If you're a lover of history, have we got some stories for you. Escape to an island named for a princess - where Indians roamed, pirates plundered, gilded age millionaires visited and lived, and African-Americans came to play as a refuge from segregation. Yes, Amelia Island is chock full of history and we can't wait to tell you about it.
Check into any of the award-winning Bed & Breakfast Inn's
in historic downtown Fernandina Beach, your home away from home for the next three days and located smack dab in the middle of 50 blocks of historic charm to explore. Looking for a boutique hotel? Try the Amelia Schoolhouse Inn
- the first local school built on Amelia Island in 1886 that has been renovated into a swanky historic hotel. Or for those planning a luxurious getaway, book a stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island
or OMNI AMELIA ISLAND RESORT
. Pictured: The Amelia Island Williams House
LET'S GET THIS WEEKEND STARTED
Your first order of business is a visit to the Amelia Island Welcome Center
, located in the old train depot at the foot of Centre Street. Pick up helpful information and brochures from the friendly staff as well as learn about all eight flags that Amelia Island has flown under since 1562! This is where your history getaway begins.
LUNCH ON THE RIVER
Where can you overlook the Fernandina Harbor and marina right on the Amelia River AND enjoy a delicous lunch? Brett's Waterway Cafe
has been serving up land and sea dishes in a casual atmosphere for over 30 years. Try the fried green tomatoes, shrimp & grits, and key lime pie. Oh, and don't forget a Bloody Mary to go along with it. It's a meal in itself!
THE CIVIL WAR IS CALLING
Located on the northern end of Amelia Island is FORT CLINCH STATE PARK
, a Civil War era fort and state park providing daily fort tours, trails for biking and hiking, beachcombing, sunbathing, swimming, and surf fishing. Adults and kids alike will love traipsing around the fort as soldiers reenact what life was like back in 1864. If you happen to be around on the first weekend of the month, you’ll witness a soldier garrison firing cannons and demonstrating other battlefield skills. Just down the road from Fort Clinch is the Amelia Island Lighthouse. This historical beacon has been shining its light since 1838 and can still be seen 16 miles out at sea. Read all about it here
then go see it for yourself.
VIVA LA MEXICO!
has been serving up yummy traditional Mexican fare since 2007. Located in a historic building on one of the downtown side streets, Pablo's interior is as beautiful as the food that comes out of the kitchen. Dishes include Chicken Enchiladas, Fish Tacos, and Camaron Tequila (sauteed shrimp in salsa and tequila). Speaking of tequila, their watermelon margarita is really good. Give it a try on their huge bricked patio with large flowered mural. It makes for a great photo op!. INSIDER TIP: Try the Chile Colorado - Grandma's recipe of pork tips, chile guajillo and ancho sauce.
GET FUELED UP
You can always grab breakfast wherever you are staying or you can head to Honeyfeet
on Ash Street in downtown Fernandina Beach. Honeyfeet offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, wine, coffee, desserts, and more. Start your day off with a gourmet coffee, breakfast sandwich, homemade quiche or croissant. It's a great way to get fueled up for your day ahead.
AFRICAN-AMERICAN HERITAGE TOUR
One of the most fascinating chapters in Amelia Island's history takes place in and around American Beach on the island's south end. In addition to the A.L. LEWIS MUSEUM
, folks can also take a step back in time with Ron Miller, tour guide extraordinaire and owner of COAST ONE TOURS
, whose mission is to "Educate and share the History of how and why American Beach was founded". Become educated, enlightened and enraptured with not only his tour but the amazing history he provides.
LAID BACK LUNCH
located at The Shops of Omni Amelia Island Resort is the French-style market and deli of your dreams and the perfect place to grab lunch. This adorable eaterie, deli and shop not only features a delicious breakfast and lunch menu but offers a wide selection of groceries, one-of-a-kind gifts, craft beers and wines. Sit on their oversized waterfront deck and soak it all in!
GET TO KNOW THE HISTORIC DISTRICT
Discover the rich history of Amelia Island with an Amelia Island Historic Tour
. Set out in an air-conditioned minibus for a guided tour of Amelia Island and learn about different phases of local history from the Timucua Indians to the modern shrimping industry. Folks love this tour. Here's what one tour attendee had to say: "Daniel was an entertaining and informative tour guide who has a lot of knowledge about the history of the island and a few insider tidbits that were interesting. I would definitely recommend this tour to those who want to know more about national and regional history through lesser-known facts. The bus was comfortable and the size of the group was what we prefer when taking tours. A win-win!"
DINNER AT DAVID'S
For a special evening and to end this day of discovery, venture over to David's Restaurant & Lounge
. This elegant, darkly-lit and upscale fine dining establishment specializes in steak and seafood with an extensive wine list. The comfortable roomy lounge with a full bar, appetizer bar menu and special martini menu is always a nice place to begin your relaxing dining experience and talk about tomorrow's activities. It's been a good day!
INSIDER TIP: Order the signature Prime Aged Ribeye, served with mashed potatoes, seasonal veggies, and finished with rosemary au jus on the side. Trust me...you'll dream about it.
BREAKFAST AT THE OLDEST HOTEL IN FLORIDA
Known for their famous buttermilk fried chicken & waffles, salads, sandwiches and $15 bottomless bloody mary's and mimosas, Leddy's Porch
at The Florida House Inn serves up simple, clean, southern fare for weekend brunch. Dine inside, on the porch or in the courtyard - it's all good. Get a history lesson while you're there. Amelia Island was Florida's first luxury tourist destination, luring captains of industry, socialites, and dignitaries during the Gilded age of the late 19th century, The Florida House Inn
was a favorite place to stay and it's said that some of those visitors have never left.
LIVING IN THE PAST
It wouldn't be a visit to Fernandina Beach without going to the Amelia Island Museum of History
. Housed in the former Nassau County jail (you can still check out one of the cells) in the heart of Historic Downtown Fernandina Beach, the state's first spoken history museum is an excellent place to get your introduction to the wild and wonderful history of the island. There's a "Discovery Ship" area for children to explore life as a pirate, a choice of docent or self-guided tours, and exhibits featuring treasures from Amelia Island's last 4000 years.
LUNCH ON THE PATIO
Dine on the patio under a canopy of live oaks at The Patio at 5th & Ash
. This new downtown eatery has an eclectic menu with a variety of dining options. Menu favorites include the Clams Vongole sauteed in briny broth with garlic, lemon and white wine. Or, the Chicken Pollo that comes with grilled chicken, sundried tomatoes, goat cheese, and basil topped with lemon butter. Wash it all down with a Spice Up Your Life Margarita and I'd say that's about a perfect lunch. Vegan and Vegetarian options are available as well.
CRUSIN' THROUGH HISTORY
As far as Amelia Island river cruises go, they don't get much better than this one. By far one of the most popular venues on the island, AMELIA RIVER CRUISES
is highly recommended with a storytelling captain that provides narrated, historic and wildlife sightseeing tours with views of dolphins, manatees, sea otters, alligators, and the wild horses of Cumberland Island National Seashore.
Have you been dreaming of Paris and all the wonderful foods you can get there? We have the next best thing right in downtown Fernandina Beach. LECLOS
serves delicious French dishes by candlelight in a quaint 1906 cottage. Chef/Owner Katherine Ewing received full degrees in both cuisine and pastry from Le Cordon Bleu and L’Ecole de Gastronomie Francaise Ritz-Escoffier, Paris, and trained at the Ritz Hotel, Paris, France.
INSIDER TIP: Enjoy the perfect vichyssoise, a cool, creamy delight on a sultry night.
Ghost Tours of Amelia Island
explores the paranormal and spooky stories here on the Island with your tour guide. Hear all about Amelia's spooky haunted history on this informative .5-1 mile tour. You'll hear chilling ghostly tales and the most famous haunted stories the city has to offer. Ending at St. Peters cemetery! Ghost hunting equipment is provided. Take a tour... if you dare.
These suggestions are just a sneak peek of all Amelia Island has to offer as you plan your Historic Weekend Getaway. Discover more and plan your perfect trip on www.ameliaisland.com
for a complete list of places to stay, eat and play. We’re looking forward to seeing you here for years to come.