Explore the less commercialized, small-town Florida reminiscent of simpler days past by heading to the Sunshine State’s northeast coast. Located on the Florida-Georgia border, Amelia Island is the farthest northeast coastal area in the state of Florida. Besides 13 miles of uncrowded Atlantic coast beaches, check out the Victorian vibes of the downtown historic district of Fernandina Beach.
The heart of Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach, was chosen by Southern Living magazine as one of the South’s “Best Small-Town Getaways” — a town that makes one “feel welcome for a weekend or a lifetime.” Fernandina was also selected by Coastal Living magazine as a “Best Little Beach Town.”
Fernandina’s charming Centre Street and surrounding 50-plus block historic district is a must-see when visiting Amelia Island. It’s a southern town on the riverfront with wonderful Victorian-era architecture (dating back to the mid-to-late 1800s and early 1900s). Enjoy fine dining restaurants, pubs, boutiques, art galleries, and antiques, anchored by the Fernandina Harbor Marina on the Amelia River. (Folks gather at the riverfront in the early evening, one of the best places to watch a beautiful sunset at the docks or from Brett’s rocking chair porch at the marina).
Popular downtown venues and activities include Fernandina Fantastic Fudge, the Palace Saloon (Florida’s oldest continually-operated drinking establishment), the Florida House Inn (Florida’s oldest surviving hotel), historic tours led by Amelia Island Museum docents, ghost tours, horse and carriage tours, trolley tours, and boat tours by Amelia River Cruises (nature-eco, sunset cruises and more on the river).
During 2011, the new owner of the Florida House Inn (904-491-3322) brought back its southern, boarding-house-style dining of yesteryear, with the inn reopening its dining room for lunch. Count on southern fried chicken to always be on the menu. The Florida House dining room is open Tuesday-Sunday from 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m (no reservations). Read more about the historic inn’s history, renovation and reopening, “Christmas Cheer: Florida House Inn Reopens in Fernandina Beach.”
Another historic venue for a light bite to eat and the opportunity to get an inside peek of a lovely Victorian mansion is by visiting the historic Hoyt House. The inn offers an English Tea (public welcomed, but reservations required 904-277-4300). For more about the Hoyt House, read Amelia Island Living’s article, “Fernandina Old Florida Elegance at Hoyt House Victorian Mansion.” Hoyt House English Tea is offered Wednesday through Sunday from 12:30 to 3 pm, see English Tea flyer .
Want to see more images of beautiful Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach? See Amelia Island Living’s extensive photo galleries of Fernandina Beach, Florida).