Just 30 minutes from Florida’s Jacksonville airport, two bridges connect the mainland to Amelia Island. The island beckons to ocean-lovers and historians alike with 13 miles of beaches and a well-preserved historic district of Victorian architecture steeped in old Southern charm. June through August is peak beach season, as temperatures stay warm amid a temperate ocean (the “secret” season of late fall and early winter is a favorite for those seeking fewer crowds).
Heading into December, temperatures can drop into the 30s at night, but the 12th month of the year is the best time to go. So, replace your bathing suit with a warm winter coat, and make your way to Amelia Island, if you’re in search of a quick bargain getaway. Of course there isn’t a bad time of the year to visit. Here’s our list of what to do on Amelia Island.
The first weekend of every month, reenactors at the 19th-century Fort Clinch demo blacksmithing, masonry, military drills and fire cannons. Named after Duncan Lamont Clinch, who served as a commander in the First and Second Seminole Wars as well as a congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives, the brick fortress sits in a 1,400-acre state park that comprises three miles of shoreline and a half-mile fishing pier.
After reveling in early-American culture and one of the most unique Amelia Island activities, enjoy a scenic route by biking the oak-lined drive or hiking the park’s six-mile nature trail.
With 13 miles of Atlantic coastline, public access to beaches is plentiful. So, you can find your perfect beach for sunrise (try Main Beach Park) and then find another favorite for sunbathing and wave-watching (we suggest Peters Point Beachfront Park). Fancy some fishing? The fishing pier at Amelia Island State Park is the spot for you.
The calm, flat waters of Amelia Island’s salt marsh near the resort are the perfect place for novices to test their stand-up paddling skills. Keen-eyed paddlers will see great egrets, herons, ibis and fish during this 90-minute outing. Rather sit than stand? Sunset and moonlight kayak tours are available around the island, making for some of the best things to do on Amelia Island.
Marlin and Barrel Distillery
Take a tour of (and enjoy a tasting at) the local Marlin and Barrel Distillery, and learn how Venture Vodka, made with Florida sugar cane, and Bearing Light Rum are made. Bring a bottle of Bearing Light home so you can mix up a Bandera Española, a rum cocktail from Florida’s oldest bar: the Palace Saloon.
Explore the Historic District
The Palace Saloon isn’t the only highlight of Fernandina’s Downtown Historic District. A stroll along Centre Street offers local shops, antique markets and dining experiences. Enjoy lunch with a waterfront view at the Salty Pelican, and then head to the Amelia Island Museum of History for a guided tour.
Our favorite? Happy Hour History, of course. To see more than 50 blocks on the National Register of Historic Places, hop on a trolley for a tour of the Victorian Era architecture.