Amelia Island is situated on the Eastern coast of Florida about a 45 minute drive from Jacksonville and 20 km from the Georgia border. Amelia Island has a beautiful mixture of the Floridian coast vibe, but also the Southern Charm. Tourists have been coming to Fernandina Beach since the 1890s, and for a good reason. With its preserved historic architecture of Victorian homes and buildings, Southern hospitality and stress-free pace Fernandina Beach seems untouched by time. There is a whimsical draw to this quaint Victorian seaport town and I can 100% see why Amelia Island was once a ground for pirates, millionaires, as well as bootleggers. This destination is great for romantics, families and pet owners that are looking for a serene yet fun vacation. If you are wondering why go to Amelia Island, you want to keep reading below my travel guide.
Amelia Island Travel Guide
When You Should Visit Amelia Island
Weather on Amelia Island is warm and sunny all year around. The heat and humidity is pretty bad in the summer just like any other destination in Florida. Amelia Island travel is ideal during spring so between April to June, and fall September to October, when the weather is not too hot and most of the tourists have gone. We visited in late February and it was a bit chilly, so if you are looking to experience warmer, jacket free weather probably not a good time to visit during January- March. Why go to Amelia Island? The warm, sunny weather is definitely a key factor in adding this beautiful place to your bucket list.
Where To Stay In Amelia Island
Amelia Island has many options for accommodations, it all depends on what you are looking for. Located in the historic village of Fernandina Beach, the Addison is the cutest bed and breakfast, and my favourite. This bed and breakfast has a beautiful courtyard featuring a fountain and a garden that makes you feel like you just discovered an oasis. The front verandah is the perfect photo op, but also a great spot to read your favourite book or soak in the sun in the morning hours. The Addison has 14 guest rooms, and each room has a private bathroom and some even have oversized jetted tubs. The rooms are defined by their Floridian vibe with vibrant bed linens and fun tropical decor. When you stay at the Addison, you also have access to bicycles and complimentary beach gear including towels, chairs. Their homemade breakfast is also delicious.
Where To Eat In Amelia Island – Restaurant Guide
Timoti’s Seafood Shack | 21 N 3rd Street
One of the things to do in Amelia Island is eat. Lunch at Timoti’s Seafood Shack should be your first stop! This is a top recommendation by me and from locals as well. Timoti’s menu has all the seafood must-haves and most importantly it is all wild-caught. From lobster rolls and fresh poke bowls to delicious hush puppies, this place is a spot you want to go back to multiple times. Best part about this place is how affordable it is. The lobster roll was just $12 and you get two lobster roll sandwiches. I didn’t have the shrimp basket but according to locals, this is a must-try. Fernandina Beach is the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry and even to this day, shrimp is celebrated with the annual shrimp festival. So definitely have the shrimp!
Crab Trap | 31 North 2nd Street
Family-owned and operated, Crab Trap has a casual, fun vibe. The decor is nautical and very eclectic, and it kind of makes you feel like you are in a ship going for a sail. The menu has options for both seafood lovers, but also meat lovers. They serve daily fresh catch specials and delicious cocktails you do not want to miss. If you stop by you want to sit at the upstairs bar that overlooks the Amelia River with its spectacular sunset views. One of the reasons why you need to go to Amelia Island is the food and Crab Trap is for sure a stop you need to add to your list when planning your trip.
Pogo’s Kitchen |1408 Lewis Street
POGO’s Kitchen is an intimate modern restaurant serving a menu that celebrates a fusion of Southern flavours. This spot was a pleasant surprise. The food was tasty, the staff was friendly and helpful, and I loved the intimate vibe. There was actually a couple celebrating their anniversary while we were dinning, so if you are traveling with your significant other this is definitely a romantic spot for you that checks off everything on your list when looking for a place to dine at. We tried the Salmon Poke which was velvety and so tasty, and for main we ordered the Szechuan Spiced Duck which was also really well done and just perfectly flavoured. Also, if you have a sweet tooth, you want to order the cheesecake! Delicious!
Espana | 22 S. 4th Street
Downtown Fernandina Beach offers a variety of restaurants to dine at, so guarantee you will not be left hungry. España is an upscale option for dinner specializing in traditional Spanish and Portuguese cuisine. The menu has something for everyone, and the servers will ask right away if there are any allergies they should be aware of so they can accommodate your needs. From hot and cold tapas, traditional seafood paella, and homemade desserts from family recipes, the food here was to die for. It has a cozy dining room with dim lighting and a gorgeous patio for warmer days. I highly recommend the Vieras en salsa verde (scallops) as well as the Gambas Mozambique (shrimp).
Fantastic Fudge | 218 Centre St
If you love fudge or have a sweet you will love Fantastic Fudge. Everything is house-made and if you are not a fan of fudge, they also serve ice cream, hand-dipped chocolates, and even coffee. The fudge is made the old-fashioned way using a copper kettle on beautiful marble slab tables and a recipe that dates back to 1887. Their working station is out in the open, so if you time it properly you may even witness the art of fudge making. I tried the pecan fudge and it was delicious. They also have a variety of flavours like dark chocolate, peanut butter and chocolate Oreos.
Nana Teresa’s Bake Shop | 13 N 3rd St.
Nana Teresa’s is the perfect spot for an after-dinner dessert or a mid-day craving fix. Located down the street from Timoti’s Seafood Shack, Nana Teresa’s Bake Shop is a cute, traditional bakeshop that serves all the sweets. Their drink menu is also extensive ranging from coffee and milkshakes to even bubble tea, which was such a pleasant surprise.
The Palace Saloon | 117 Centre St
When I was thinking of my Amelia Island Travel Guide, I knew I had to add places you want to stop for drinks! Originally constructed as a haberdashery in 1878, the building was transformed into the Palace Saloon in 1903. As soon as you walk in the door you feel like you have been taken back in time. I have personally never been to a saloon before, but I have seen them in movies and the experience was really cool. This is the oldest bar in Florida, and it was also the last American tavern to close during Prohibition. I highly recommend you take the Tasting Tour with Amelia Island Downtown Tasting Tours. They do an amazing job with taking you around the town and discovering the best places in town for drinks. Best part of the tour? You get to taste some delicious cocktails.
The Decantery | 117 Centre St.
Located next to the Palace Saloon, the Decantery is a premier wine, craft beer and cocktail lounge. The ambiance of this place is perfect for grabbing drinks with friends after dinner, but from what we hear a great spot for bachelorette parties as well. It is not pretentious at all which I highly appreciate. Especially when you are on vacation and you want to visit places that are refined yet casual.
What To Do In Amelia Island
Segway Tour At The Omni | 48 Amelia Village Circle
There are so many things to do in Amelia Island, depending on the activity level you are looking for, as well as what activities you enjoy. If you are looking for a little bit of an adventure the Segway tour located at the Omni is definitely a must. The tour is about an hour and a half long and you go around the beautiful Omni property, including my favourite spots which are the marsh and of course the gorgeous views of the ocean. What will take your breath away is probably the stunning oak trees with the dripping Spanish moss.
Stroll Around Downtown Fernandina
What to do in Amelia Island, is a no brainer. Stroll around the historic Downtown Fernandina because it is the perfect place to check out the local boutiques. If you recall, I traveled to Myrtle Beach (Travel Guide linked here) last year, and in comparison, Amelia Island is a lot more walkable. They have the cutest shops and just seeing how pretty everything is your entire mood changes. I also love supporting local businesses, and in Amelia Island you will notice that big chain stores are non-existent, which I appreciate since independent businesses give back so much more to the community. Fernandina Beach has so many shops and restaurants which makes this destination perfect for all demographics. There are more than 50 blocks to explore, and even though that may sound like a lot, what I loved about Fernandina Beach is that it never loses its small-town vibe, where everyone knows everyone, and where locals are super friendly to tourists.
Watch the Sunset on the Amelia Island River Cruise
We didn’t do the Amelia River Cruises, but it looked so fun and I wish we did especially since all the locals recommended it. Tours are available in the morning, afternoon, and at sunset depending on your availability and which time you prefer. The pontoon boat with Captain “Pajama Dave” is definitely well known amongst the locals and if you chat with them they will talk to you about Pajama Dave. The River Cruise has live music, you can bring your own alcohol, and enjoy the best sunset views.
Enjoy Saturday Morning Farmer’s Market
The Fernandina Beach Market Place runs from 9 AM to 1 PM every Saturday morning throughout the year. This market is located in the heart of the downtown historic district and it is a fun way to familiarize yourself with local businesses. If you want to grab some locally grown and made goods like fresh guacamole, popcorn, soaps as well as organic skincare products, this is the place for you!
Check Out The Antique Shops
I could honestly do an Amelia Island Travel Guide just for antique stores. My personal favourite was the Eight Flags, Antique Market. WOW. I love antique shopping and this place was just AMAZING! Well organized and with beautiful items as well. Like I said, I go to antique stores all the time and sometimes all you see is junky items you have no use for, but this place had a great mixture of items from a variety of eras, and a great selection of different home categories as well.
Admire The Historic Homes and Buildings
The local charm of Amelia Island is the architecture. You really get a sense of Southern living in Amelia Island. I couldn’t stop gasping at the houses in Fernandina Beach especially since I love architecture and the history behind homes. Fernandina Beach has over 400 historic structures on the National Register of Historic Places, and for a small town that is a lot. This destination has the most beautifully constructed Victorian homes, with pastel palettes and moldings details so spectacular you can’t help but gaze. Amelia Island is a beautiful, hidden gem, of a close-knit community that adores dogs and loves helping out tourists. So don’t be surprised if during your walk you end up chatting with locals about their beautiful town.
Enjoy a Day at The Beach
Even though it was a bit too cold for us to go for a swim, we still managed to stop by the beach and soak in some sun. There are also guided horseback rides along the shore you can sign up for if that is something you want to experience, especially during sunset.
*I was hosted by Amelia Island via Darling Escapes for this trip. All opinions and experiences are my own.