Less than an hour from Jacksonville and very close to the border with Georgia, lies one of the top 10 U.S. island, at least according to Condé Nast Reader’s Choice Award. It’s a lovely small island with beautiful powdery sand dunes and a lovely Historic District (Fernandina Beach) busy with charming bed and breakfasts and yummy restaurants. It’s one of the few old towns in Florida that still retain its old charm (even though a bit touristy). Once arrived, it will not be difficult to find a nice Victorian Bed and Breakfast to spend a few days and feel like you are back in time. It gets very busy during weekends so if you are looking to stay in a particular B&B book well ahead to not be disappointed.
For a while, we were even considering moving here and it’s not too difficult to imagine why: a short cycle from downtown Fernandina and you’ve reached a huge and vast beach, with soft white sand and beautiful properties facing the sea. Not a bad spot to live. There are plenty of accommodation options in the Historic District, most of them in a wonderfully kept Victorian style. If you are looking for something different (still Victorian but with a touch of modern) and wish to open your window to the ocean breeze, head to Elizabeth Point Lodge.
The place is absolutely gorgeous and has got some stunning views of the beach and the ocean. We didn’t stay here but we went in to see the rooms; in my view, the rooms facing the back of the property and the car park are nothing special but the ones with ocean view (for a premium, of course) could be well worth the investment.
Bear in mind that the great majority of restaurants are located in the Historic District so if you decide to stay on the beach you will have to drive or get a cab there. Food-wise, we decided to try España Restaurant and Tapas and were not disappointed: lovely outdoor garden, nice service and good food. If you have got a sweet tooth, have a look at Nana Teresa’s Bake Shop: their cakes and pies are absolutely D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S and I bet you will not leave empty-handed!
Amelia Island is generally considered an upmarket destination (more than its neighbour St. Augustine) and that is reflected in the average night rate of the many B&Bs (and the 2 big resorts: Omni Plantation and Ritz-Carlton): you will struggle to find anything below 150/200$. For a cheaper accommodation, right in the heart of the “action” (bear in mind that Fernandina Beach is not a party town, though), try Florida House Inn: some of their rooms are quite small but definitely cheaper than many other B&Bs in town and they offer a very good and generous breakfast. It’s next door to The Green Turtle Tavern, which is a good spot for a few drinks and live music.
There is only one thing that may spoil this idyllic place: 2 big paper mills, and that’s exactly the reason why we decided against moving there. They will not have an impact on your stay though, since you will probably not even notice them. As for anything else in this world, plenty of people will say that there is no issue at all with them (plus, they give work to a lot of local people) but having to choose where to relocate, the last decision is mine, I suppose.
Having said this, Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach Historic town are a beautiful part of Florida, definitely worth a visit.