Amelia Island offers an enticing mix of history, activities and beautiful views

Amelia Island offers an enticing mix of history, activities and beautiful views

When I lived in the Tampa Bay region, I liked exploring the Gulf Coast’s barrier islands, from Caladesi to Captiva. Now that I’m in northeast Florida, I have discovered their Atlantic Coastline counterparts. My most loved is Amelia Island, just south of the Ga border, at the mouth of the St. Marys River.

About a morning’s generate from Tampa Bay, Amelia feels like an additional earth entirely. Like many barrier islands, Amelia has miles of pristine shorelines, luxury resorts and recreational actions, from golfing to kayaking to horseback using on the beach front. But what sets Amelia aside from other folks is the inescapable feeling that you’re element of history — just just one additional in a prolonged line of travelers passing by means of this extend of sand and oaks.

In addition to Atlantic beaches, Amelia Island has many marshes. The Amelia Island Lighthouse is pictured in the background.
In addition to Atlantic seashores, Amelia Island has many marshes. The Amelia Island Lighthouse is pictured in the background. [ ]

First came the Timucuans, who fished Amelia’s waters a lot more than 1,000 a long time ago. Then the French, Spanish, English, even a delusional Scotsman vied for regulate of the island with its shielded, deep-drinking water harbor. Pirates, slave ships and smugglers sailed Amelia’s shoreline. Confederate, then Union troopers stood view during the Civil War at a brick fort on the island’s northern edge. And in the late 1800s, recently minted millionaires arrived by steamship to the seaport of Fernandina Seaside, making classy Victorian mansions as winter getaways.

Visitors to Fort Clinch on Amelia Island can get a taste of what life was like for soldiers during the Civil War.
Readers to Fort Clinch on Amelia Island can get a flavor of what everyday living was like for troopers during the Civil War. [ ]
A shrimp boat passes by Fort Clinch, a Civil War-era fort on Amelia Island.
A shrimp boat passes by Fort Clinch, a Civil War-period fort on Amelia Island. [ ]

Site visitors can tap into a little bit of this wealthy background by stopping at landmarks like the Palace Saloon on Centre Street in Fernandina. Just a block from the Intracoastal, the Palace is Florida’s oldest bar, serving sailors, ship captains and civilians considering the fact that 1903. You can get a selfie with the existence-dimension pirate statue at the swinging doorways, then tummy up to the 40-foot mahogany bar. But don’t keep as well very long. Amelia has far too a great deal to offer.

While in Fernandina, you can meander via a dozen or so blocks of independently owned boutiques, antique retailers and art galleries. Sober up a little bit with espresso from Amelia Island Coffee, get the young children some sugar down the block at Wonderful Fudge, then duck all-around the corner to Villa Villekulla Toy retail outlet. (If that identify reminds you of Pippi Longstocking, question the owner about the regional link.) When the smaller persons are perusing the toys, adults can chat with nearby artists at the gallery upstairs.

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The Palace Saloon in Fernandina Beach is said to be Florida's oldest bar.
The Palace Saloon in Fernandina Beach is explained to be Florida’s oldest bar. [ ]
Amelia Island is known for its beautiful beaches, including American Beach, a haven for African Americans during the Jim Crow era of segregation.
Amelia Island is acknowledged for its wonderful beaches, such as American Beach, a haven for African People in america during the Jim Crow period of segregation. [ ]

When starvation strikes, alternatives abound in the historic district. On the weekend, have a fried green tomato BLT for brunch on Leddy’s Porch at the Florida Dwelling Inn. Any day of the 7 days, pick up a fish taco at Timoti’s Seafood Shak or enjoy shrimp and grits on the patio at Cafe Karibo. For a candlelight evening meal, reserve a location at Le Clos, a 1906 cottage serving French cuisine. Or wander a couple blocks north of the hubbub for Asian road food at the Wicked Bao, where by the operator welcomes you like an old buddy.

Conclude your working day with a ghost tour or dwell tunes on the porch at the Inexperienced Turtle Tavern. Or get low-priced thrills by going for walks the general public docks, ogling megayachts as they gas up before heading back into the Atlantic. You can also make designs to get on the drinking water your self by scheduling a fishing or sailing charter, using a Cumberland island tour or renting Go-Cat boats, which glance like mini-catamarans.

When you’ve had more than enough of commerce, head east down Atlantic Avenue toward the ocean aspect of Amelia. If you’ve nonetheless received the history bug, halt at Fort Clinch to get a sense of what existence was like for a soldier in the Civil War. Birders may well catch a glimpse of roseate spoonbills nesting together close by Egans Creek.

Comply with the coastline south alongside 13 miles of beach locations, earlier bike paths, nature trails and dozens of golf programs. View for the signals for American Seaside, an oceanfront haven for African Us citizens during the Jim Crow period of segregation. And be sure to give by yourself time on the way household to halt at Kingsley Plantation, about a half-hour south of the island. The oldest standing plantation house in Florida, Kingsley was managed for decades by the owner’s African-born spouse, a previous slave.

Shrimp boats dock at the harbor in Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island.
Shrimp boats dock at the harbor in Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. [ ]
Boats of all kind dock at the marina in Fernandina Beach.
Boats of all variety dock at the marina in Fernandina Seaside. [ ]

If you are preparing a excursion to Amelia, make it a extensive weekend and deal with yourself to a continue to be at a person of the oceanside resorts, like the Ritz-Carlton Amelia or the Omni Amelia Island Resort. Or remain in the historic district in a Victorian mansion like the Williams Property Bed & Breakfast.

The community vacationer bureau’s web-site,, has backlinks to lodging, stores and dining places. It also has facts on particular activities like the Amelia Concours for car fans in March, the annual shrimp competition in May well and the “Dickens on Centre” holiday fest in December. These occasions draw in massive crowds, so plan in advance to keep away from disappointment.