When I lived in the Tampa Bay spot, I cherished exploring the Gulf Coast’s barrier islands, from Caladesi to Captiva. Now that I’m in northeast Florida, I have identified their Atlantic Coastline counterparts. My favourite is Amelia Island, just south of the Georgia border, at the mouth of the St. Marys River.
About a morning’s travel from Tampa Bay, Amelia feels like a different globe completely. Like a lot of barrier islands, Amelia has miles of pristine seashores, luxury resorts and recreational actions, from golfing to kayaking to horseback driving on the seashore. But what sets Amelia apart from some others is the inescapable sensation that you are component of history — just one particular more in a long line of tourists passing by way of this extend of sand and oaks.
To start with came the Timucuans, who fished Amelia’s waters additional than 1,000 a long time in the past. Then the French, Spanish, English, even a delusional Scotsman vied for management of the island with its safeguarded, deep-drinking water harbor. Pirates, slave ships and smugglers sailed Amelia’s shoreline. Confederate, then Union troopers stood view during the Civil War at a brick fort on the island’s northern edge. And in the late 1800s, recently minted millionaires came by steamship to the seaport of Fernandina Beach front, developing classy Victorian mansions as wintertime getaways.
Readers can faucet into a bit of this rich background by halting at landmarks like the Palace Saloon on Centre Street in Fernandina. Just a block from the Intracoastal, the Palace is Florida’s oldest bar, serving sailors, ship captains and civilians due to the fact 1903. You can acquire a selfie with the life-sizing pirate statue at the swinging doorways, then stomach up to the 40-foot mahogany bar. But really do not continue to be also extensive. Amelia has also considerably to give.
Whilst in Fernandina, you can meander by way of a dozen or so blocks of independently owned boutiques, antique merchants and art galleries. Sober up a little bit with espresso from Amelia Island Espresso, get the young children some sugar down the block at Great Fudge, then duck all around the corner to Villa Villekulla Toy keep. (If that identify reminds you of Pippi Longstocking, inquire the operator about the regional relationship.) Even though the little men and women are perusing the toys, adults can chat with neighborhood artists at the gallery upstairs.
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When hunger strikes, choices abound in the historic district. On the weekend, have a fried inexperienced tomato BLT for brunch on Leddy’s Porch at the Florida Home Inn. Any day of the 7 days, choose up a fish taco at Timoti’s Seafood Shak or take pleasure in shrimp and grits on the patio at Cafe Karibo. For a candlelight evening meal, reserve a place at Le Clos, a 1906 cottage serving French delicacies. Or wander a couple blocks north of the hubbub for Asian road food stuff at the Wicked Bao, wherever the owner welcomes you like an outdated close friend.
Close your working day with a ghost tour or reside new music on the porch at the Eco-friendly Turtle Tavern. Or get cheap thrills by strolling the community docks, ogling megayachts as they gas up before heading back into the Atlantic. You can also make options to get on the water oneself by booking a fishing or sailing constitution, getting a Cumberland island tour or leasing Go-Cat boats, which search like mini-catamarans.
When you’ve had adequate of commerce, head east down Atlantic Avenue towards the ocean side of Amelia. If you have even now obtained the record bug, stop at Fort Clinch to get a sense of what daily life was like for a soldier in the Civil War. Birders could possibly catch a glimpse of roseate spoonbills nesting along close by Egans Creek.
Stick to the coastline south alongside 13 miles of seashores, earlier bike paths, mother nature trails and dozens of golfing classes. Check out for the signals for American Seaside, an oceanfront haven for African Americans all through the Jim Crow era of segregation. And be certain to give oneself time on the way house to prevent at Kingsley Plantation, about a 50 %-hour south of the island. The oldest standing plantation residence in Florida, Kingsley was managed for a long time by the owner’s African-born wife, a previous slave.
If you are planning a journey to Amelia, make it a lengthy weekend and address on your own to a continue to be at just one of the oceanside resorts, like the Ritz-Carlton Amelia or the Omni Amelia Island Resort. Or continue to be in the historic district in a Victorian mansion like the Williams Property Bed & Breakfast.
The regional vacationer bureau’s website, ameliaisland.com, has hyperlinks to lodging, shops and restaurants. It also has info on unique events like the Amelia Concours for car enthusiasts in March, the yearly shrimp festival in Might and the “Dickens on Centre” holiday fest in December. These functions attract massive crowds, so plan ahead to stay away from disappointment.