EXPLORE AMELIA ISLAND
Set in the Sea Island chain, this barrier island was Florida’s first luxury tourist destination and it is still winning awards (and hearts) today. Named among the Top 10 North American islands by Conde Nast Traveler’s Reader’s Choice Awards for seven consecutive years and recognized as a Top 25 Island in the World, Amelia Island is treasured for its long stretches of quiet beaches, natural beauty, unique history, and charming seaport character.
Amelia Island is a true paradise for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. From the peace and serenity of hilly trails to the roaring waves along the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean, nature lovers will find both reason and opportunity to indulge here. In fact, just about every outdoor activity we could think of that ends in ING is available for you to experience here on this breathtakingly beautiful Island.
There’s a trail option at the northern tip of Amelia Island in Fort Clinch State Park that offers six miles of exciting trails under magnificent tree canopies and for those wanting to walk, run, or bike (there are bike rentals available throughout the island) with the sound of the ocean waves in the background, Amelia Island graciously invites you to pedal or stroll along her 13 miles of coastline for a true island experience.
You can visit a former sea captain’s residence located in Old Town that was used as Pippi Longstocking’s home in the movie that was filmed here. You’ll find award winning accommodations, golf courses, eco-tours, horse-back riding, spas, restaurants, pubs, and eclectic shopping all waiting for you, or, simply let relaxation take its course and enjoy time with your loved ones. No matter which paths you choose to explore, a unique Amelia Island experience awaits. If you’re interested in reading more about the recent happenings, here’s a link to our Amelia Island Journal (blog) page.
Don’t Miss These…
AMELIA ISLAND STATE PARK: Who doesn’t love a good pirate story, right? According to AmeliaIsland.com, during a period that lasted more than 200 years, Amelia Island was home to the largest concentration of pirates in America and naming just a few of the notorious would include Blackbeard, the brothers Jean & Pierre Lafitte, “Calico Jack” Rackham, Irish born Anne McCormac Bonny, and Luis Aury. Whether there is still treasure to be found on the island is a subject of constant debate and a theme in many ghost stories. This pic was taken at Amelia Island State Park, today the park protects more than 200 acres of unspoiled wilderness along the southern tip of Amelia Island and it’s the only Florida State Park that offers horseback riding on its beaches. If you decide to come here and explore or do some treasure hunting of your own, the address for the park is State Road A1A North, 32226.
AMERICAN BEACH: NANA, the tallest dune in Florida is on American Beach, Amelia Island. This protected landmark is largely due to the efforts of MaVynne Betsch (1935-2005) widely known as the “Beach Lady” and who is lovingly remembered for her mantra, “Getting the most from the least and living peacefully in harmony with nature is the most rewarding lifestyle.” If you decide to come and explore this magnificent area, here’s a GPS address you can use to get you to the American Beach Community Center -1600 Julia Street, Fernandina Beach, 32034.
AMERICAN BEACH: From documentary filmmaker Kathleen Donaghy’s site (AnAmericanBeach.com) we learned that Abraham Lincoln Lewis (known as A.L. Lewis) was born in Madison Florida in 1865. He was the son of a blacksmith who had been a slave on one of the many plantations in Madison County and neither his parents nor older siblings could read or write. Yet by 1901, Lewis was one of the seven founders of the Afro-American Life Insurance Company, the first insurance company in the state of Florida, Black or White, and became the state’s first Black millionaire, as well as one of the wealthiest men in the Southeast. In 1935, Lewis bought oceanfront property on Amelia Island and established American Beach which became a vacation mecca for blacks through the 1930s, 40s and 50s and which later earned the distinction of National Historic Landmark. This pic was shot on historic American Beach and if you want to explore this extraordinary area, make your way to to 1556 Gregg St., 32034.
BIG TALBOT ISLAND STATE PARK: Spoiler Alert: the following is a “Debbie Downer” story so please don’t read on if that might ruin your day… Today Big Talbot Island is primarily a natural preserve and from several sources we learned that the earliest evidence of human activity/occupation in this area can be dated back to 4000 B.C. Known to scholars as the Archaic people, their culture existed some 5500 years before the first Europeans arrived and named these inhabitants, the Timucua. Now considered an extinct population (primarily due to European diseases and warfare); by the time the US acquired Florida in 1821, it’s tragically estimated only a handful of the Timucuan people still lived. This pic seemed fitting for the story and is of Boneyard Beach on Big Talbot Island, famous for the salt-washed skeletons of live oak and cedar trees that once grew near the shore. This State Park is open year-round from 8 am to sunset and if you decide to come here and explore, the address is 12157 Heckscher Dr., Jacksonville 32226.
FERNANDINA BEACH: Designated in August 2015 as a Florida Main Street Community, Fernandina Beach is an extraordinary Amelia Island destination not to be missed and one of our all-time A1A favorites! With its spectacular beach on the east-side and the harbor marina and Historic Downtown shopping and dining district on the west-side (Florida’s oldest continuously operated drinking establishment The Palace Saloon is here too) once you visit and explore Fernandina Beach, it just might become one of your all-time favorites too. If you’re interested in reading more about the recent happenings, here’s a link to our Fernandina Beach Journal (blog) page. If you’re ready to come here and start exploring, here’s an address that will bring you to the heart of the action – 102 Centre Street, 32034.
FERNANDINA BEACH: The Palace Saloon in Fernandina Beach has earned the title of “Florida’s oldest” continuously operated drinking establishment. According to local lore, it was the last bar in Florida to close on the eve of Prohibition, selling spirits until midnight and grossing $60,000 in a single day (just for a little perspective that’s about $750,000 in today’s dollars). The Palace survived the Prohibition years by selling gasoline, ice cream, and a variety of adult beverages including special wines, 3 percent near-beer, and the owner’s signature Cumberland whiskey (what Prohibition?). Regardless of your beverage of choice, stop in to see this historic pre-Prohibition bar’s mosaic floors, fabulous tin ceiling, and painted murals. This is a pic of one of the wall murals you’ll find here and if you decide to check it out, the address is 117 Centre Street, Fernandina Beach, 32034.
FERNANDINA BEACH: While strolling down historic Centre Street in Fernandina Beach we came across a Florida Heritage Site marker that read, “THE LESESNE HOUSE This Classical Revival style residence, built by Dr. John F. Lesesne is one of the oldest homes in Fernandina Beach. Dr. Lesesne left Fernandina during the Civil War and did not return. In 1868 the house became the property of the family of Judge John Friend who had been appointed district tax commissioner after the war by President Andrew Johnson. Friend was a lawyer and served as a county commissioner and judge. At the time of this death in 1878 he was state senator-elect from Nassau County. The descendants of the Friend family still occupy the home. This double galleried home constructed of hand-hewn lumber fastened with wooden pegs is one of the major points of interest in the Fernandina Beach Historic District which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.” We shot this pic in front of the super-cool historic home and if you decide to make your way here too, head to 415 Centre Street, Fernandina Beach, 32034.
FERNANDINA BEACH: Ready for a haunt? This one from Waymarking.com is about The Palace Saloon, Florida’s oldest continually operated drinking establishment. Between 1880-1910 the Fernandina docks were among the busiest in the south and in its prime, welcomed ships from every corner of the world. Of the many saloons that lined the lively streets of Fernandina’s harbor district – and there were over 20 at the time – only one had the distinction of being the “Ship Captains’ Bar” and that was The Palace Saloon. While the ghosts of a Rockefeller and a Carnegie are rumored to be among these who linger here too, it’s the spirit of Uncle Charlie that is believed to be most active. Bartender Charlie Beresford, who worked at the saloon from 1906 to 1960 became known to patrons as “Uncle Charlie”. Legend has it Charlie would bet patrons they couldn’t throw coins and have them land (and stay) on the busts of statues behind the bar. Needless to say, at the end of each night he’d scoop up quite a bit of change. After he died, another bartender made the same bet with patrons and felt a hand on his shoulder as though he were being told to stop. Charlie’s spirit has also purportedly played a tune or two on the piano even though its keys were encased in plexiglass and although Uncle Charlie passed away in 1960, some maintain he never actually left. We shot this pic of the legendary Palace Saloon and if you decide to come here and try to make contact with Uncle Charlie for yourself, head to Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island and make your way to 117 Centre St., 32034.
Following are few links you made find helpful (we certainly have). If you use the links, you’ll be leaving this website and will be redirected to another. Although we’ve found the links quite useful, we’re not making endorsements or claims about the accuracy or content of the information you’ll find there. They include State Parks on or just off Amelia Island: Fort Clinch, Amelia Island, Big Talbot, and Little Talbot State Parks; and Amelia Island Florida Hikes: Florida Hikes Amelia Island.