6 reasons to love Amelia Island:
Located just off the coast of northeast Florida, Amelia Island boasts 13 miles of beautiful, uncrowded pristine beaches perfect for shell collecting, romantic walks and swimming. Amelia Island’s beaches are buffered by the Sea Island chain of barrier islands, which makes the ocean calm and perfect for families or taking a quick dip in the sea. There are plenty of public beaches such as Main Beach Park, Peter’s Point, Seaside Park and Amelia Island State Park. Don’t forget that at night, the sea turtles, gopher tortoises and shorebirds rule. It’s important not to disturb them during mating season. www.exploreamelia.com
HISTORIC FERNANDINA BEACH
Historic Fernandina Beach takes you back in history. The British took possession in 1763, and then the Spanish 20 years later. Today visitors can see remnants of the Spanish, pirates, the Civil War and the Golden Age of wealthy vacationing Yankees who, in the 1920s, built glorious Victorian-style mansions. Fernandina’s 50-block historic district hosts a variety of bed and breakfast inns, restaurants and stylish boutiques. One of our favorites is Fantastic Fudge where they make hand-dipped chocolate spoons that melt while you stir your hot chocolate.
Amelia Island offers several inspired backdrops for yoga lovers or beginners. Take your mat and hop aboard for a stand-up paddle board floating yoga class. There is also meditation paddling where you glide through the waters with the moon looking down as you achieve a blissful state of peace. The Omni Amelia Island Plantation offers treehouse yoga and a couple hotels help you work on your warrior poses on the beach. Other yoga options are the Dome Healing Center, which offers meditation and yoga classes taught by certified Amrit instructors or candlelight yoga at The Centred On Yoga in Fernandina Beach.
FUN WAYS TO GET AROUND
With the beach and canopy of live oaks, there is a lot to see and getting there is half the fun. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride and think about Gatsby and the beautiful mansions. Become part of the wildlife with a horseback ride along the shore. Wonder at the sunset with a tour of Cumberland Sound and the Intracoastal Waterway on an Amelia River Cruise. Or you can rent your own boat at the Amelia Boat Club. Take a bike ride, kayak or learn how to ride a Segway and experience the maritime forests, ocean views and marsh waterways up close and personal. www.ameliarivercruises.com
EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY
With the ocean literally steps away, the seafood can’t be any fresher and the chefs any more creative in preparation. For other local experiences go to the Palace Saloon, Florida’s oldest bar. Opened in 1903, their Pirates’ Punch and Bloody Marys are favorites of both locals and visitors alike. Marlin and Barrel distills spirits such as vodka and rum. For a 5-Diamond experience, nothing beats Salt at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Try the Chef’s Adventure Tasting Menu that showcases the finest seasonal produce, fish and meats. For something more casual, try Timoti’s Seafood Shak, which only serves wild-caught seafood.
LEARN FROM THE BEST
Amelia has several professional chefs and craftsmen who want to share their expertise. The Amelia Island Culinary Academy offers fun-filled classes, taught by Bill Thompson, who is the head chef at the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island. On Saturdays, he takes his students to the Fernandina Farmers’ Market where you will learn to literally cook from farm to table. Or take a class with Kat Kelly of Magpie Arts, where children and adults can explore their creativity through sewing, basket weaving, charcoal drawing or watercolor painting.