In Florida Amelia Island is a family and romantic getaway

Fantastic Fudge's homemade ice cream and fudge is a friends and family magnate on amelia Island

Fantastic Fudge's homemade ice cream and fudge is a friends and family magnate on amelia Island

You are taking a carriage ride around the shopping area happily licking yummy ice cream from a shop that also makes fabulous fudge and you are not on Mackinac Island, Mich.

Earlier in the day you biked paths shaded by old oak trees dripping with so called “Spanish Moss” (it really isn’t moss) but you are not near Savannah, Ga.

Yesterday, you walked the beach during low tide looking for conch, shark’s eye and slipper shells although you are not on the Gulf of Mexico.

Tomorrow you have a tee time on a course designed by Pete Dye. Hmm, or was that tee time for the course designed by Bobby Weed?

The problem really isn’t which course you will play. It is that you are not ready to leave but your vacation on Amelia Island on North Florida’s Atlantic coast is almost over.

The only rush on Amelia Island, a 13 mile long barrier strip about 30 miles north of Jacksonville’s airport, is trying to fit everything in after making the mistake of booking a room or condo for a mere weekend.

An island whose laid-back atmosphere, architecture and old residential areas are reminiscent of early to mid-20th century Florida, Amelia is a romantic getaway.

Cruise the Amelia River-Intracoastal Waterway to see wild horses on Cumberland Island

Cruise the Amelia River-Intracoastal Waterway to see wild horses on Cumberland Island

A kid-friendly place of sandy beaches and a nature center with camp and craft activities, Amelia is a family vacation destination.

A place where visitors have a choice of ethnic and bistro restaurants, live music entertainment, a fort to explore, a river cruise to see dolphins in Intracoastal Waterway and wild horses on Cumberland Island, Amelia is a reunion destination.

Accommodations

Amelia Island has several choices from B&Bs and inns to resorts, condos and house rentals. Here are two recommendations:

Hampton Inn & Suites in Fernadina Beach has an inviting lobby and is steps away from a scenic harbor

Hampton Inn & Suites in Fernadina Beach has an inviting lobby and is steps away from a scenic harbor

Hampton Inn & Suites is at the harbor in downtown Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island’s old downtown. The area is filled with turn-of-the-last century buildings that house boutiques, art galleries and good restaurants. The Inn is across from the Fernandina Harbor Marina where cruises leave to see Intracoastal wildlife. Guests see the harbor from some rooms and the pool on the second floor. Breakfast is complementary and served next to the pool. Fernandina Beach and the Hampton Inn & Suites are on the north end of Amelia Island. Two of its suites cater to wedding parties. Hampton Inn & Suites, 19 S. 2nd St., Fernandina Beach, FL 32034, 904-491-4911 and 800 HAMPTON

Hotel rooms at Amelia Island Omni Plantation overlook the Atlantic Ocean and the 6th hole of the Ocean Links course

Hotel rooms at Amelia Island Omni Plantation overlook the Atlantic Ocean and the 6th hole of the Ocean Links course

Amelia Island Plantation, an Omni Hotels & Resorts property, has 1,350 acres on the island’s south end. The hotel and its two restaurants overlook the Atlantic Ocean as does its Ocean Links course. Its Oak Marsh course and kayak rentals are on the marsh side at the Amelia River-Intracoastal Waterway.  Stores, restaurants,  rental bikes, golf style carts and Segways plus The Nature Center and a spa are in The Shops area. The resort also has a golf academy and a Racquet Park with a restaurant, tennis center and pro shop and health and fitness center. Omni Amelia Island Plantation, 6800 First Coast Hwy., Amelia Island, FL 32034, 866-481-5057

Dining

Fernandina Beach is an old shrimp port that still has some shrimp boats and fishing boats so seafood and fish are a well-prepared staple here. Unless staying more than a couple of days it is impossible to sample all Fernandina’s excellent restaurants.

Recommendations:

The harbor view from Brett's Waterway Cafe would be worth a stop but people in the know go for the food

The harbor view from Brett's Waterway Cafe would be worth a stop but people in the know go for the food

It would be hard to make a mistake with anything ordered at Brett’s Waterway Café at the harbor. The views are great and the food is just as good. Salads, even the house salad is huge, delicious and large enough to share. Fried shrimp is particularly popular as are the soups. Brett’s Waterway Café, 1 S. Front Street, Amelia Island, FL  32034, 904-261-2660

For a taste of Spain and Portugal head to España Restaurant and Tapas. The atmosphere and food are delightful. The shrimp is particularly good but all dishes are excellent. España Restaurant & Tapas, 22 S. 4th Street, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034, 904-261-7700

Across from Hampton Inn & Suites on 2nd street is Le Clos, a French Provencale restaurant that can be intimate and romantic when the sun sets but is also a choice of discriminating diners interested in fine food. Reservations highly recommended. Le Clos, 20 S. 2nd St., Fernandina Beach, FL, 904-261-8100,

Eat inside, on the deck or take food back to the room or condo from Marche Burette, a country comfortable red building overlooking a fountain and pond

Eat inside, on the deck or take food back to the room or condo from Marche Burette, a country comfortable red building overlooking a fountain and pond

Snacks and market foods

Downtown Fernandina, visitors of all ages gather at Fantastic Fudge for really good ice cream to eat there and fudge to take home. Fernandina’s Fantastic Fudge, Center and 3rd Streets, Fernandina Beach, Fl, 904-277-4801

Plantation visitors and the public stop at Marche Burette in The Shops at Amelia Plantation to do breakfast, lunch or take home meats, pastries and wine from its Market-Deli. Marche Burette, Omni Amelia Plantation, 6800 First Coast Highway 904-432-2212 Amelia Island, FL

Activity

Cruise the river from the Fernandina Beach Marina to see dolphins and osprey on the way to Cumberland Island where wild horses play. Amelia Island River Cruises & Charters, 1 N. Front Street, Fernandina Beach, FL 904-261-9972

More Amelia Island information 800-226-3542

All photos are by Jodie Jacobs

(Note: Some items mentioned were complimentary but did not influence this article. This author only recommends places and activities worth a visit and will omit places not up to a high standard.)

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