The First Coast of Florida is the first choice for many families traveling to Florida. Along miles of beautiful Atlantic beaches are two destinations—Amelia Island and Jacksonville—that are packed with activity, culture and Southern hospitality. It's the best of both worlds. Families can enjoy sandy beaches, boogie-boarding on the waves, fishing from the piers and taking nature hikes at state parks. But once the sun goes down—or the sunburn sets in—you can retreat to numerous other attractions. Downtown Fernandina Beach is a charming area in Amelia Island, perfect for an afternoon stroll with an icecream cone. Jacksonville is a big, exciting city with lots to offer from water taxis on the St. Johns River to Saturday farmers markets and major attractions like the Jacksonville zoo, professional sporting events and the Museum of Science and History. Check out a few of the highlights below for the makings of a well-rounded, unforgettable family vacation.
If you're staying downtown or just need a break from the hot sun, head to "MOSH," as its known affectionally by locals. The children’s museum is interactive, hands-on and fun for all ages. fDon't miss the wildlife exhibits, the dinosaur skeleton or the planetarium.
This state park is a great retreat from the crowds where families can enjoy 200 acres of beaches, salt marches and forests perfect for a day relaxing or exploring via kayak or horseback.
This is place where kids can run wild and expend lots of energy. Options abound from amusement-park rides, a batting cage an arcade and even a water park at the Jax Beach location.
As the hometown for the NFL's Jacksonville's Jaguars it's only fitting the focus of the Jacksonville zoo is on big cats, with lions, tigers and the largest collection of jaguars in North America.
Located in the quaint downtown district of Fernandina Beach and inside the former jail, this small history museum offers exhibits on the native Timucuan Indians through today. The history and haunted walking tours are also recommended.
Jax locals all flock to this huge farmers market held each Saturday under the I-95 bridge. It's fun for visitors, too, with 150 artisans, lots of produce, gourmet food items and lively street entertainers.
Of course a vacation to Florida means a trip to the beach, and Jacksonville and Amelia Island beaches are perfect for families. Enjoy everything from secluded state parks to public beaches with fishing piers and plenty of action.
At the heart of Amelia Island is downtown Fernandina Beach and Centre Street, which houses an array of charming shops, cafes, a train depot, the history museum and fishing docks. Located on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Shopping is one of the top activities for people on vacation, and the St. Johns Town Center is the perfect destination for families with stores like Disney, Carter's, Gymboree, Justice and Pottery Barn Kids as well as Apple, Coach, Lacoste, Williams-Sonoma, Anthropologie, West Elm and a new Nordstrom.