19 Amelia Island Experiences for 2019

December 14, 2018
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Amelia Island logo A spectacular sunrise on Amelia Island rewards early risers Amelia Island logo
Make this the year you make great Amelia Island memories on this enchanting island.  These 19 ideas for 2019 will get you started.

1) Discover hidden history.
 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 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.  Just blocks away, the Maritme Museum spotlights maritime & pirate history including artifacts & treasure recovered from shipwrecks. Whet your appetite with this short film about "The Real Treasure Island." 

2) Eat your way around the world on the island. With close to 100 independent restaurants (and more opening on a regular basis)  this barrier island is home to an eclectic mix of dishes ranging from Asian street food to Spanish tapas, French crepes, sandwiches with flavors of Cuba and New York along with many ways to enjoy our favorite gift from the sea, wild-caught shrimp. Amelia Island Restaurant Week, January 19-28, is the perfect time to come sample the delights with signature events, special menus at appealing prices.

3) 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.

4) Join car connoisseurs at Amelia Island Concours Week.  Lovers of cars and style flock to Amelia Island for the legendary Amelia Concours Week, featuring rare and vintage vehicle auctions and some of the year's most outstanding people watching.  

5) Saddle up. Ride a horse on the beach with  Happy Trails Walking HorsesKelly 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. 

6) Embrace wellness around the island, from The Spa at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and the Spa at Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort to yoga clases on the beach to a healthy cooking class at the Amelia Island Culinary Academy to an organic smoothie or acai bowl at The Surf cafe.  Take a look at some of the ways to wellness on Amelia Island.

7) 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.

8) Surrender to the shrimp. The birthplace of the modern shrimping industry, Amelia Island is home to the annual Isle of 8 Flags Shrimp Festival.  Restaurants feature wild-caught shrimp year round, and, on New Year's Eve, locals and visitors gather for a family-friendly Shrimp Drop.

9) Take a tour (and learn something.)   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 CoAmelia Shark Tooth Adventures takes you on a special kind of hunt (and teaches you the tricks of the trade.)  Amelia Adventures offers private boat and kayak tours as well as SUP excursions that can be tailored to you and your fellow travelers.

10) Discover American Beachfounded 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.” 

11) Explore Fort Clinchregarded 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.

12) Get in touch with your inner 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 over 21 are fond of the signature Pirate's Punch served at Florida's oldest saloon, The Palace.

13) Play Pinball Wizard.  The Fernandina Beach Pinball Museum  is a short walk from the beach.  There are over 20 machines ready to play, all lovingly restored by the owner.  Some are vintage, some are new, all are available to play. You can do a "try them" special for one hour for $10, however, most who try have so much fun they end up getting the unlimited daily admission for $14.

14) Star in 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. Working together, they offer a variety of trips available to suit groups ranging from a small family to a large corporate meeting. If it's heading offshore or fishing the backwaters of Amelia Island, Amelia Island Charter Boat Association also has an outstanding group of experienced charter captains to provide everything your family or group need for a day of deep sea fishing, backwater fishing or sailing. Lots of Amelia memories to be made on the water!

15) 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. 

16) 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.

17) 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. 

18) Play like South of France. 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 2019 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.

19) Time travel to Victorian England.  Make plans to make your holiday unforgettable with a visit to the annual Dickens on Centre event set under twinkling lights in Historic Downtown Fernandina Beach, a unique homage to the "man who invented Christmas."

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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.