Amelia Island Makes List of America’s Quirkiest Towns

Commonly called “quaint,” Amelia Island, Florida has a new “Q” word — “quirky.” According to Travel & Leisure magazine, “America’s Top Quirkiest Towns” were chosen for their “vibrant Main streets, coffee bars and eco-friendly vibe.”

Peg Leg Pete Watches Over Fernandina's Historic Downtown Along River
Peg Leg Pete Watches Over Fernandina’s Downtown

Amelia Island “Quirky”?

Commonly called “quaint,” Amelia Island, Florida has a new “Q” word — “quirky.”

According to Travel & Leisure magazine’s “America’s Quirkiest Towns,” Amelia Island is on the list. These 20 places were chosen for their “vibrant Main streets, coffee bars and eco-friendly vibe.”

“Fun Loving Blend of Deep South & Island Culture” says T & L

Such places in the USA, according to T & L, take quirkiness to another level.  “Introducing the artists, foragers, pirates and shrine-builders who populate quirky small towns across the U.S.”

As far as Amelia landing on a list of America’s Quirkiest Towns (while not really a “town” at all), being a small place, the island’s city, Fernandina, is more townie than urban, for sure.

Amelia Island’s cast of characters include the Fernandina Pirates milling about. Fernandina is the “home of the pirates,” on a few levels.

From its historic pirate past when they came ashore to the present day Fernandina Pirates Club with its high profile around the island (members making frequent appearances for all types of events), to the Fernandina public school sports teams called “the Pirates.”

Sometimes Amelia is called a barrier island, other times a sea island (it is both). Also dubbed a “resort island” (due to the presence of Amelia’s Ritz-Carlton, Summer Beach, and its original golf resort, Amelia Island Plantation).

Isle of Eight Flags

Let’s not forget Amelia Island’s moniker — “the Isle of 8 Flags” (referring to the land grab).  This historically popular isle is unique in the USA being the only place having flown 8 flags (a strategic location claimed eight times).

Bottom line, whatever you call it, there’s no disputing Amelia Island has had many admirers in its past and plenty of positive press in contemporary times.

Old Florida Elegance, Hoyt House Circa 1905
Old Florida Elegance, Hoyt House Circa 1905

Also mentioned by Travel & Leisure are some of Fernandina’s fine historic homes (now converted to bed & breakfast inns), the Hoyt House (pictured) and Williams House.

Often referred to as a “Victorian-era seaport,” it’s the small-town setting of Fernandina that is a key attraction for tourists wishing to experience yesteryear Florida in this well-preserved historic destination.

Downtown Fernandina, located along the western riverfront of Amelia Island, has over 450 homes and buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated a “Preserve America” community.

Amelia Island’s “Eco-Friendly Vibe”
Amelia River Cruises passing by Old Town, Fernandina
Amelia River Cruises passing by Old Town, Fernandina

Travel & Leisure also notes Amelia Island’s “family vacation appeal.”

Amelia Island is a great place to explore coastal nature, one of the wonderful reasons to live here (and visit). Travel & Leisure also highlighted the unique Eco-Shrimping Tour (via host Amelia River Cruises, a fun and educational excursion around local waterways).

Where better to learn about shrimping than in the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry, Fernandina? Not to mention being able to eat wild-caught shrimp from local area waters and sometimes see shrimp boats docked along the Amelia riverfront downtown.

Who’s Who — America’s “Quirkiest” Towns

Got a bucket list going? If quirky places sound appealing, see Travel & Leisure’s September 2014 issue with complete list of top 20 towns. Amelia Island, Florida is in good company, with Asheville, North Carolina topping the list at number one for several reasons including a “bottomless love of local beer.”

Heads up, a new microbrewery is in the pipeline for downtown Fernandina, as well as a new distillery (see related article). Cheers to the quirky!

By The Editor

Observations of island life, news & opinion by W.B. Lawson. Wendy has enjoyed the laid-back Amelia Island lifestyle since 1993. Her professional background began at a newspaper in NY. She then worked in PR/Investor Relations at Fortune 500 company, and later became a managing editor at an equity research publishing firm. She was Series 7 licensed while with Merrill Lynch Private Client Group.