August 11, 2023
We’re taking you on a day trip down one of Florida’s most scenic byways – Florida’s A1A/Heckscher Drive – that winds along the Atlantic Ocean coastline between Amelia Island and Jacksonville (A1A goes all the way to Key West but this is as far as we’re taking you). This epic off-island excursion will show you everything from life in the wild to wildlife in the zoo. Don’t worry, we’ll have you back to our island paradise in plenty of time for an after dinner nightcap.
Your adventure begins with a stay on the SOUTH END OF AMELIA ISLAND where you can enjoy a wide range of accommodations, restaurants, activities, nature, shopping and more.
Before you head over the south end bridge and leave the island behind for the day, grab breakfast at one of our favorite island spots with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. THE SUNRISE CAFE located at OMNI AMELIA ISLAND RESORT serves up the most deliciously indulgent breakfast with just about any and everything you could want. The “Morning Table” buffet will make sure you don’t leave hungry with choices of French toast, cold smoked salmon, eggs any way you want them, pecanwood smoked bacon and much more. You can dine in their spacious dining room, but for the best views, dine on the outdoor terrace. Daily, 7am – 11am. Photo Credit: Omni Amelia Island Resort
Just off Amelia Island over the Nassau Sound Bridge are BIG AND LITTLE TALBOT ISLAND STATE PARKS. Almost completely undeveloped, these parks remind us of a time when Florida was largely wild and inhabited by Native Americans. Both parks offers plenty of hiking trails, boardwalks, creeks, ponds, and beach to explore nature. Launch a kayak with KAYAK AMELIA or SUP with Amelia Island Paddle Surf and see the beauty of both state parks from the water! Make sure to visit Boneyard Beach on Big Talbot Island to see the salt-washed skeletons of live oak and cedar trees that once grew near the shore. INSIDER TIP: Moving onward, crossing the Fort George Bridge provides magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean, Huguenot Park and the ships at Mayport Naval Base in the distance.
With plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, PALMS FISH CAMP RESTAURANT is situated on the St. John’s River and Clapboard Creek right off Heckscher Drive. This waterfront fish camp has water views from every angle and serves up the freshest locally caught seafood along with live music and a full bar daily for lunch and dinner. For an appetizer, try the Gator Bites fried to crispy perfection. When in Florida, right? The Oysters are also good and come perfectly chilled with lemon wedges. If you want to stick with seafood, the Palmbalaya is a fan favorite spin on the Cajun classic using fresh Mayport shrimp served over steamed rice and topped with scallions and a bacon cream sauce. Photo Credit: Palms Fish Camp Facebook page
Lions, Tiger and Bears, oh my! For a family adventure like no other, we’re taking you to the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens where you can interact with people, wildlife and the environment all in one fell swoop. This multiple award-winning zoo has the only walking safari in northeast Florida and is constantly adding new exhibits and educational experiences for young and old to enjoy. In addition to the Animal Exhibits, their Land of the Tiger venue and African Forest exhibits, are just two of the many reasons the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has been labeled a world-class establishment. Photo Credit: Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens Facebook page
How about a delicious dinner with a gorgeous sunset view? Now that’s what I’m talking about! With gorgeous views of the St. John’s River on an oversized outdoor deck, THE SANDDOLLAR RESTAURANThas been operating in the same spot since 1954 – delivering fresh local seafood, burgers, steaks, and friendly service. Try the Seafood Platter or their famous low country boil served with a pound of crab legs with shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, crawfish, sausage, corn and red potatos. If seafood isn’t your thing, they can also cook up a delicious burger so give one a try. It’s what’s for dinner! Photo Credit: The Sanddollar Facebook page
u’ve had a great day, but who says it has to end? Go back to your hotel, get freshened up and head to the LOBBY BAR of THE RITZ-CARLTON, AMELIA ISLAND and sip a signature Smoked Old Fashioned, Champagne Margarita or a selection of handcrafted drinks. If you find yourself hungry, they have freshly-prepared sushi, sashimi and light bites to satisfy your appetite. It’s the premier gathering spot to sit back and reflect on what a great day you had in a relaxed, yet refined ambiance. After all, it is The Ritz-Carlton. We hope you will enjoy this special OTB (over the bridge) date with wildlife. These are merely suggestions of all Amelia Island and the surrounding area has to offer as you plan your day in the great outdoors. Discover more on WWW.AMELIAISLAND.COM for a complete list of places to stay, eat and play.
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