We asked local experts and Facebook fans for their can't-miss experiences. Here are 18 to get you started on the best year on Amelia Island yet. Check out the @visitameliaisland Instagram and #LoveAmelia gallery for more of why travelers and locals #LoveAmelia all year long.
1) Eat globally around the island
. With close to 100 restaurants to choose from (and more opening on a regular basis) this barrier island is home to an eclectic mix of cuisines: Asian street food, Cuban, Italian, Spanish tapas, steakhouses, French crepes, New York-style delis, and of course, spots with local seafood are ready for your visit. Amelia Island Restaurant Week
, January 19-28, is the perfect time to come sample the delights with signature events, and special menus at special prices.
2) Meet the creator of one of the world's most thrilling character
s Jack Reacher is the creation of British author Lee Child, and he will be here for February's Amelia Island Book Festival.
The beloved series has sold over 100 million books worldwide, commanding over a billion dollars in global sales. Child heads up a blockbuster line-up of New York Times and international bestselling authors, including Karin Slaughter, Adriana Trigiani, Jennifer Armentrout, Sherri Rinker, and Jacques Pépin. Steve Berry returns as Honorary Chairman.
the Amelia Island Trail
The Amelia Island Trail travels seven miles between Peters Point County Park to the south end of the George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier State Park. Parking is available at nearby public accesses. Exclusively for non-motorized use, the Trail takes advantage of the tree canopy alongside A1A such that much of the trail is shaded and shielded from the wind. It's a hit with families and young cyclists who are not comfortable riding in bicycle lanes alongside highway traffic. The trail is part of the East Coast Greenway, a growing trail network stretching from Florida to Maine.
4) Surrender to the charms of 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 takes visitors back in time to garrison life during the Civil War, from the view from the ramparts to the blacksmithing, woodworking, and occasional cannon firing that takes place during montly 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.
5) Take a tour (and learn something new.)
See how vodka, rum, and more 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
. Amelia Shark Tooth Adventures
takes you on a special kind of hunt (and teaches you the tricks of the trade.)
6) Become the author of your own fish story.
The Amelia Island Guides Association
brings together Charter Boat operators, fishing guides, kayak guides and tour guides to take you on your Amelia Island adventure. Head offshore or explore the backwaters of Amelia Island with an expert guide who will provide everything you need to enjoy the day. Working together, the Guides offer a variety of trips available to suit groups ranging from a small family to a large corporate meeting. Take a look
7) Discover 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.”
8) See a show
. Amelia Island stages host a variety of productions 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.
9) Find your peace.
Amelia Island has long been a promoter of health and wellness. What could be healthier for the soul than a good dose of sun, surf, and vitamin D. There are many great spots for yoga
and you won't want to miss the annual Amelia Island Wellness Festival,
featuring experts from around the country November 9-11 2018 at The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island.
10) Throw a boule.
Amelia Island is home to America's largest Pétanque tournament, the Pétanque Amelia Island Open, which draws competitors from around the globe to enjoy this global game with a French accent. The 2018 tournament takes place November 9-12, but you can also try out the game throughout the year at free open sessions with the Amelia Island Boules Club
on Saturdays and Wednesdays.
11) Get yourself a good paddling
. 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 unique ways to experience it.
12) 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
13) 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. 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.
14) Take 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 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) Saddle up
. Ride a horse on the beach with Happy Trails Walking Horses
, Kelly Seahorse Ranch
, and Amelia Island Horseback Riding.
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. Take a look at this video where UK visitors are transported to "a scene from a Nicholas Sparks novel"
on their beach ride.
16) 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. Other tours include the well-loved BYOB adult cruise with live music and the family-friendly sunset cruise.
17) 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.
Hunt for shells and shark teeth and, during the late spring and summer, possibly see a sea turtle during an excavation led by the Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch.
18) Celebrate like the Dickens.
The Historic District of downtown Fernandina Beach becomes a twinkling Victorian wonderland when Dickens on Centre arrives with costumed characters, entertainment, children's games and of course Santa photos. Get in the spirit with a photo gallery from 2017's festivities
and mark your calendar for December 6-9th.