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Amelia Island

Petite Island Full of Big Surprises


Downtown Fernandina Beach
© Amelia Island Tourist Development Council
Along Florida's northeastern coast is one of the state's best kept secrets — Amelia Island. This vacation paradise offers miles of white sandy Atlantic beaches, world-class resorts, spectacular golf, unique shopping, historically significant landmarks and more activities than you can pack into a week-long vacation.

Just thirteen miles long and two miles wide, this petite island packs a big punch when it comes to the diversity of its accommodations and activities — there is something for everyone. Whether you are a discriminating traveler with a bottomless bankroll or a budget-minded family, all types of accommodations are available to meet your vacation needs. Whether you enjoy simple pleasures like walking on the beach, or prefer to play golf and tennis... there is no better place.

In addition, the island's seaside location, Appalachian quartz beaches, natural sand dunes and marshes provide the perfect environment for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts who crave fishing, camping, birdwatching, kayking, horseback riding, sailing or shell collecting.

Pride In the Past

What do you get when you cross an intriguing past with charming Southern hospitality? Downtown Fernandina. Florida's first resort has a colorful past, but a seemingly bright future. It's a town that has successfully made history its business, with a fifty-block area of historic homes and businesses that have been lovingly restored and are proudly on display.

The once-vibrant, Victorian seaport village is now postcard perfect with rows of shops that house a treasure trove of antiques and collectibles, as well as an eclectic assortment of boutiques and restaurants.

Its Victorian homes and cottages are a throwback to Amelia's Golden Era. Adornments that make these 19th Century homes into masterpieces include opulent turrets, gables and gingerbread rick-rack trim. Some of these homes serve as bed and breakfast inns and some are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but what all seem to have in common is an interesting background. These storied streets can be experienced through self-guided tours or those offered by the Amelia Island History Museum. Horse-drawn carriage tours are also available.

Sightseeing river cruises are another way to learn more about the areas history. In the early 20th Century, Amelia Island became the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry. Today, nearly 80 percent of Florida's intake of sweet Atlantic white shrimp is harvested in Amelia's waters and its downtown docks — Fernandina Harbor Marina — is still home to the shrimp fleet.

While the oldest structure on the island is the Amelia Island Lighthouse, other places of intrigue include the Palace Saloon, the oldest bar in the state of Florida; and, the Florida House Inn, Florida's oldest surviving tourist hotel.

Accommodating the Present

While Amelia Island has certainly been successful at preserving its past, it is no stranger to progress and growth. It is amazing that the area has somehow managed to kept pace without destroying its history and natural habitats. Visitors to the island find many accommodation choices with more than 2,500 suites, villas and guest rooms to suit any preference — from five-diamond oceanfront resorts and oceanfront cottages to golf villas and historic bed and breakfast inns to camping facilities.

Situated on the southern end of the island are Amelia Island Plantation, The Ritz-Carlton: Amelia Island and Summer Beach Resort. All three offer oceanside accommodations in either private seaside villas, townhomes and luxury condominiums or deluxe hotel rooms.

An assortment of condominiums, chain hotels, motels, villas, townhouses and private rental cottages dot the island offering additional accommodation choices.

Location and Access

Amelia is just 30 minutes from Jacksonville International Airport. By car, two bridges connect Amelia Island with the mainland. From I-95, take Fernandina Beach Exit 129, turn east onto A1A and travel 15 miles, cross the Intracoastal Waterway into the heart of Amelia Island.

Those traveling from the south may prefer to take A1A north of Jacksonville to the Mayport auto ferry which crosses the St. Johns River, or take A1A farther north to J. Turner Butler Blvd., then north on Hwy 115 over the Dames Point Bridge. Both options continue on A1A north over Big and Little Talbot Island onto Amelia.

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