Originally inhabited by the Timucua people, Amelia Island, Florida is one of the few places to be ruled by the Spanish, French, and British. It is an easy getaway from many cities, located a short drive from Jacksonville, Savannah, and Orlando.
In fact, it’s easy to fly into Jacksonville or Savannah and rent a car. You and your crew can mostly leave the car behind, especially in Fernandina. It’s also possible to arrange a JAX Airport Transfer to Amelia Island.
The island itself is made up of a number of communities, including Fernandina Beach, Old Fernandina, Amelia City, Franklintown, and American Beach. Yulee, a community back on the mainland, is also included in this guide.
The local shops are clustered around Fernandina while the big-name stores and businesses are in central Amelia near Highway A1A. Amelia City is home to the larger resorts like the Ritz-Carlton. The island is also where boat charters and the ferry to Greyfield Inn on Cumberland Island leave from.
Eating on Amelia Island
Despite the island’s relatively small size, you’re never far from a delicious meal, whether you’re in Fernandina Beach or at one of the resorts.
Aloha Bagel– The colorful and tropical-inspired eatery is a few blocks from the shops of Fernandina. They have freshly made bagels topped with cream cheese or turned into breakfast or lunch sandwiches. It’s easy to grab a dozen to enjoy at your rental.
Marche Burette– Located inside the village alongside the Omni, this French-inspired home goods store also has a cafe side with coffee, ice cream, pastries, and sandwiches. Enjoy an egg croissant during the week or lemon ricotta pancakes for weekend brunch.
T-Ray’s Burger Station– Set in a former gas station, this burger joint opens early for breakfast. Choose from biscuits, bagels, and omelets. They have both indoor and outdoor seating.
The Salty Pelican– The sports bar is a favorite of locals for its upstairs deck overlooking the water. They have fresh seafood like shrimp tacos and $15 White Claw buckets to share with your crew.
Timoti’s Seafood Shack– Despite the name, it’s anything but a shack. Instead, the restaurant is a colorful seafood restaurant with counter service and outdoor dining. Grab a local beer and fish Baja box to enjoy on the patio.
Wicked Bao– If you’re craving Asian street food, this cozy Fernandina restaurant has it all. The menu features favorites like bao, potstickers, noodles, and rice dishes. Don’t miss their weekday happy hour with $5 appetizers and $1 off wine.
Cucina South– Save room for the massive portions at this incredible Italian restaurant in Amelia City. Everything is a standout, but the baked gnocchi was delicious. The sommelier also can recommend a bottle of wine for your meal.
Down Under Restaurant– Located under the overpass onto the island, this casual restaurant resembles an old school fish camp. Chow down on fried shrimp or the catch of the day as the sun sets. There’s even boat parking.
Lobby Bar– Don’t scoff at the thought of dining in a hotel bar. The Ritz-Carlton’s lobby bar not only serves top-shelf whiskeys and smoked old fashioned cocktails but has an expert sushi chef. Split the omakase with your pals.
Drinking on Amelia Island
You won’t find nightclubs and wild party vibes in Amelia Island, but there are plenty of places to imbibe, no matter what your poison is.
Amelia Island Coffee– Start your day with a cup of coffee at this Fernandina shop. In addition to espresso, lattes, and other coffee drinks, you’ll find tea, ice cream, beer and wine, and sandwiches.
Bar Zin– The wine bar and bistro is the perfect place for a night out. Share appetizers and a bottle of wine from their extensive list. They have glasses and bottles of ports, bubbles, red, and white from around the world.
Brett’s Waterway Cafe– The waterfront restaurant with Southern-style fare also has reasonably priced drinks including local beer, wine, and craft cocktails. Enjoy them as you watch “Florida’s first sunset.”
The Decantery– The wine, craft beer, and cocktail lounge sells desserts and bottles of wine. Grab a seat in a plush chair and sip wine on tap or nosh on a piece of cake.
Green Turtle Tavern– There’s always a lively crowd at this pirate-themed dive bar covered in hand-scrawled graffiti. The bar offers weekly live music and $2 beers on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Marlin & Barrel Distillery– Amelia Island has its own distillery that makes rum, vodka, gin, bourbon, and liqueurs. They’re open for free tastings but you can also purchase items to bring home.
PJD’s Beer and Wine Garden– This narrow alley has limited seating but an insanely detailed menu of local and national craft beer. They also have wine by the glass.
SJ Brewing Co.– Located back on the mainland in Yulee, the brewery was founded by a home brewer in 2018. SJ offers IPAs, sour beers, and seasonal varieties. They also have weekly trivia and live music.
Relaxing, Beauty and Fitness on Amelia Island
Your girl’s weekend doesn’t have to be just eating and imbibing. It’s also a chance to relax and catch up over a class or get yourself pampered.
Spas- The Ritz-Carlton has one of the best spas around, offering a variety of treatments with relaxation areas with saunas and whirlpools. They also have meditation classes and other health-focused programming. The Omni also has a spa.
The Beauty Bar– This island salon offers blowouts, dry styling, makeup application, waxing, spray tanning, and anything else you need to feel your most fabulous during your stay.
Bike rental- See the island on two wheels thanks to the paved bike paths and boardwalks. Be sure to get one with a basket to tote your souvenirs or snacks in. Get a discount on a one-day bike rental.
Kayaking- Amelia Island Adventures offers guided tours and kayak rentals of the black water and rivers surrounding Amelia Island. They have excursions for all experience levels. Get a discount on kayak rentals on Amelia Island or book a kayaking tour.
Paddleboarding- If you’re more comfortable on two feet, local outfitters also rent out stand up paddleboards to navigate the calm water. Get a discount on half-day paddleboard rental.
Shopping on Amelia Island
Amelia Island has both well-known brands and local shops, but be sure to check out Fernandina’s boutiques and antique shops.
Hudson & Perry– This shop is small on space but big on charm. Browse for home decor and gifts from brands like Rifle Paper as well as locally made prints and artwork.
The Book Loft– Wander the aisles of this lovely bookstore with just about every genre. There’s a large children’s’ section as well as an emphasis on local or regional history.
Color It Green– For coastal-inspired and environmentally responsible gifts, head to this Fernandina shop. They have outdoor gear, pottery, baby gifts, clothing, jewelry, and artwork.
Trailer Park Collectibles– The funky antique and gift store has aisles upon aisles of decor, vintage clothing, and gifts. There’s also an entire room of vintage vinyl records.
Eight Flags Antique Market– Another antique store on the same street, this one has rooms upon rooms of antiques and vintage-style items.
Fernandina Beach Farmers Market– Held on Saturdays, this farmer’s market has local produce, seafood, and meats as well as gifts and products like artwork, natural bath products, and natural sunscreens.
Sightseeing on Amelia Island
This trip may not be about sightseeing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t cross a few attractions off your list during your visit.
Amelia Island Lighthouse– This lighthouse is the oldest in the state of Florida and is still operational. It was originally brought over from Cumberland Island. The grounds are open for three hours on Saturdays and the light is open for public tours twice per month.
Amelia Island Museum of History– This museum covers the history of the island from Spanish settlement to the present. They also run the annual tours of homes and a shrimping museum.
American Beach Museum– Another small museum, this one focuses on the African American beach in the resort community that operated during the Jim Crow era.
State parks- Amelia Island is surrounded by state parks. Fort Clinch State Park has a historic fort and trails. Amelia Island State Park offers horseback riding and birdwatching. The Boneyard Beach at Big Talbot Island State Park is similar to the one on Jekyll Island.
Segway Tours- See Amelia Island on a Segway, led by a guide and historian that tells you about the history of the area. Tours leave from the Omni Amelia Island. Get a discount on OMNI Amelia Island Segway Tours.
Staying on Amelia Island
Amelia Island has nearly every type of accommodation from beach rentals to condos to boutique inns, budget chain hotels, and luxury resorts.
Amelia Schoolhouse Inn– As the name implies, this stylish inn is located in a historic schoolhouse down the street from the main drag of Fernandina Beach. Every room has cute details like globes and mini-fridges and the bar is called The Principal’s Office. (review here)
Elizabeth Pointe Lodge– Located near the entrance to Fort Clinch, the stunning inn has a large porch overlooking the beach. Rooms and suites have modern furnishings and amenities. They also offer vacation rentals and have their own restaurant.
Hampton Inn & Suites Amelia Island– The chain hotel has a great location in the heart of Fernandina Beach. Among the amenities are a seasonal outdoor pool, fitness center, business center, free breakfast, free WiFi, and free parking.
Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort– The sprawling AAA Four Diamond resort was built in the 1970s and has residences and vacation accommodations. There are over 400 rooms between the hotel and villas and most are ocean-facing. The resort also has golf courses, tennis courts, bike rentals, and 10 restaurants.
The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island– The AAA Five Diamond hotel is set on 13 miles of coastline. They boast Salt, an award-winning restaurant, along with a spa, an 18-hole golf course, indoor and outdoor pools, and direct beach access.
Rentals- It’s easy to find somewhere to fit your whole group. Serenity by the Sea is one of the top-rated rentals on the island with modern furnishings, a gourmet kitchen, and four bedrooms.
Camping- If you and your crew are feeling outdoorsy, you can even go camping at nearby Fort Clinch State Park. They have two campgrounds for RVs and tents and easy access to the rest of the island.
Book your stay on Amelia Island with our preferred partner.
I received assistance from Amelia Island Tourism and Hayworth PR.