Just a quick, one-hour drive north of downtown Jacksonville is the peaceful and relaxing Amelia Island. Known for its boutique shopping along Centre Street, historic spots such as Fort Clinch State Park and the Amelia Island Lighthouse, the island welcomes visitors to explore at their own pace. Paired with a variety of accommodations, it is easy to see why so many keep returning to this charming island.
Things to Do on Amelia Island & Fernandina Beach
From stylish clothes to finding the perfect gift at The Book Loft or sampling jellies and preserves at the family-owned Cinnamon Bear Country Store, Centre Street prides itself on unique gifts and local offerings. For a real treat, stop in Fernandina’s Fantastic Fudge to sample chocolates made from a copper kettle and marble slab with a recipe that dates back to 1887.
Take a horse-drawn carriage ride through town to explore the charm of the barrier island. In addition to being a great way to see the sights, it's a history lesson passing along historic streets and inns along the way.
History buffs can take a step back in time at Fort Clinch State Park, located on the northern end of the island. As one of the most well-preserved 19th-century forts in the country, travelers can take a step back in time to 1864 as soldiers reenact life during the Civil War. With a six-mile, multi-use biking and hiking trail, a fishing dock and three-miles of shoreline, the park also provides great access to explore the outdoors.
Built in 1838, the Amelia Island Lighthouse is the oldest in the state of Florida. While visitors are not permitted to climb to the top, guided tours of the structure are held twice a month courtesy of the Fernandina Beach Parks and Recreation office.
Where to Eat on Amelia Island
For food fans, there’s a variety of great dining options in Amelia Island, ranging from casual bistros to upscale dining experiences.
Chef Scotty Schwartz’ neighborhood bistro, 29 South, provides guests with a true taste of Southern cuisine with popular dishes such as fried green tomatoes, a sweet-tea brined pork chop and a unique lobster corn dog. For dessert, don’t miss trying the award-winning coffee and doughnuts featuring coffee ice cream and a sweet bread-pudding custard. The restaurant uses natural and organic products with many items sourced from the on-site garden.
For a unique Florida experience, order a plate of alligator ribs at Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen. Chef Kenny Gilbert was a fan favorite on the 2010 season of Bravo TV’s Top Chef and recently returned to Northeast Florida where he began his culinary career. In addition to the alligator ribs, check out Chef’s southern barbecue featuring grilled andouille sausage, turkey, pork and brisket sandwiches.
The AAA Five-Diamond restaurant, Salt, located inside the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island features upscale dining overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Pair elements from both the land and sea with seasonal produce—reservations are highly recommended for this fine dining establishment.
Where to Stay on Amelia Island
For those looking for a "home away from home" during their stay in Amelia Island, choose from quaint bed & breakfast inns to boutique-like properties and lavish accommodations overlooking the ocean.
In the historic district, the Hampton Inn & Suites Amelia Island-Historic Harbor Front is within walking distance of 50 shops and restaurants along the Centre Street area. The hotel is one block from the marina making it a perfect spot to see the shrimp boats return each day and see the sun set at night.
The Florida House Inn is the oldest surviving hotel in Florida and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. With 16 rooms and an on-site English-style pub, pull up a seat and relax along the hotel’s quaint wrap around porch.
For those in need of the ocean, the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island offers oceanfront views, an on-site spa and 18 holes of golf. The natural setting of the resort, paired with the luxurious accommodations provide guests with a quiet getaway in elegant surroundings.
The Omni Amelia Island Plantation is a AAA Four-Diamond destination boasting 3.5 miles of beachfront property. With an on-site nature center, horseback riding, a full lineup of youth activities at Camp Amelia, 54 holes of golf and a full-service luxury spa, the resort is a destination within itself for both couples looking for a quiet retreat or families looking for adventures.