Are you a new Jacksonville resident? Maybe a wannabe? Either way, it’s a great place to live and play, and we hope you’ve chosen — or will — one of the Jacksonville-area communities opens in a new window where we at ICI Homes build.Outdoor Jacksonville activities

For now, we’d like to offer four slightly different ways to enjoy Jacksonville’s vast and bountiful natural resources. The city’s 840 square miles makes it the largest by land mass in the United States. It also boasts the nation’s largest urban park system, at 85,000 acres.

All that natural goodness, along with the St. John’s River, which flows through downtown Jacksonville, and the Atlantic Ocean and Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway to its east, means the River City is a outdoor-recreation paradise.

You’re probably eager to indulge in swimming, beaching, boating and surfing. But did you know there are not-so-obvious outdoor activities that are quite popular here?

You didn’t? Perfect. Allow us to introduce you to four unique recreational activities in “JAX.”

Skateboarding

Jacksonville is home to Kona Skatepark opens in a new window, the world’s oldest privately owned skatepark. It celebrated its 40th anniversary in June 2017 and remains a vital stopover for professional skateboarders. It’s also an oasis for local riders, families and youngsters learning the safe, fun basics.

Kona’s legendary layout features the world’s first “Vert” ramp (a vertical wall in a bowl). You’ll find Kona in the Arlington neighborhood, east of downtown. But it isn’t Jacksonville’s only skatepark. The sport has been a fixture here since the 1970s and public facilities are well-used too. Check out Monument Park, also in Arlington. There’s Oceanside Park in Atlantic Beach and a new 23,000-square-foot skatepark in South Jacksonville Beach.

Horseback riding

Jacksonville Equestrian Center opens in a new window, on the city’s west side, is the epicenter. It’s an expansive all-purpose facility with an indoor arena and two outdoor show rings, plus plenty of parking and infrastructure for other events.

Located in Jacksonville’s Cecil Field Conservation Corridor, the Equestrian Center is an access point to 32 miles of all-purpose trails for horseback riders, bicyclists and hikers. You also can saddle up for 14 miles on the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail on the west side of town, for 12 miles in Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park north of town, and for 12 miles in the Julington-Durbin Preserve southwest of Jacksonville.

Scuba diving

How can you not, next door to the beach? Jacksonville’s reefs — a combination of more than 30 offshore and inshore, natural and artificial — provide gorgeous reasons to take the plunge. Summer’s warmer, calmer water conditions maximize the viewing of marine life and local shipwrecks. Google local dive shops and instructors if you’re a beginner.

Birding

Tracking down and viewing the innumerable species of birds that pass through or call the Jacksonville area home is an intensive outdoor endeavor all its own.

Get in some good hiking exercise while playing nature spy, ready to deploy your binoculars, camera or just the good old phone once you spot great blue herons or noisy woodpeckers. You’ll see all sorts of beauties — 264 species is a recent tally.

Jacksonville leads off the northeastern portion of the 2,000-mile Great Florida Birding Trail opens in a new window, a self-guided exploration that leads to spectacular sightings and, depending on the season, migratory visitors.

Ready to live your Jacksonville lifestyle? Talk to ICI Homes here. opens in a new window