwood trees, you’ll likely find yourself closing your eyes and enjoying some meditative moments in the fresh, ocean air.

If you’re looking for more information on where to eat, shop, and play in Jacksonville, check out The Hawthorne’s Neighborhood page.