8 Great Things to Do in Amelia Island Florida

My favorite things to do in Amelia Island include finding shark teeth (I will show you where!), eating fresh seafood, and dining at one of Florida’s top rated restaurants (along with plenty of other amazing ones). Experience and explore Old Florida (history and nature) and mingle with some of USA’s most artistic and quirky people.

Eight different nations ruled Amelia Island, the 13 mile long barrier island in northeast Florida. As the only place in the USA claiming this distinction, Amelia Island businesses incorporate the “eight flags” theme whenever possible.

Avast ye, more pirates trolled the shores around Amelia Island than anywhere else in the US. Who can say whether any privateer or buccaneer descendants still abound? Local legend says pirate booty is hidden somewhere on Amelia Island. Shiver me timbers!

McCool Travel tip: while South Florida and Central Florida experience an overwhelming number of visitors between January and April, Amelia Island is relatively quiet but still has great weather.

Thank you to Amelia Island tourism for inviting me to experience cool, happy, and fun things to do in Amelia Island.

8 Great Things to Do in Amelia Island Florida

Where is Amelia Island FL?

Amelia Island is located in the extreme northeastern corner of Florida. Jacksonville is about 35 miles away.

1. Beaches on Amelia Island

Amelia Island beaches regularly appear on lists of top beaches so you know they must be gorgeous. They are! Amelia Island beaches are wide, have white quartz sand (feels great on the feet!), and, in certain areas, are firm enough for 4 wheel drive vehicles to drive on (the beach, not your feet).

Really, this is one of the best US coastal scenic drives and reason enough to visit Amelia Island.

8 Great Things To Do in Amelia Island Florida
Amelia Island FL beaches are wide and gorgeous

The City of Fernandina Beach also lends beach wheelchairs to residents and visitors. How cool is that? Keep reading for the McCool Travel inside scoop on where to find shark teeth. Yes, shark teeth!

drive on the Amelia Island Florida beach sand
Amelia Island beach sand is hard enough to drive on

2. Fernandina Beach

The Amelia Island district historic of Fernandina Beach houses the oldest bar in Florida and the oldest hotel in Florida. In fact, the National Register of Historic Places recognizes and protects 50 blocks and 400 structures in downtown Fernandina Beach.

check out the artsy buildings in Fernandina Beach
tiled quirky artsy exterior in Fernandina Beach

Allow plenty of time to walk the historic district and shop, eat, drink, and view the architecture. Take an Instaworthy photo of Kate’s Tree, a magnificent canopied oak in the middle of the street, named for the woman (Kate Bailey) who refused to let the town remove it.

see Kate's Tree in historic Fernandina Beach FL
Kate’s Tree in Fernandina Beach

Amelia Island Trolleys provides narrated tours of the historic district and Old Town. Coastal Living‘s readers voted Fernandina Beach as the Best Historic Downtown and #4 Happiest Seaside Town.

Pétanque America Open in Fernandina Beach draws people from around the world
Pétanque America Open in Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Florida

Pelicans in the marina and a Pétanque tournament (with participants from more than 12 countries) entertained me during my latest visit.

picture of two pelicans in Fernandina Beach FL
Amelia Island wildlife: pelicans at Fernandina Beach Marina

3. Places to Eat in Amelia Island

Experience a dizzying range of culinary amazingness on Amelia Island. Salt (one of The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island restaurants) is one of only three AAA 5 diamond restaurants in the entire state of Florida—there are only 51 AAA 5 diamond restaurants in the entire US.

8 Great Things To Do in Amelia Island Florida
clementine sorbet and tuna tartare at Salt, The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island Florida

Amelia Island restaurants in the historic district include Timoti’s which serves only wild caught seafood.

8 Great Things To Do in Amelia Island Florida
Timoti’s in Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Florida

For a waterfront Amelia Island restaurant, try Slider’s, a local favorite, with a tiki bar, live music, and a fun playground for the kiddos, or Salt Life Food Shack across the street from Main Beach Park.

8 Great Things To Do in Amelia Island Florida
Slider’s in Fernandina Beach FL

For vibrant Amelia Island nightlife, try Green Turtle Tavern; the setting, vibe, and local presence reminds me of Key West. Allow time to drink a beer at The Palace Saloon, Florida’s oldest bar.

8 Great Things To Do in Amelia Island Florida
Green Turtle Tavern, Fernandina Beach Florida

In the new western section of Yulee (Wildlight), I enjoy Anejo Cocina. They have tasty and beautiful tacos but my favorite item is the shrimp diablo. Check the daily specials but we love Thursdays for $3 margaritas (until 7pm).

For solid local Florida craft beer, I like SJ Brewing in Yulee. I have also stopped at Disco Witch one time and need to visit more.

4. Find Shark Teeth and Explore History at Fort Clinch

Fort Clinch State Park occupies the northern end of Amelia Island. Look across the water to see Cumberland Island in Georgia. More than just an historic fort, though, the 1,400 acre state park provides many recreation opportunities. Hike and bike the oak canopied trails, fish or swim in the ocean water, camp in an authentic “Old Florida” setting, and search for shark teeth on the 3 miles of shoreline. I found a shark tooth on the beach in front of the fort!

cannon at the 19th century Fort Clinch State Park
visit Fort Clinch State Park for history and shark teeth

McCool Travel note: For an even better place to find shark teeth see South Florida hidden gems.

5. Liquid Road Trip: Florida Kayaking

Kayaking in Lofton Creek highlighted my Amelia Island visit. Amelia Island Kayak Excursions provides all the equipment and a passionate, knowledgeable guide who enhances the adventure. My 2 hour tour glided by gorgeous, natural, old Florida—no housing developments, traffic, or commercial enterprises. Tannic acid runoff from decaying vegetation causes the black water of Lofton Creek.

8 Great Things To Do in Amelia Island Florida
Amelia Island kayaking on Lofton Creek, Florida #LiquidRoadTrip

For more kayaking funness, please read >>> Fun Places to Kayak in US.

6. Where to Stay in Amelia Island

After staying at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation and The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island properties on this trip, I created the term relaxed luxury.

one of the best Amelia Island FL hotels is Omni Amelia Island Plantation
one of the best Amelia Island FL hotels is Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort

With rooms facing the ocean, massive and pristine beaches, amazing recreational opportunities, and phenomenal cuisine, both resorts epitomize relaxed luxury.



Ritz Carlton Amelia Island Florida is relaxed luxury at its finest
a great place to stay in Amelia Island is The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island

Other enticing places to stay in Amelia Island include vacation rental properties, magnificent inns in the Fernandina Beach historic district, and several Amelia Island hotels.

Near the intersection of I-95 and highway 200, about 14 miles from Fernandina Beach, I often stay at the Holiday Inn Express Jacksonville North.

7. Explore Northeast Florida Nature

The largest sand dune in Florida is located on Amelia Island. It is named Nana and protected as part of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve (a National Park property). Visit Nana in American Beach, just south of The Ritz-Carlton property.

NaNa in Amelia Island is the tallest sand dune in the state of Florida
NaNa in Amelia Island is the tallest sand dune in the state of Florida
road side sign for the largest sand dune in Florida
visit the largest sand dune in Florida

A little further south, across the bridge, is Big Talbot Island State Park. Magnificent 100 foot driftwood trees adorn Boneyard Beach.

amazing oak tress in Big Talbot Island State Park
epic oak trees at Big Talbot Island State Park
giant driftwood trees at Boneyard Beach in Amelia Island Florida
giant driftwood trees at Boneyard Beach in Amelia Island Florida

8. Bicycling Around Amelia Island

In addition to kayaking, boating, and hiking, many visitors love bicycling around Amelia Island. Choose from several miles of bike paths, including many with gorgeous oak tree canopies.

BONUS: Day Trip From Amelia Island

For a great day trip from Fernandina Beach, head south on highway A1A, stopping at the above listed Nana Dune at American Beach, Boneyard Beach and Big Talbot Island State Park, then continue driving south through Little Talbot Island State Park. After the Fort George Inlet bridge, stop at Fort George (on the right) or Huguenot Memorial Park (on the left) if you wish.

A fantastic lunch or dinner waterfront Florida restaurant is Sandollar, just before the St Johns River Ferry. Ride the ferry to Mayport and take the obligatory picture of the sign and note that this area was settled 58 years before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth rock. Wow!

Mayport Village Florida sign
Mayport Village Florida sign

Let me know what you would add to this McCool Travel list of things to do in Amelia Island.

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Things to do in Amelia Island Florida include visiting the historic district, a wide variety of food and drink, state parks, recreational activities, & more

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18 thoughts on “8 Great Things to Do in Amelia Island Florida”

  1. Great list! I absolutely love Amelia Island! A couple of my favorites to check out for your next trip to the island.

    First Love Brewing. Best place for beers and bites.

    Riptide Watersports. Best place for boat tours and beach chair/umbrella rentals.

    Bike Amelia. They deliver bicycles to your hotel or vacation rental. Super convenient!

    Aloha Bagel & Deli. Best place for breakfast. Try the Eggel.

    Omni or Ritz for lodging was spot on! I have enjoyed both of those Resorts.

  2. How could you forget to see the best way to see Amelia Island?
    BY AIR! Try experiencing the Island with a powered hang gliding experience from Florida Adventure Sports! 904-430-3800

  3. Thanks for introducing the Island and there are some interesting things to do – for example, I would be interested in trying Pétanque 😛 @ knycx.journeying

  4. We love Amelia Island – definitely has some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida. We were fortunate enough to live close by for a year, so got to take the kayaks out and enjoy the outdoors quite often 🙂

  5. Haven’t heard of Amelia Island before, but it looks like a lovely place to experience and explore. Love those spooky looking trees, driftwood and quiet beaches.

  6. Like that term “relaxed luxury”. Looks like a great place to sit back, enjoy the views and have great food. I love the culinary program of the Ritz Carlton. They do food right!

  7. Cool! I’ve never heard of Amelia island, but weirdly, it has a few things in common with some of the places I’ve been to downunder! Things like great beaches, stained water, and no crowds – which makes it my kind of place!

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