An island haven on Florida's northeast coast, Amelia Island welcomes visitors seeking sun, sand, and surf with a historic edge. Dating back over 400 years, this charming community is brimming with centuries-old architecture, a riveting culture of exploration and discovery, and stunning white sand beaches perfect for sinking your toes in. Whether you're an avid adventurer, a culture buff, or crave a more laid-back approach, Amelia Island gives every traveler an escape from the ordinary.
An oasis for travelers, Amelia Island State Park shelters over 200 acres of pristine wilderness. Nestled along the island's southern tip, this is where you can experience the real Florida up close and personal. Isolated and quiet, you'll discover mile after mile of white sandy surf, hilly dunes, maritime forests, and awe-inspiring wildlife. Hunt for shells and shark teeth along the shoreline, cast your nets for the day's catch or take a horseback ride into the red-hued sunset. Hiking, biking, paddling, and birding opportunities abound, making this gem a must-stop for nature enthusiasts and adventure lovers alike.
An awe-inspiring getaway for history lovers, this district appears frozen in time. Discover Victorian-area mansions without a stone out of place, along with architectural marvels dating back to the 1920s and 30s. Filled to the brim with independently-owned shops, restaurants, and galleries, you could easily spend a whole day exploring. Join a walking tour to discover the town's heritage in-depth, or adventure on your own, taking in the locally-made coffee, ice cream and fudge, kitschy souvenirs, artisan-spun clothing, and much more. A prime place to watch the world go by; this historic district even offers horse-drawn carriage rides for a more authentic experience.
Situated in the former Nassau County Jail, this hotspot was Florida's first spoken history museum. Tours are tailored for diverse interests and age levels, so there's something for everyone to enjoy. Probe into 4,000 years of Amelia Island life, from ancient Paleo-Indian tribes to modern-day innovators. Learn about the lawless spirit of pirates aboard The Margery, an interactive ship that reveals sailing traditions close up. Explore a recreated jail cell, discover life as an olden-day inmate, learn about European discoveries, and probe into Victorian-era elegance. All that and more await your arrival, and the staff are happy to explain your favorite topics in-depth.
This Civil War-era fort brings history to roaring life with staff in period uniform, live demonstrations, and large-scale war reenactments. Construction began in 1847, but the site's as bustling today as it was in centuries past. Discover fort life the way you've never seen it before, including detailed tours of bastions, barracks, kitchens, guardrooms, hospitals, prisons, and even a blacksmith's shop. Learn about bullet-making or sewing from experienced experts, or take a candlelight tour for a more immersive experience through empty hallways and winding staircases. It's the closest you'll get to time travel, at least on this trip.
Lively day of adventuring got you parched? Quench your thirst at this go-to attraction. Located in a charming old-world home, this distillery is widely regarded for its Venture Vodka, but there's more to explore. Free tours and tastings are hosted throughout the day, along with an on-site shop to take home your favorites. Savor the sweet molasses of classic Venture, or try something spicier with its Smoked Pepper Variety. Chug down a Bloody Mary or two, then sample rum brimming with caramel, wood sugar, vanilla bean, and espresso flavors. Whiskey lovers can please their palettes with botanicals that pack a punch, while fruit fans will gladly sip up grapefruit or orangecello cocktails.
This scenic beach was a haven for African Americans during the Jim Crowe era. A true national treasure, the coastline expands just a few miles along, but the traffic-free solitude delivers a reflective experience from the moment you step foot in the sand. Established during segregation, this beach houses history at every corner, including buildings where jazz once reverberated through the night. It's also home to Nana Dune, a 60-foot system that's the tallest in Florida. Today, breathtaking views, swimming, surfing, and boating complete the experience.
Laughter and applause resound through this local must-see. A 100% volunteer organization, this theater stages an assortment of musicals, plays, and revues throughout the year. Talented performers take to the stage to bring classics like Chicago, The Color Purple, and Anything Goes to lively audiences, and they're widely regarded for their musical prowess. Small and intimate, you're always close to the action, and it's easy to make conversation with friendly locals who will happily share post-show restaurants and bars nearby.
Roam through the waterways and wetlands in an entirely new way with a two-hour guided kayaking tour. Grab your gear, set your paddle in stride, and view extravagant fish, birds, alligators, exotic wildlife, and fauna from every angle. Led by a Master Naturalist, you'll learn about the local ecosystem along the way, discovering little-known tidbits about the environment and its inhabitants. Relaxed and peaceful, this is an excellent tour for beginners with no previous experience needed. Snacks and drinks are served along the route, and you even get complimentary photos to take home!
CraigCats are essentially go-carts on water, delivering a high-powered approach to adventure. This guided tour through the island's waterways gives you an up-close look at everything from dolphins and manatees to wild horses striding through their natural habitat. You'll also spot unique, bucket list-worthy destinations, such as the Dungeness Ruins, Fort Clinch, and the historic Fernandina Beach shoreline.
Standing on the highest point on the island, this lighthouse is impossible to miss. Built in 1838, it's the oldest still-operating lighthouse in the state, and you can probe into its history through educational tours. This massive structure has stunned visitors since its construction, and that sense of intrigue remains strong. Florida wasn't even a state when the first lantern beam was sent out, but that same beacon continues to guide seafarers to safety today.