Last year, on our fifth anniversary, my husband and I were gifted a trip to Amelia Island by my parents. We didn’t have the opportunity to cash it in until this year, so we used it to celebrate our sixth. I’d heard good things about Amelia Island, and I love the beach, but it really hadn’t been on my radar beyond that, even though it’s just over the border from Georgia. I’m so glad we got to spend a long weekend discovering the north end of the island. Amelia has a truly relaxing and homey atmosphere with 13 miles of beach. These are my personal recommendations.
1. Stay at Elizabeth Pointe Lodge. My parents had stayed here a few years ago and really enjoyed it, so the gift was specifically to stay here. I was delighted to have the chance to stay somewhere a little nicer than I usually spring for (I’m a reformed hostel traveler–reformed because my husband wants no part of hostel life). We booked an ocean view room with a king and were greeted with champagne for our anniversary. While there are no individual balconies off the rooms, the Nantucket-style house has a wraparound porch with plentiful seating and excellent views of the water. The lodge also provides towels, beach chairs and umbrellas.
2. Explore Fort Clinch State Park. Enter under the oaks draped in Spanish moss, swim and fish at the beach, bike or walk the trails and stroll the 1/2 mile pier. During our time on the pier we spotted several dolphins swimming nearby. Admission is $4-6 per vehicle or $2 on foot. Fort admission is an additional $2 per person. It was built in 1847 and used during the Civil War and Spanish-American War. In the 1930s it was restored and has been open to the public ever since, with the exception of World War II when it was used as a communications post. Tip: If you go to the park in summer, hit the fort first. It gets very steamy inside those walls without a breeze.
3. Shop the Historic Distict and drive through the surrounding residential streets. So many fun shops to check out, from antique stores to Celtic-themed gifts. We stopped in one art shop and bought two small paintings by a Florida artist for $20 a piece. And there were so many gorgeous homes I’d love to own.
4. Get a table near the music, belly up to the bar, or sit at a picnic table on the back patio at Alley Cat. Every seat is a good seat. Plus, they have a late night kitchen. It was a quiet night when we were there, but the staff was friendly, talkative and seemed to know everyone.
5. Grab a drink at the Palace Saloon. Check out the interesting history in the link. This is Florida’s oldest operating bar, established in 1903 — though they did have to get creative during Prohibition. We stopped by during a quiet afternoon.
6. Grab another drink at the Green Turtle Tavern. This one we hit in the evening. It was busy without being overly packed, and it seemed popular with the locals–something I wished to be by the end of the trip. Sit inside with the unique and beachy decor or head out to the porch and patio area with live music and, the night we were there, a live painter.
7. Order the Seared Tuna Nachos at the Salty Pelican Bar & Grill. The menu states, “(Prepared Rare)
8oz Seared Tuna, Seaweed Salad, Goat Cheese, Wasabi Sesame Seeds.” Honestly, had another guest at the hotel not raved about these at breakfast, I’m not sure I would have ever considered ordering them. Those ingredients in other dishes? Yum. But I wasn’t sure how this would go with nachos. You could say I have strong traditional nacho values. But man, they were good.
8. Visit Bosque Bello Cemetery. Dating back to 1798 and still in use, the Spanish Moss hanging from the trees makes for a very picturesque cemetery.
9. Try the pimiento cheese sandwich at Brett’s Waterway Cafe. Enjoy a meal overlooking the harbor and marina. Yeah, I’m weird. Most people probably order seafood on a marina.
10. Take a long walk on the beach in the morning and the evening. In the morning there are people doing yoga, fishing and biking before the heat of the day. In the evening, there are cool breezes and the sun is setting behind the eclectic homes along the water. Keep an eye out for shark teeth amongst the shells. My husband picked up two good ones.
11. Cool off with a Mocha Frio at Amelia Island Coffee.
12. Eat on the patio at Cafe Karibo.
There are so many things I didn’t have time to do. I welcome comments and recommendations for my next trip!