If you are visiting the area just south of Jacksonville and are looking for some budget friendly and free things to do in Mandarin and St. John’s County Florida, you have come to the right place! There are a few great outdoor activities in this suburban family-friendly area about a 20-30 min drive from the city of Jacksonville’s center. (If you are looking for a more indoor, museum and art gallery experience, you’ll want to check out our page on nearby Jacksonville). Here is our list of the best outdoor things to do in Mandarin & St. John’s on a budget!
1) Alpine Groves Park – FREE
This hidden gem of a park is right on the St. John’s river. Take in a great view of the water on their long boardwalk. You will find a peaceful quiet spot to fish or take in a sunset. If you have children, you can also visit their shady park and playground for a relaxing evening or for a picnic.
2) Mandarin Park – FREE
This park is fairly shady (an important factor in Florida!) and has a nice playground for kids. Completely free – grab a nice view of the river while you are there as well. There is a short path that you can take a walk on, tennis courts, pickle ball, shuffleboard, and a boat ramp leading to the St. John’s River.
3) Julington Durbin Creek Preserve – FREE
The sandy trail is a place to get out in natural Florida habitat and unwind. This trail has always been one of my favorites to bring a dog! The preserve has a wide sandy path and also allows horseback riding. The path around Durbin takes about an hour to walk. At the preserve there are two places to launch a kayak, Clark’s Fish Camp and Palmetto Leaves SOUTH access.
4) Walter Jones Historical Park – FREE
To take in some history, you will want to visit this park located on the St. John’s river. Here the park as the Mandarin Museum – which is a furnished house to reflect life during the early 19th century. At the park is also the St. Joseph’s Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children, the 1875 Webb Farmhouse, the Losco Winery, and the Wheeler Sawmill. Guided tours of the Webb Farmhouse are available by reservation. Take a walk around the park’s nature trail to view some of these historic buildings.
5) Veteran’s Park – FREE
Last but not least on my list of free things to do in Mandarin and St. John’s County, is Veteran’s Park. This is a huge park and field complex situated in between some of the residential neighborhoods in the area. They have a dog park for large and small dogs. Also, there are plenty of pavilions and a playground. For skaters, there is also a skate park. All for free!