2020 Guide to Amelia Island
I’m always happy to help y’all plan your Amelia Island vacations! It makes me so happy when new families and friends discover our gem of an island. We’re grateful to call this place home and still love exploring all that it has to offer! So much has changed in 2020 so I thought I’d take a few minutes to update my Amelia Island Guide, as it’s still one of my most asked about topics to date! Sadly, several of the businesses I referenced in my previous guide are no longer operating, but a few new spots have filled in the gaps! With that being said, please come visit and help support our tourism-based economy!
Where to Stay
You can’t go wrong with the Ritz Carlton or The Omni Amelia Island Plantation! Both are beautiful resorts with plenty to do to keep you busy. Both resorts have convenient beach access, gorgeous pools and golf courses to explore. I typically point families toward the Omni and couples toward the Ritz Carlton. However, both resorts really do cater to both! If you’re having a tough time deciding, I’ll add that the Ritz has a better spa but the Omni has much more to do without ever having to leave the property.
Not sure a big resort is for you? You’ll absolutely love the charming Schoolhouse Inn! Built downtown in 1886 as a schoolhouse, it’s now home to a 17 room inn with a charming on-site bar called the Principal’s Office! I love seeing restoration projects around town and this one was definitely a job well done! It’s a part of the Southern Living hotel collection so you can expect a lot of southern hospitality as well as the convenience of being able to walk to everything our charming downtown area has to offer.
What to do
In addition to strolling downtown, biking the island, and lounging on the beach…
Visit Fort Clinch – Camping, fishing, history, and trails. There’s a little something for everyone at Fort Clinch and I recommend you take advantage of all of it. If you drive through around sunset, you’re likely to catch a glimpse of the many deer who call the property home.
Sail On The Amelia River Cruise – I always recommend the Amelia River Cruise to visitors and we take advantage of it as much as possible! The adult twilight cruise is our go-to but the other tours are fun too, and much more educational.
Shop The Farmer’s Market – Spend your Saturday morning perusing booths set up by local farmers, businesses and artisans. There’s a little something for everybody! The Farmer’s market takes place on North 7th Street from 9am-1pm!
Get Your Workout In Kayaking – If you’re a kayaker, this is the place to visit. There are several kayak rental/guided tour businesses around the island ready to show you a good time! Pro-tip: many promote business on Groupon so be sure to check for a deal before you buy!
Go Horseback Riding – I’ve yet to ride horseback down the beach but it looks like a blast! Certainly on my bucket list. So if you’re in town and you do decide to partake in this fun-filled activity, be sure to send me an invite. Thanks a bunch!
Where To Shop
If you need a new outfit while you’re here, the Lilly Pulitzer Signature Store in the Ritz Calton, Red Otter Outfitters, and JJ Cooper are worth popping into!
What To Eat
For a 13 by 4 mile island, you wouldn’t think we’d have a lot to offer in the food department but I think you’ll find the opposite to be true. The culinary scene around here is pretty darn impressive. I could quickly fill up your calendar with suggestions so I’ll only share my absolute favorites!
T-Rays Burger Station is located in an old gas Station at Beech and 8th, T-Rays is a local favorite with a whole bunch of charm! Their biscuits and gravy are top notch!
For something just a bit more formal, the Garden Bistro is a gem of a place. A seat in the courtyard on a Saturday morning is sometimes hard to come by but well worth the wait!
Aloha Bagel is DELICIOUS. Perfect to grab and take with you if you’re heading out on an adventure. The cheddar bagel is worth every calorie.
Hola! Cuban Cafe has the most amazing coffee, pastries and snacks! Might run down and grab a Cubano after I write this!
Be sure to make time for brunch at The Patio Place (Friday-Saturday) for crepes and a bottomless mimosas bar in the cutest outdoor setting!
^^ Can you tell we love breakfast?!
Cafe Karibo! I’ve yet to find anything on the menu that isn’t crazy good. The sangria is out of this world, the service is always dynamite and there isn’t a bad table.
Lagniappe is one of our newer restaurants that I just can’t quit. Highly recommend! Be sure to ask about the dessert menu while you’re there!
Timotis is a casual outdoor seafood “shack” located downtown. It’s a fun atmosphere with picnic tables, yummy wild-caught seafood served in paper baskets and a pirate ship playground for the kids to run around on.
If it’s tasty Spanish fare you desire, look no further than Espana. Comfy outdoor seating, a huge selection of tapas, and the best sangria in town (have them mix your red + white, it’s delish!) It’s numero uno on trip advisor for a reason!
Le Clos is my favorite restaurant in town. Upscale French-inspired cuisine served up in a charming old house. You’ll feel right at home. Better suited for date night than a family dinner! Now I’m craving onion frites!
Shuckers and The Down Under are both kid-friendly seafood restaurants with fantastic views! Two great spots to grab oysters and enjoy live music. If I had to pick one over the other I’d probably vote Shuckers because it has a playground!
First Love Brewing is the newest addition to my Amelia Island Favorite’s roundup. I adore this place! A smaller menu because the focus is on the beer, but still delicious. This is a really fun spot for a lighter dinner or lunch, or just to grab a drink.
Head North for a day trip to Cumberland Island, Jekyll Island, or St. Simons Island. Or head south to spend a day in St. Augustine! They’re all around an hour away and absolutely charming! If you love Amelia, you’ll love taking any of these quick trips.
Am I missing anything? Always happy to answer your Amelia Island questions!!!
McKenzie is a blogger in Fernandina Beach who shares her passion for design, food, travel, entertainment, and much, much more. View more of McKenzie’s work here.
The good pictures here were taken by the super talented Glori Beaufort Photography!