14 Not-to Miss Things to Do in Amelia Island

Amelia Island
Photo by Sonya Tyler on Unsplash

Amelia Island, it’s got it all. A place where memories can stand tall. Its beauty, oh it’s quite a sight. A vacation destination that takes first prize, right?

Amelia Island, located off the coast of Florida in the USA, is a stunningly beautiful destination and one of the top vacation spots in the country.

Amelia Island provides something for everyone, with its white sand beaches, beautiful woodlands, and historic downtown center. This article will help you in discovering all of the gems that Amelia Island has to offer.

1. Quick Overview

Size: Over 13.5 square miles.

Nearest City: Jacksonville, Florida.

Establishment Year: 1812.

Attractions: Amelia Island State Park, Fort Clinch State Park, American Beach, Amelia Island Lighthouse, Cumberland Island National Seashore, Palace Saloon, and Fernandina Beach Historic District.

2. Best Things to Do on Amelia Island

Amelia Island offers a wealth of activities that will make your vacation one to remember. From exploring the local wildlife and beaches to taking part in some exciting water sports, here are 20 amazing things to do on Amelia Island.

Amelia Island
Image by pwemedia from Pixabay

2.1 Explore Amelia Island, State Park

Nestled on the northern end of Amelia Island in Florida, Amelia Island State Park is a breathtaking natural haven that offers a rare blend of outdoor adventure, wildlife, and tranquility.

Spread over 200 acres of diverse landscapes, Amelia Island State Park is an ideal place to escape the chaos of city life and immerse yourself in the serene beauty of nature.

  • Beautiful Beaches: One of the main attractions of Amelia Island State Park is its stunning beach, which is surrounded by lush vegetation and dotted with dunes, salt marshes, and tidal creeks. 
  • Natural Paradise: Natural Paradise: Amelia Island State Park is also a renowned bird-watching site. You can take a leisurely walk along Amelia Island State Park to explore the lush vegetation and spot some of the amazing wildlife that calls the park home. Amelia Island State Park protects a variety of wildlife, including sea turtles, wading birds, and dolphins.
  • Florida State Parks Trailhead: One of the highlights of Amelia Island State Park is the Florida State Parks Trailhead, which offers access to over 10 miles of hiking and biking trails that wind through the park’s dunes, coastal maritime forests, and marshes. The trails are well-maintained and suitable for all levels of fitness, making them perfect for families and friends to explore Amelia Island State Park together.

2.2 Visit Fort Clinch, State Park

Explore the rich history of Amelia Island by visiting Fort Clinch State Park. The park features an old military fort that was used during the Civil War as well as other historic sites like the Old Towne Creek Indian Mound and Plum Orchard Mansion.

Fort Clinch State Park is an excellent place to learn about Florida’s history. The park features a beautiful blend of natural landscapes and historical sites.

  • 19th-century Military Fort: The main attraction of the park is Fort Clinch, a 19th-century military fort that sits atop a hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Visitors can explore the fort, which has been beautifully restored and preserved, and learn about its fascinating history.
  • Beach with epic ocean Views: Another popular feature of the park is its 1.5-mile beach, which provides you with a stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean and the opportunity to engage in a variety of water activities.

2.3 Take a dolphin Tour

Amelia Island is a popular destination for dolphin tours. These tours offer exciting opportunities to get up close with these magnificent marine mammals.

You will have the chance to observe dolphins in their natural habitat, playing and jumping alongside the boat. With the beautiful Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop, a dolphin tour in Amelia Island is a memorable experience you will never forget.

You can take boat or kayak tours around the Island’s shoreline, where you will spot dolphins swimming nearby.

2.4 Enjoy golfing in Oak Marsh

Oak Marsh Golf Course is a must-visit for golf enthusiasts visiting Florida. This beautiful and challenging course is located in the heart of Amelia island, surrounded by pristine marshes and ancient oak trees.

The Oak Marsh Golf Course features rolling fairways, strategic bunkers, and challenging greens that will test golfers of all skill levels.

The course has been rated among the best in the state and has received numerous accolades for its design and maintenance.

In addition to the 18-hole course, Oak Marsh Golf Course also features a fully equipped pro shop, a driving range, and a restaurant where you can relax and enjoy a delicious meal after your round.

2.5 Go Fishing

If you’re an avid fisherman or simply looking for a family fun activity, the Island is the perfect destination for you.

This beautiful island, located off the coast of northeastern Florida, boasts an incredible array of fishing spots, from inshore saltwater flats to offshore deep-sea reefs.

One of the best places to fish on the Island is the Amelia River. This picturesque waterway is home to a variety of species, including redfish, trout, and flounder. Whether you’re fishing from the shore or taking a kayak out into the marsh, the Amelia River is a beautiful place to surf fish.

Another popular spot to surf fish in Amelia Island is the Nassau Sound. This large estuary is located at the southern end of the Island and is home to an array of species, including red drum, black drum, and sheepshead.

The Nassau Sound is also a popular spot for bird-watching and wildlife viewing, making it a brilliant place to spend a day on the water.

2.6 Explore Fernandina Beach

Take a stroll down Centre Street in Fernandina Beach to get a feel for the island’s quaint downtown area. Fernandina Beach has plenty of shops, restaurants, and galleries to explore as well as historic sites like St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and Fort Clinch State Park nearby.

Fernandina Beach offers a variety of shopping and dining experiences. The city has a thriving downtown area with a range of locally-owned boutiques and shops, where visitors can purchase unique souvenirs and gifts.

Fernandina Beach has it all, from casual beachside cafes to upscale restaurants that offer a selection of fresh seafood and other local cuisines.

Fernandina Beach features over 50 vendors selling everything from handmade jewelry to fresh produce! It takes place every Saturday morning in downtown Fernandina Beach so make sure to check it out if you’re looking for something unique.

Fernandina Beach
Photo by Sonya Tyler on Unsplash


2.7 Go Kayaking

Kayaking tours in Amelia Island are an exciting way to explore the area. From the quiet waterways and pristine beaches to the diverse wildlife and stunning scenery, a kayaking tour will take you on a journey of adventure and discovery. You will see the natural wonders of this stunning island, from mangrove forests and marshes to tidal creeks and rivers.

Several companies are offering guided tours around the Island where you can paddle through mangrove forests or even spot dolphins swimming nearby!

2.8 Take a tour of Fort George Island

Fort George Island is a historic island located on Amelia Island. This island is home to the Fort George Island Cultural State Park, which offers a glimpse into the rich cultural and natural history of the area. The park features several historic buildings, including the Ribault Club and the Kingsley Plantation, which date back to the 18th and 19th centuries.

You can also explore the beautiful natural landscape of the island, including miles of sandy beaches and lush marshes, which are home to many wildlife and plant species.

2.9 Go bird Watching

Bird watching on Amelia Island is a popular activity. Located on the northeastern coast of Florida, Amelia Island is home to many bird species, including migratory birds, shorebirds, and coastal birds. The island is surrounded by pristine beaches and lush marshes, making it an ideal habitat for many bird species.

You can enjoy bird-watching by taking a guided birding tour or exploring the many nature trails and bird-watching sites. Popular bird-watching sites include Fort Clinch State Park, home to over 200 species of birds, including the endangered Eastern brown pelican.

You can also visit the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, where they can observe a wide variety of birds, including the magnificent bald eagle.

2.10 Explore the Talbot Islands State Parks

This state park offers plenty of outdoor activities like kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and more! You can also take advantage of their educational programs that teach visitors about the area’s wildlife and ecology.

2.11 Go horseback Riding

They usually have a variety of horseback tour reservations to choose from, such as beach rides, nature trail rides, and sunset rides. Once you’ve selected your desired tour, you’ll be asked to provide information such as the date, time, and number of participants. You may also be required to sign a waiver and provide proof of riding experience if you’re a first-time rider.

It’s important to make your horseback tour reservations in advance as tours fill up quickly, especially during peak season.

Before the tour, make sure to wear appropriate clothing and footwear and arrive at the stable a few minutes early to allow time for a brief safety orientation. Get ready for a fun and scenic horseback ride through the beautiful landscapes of Amelia Island!

2.12 Take a scenic drive along A1A

A scenic drive along A1A in Amelia Island is a must. This route takes you through a scenic journey along the coast of Florida, with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding landscapes. From the start of the drive, you will get a panoramic view of the ocean, with crystal-clear waters and pristine beaches stretching out to the horizon.

One of the most popular stops along the drive is the Fort Clinch State Park, which offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and the St. Marys River. This park is also home to a historic fort and several nature trails, making it a great place to explore wildlife.

2.13 Watch a Sunset at the Beach

Watching a sunset at the beach on Amelia Island is an unforgettable experience. The vibrant colors of the sky, the sound of the waves, and the salty breeze are just the things that make this moment special.

As the sun begins to dip below the horizon, the sky is painted with hues, creating a breathtaking display that is impossible to forget. You can sit on the sand and take in the view, or walk along the shoreline as the waves gently crash against the shore.

There’s nothing like watching a beautiful sunset on the beach! Make sure to head down to Main Beach or Peters Point Park for some stunning views of the sun setting over the ocean.

2.14 Visit the Amelia Island Lighthouse

Amelia Island Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse located on Amelia Island. It is one of the few lighthouses in Florida that was never decommissioned and is still in use today.

The lighthouse has been fully restored and is now open for tours. You can climb to the top of the lighthouse for a stunning view of the surrounding area and enjoy a glimpse of the history and culture of Amelia Island.

In addition to its historical significance, Amelia Island Lighthouse also serves as a museum, showcasing the history of lighthouse keepers and their families. The museum features exhibits highlighting the life of lighthouse keepers and the challenges they faced in the 19th century.

3. Hidden gems in Amelia Island

Amelia Island is full of unique and exciting places to explore. From stunning beaches to historic sites, there’s something for everyone on the Island. Here are 10 hidden gems attractions that will make your visit unforgettable:

3.1 Cumberland Island National Seashore

Explore the pristine beaches, wetlands, and coastal maritime forests of this barrier island that has been preserved since 1972. Enjoy a stroll along the beach or take a boat tour to see wild horses and other wildlife in their natural habitat.

3.2 Amelia Island Museum of History

Learn about the island’s fascinating past at this museum located in Fernandina Beach. Explore its exhibits and collections, including artifacts from Spanish explorers and Civil War soldiers.

3.3 Fort George Island Cultural State Park

Take a kayak trip down the Nassau River to explore this park full of ancient middens, shell mounds, and other archaeological sites from Native American tribes who lived here thousands of years ago.

3.4 Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve

Enjoy nature walks through salt marshes, maritime hammocks, and other unique habitats while learning about the history of this preserve that was once home to Native Americans and early settlers.

3.5 Omni Amelia Island Resort

Pamper yourself with luxurious spa treatments or take advantage of all the resort has to offer with an array of activities like tennis, biking trails, fishing charters, horseback riding, and more.

4. Important Tips

  • Don’t miss the annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival on Amelia Island from April to May.
  • Amelia Island also hosts the Concours d’ Elegance, and cultural events celebrate blues, jazz, and chamber music.
  • Airport parking in Amelia Island is in high demand. Once you have booked your flight, you should check prices for airport parking and off-airport parking before heading to the airport.
  • From April to October, on the first Friday of every month, you can enjoy a free concert in the historic center of Fernandina. The Sound on Center is a free, family-friendly concert.

5. Beautiful hotels in and around Amelia Island

5.1 Omni Amelia Island Resort

Located on the secluded northern end of Florida’s Amelia Island, Omni Amelia Island Resort offers access to miles of pristine beaches as well as championship golf courses and tennis courts. You can also enjoy delicious dining options, outdoor activities like kayaking or paddle boarding, and spa treatments at this luxurious resort.

5.2 The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island

Experience luxury living at its finest when you stay at The Ritz-Carlton, located right on the beachfront in Fernandina Beach. Enjoy views of the Atlantic Ocean from your room or take advantage of their many amenities such as two championship golf courses, fine dining restaurants, spa services, and more.

5.3 Amelia Hotel at the Beach

This oceanfront hotel is the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing beach vacation on Amelia Island. You can take advantage of their many amenities such as an outdoor pool, fitness center, and direct access to the beach as well as on-site dining options and spa treatments.

6. Ideal time to visit Amelia Island

6.1 Spring (March-May)

Spring is the ideal time to visit the Island if you want to escape the cold and enjoy the warm weather. During this time, average temperatures range from 65 to 85°F, making Amelia Island suitable for outdoor activities such as fishing, kayaking, and golfing.

6.2 Summer (June-August)

The summer months are the busiest time of year on Amelia Island. Visitors flock to the island for uncrowded beaches and warm weather.

Average temperatures during this time range from 75 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the perfect time for sunbathing and swimming. However, the Island can also be more crowded and expensive during this time due to the higher number of visitors.

6.3 Fall (September-November)

Autumn is a wonderful time to visit the Island as the weather slowly cools and the crowds dissipate. During this time, average temperatures range from 65 to 85°F. Autumn is the perfect time to admire the beautiful fall foliage turning bright shades of gold and red under the island’s oak trees.

6.6 Winter (December-February)

Winter is the least busy season on Amelia Island, with fewer visitors and lower hotel rates. If you want to enjoy the beach or other outdoor activities, it may be too cool during the winter months.

7. How to reach Amelia Island

7.1 Take a Flight

The quickest and most convenient way to reach Amelia Island is by air. There are several airports located within a few miles of the island, including Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), Gainesville Regional Airport (GNV), and Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB).

All these airports offer direct flights from major cities around the US and abroad. Once you arrive at your chosen airport, you can rent a car or take public transportation to get to your final destination on the Island. 

7.2 Drive

Driving is another great way to get to Amelia Island, especially if you’re coming from nearby states like Georgia or Florida. Depending on where you start from, you can either take I-95 North or US 1 South – both routes will take you directly to Fernandina Beach, which is located at the northern tip of the Island.

Be sure to check traffic conditions before you travel, as congestion can sometimes occur during the peak summer months.

7.3 Ferry

If driving isn’t an option, you can also take a ferry to Amelia Island. The Mayport Ferry connects the mainland with the Island. The ride takes approximately 20 minutes and is a great way to enjoy the scenery of the surrounding islands as you make your way across the water. 

8. Amazing Facts about Amelia Island

  • Amelia Island was named after Princess Amelia of England in 1763 by General James Oglethorpe.
  • It is the southernmost barrier island on Florida’s Atlantic coast and one of the Sea Islands.
  • Amelia Island State Park protects over 200 acres of unspoiled wilderness along the southern tip of the Island
  • Amelia Island was the site of the last battle of the American Civil War, known as the Battle of Fort Clinch in 1864.
  • The island is home to one of America’s oldest lighthouses, built in 1820 and still standing today at Amelia Island State Park.

9. Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

Q1. What is the quickest route to reach Amelia Island State Park from South Carolina?

The quickest route between South Carolina and Amelia Island State Park is via I-95, which takes around 3 hours to drive.

Q2. What is the best way to reach Sans Carlos from Amelia Island State Park?

Driving is the best option to reach San Carlos from Amelia Island State Park. It takes around 2 hours and 15 minutes to drive, depending on traffic conditions.

Q3. Is Omni Amelia Island Resort pet-friendly?

Yes, Omni Amelia Island Resort is pet-friendly and offers designated pet-friendly rooms.

Q4. Does the Omni Amelia Island Resort offer to park?

Yes, Omni Amelia Island Resort offers both self-parking and valet parking services.

Q5. What is there to do in Fernandina Beach?

Popular activities in Fernandina Beach include visiting the historic district, Fort Clinch State Park, Amelia Island Lighthouse, and various beaches and parks.

Q6. How far is Fernandina Beach from Jacksonville?

Fernandina Beach is approximately 30 miles northeast of Jacksonville.

Final Thought

In conclusion, Amelia Island is a picturesque destination that offers natural beauty, history, culture, and recreation. Amelia Island is a must-visit destination if you are looking to experience the best of Florida.

Also read:

Best Time to Visit Florida Keys



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