Renowned for its pristine beaches, Amelia Island is the southernmost gem in the chain of sea islands that hug Florida’s Atlantic coast. The epitome of laid-back luxury, the beach towns and stretches of sand on this barrier island boast a refreshing mix of experiences for travelers looking to discover the extraordinary and immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the destination. Go shelling and horseback riding along the ocean. Hike and kayak in salt marshes that are full of fascinating wildlife. Explore a Civil War-era fort. Dine in restaurants awash in modern Southern charm. Here are the top ways to discover everything Amelia Island has to offer.
Have the ultimate beach day at Main Beach and beyond
Whether you prefer an active afternoon full of thrilling watersports or a peaceful morning strolling the shore, Amelia Island offers a seemingly endless array of experiences on its 13 miles of beaches. Wake up with sunrise yoga and practice your downward dog with your toes in the sand. Shelling, shark-tooth hunting, and horseback riding are a few other ways to enjoy the serenity of the coastline.
Main Beach, lovingly called “the Family Zone,” is an ideal spot for kids of all ages. Practice your swing at Putt Putt Amelia Island, a family-owned mini golf course that’s been around for more than 60 years, get your game on at the sand volleyball courts, and perfect your skills in the skate park. After a day of play, you can walk across the street and enjoy outdoor dining with an ocean view.
Immerse yourself in the natural wonders of the Low Country
Amelia Island is a place where nature lovers will feel at home, thanks to miles of scenic biking and hiking trails where ancient live oaks draped with picturesque Spanish moss create a canopied wonderland to explore. Amelia Island’s salt marshes on its west side are a distinctive Low Country wonder where you can kayak, stand-up paddle board, or take a sightseeing cruise like Amelia River Cruises.
Keep your eyes open. The island is a great destination for spotting wildlife, such as birds, alligators, sea turtles, dolphins, manatees, and many more species that flourish within this maritime ecosystem. Meanwhile, Fort Clinch State Park is a paradise for avid birders.
Embrace history, from American Beach to Fort Clinch
Scratch the surface, and you’ll witness thousands of years of history on Amelia Island. Step back in time at historic Fort Clinch, which dates back to the Civil War—be sure to visit when there is a soldier reenactment scheduled for an authentic experience. Next, stop by the Amelia Island Museum of History. The first spoken history museum in Florida, it’s housed in the former Nassau County jail and details life on the island from the Timucua Native American tribe to lawless pirates.
Tour the famous American Beach, created by businessman A.L. Lewis as a safe haven for people of color and learn about its legacy at the A.L Lewis Museum. Stay in one of the Victorian-era mansions that have been transformed into B&Bs in downtown Fernandina Beach, such as Addison on Amelia, Amelia Island Williams House, and Blue Heron Inn. This 50-block city center still retains its old-time charms, with historic storefronts and Florida’s oldest bar, The Palace Saloon.
Enjoy Amelia Island’s vibrant food scene
With upwards of 90 independent restaurants, dining on Amelia Island is a culinary feast for the senses. Farm-to-fork, fine dining, fresh-caught seafood, craft breweries, and international flavors are a mere sampling of the menus that await. Savor tasty tzatziki, couscous, shawarma, and other delicacies at Baba’s Mediterranean. Dig into traditional Mexican recipes with flair, like duck moles enchiladas and Caesar salad with jalapeño cornbread croutons, at Mezcal. Enjoy live music at The Boat House, where the whole party can dig into festive shareable dishes, including ahi tuna crunch, shrimp and grits, and BBQ pork mac and cheese egg rolls.