FIELD GUIDE

WHERE WE GO
DAY-TRIPPING

Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island

Dennis Ho
Posted

F lorida’s first Atlantic Coast barrier island has been under eight countries’ flags in its history, but we are pleased to announce Amelia Island is now firmly under the U.S. control, and as such is safe to visit.

Not only safe, it’s also full of adventures. The chunk of sand that holds Fernandina Beach is a treasure chest of attractions, including its 13 miles of beaches, a vast oak-canopied Fort Clinch State Park with the beach to the east and a beautiful marsh to the west, a multitude of locally owned bars, clubs and restaurants, the quaint Fernandina Beach downtown with Centre Street as it crown jewel, and local shop-owners who delight as much from visitors’ company as from their business.

And we’re just getting started: Fort Clinch, which protected the island from invaders at the mouth of the channel that leads from the Atlantic to the Amelia River; the Amelia Island Lighthouse, built in 1838 and open for tours at various times; and two excellent fishing piers on each end — one at Fort Clinch State Park on the north end, the other traversing Nassau Sound on the south end. In between, there is great ocean fishing on the sand.

A day trip could include a visit to the beach and lunch (and maybe a libation or two) at The Surf, Sliders or Sandy Bottoms, all of which provide outside seating with an ocean view. At night, there are too many excellent restaurants to name, but one that’s been around the longest is Marina Restaurant at the Amelia River end of Centre Street, right next to a marina that features shrimp trawlers and fishing boats alongside multimillion-dollar yachts docking for brief stays on long journeys.

All day, and especially at night, there’s the Palace Saloon, also on Centre Street, which was constructed in the late 1880s and, as lore would have it, served pirate captains and their nemeses while they moored their ships in Fernandina Beach’s harbor on the Amelia River. It’s famous worldwide, mainly because it’s said to be “Florida’s oldest” continuously operated drinking establishment. More lore says Prohibition did not stop the owners from figuring out a way to serve customers on the sly. Plus it’s haunted.

On the south end, you’ve got the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort with their clubs, many of which are open to the public but attract the wealthy and famous: John Travolta, Tanya Tucker, Jerry Jones and numerous others have been reported sidling up to the bar for a drink, or dancing with unsuspecting customers.

 

A FEW OF OUR FAVORITE THINGS

EAT

Brett’s Waterway Café (1 S. Front St.)

Café 4750 (4750 Amelia Island Pkwy.)

Café Karibo (27 N. Third St.)

Crab Trap (31 N. Second St.)

Jack & Diane’s (708 Centre St.)

Kabuki Japanese Steakhouse (1716 S. Eighth St.)

Marina Seafood Restaurant (101 Centre St.)

Moon River Pizza (925 S. 14th St.)

The Pecan Roll Bakery (122 S. Eighth St.)

Plae Restaurant (80 Amelia Village Circle)

Salty Pelican Bar & Grill (12 N. Front St.)

Sliders Seaside Grill (1998 S. Fletcher Ave.)

The Surf Restaurant & Bar (3199 S. Fletcher Ave.)

T-Ray’s Burger Station (202 S. Eighth St.)

 

DRINK

BarZin Bistro & Wine Bar (4924 First Coast Hwy.)

Falcon’s Nest (39 Beach Lagoon, Omni Resort)

Halftime Sports Bar & Grill (320 S. Eighth St.)

Hammerhead Beach Bar (2045 S. Fletcher Ave.)

Ocean Bar & Grill (4750 Amelia Island Pkwy., Ritz-Carlton)

Palace Saloon (117 Centre St.)

Salty Pelican Bar & Grill (12 N. Front St.)

Sandy Bottoms Beach Bar & Grill (2910 Atlantic Ave.)

 

SHOP

Amelia Island Trading Co. (3381 S. Fletcher Ave.)

Book Loft (214 Centre St.)

Hunt’s Art & Artifact Gallery (316 Centre St.)

Island Walk Shopping Center (1525 Sadler Rd.)

Palmetto Walk Shopping Village (4924 First Coast Hwy.)

The Shops at Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort (6800 First Coast Hwy.)

 

PLAY

Main Beach Park (Atlantic and South Fletcher avenues)

Peters Point (1974 S. Fletcher Ave.)

Fernandina Beach Municipal Golf Course (2800 Bill Melton Rd.)

Fort Clinch State Park (2601 Atlantic Ave.)

 

GO

Amelia Concours d’Elegance (March 13-15 at the Ritz-Carlton, 4750 Amelia Island Pkwy.)

Amelia Island Museum of History (233 S. Third St.)

Amelia Community Theatre (207/209 Cedar St.)

Fernandina Little Theatre (1014 Beech St.)

The Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival (May 1-3, on Centre Street in Fernandina Beach)

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