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16 Amelia Island Things to Do in 2016

Posted on January 21, 2016 |
Don't let the sun set on your plans to enjoy Amelia Island this year.  Here are 16 ideas to get you started, inspired by TripAdvisor favorites and Facebook fans.

1) Get captured by Fort Clinch, regarded as one of Florida's best State Parks.  Drive in under a lush canopy road, bike on the trails, fish from the mile-long pier, or take a nature walk along secluded paths. The Fort itself takes visitors back in time to get a feel for what garrison life was like during the Civil War, from the view from the ramparts to the blacksmithing, woodworking, and occasional cannon firing that takes place during regular Living History re-renactments.  Campsites for tents and RVs are available, and the beaches are some of the most secluded (and richest in shells and sharks' teeth) on the island.

2) Hit the beach. 13 miles of Atlantic Coast punctuated with plenty of public accesses and parking provide the chance to do as much or as little as you want, set to the backdrop of the waves.  Walk out at sunrise for a view that you'll never forget, and take a look at five favorite beach spots.

3) Eat your way around the island. With more than 90 distinctive restaurants to choose from and more opening on a regular basis, this barrier island is home to an eclectic and authentic mix of cuisine. Choose from waterfront hangouts, fine dining restaurants presided over by award-winning chefs, or a quiet romantic bistro. Explore here.

4) Pilot your own speedboat on a Backwater Adventure.  Touring the waters from Fort Clinch to Cumberland island at the wheel of an Allen Craig Cat with an expert guide is one of the newer island attractions that has fast become a favorite.  See history, nature, and have your photo taken by an expert photographer as a part of the three-hour tour.  (The boats, which steer like a hovercraft, are easy to drive, but you must be 18 and have a valid driver's license.) 

5) Bike the Amelia Island Trail, running from Peters Point Beachfront Park to Amelia Island State Park in the city of Fernandina Beach. Much of the paved, tree-lined route parallels Highway A1A, a scenic byway, and the trail is part of the East Coast Greenway, a growing trail network stretching from Florida to Maine.

6) See the beach from the saddle. Ride a horse on the beach with a tour from Happy Trails Walking Horses, Kelly Seahorse Ranch, Ride the Beaches of Amelia, and with Stay ‘N Country Ranch.  The wide stretches of hard-packed sand and the skill of guides in matching horse and rider make for a memorable experience for all levels, from expert to beginner to 'used to ride long ago.'

7) Sharpen your skills on the links or on the court. Amelia Island is a strikingly beautiful setting for golf (117 holes and seven that are along the ocean) and tennis (clay courts under live oaks and near the ocean and marsh.)   Take a look at the Amelia Island Tennis Resort at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation and the Academy at The Golf Club of Amelia Island at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. Get plenty of practice at these spots where you can swing and serve on Amelia.

8) Discover the story of American Beach, founded in 1935 by Afro American Insurance Company President A. L. Lewis for “recreation and relaxation without humiliation” during the era of Jim Crow. In its heyday, American Beach drew luminaries from art, music and sports, and generations of families continue to enjoy it. The American Beach Museum tells the story of this place and that of one of its most spirited advocates, MaVynee Oshun Betsch, the great-granddaughter of A. L.Lewis, known as “The Beach Lady.” 

9) Embark on an Amelia River Cruise. Shrimping Eco-Tours offer an hands-on experience deploying and retrieving a shrimp net. Your catch is displayed in an on-board aquarium and each of the creatures will be identified and released back into the wild.

10) Take a one-of-a-kind tour.  See how vodka and rum are made in uniquely local style at Marlin and Barrel Distillery.  Enjoy a self-guided stroll through the creative offerings of the Artrageous Art Walk, held every second Saturday evening and featuring more than a dozen galleries. Or explore the beach, Egan's Creek, or Historic Downtown with a personalized walking tour by Discover This Co

11) Play like a Pirate. The smallest timbers will shiver with delight when they spot the  shady, all-abilities Pirate Playground behind the Atlantic Rec Center and adjoining the Egan's Creek Greenway. Timoti's Seafood Shak also boasts a pirate boat play structure set next to picnic tables where the family can enjoy shrimp baskets and other delicacies.  Pirates who are over 21 are fond of the signature Pirate's Punch served at Florida's oldest saloon, The Palace.
 
12)  Paddle and float on the marsh. The ocean side gets a lot of attention, but the marsh landscapes of Amelia Island have their own beauty and are beloved by locals.  Sunset kayak tours by Amelia Island Kayak Excursions and Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga with Kayak Amelia are two uniquely island ways to experience it. 

12) Go directly to jail (and learn something.) The Amelia Island Museum of History, in the heart of the Historic District and housed in what was once a jail holding storied prisoners including pirate Luis Aury, is the ideal point to explore the many stories of Amelia Island's thousands of years of history.  An interactive children's exhibit and a trip back to the Gilded Age are highlights, plus the Museum also operates the smaller Shrimping Museum on the harborfront, illustrating the families and traditions of the modern shrimping industry's birthplace, Fernandina Beach. 

13) Become the author of your own fish story. Try and land the big one with expert charter captains including Ye Olde Pirate (a handicap-accessible option,) Amelia Angler, or try Flounder Gigging where you 'spear' your catch by moonlight.

14) Go on a shopping safari.  Head to the Historic District and walk down and off Centre Street and discover the uniquely local shops and antique markets, all within easy walking distance and stretching up to the Beech Street Shoppes on 8th and Beech streets.  On the island's south end, The Palmetto Walk Shopping Village and the Shops of Amelia Island Plantation offer an array of options set under the live oaks with welcoming porches.  Start planning your excursion here.

15) See a show. Three Amelia Island stages host a variety of productions that providing lively entertainment all year long. Amelia Community Theatre, located in the historic district and the oldest company, houses two stages, the impressive Main Stage and the more intimate Studio 209. Amelia Musical Playhouse is known for its musicals, with all performances featuring a live orchestra, but also stages plays and seasonal revues. Take a look at the guide to year-round arts and culture happenings.

16) When you arrive, start your exploration at the newly reopened Amelia Island Welcome Center.  Located in a lovingly restored historic train depot at the foot of Centre Street, the Welcome Center combines the best of 21st century technology with the personal touches of the expert ambassadors who stand ready to help you get the most out of your visit in 2016. 

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About Amelia Island

Located just off the coast of northeast Florida, Amelia Island is easy to reach, but hard to forget. With 13 miles of beautiful beaches, abundant native wildlife, and pristine waters, this barrier island has long been a beloved destination for visitors and residents alike.

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