Northeast Florida’s Spanish history and its flair for Southern barbecue combine in the seaside towns of St. Augustine and Amelia Island to make this region one of the most delicious culinary destinations anywhere. Both cities have locally owned, tried-and-true staples that you can’t miss. And restaurants here focus on homegrown seafood specialties as well as international cuisine, so you can enjoy bao buns for lunch and fried green tomatoes at dinner.
Itinerary / 5 DAYSPLAN YOUR TRIP
DAY 1Arrive in Jacksonville
DAY 2Amelia Island
After lunch, get to know the island better by taking a trolley tour through the historic downtown. Or get out on the water for a river cruise to learn about the region’s historic shrimping industry. You’ll likely spot dolphins and wild horses along the way. When you’re ready for an afternoon snack, Asian street food restaurant Wicked Bao has small bites like crispy rice tots or fried shrimp bao buns.
As the complimentary happy hour at the Addison melts into dinnertime, celebrate the island’s Spanish heritage with paella (made in paella pans imported from Spain) and homemade sangria from España Restaurant.
DAY 3Amelia Island food and outdoor activities
Treat yourself to lunch at The Happy Tomato Courtyard Cafe & BBQ. Enjoy a hearty salad, all varieties of sandwiches, or a hefty plate of barbecue ribs and chicken along with your choice of sides. Take advantage of The Addison’s complimentary bikes to explore the vast network of paths on the island, like Egans Creek Greenway and the Amelia River-to-Sea Trail. Or bike from the hotel to Fort Clinch State Park where you can stop at the lighthouse and 19th-century fort.
Dinner at Le Clos tonight will round out your Amelia Island culinary adventure. Traditional Provençal fare is served in a cozy cottage in Fernandina’s Historic District. Chef and owner Katherine Ewing has an impressive list of credentials, including Le Cordon Bleu degrees in cuisine and pastry and training from the Ritz Hotel in Paris. Her “De Ma Mere Meatloaf” is a must-try.
Day 4St. Augustine
Get to know the coastline with St. Augustine Ecotours by learning from Captain Nick about the island’s maritime history. Kingfish Grill, located beside the docks of the Camachee Cove Yachts Harbor, will satisfy your seafood cravings with conch fritters and clam chowder, sushi, and crab cakes. Alternatively, The Reef is another great option for waterside seafood with the catch of the day cooked exactly how you like it.
Overwhelmed by the food options? Let a local lead the way. The Tasting Tours offer a range of experiences. Walking tours, “rolling tours” with a chauffeur, and even horse-drawn carriage tours are available to help you explore the city’s food and drink scene.
Visit Catch 27 for dinner to indulge in a menu full of seasonal, local ingredients. The restaurant has fish, shrimp, and clams delivered fresh daily for dishes like shrimp and grits and blackened fish tacos. If you’re feeling brave, take an after-dinner Ghost Tour where you’ll learn about the 450-year-plus history of St. Augustine and get to know many of its former residents.
DAY 5More St. Augustine eats and adventures
After lunch, climb the steps to the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse, grab a coffee from the Tin Pickle Gedunk (snack bar), and learn about the region’s maritime history in the museum.
After a long day, wind down at the St. Augustine Salt Spa before dinner. Choose between massage therapy treatments, a soak in their float tanks, or a relaxing session in the Salt Cave. To top off the trip, there’s no better place than The Floridian for down-home comfort food and creative vegetarian entrees. Start with fried green tomatoes before digging into Minorcan cuisine like a shrimp and sausage pilau that will leave your taste buds happy and keep you dreaming of Northeast Florida’s cuisine until your next visit.