Why it’s awesome: Blending history and natural beauty, Amelia Island is one of Florida’s hidden gems. The 13-mile-long and two-mile-wide island is also a sustainable destination with initiatives like tree planting to ensure it’s protected for future generations.
What to do: Main Beach has been dubbed “The Family Zone” and includes a beachfront park, oceanfront mini golf and a skate park. Located on land purchased by Abraham Lincoln (A.L.) Lewis as a response to Florida’s segregation laws in 1935, American Beach has a rich African-American history. Head to the A.L. Lewis Museum to learn more about his influence and others who triumphed over segregation and disenfranchisement. Head downtown and take in Victorian-era architecture in downtown Fernandina Beach, which is packed with cute shops, restaurants and museums. The Amelia Island Museum of History is the state’s first spoken history museum and offers tours, exhibits and an interactive children’s area. George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier State Park is a mile-long pedestrian bridge that connects Nassau County to Duval County and is a popular fishing spot. Amelia Island offers eco-tours and kayaking. Hike the Egans Creek Greenway and you’ll see a variety of birds, alligators, snakes and local flora and fauna. The Fernandina Beach Market Place showcases local farmers, artists and live entertainment on Saturdays. Ghost Tours of Amelia Island offers haunted ghost tours, bar crawls, hikes and cemetery tours to explore spirits on the island. Every year, locals look forward to the holidays as lights and decorations line the historic downtown area during special events.
Where to eat: Timoti’s Seafood Shak serves fresh local and wild-caught seafood from shrimp tacos and lobster rolls to seafood baskets and poke bowls. Café Karibo is a popular spot for al fresco dining. Surrounded by lush gardens and trees, it’s a year-round favorite. Burlingame Restaurant, located in the heart of downtown Fernandina Beach in a restored 1940s home, offers a seasonally changing menu and an eclectic mix of wines, craft cocktails and beers. Pogo’s Kitchen serves up Southern cuisine in a casual setting. Banquet and outdoor seating are available as well as a private room that boasts a wall of wine.
Where to stay: Omni Amelia Island Resort sits on 1,350 acres at the tip of a barrier island off the Northeast Florida coast and offers luxurious oceanfront accommodations overlooking Fernandina Beach and the Atlantic Ocean. Dining options range from casual to upscale; there are resort pools, golf and a high-end spa. Guests have access to preserved marshlands for kayaking and paddleboarding, and the resort has tennis courts, pickleball courts, a nature center and a bunch of activities to try with the kids.