Located about 45 minutes north of Jacksonville International Airport, Amelia Island offers the perfect combination of Atlantic Ocean beaches and small-town, Old Florida vibes. Add in some outstanding restaurants and more than enough fun attractions to keep you busy, and it’s easy to see why so many consider this to be one of the best-kept secrets when it comes to Florida vacation destinations.
Whether you are a first-time visitor or an Amelia Island regular, there are an overwhelming amount of things to do in this amazing Florida destination. Let’s get right into our recommendations for places to stay, eat, and play on Amelia Island.
Where to Stay?
If you are looking for a fantastic hotel and resort for your Amelia Island getaway, you cannot go wrong with the Omni Amelia Island Resort options. The base rooms are reasonable here, and the suites can be a solid deal if you value having a kitchen, dining area, and wrap-around balcony.
If you have a little more flexibility in your budget, there might not be a more excellent hotel experience in all of Florida than the one you will receive at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. As long as your budget can afford it, you absolutely want to upgrade to a club level room here and take advantage of all of the food and drinks they have available in the lounge!
There are also many great rental units around the island, so if that is more your speed, you can usually find something in just about any price range.
Day One – Seafood, Downtown, Appetizers, Cocktails
Assuming that you are going to show up with an appetite, our first stop will be Timoti’s Seafood Shack, which is known for having some of the best fresh-caught seafood you will find anywhere in Florida. The fried seafood baskets are always the starting point here, but don’t sleep on those fish tacos if you’re in the mood for something different.
Following lunch at Timoti’s, you can spend the afternoon strolling around downtown Fernandina Beach on your own or as part of the Downtown Fernandina Historical Walking tour. Either way, there are tons of fun things to see and do around town.
For dinner on your first night on the island, Lagniappe (pronounced “lan-yap”) is the spot. If you have a big group with you, definitely start your meal with the charcuterie board and the hand-cut calamari appetizers. If you don’t have a big crew, just make sure you’re really hungry. Everything on the menu is outstanding here, including the desserts, so make sure you save a little room for those too!.
Locals Cocktail Lounge is a fun place to stop that is almost always open late if you need a nightcap following dinner. This is a fun and festive spot that makes for a perfect way to close out your first night on the island.
Day Two – Golf, Nachos, Kayaks, and Fine Dining
Your second day on Amelia Island starts with a choose-your-own-adventure option. If you’re a golfer, this is the perfect opportunity to book a tee time at one of the popular golf courses on the island. If you’re not into golf, you get to spend the morning kicking back at the pool or on the beach.
For lunch on your second day in town, head up to the Salty Pelican Bar & Grill. This is another one of those places where you really can’t go wrong with anything you order, but make sure that you start with the Seared Tuna Nachos.
After lunch, it’s time to get out on the water on one of the many guided kayak tours available on Amelia Island. There is nothing quite like exploring the different regions of Florida from the water, and this is your chance to get to know Amelia Island that way. You’ll be blown away by the amount of wildlife your guide will point out as your paddle around the island.
If you are in the mood for a fancy dinner, there is no better option on the island than Salt, which is located in the Ritz Carlton. However, this is a very formal restaurant, and that style is certainly not for everyone. For a less dressy alternative, check out some of the many dining options down at the Omni Amelia Island Resort.
The Lobby Bar in the Ritz Carlton is a great place to stop for a cocktail after dinner at Salt, but if you choose a less formal dinner or just want to check out one more spot, The Decantery is a fantastic wine, craft beer, and cocktail lounge located up on the north side of the island.
Day Three – Parks, Brunch, and Shopping
One of the best combinations of history and nature on Amelia Island would have to be Fort Clinch State Park, which makes it the perfect option to kick off our last day on the island. In addition to exploring the historic fort itself, this is a fantastic spot for hiking, paddling, and checking out all kinds of wildlife.
Bantam & Biddy is known for having one of the best brunch menus in the area, and that is exactly what you are going to be in the mood for after a morning at Fort Clinch State Park. The Big Chicken Skillet, Biscuits & Gravy, or Breakfast Tacos are all excellent choices here.
Now that you are nice and full from brunch, this is your last chance to do a little shopping before heading back home. Take some time to look around the island’s historic district and see if anything fun catches your eye from a store window.
We pack a ton of fun into this 48-hour trip to Amelia Island, but don’t feel like you have to squeeze everything into one trip. With its location so close to a major Florida airport, there is no reason you can’t make 48-hours in Amelia Island a part of your regular rotation of weekend getaways.
Want to Stay Forever?
Experience a new level of retirement living at Del Webb Wildlight. This distinctive active adult community is located 20 minutes away from downtown Fernandina, Amelia Island beaches, and downtown Jacksonville. Del Webb Wildlight provides unique opportunities centered around signature resort-style amenities hosted by a full-time lifestyle director to ensure you stay active.