On the Road
Explore your wild side in Jacksonville, a nature lover's dream getaway
From the woods to the water — and even a safari-inspired adventure — Jacksonville has all your outdoor adventures handled.
Here are some ways to use your outside voice in this small-town East Texas gem.
Get on lake time
The crystal-clear waters of Lake Jacksonville make it an East Texas treasure — and a prime spot for splashing around. There are two public swimming areas, one of which is adjacent to covered campsites with picnic tables, a pier, and a sand beach.
And there’s plenty more to do across the 1,325 acres of liquid playground, including boating and fishing. It’s also where the city’s annual Fourth of July fireworks light up the sky.
Go on a safari
When you venture 12 miles east of Jacksonville, you’ll get up close and personal with a world of wildlife that’s anything but common to the area.
Cherokee Trace Drive-Thru Safari is home to exotic and endangered species that thrive in open habitats that are similar to their native lands. When you take a self-guided drive through the hills and savannas of the 300-acre preserve, you’ll spy animals at every turn: at watering holes, lazing under the canopy of a native tree, or striding across an open field. And, yes, some of the creatures will come say "hi."
Embrace the view
About four miles from downtown, Love’s Lookout is just the place to pack a picnic and soak in the scenery. Rising 240 feet above the surrounding terrain, the vaulted ridge boasts a panoramic view of the eastern horizon.
And although this place is lovely, the historic park was actually named after Wesley Love, who purchased the surrounding 600 acres at the turn of the 20th century.
Hug a tree
The Neches River National Wildlife Refuge features 7,000 acres and 25 miles of trail, ranging from a quarter-mile to seven miles each, where you’ll journey through beautiful native hardwood forests and the pine uplands while seeing and hearing lots of birds.
Hop a train
If you want to see outside, but not be outside, the Texas State Railroad takes you through the best views of the Piney Woods from the passenger car of an authentic steam or diesel locomotive.
No matter the season, the 50-mile roundtrip trek features rolling hills, 24 bridges, and unique railroad structures along the way. Also, while there may not be snow at Christmas, the Polar Express trip is still a holiday fave. All aboard!
Find more things to do — indoors and out — at Explore Jacksonville.