Arts & Culture
Sample Amelia Island’s thriving arts and culture scene with everything from an art passport to a festival honoring the inspirational beauty and movement of dance. This and much more on an island alive with art galleries, theatre, concerts, and acclaimed dance and music festivals.
Check into the AMELIA SCHOOLHOUSE INN, your home away from home for the next three days and the reason none of their guests mind going back to school. With 17 guest rooms, a pool, a courtyard with a putting green, and an upscale bar named “The Principal’s Office”, this artsy boutique hotel provides all the comforts of home within walking distance to museums, art galleries, restaurants and all the culture downtown Fernandina has to offer.
Located on 3rd Street in heart of downtown Fernandina is the GARDEN STREET BISTRO where breakfast is served all day, every day. Not only do they specialize in original menu items, but they also have incredible freshly baked breads, burgers, crab cakes, wraps and daily specials. You can sit inside but you’re gonna want to sit outside in the courtyard – beneath the wisteria vines.
INSIDER TIP: The Brioche French Toast, aptly named My Favorite French Toast Ever, is amazing no matter what time of day you get it. After lunch, pop in to TRISH’S SLIGHTLY OFF CENTRE GALLERY & GIFTS right next door for a peak at gorgeous pottery made by the owner.
Also on 3rd Street is the AMELIA ISLAND MUSEUM OF HISTORY. To understand a little more about our island paradise, you’re going to want to take a docent-led tour inside the museum or walking tour around downtown. Truth is, we have a few dark secrets here that don’t always coincide with the gorgeous place you see today but pair those secrets with some amazing historical figures and you’ve got quite the storied island! Soak it all in then head over to the WELCOME CENTER where you can pick up brochures and see all eight flags that we’ve flown under! If that just whet your whistle for more history, view all of our island museums HERE and make a day of it. Museum Hopping!
Although MEZCAL is a realtively new restaurant, the fine owners have been serving up yummy traditional Mexican fare on Amelia Island since 2007. Located right in the heart of downtown’s Centre Street, Mezcal’s interior is as beautiful as the food that comes out of the kitchen. Favorite dishes include Chicken Enchiladas, Fish Tacos, and Camaron Diabla (sauteed shrimp in habanaro sauce). I would totally be remiss if I didn’t mention their TEQUILA DRINKS because you literally can’t go wrong with any of them.
Amelia Island is home to two prominent local theater organizations – AMELIA COMMUNITY THEATRE and AMELIA MUSICAL PLAYHOUSE. both host year round shows and both are getting better with each passing year. Founded in 1981, Amelia Community Theatre provides six productions each season on its main stage, plus other shows and events on their studio stage while Amelia Musical Playhouse stages a variety of musicals, plays and revues throughout the year.
Grab a cup of coffee and chocolate croissant at Amelia Island’s newest coffee shop, TWISTED TABLE. Located on the corner of Ash and S 3rd Streets, Twisted Table offers a light breakfast of croissants, mini crustless quiche, delicious breakfast sandwiches and of course, coffee. All you need to get your day started!
INSIDER TIP: The Goat Cheese Fritter served on a toasted baguette is délicieuse.
ake a COAST ONE TOUR of American Beach and learn about MaVynee Betsch (The Beach Lady) who spent her life educating the public on the black history and environmental importance of AMERICAN BEACH. Namely her beloved NaNa dune, the tallest dune system in the state of Florida! Be as inspired by her story as Susan Dodge, President of the AMELIA ISLAND DANCE FESTIVAL, who has devoted a series of short filmed dances honoring the life of this amazing lady. View the first of the beautifully cheorgraphed and moving Beach Lady dances HERE. Local dancer, Taylor Baines is gorgeous!
Talk about your day over lunch on the outside deck at MARCHE’ BURETTE, located at the SHOPS AT OMNI AMELIA ISLAND RESORT. Marche Burette is the market and deli of your dreams serving up light bites, hefty salads and delicious sandwiches. After lunch, stroll along the boardwalk where you can find everything from the latest trends in fashion and accessories to a gift shop and art gallery. Yep, PLANTATION ARTISTS’ GUILD AND GALLERY is a co-op gallery run by 40 local artists who celebrate art each in their own lovely way. All on display for you. Drop in and take a look at some incredible work done by some gifted artists.
Amelia Island’s natural beauty is the perfect inspiration for artists and a draw for talented creators from around the world who have relocated here. A fun way to discover the artistic scene all over the island is with the ART PASSPORT. Visit participating artisan galleries, studios, makeries and public art installments perfect for Instagrammable backdrops. Check in, collect points and choose cool prizes from the passport rewards store. It’s that easy!
Located downtown, and just slightly off the beaten path, WICKED BAO offers small plates, noodle bowls, rice bowls and their signature Baos – steamed bun filled with choices of fried shrimp, adobo pulled pork, braised pork belly, buttermilk fried chicken, crispy tofu, Bugogi beef and topped with dressings. Everything here is delicious. Sit inside or outside on the deck and toast with homemade Saki. Don’t leave without taking a selfie next to the #lovewall.
INSIDER TIP: Crispy Pork Chop Rice with a side order of spicy sichuan dumplings will have you wondering how you can get this food shipped to your home after you leave.
The bagels at ALOHA BAGEL & DELI are so good if you close your eyes you’ll think you’re at your favorite NYC deli. Committed to serving only the freshest most delicious bagels, Aloha Bagel & Deli claims to be the “best little bagel shop on Amelia Island” and I’m pretty sure they are. Try the Nova Bagel, toasted with plain cream cheese, NOVA salmon, tomatoes, capers, and onions. You won’t be disappointed.
Amelia Island is clearly a place for you to peruse beautiful art in many specific mediums and forms of artistic expression by some very talented folks. But, we also want you to create your own and be part of it all. Meet PAISLEY GRACE MAKERY, Amelia Island’s answer to “do it yourself”. PGM wants you to find your inner artist by choosing from over 300 projects that their instructors will guide through, like their CHARCUTERIE AND BOARDS WORKSHOP where you not only personalize the board but learn to arrange the yummy foods that go on it! The creativity doesn’t end there. You can also get creative on ceramic, wood board, and canvas at AMELIA MAKERY. We encourage audience participation here.
BABA’S MEDITERRANEAN is a fantastic new addition to downtown Fernandina specializing in gyros, falafel, baklava, shawarma, hawawshi, and hummus just to name a few. Enjoy handhelds, salads, delicious desserts, homemade sauces, wine and more.
INSIDER TIP: The Roasted Chicken with zhoug sauce and pickled veggies over toasted cumin rice should be what’s for lunch!
If you have a love for music and the arts the AMELIA ISLAND CHAMBER MUSIC FESTIVAL and AMELIA ISLAND JAZZ FESTIVALare two events not to be missed. AICMF showcases prominent artists in various island locations from January to May while the AIJF is held every year in October and features greats from the world of Jazz. The AMELIA ISLAND BOOK FESTIVAL celebrates the love of the written word with a series of public events featuring New York Times best-selling authors, independent publishers and authors, awards programs and workshops. And, we can’t forget SHRIMP FESTIVAL where we celebrate the love of our favorite crustacean with several thousand of our closest friends. Our little island is loaded with arts and culture so visit THE ARTS & CULTURE TRAVEL GUIDE for a complete list of events held throughout the year.
When asking locals about their restaurant favorites, the resounding response always includes ESPANA. Specializing in traditional flavors from Spain and Portugal, Espana features just-caught local seafood, an array of hot and cold tapas and their traditional paella, which is to die for. The always homemade sangria is full of fruit and is so refreshing on warm Florida days. A varied beer and wine list is also available. Choose to dine inside in the cozy main dining room or outside on the enclosed patio overlooking the garden.
INSIDER TIP: The sangria, breads and desserts are from family recipes so you know they’re good.
These suggestions are just a sneak peek of all Amelia Island has to offer as you plan your Artsy Getaway. Discover more and plan your perfect trip on AMELIAISLAND.COM for a complete list of places to stay, eat and play.