Exclusive Amelia Island is just 30 miles northeast of Jacksonville in northeast Florida. It is easy to reach by car across either the Heckscher or the Ocean Blvd Bridge. This barrier island is well known for its beautiful sandy beaches, quaint town and interesting history. It was recently voted one of the Top North American Islands by Condé Nast Traveler.
Amelia Island was nicknamed the "Isle of Eight Flags" as it has been claimed by so many different nations. Following the Timucuan Indians, the island belonged to France, then Spain, England, the "Patriots" of Amelia Island, the Republic of Florida, Mexico, the United States and the Confederacy so it has quite a mixed history of cultures.
The main and only town on Amelia Island is Fernandina Beach. As an important seaport with the deepest natural harbor in the south, it now has a charming historic district left behind in a time warp with a wonderful legacy of architecture. Its Queen Anne, Victorian and Italianate mansions were once the winter homes of some of America's wealthiest families such as the Pulitzers and the Goodyears.
Cobbled Center Street is the most pleasing collection of Victorian buildings, now housing art galleries, restaurants, B&Bs and small shops selling gifts and whimsy. The Palace Saloon, one of many buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, claims the prize for being Florida's oldest continuously operating bar.
Things to Do on Amelia Island
The Museum of History prefers to relate history through story telling. Knowledgeable docents lead a variety of informative walking tours on topics as wide as "The Golden Era of Amelia Island" to "The Seas of Change: the Story of Nassau County". If you really want a feel of what Florida was like in the 1800s, a trip to Fort Clinch State Park should not be missed. The well preserved fort complex complete with cannons was part of Civil War history and troops were garrisoned there although they never saw any action.
The island has 13 miles of enviable beaches, miles of bike trails, dozens of tennis courts, six golf courses including the 18-hole PGA championship golf at the grand Ritz-Carlton and even its own nature center at the Amelia Island Plantation.
Visitors flock to the island on the first weekend in May for the Eight Flags Shrimp Festival when trays of fresh shrimps and seafood are consumed, accompanied by live music and fireworks. There are various other events throughout the year including several music festivals. During the Concours d'Elegance the area is inundated with rare and elegant vintage cars making the town look just as it did at the turn of the century. It is considered one of the premier concours events in the world.
Like many high-end resorts in Florida, Amelia Island has some excellent restaurants for discerning gourmets looking for southern hospitality. From afternoon tea on the lawn of Hoyt House to the aviation-themed Falcon's Nest at the Omni, you will certainly not go hungry on a visit to Amelia Island.
This informative book offers details of 20 best beaches and coastal cities in Florida
It is also available to download as an ebook:
20 Best Florida Beaches and Coastal Cities