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Amelia Island Travel Guide: 75 reviews and 215 photos

Florida's northernmost gem

The northernmost island in Florida, Amelia Island is located along the Atlantic Ocean between the city of Jacksonville’s beach islands and Georgia's Cumberland Island. Boasting broad beaches of white quartz sand and scenic hammocks of Spanish moss-laden oak trees, Amelia Island certainly has a lot of natural appeal. Situated in the midst of this natural abundance are a couple of ritzy oceanfront resorts, but Fernandina Beach is what really makes Amelia a standout destination. Once upon a time, this charming town with lots of red brick and Victorian architecture was a popular place for rowdy pirates.

Fernandina Beach: a charming old pirate town

In earlier seafaring days, Fernandina Beach was a popular stopover for pirates. Today though, I would go so far as to say that Fernandina Beach is one of the most charming and appealing small towns in all the United States. Considered the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry, seafaring (without the piracy) is still a way of life for many here. Fernandina has both a Historic District of red brick buildings and Victorian homes situated near the Intracoastal Waterway, and a beachfront of interesting bed & breakfast accommodations, cottages, and small hotels along the Atlantic Ocean. Much of the architecture along Centre Street, in the heart of downtown, reflects the 1800's and early 1900's. An occasional horse-drawn carriage also adds to the historic ambiance. Today, a number of interesting shops and restaurants make the blocks of Centre Street between 6th Street and the Intracoastal Waterway an awesome place to take an afternoon stroll or engage in a small-business shopping adventure with the family. Last Black Friday, we actually left the abundant shopping options of Jacksonville behind, to instead patronize the small shops of Fernandina Beach, and we plan on doing it again next year. Here one can find two great independent bookstores, a year-round Christmas store, a fudge and ice cream shop, an Irish shop, and various places offering all kinds of wares from clothing and art to beachy accents and shark's teeth. A visitor center located a block from the Intracoastal waterfront provides a variety of free maps and literature for detailed information on Amelia Island and the greater Jacksonville area. The Isle of 8 Flags Shrimp Festival, which features blocks of artists and food vendors, draws crowds of visitors to Centre Street on the first weekend in May. In the blocks just off Centre Street, bed & breakfasts are plentiful, occupying a number of grand Victorian homes.

Heading toward the beach, Centre Street becomes Atlantic Avenue before ending at Fernandina's "
Main Beach. " The Elizabeth Pointe Lodge is a large New England-style oceanfront cottage in this area that also looks to be a very intriguing places for those seeking an oceanfront bead & breakfast. Fort Clinch State Park, just a couple blocks from the beach, is a large, well preserved Civil War fort surrounded by protected beaches and nature trails. It sits at the very northernmost tip of Amelia Island, looking across the wide harbor that marks the state line. Fort Clinch State Park also has a fishing pier that juts out into the Atlantic.

The rest of Amelia Island: an exclusive getaway

A little further down the shore from Fernandina, much of the island's mid-section is an exclusive playground of the rich lined with posh oceanfront resorts, high rise condos and well respected golf courses. Tiny American Beach was founded as a resort for blacks during the age of segregation in the early 1900's. Today, the tiny community that inspired the movie "Sunshine State" struggles to keep its identity while bookended by the luxury highrise developments of Omni Amelia Island Plantation and Summer Beach. (By the way, "Sunshine State" was actually filmed in both Amelia Island and Jacksonville).

Posh Summer Beach is also home to the
Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, one of the world's top rated hotels. Concours de Elegance, the largest antique, rare and celebrity-owned car show in the Eastern U.S., draws the rich and famous to the Ritz Carlton every year. Meanwhile, nearby Omni Amelia Island Plantation is a large resort area featuring shops, a spa, a golf course, and nature trails.

Although the island's mid-section does a good job of balancing upscale development with its naturally dense woods and marshlands,
Amelia Island State Park, at the southernmost tip of the island facing Big Talbot Island and the ocean, is all about nature. Grouped with three neighboring state parks in Jacksonville as part of the Talbot Islands Geo Parks, Amelia Island State Park stands out as one of the few places in Florida where visitors can ride horseback along the seashore thanks to the Kelly Seahorse Ranch.

Amelia Island is a part of the
Jacksonville Metro.

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  • Last visit to Amelia Island: Nov 2013
  • Intro Updated Jul 20, 2014
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