Our beautiful island paradise comes alive during the summer months, jam-packed with activities and entertainment. While much of the South suffers with scorching temperatures, Amelia Island’s cool ocean breezes bring people from all over the world to bask in its beauty and seek respite from the heat. No matter what your interests, you’ll always find something new and different to occupy the lazy days of summer on Amelia Island, from boating, fishing, surfing, and shelling to hiking, biking, and golfing.
With 13 miles of beautiful beaches, abundant native wildlife, and pristine waters, this barrier island has long been a beloved playground for visitors and residents alike. In addition, the City of Fernandina Beach is a treasure trove of heritage and history, filled with a variety of eclectic shops and lots of great restaurants. So whether your summer fun is a round of golf or a stroll through Fernandina Beach’s lovely tree-lined streets, there is always something to see and do, and activities for the whole family to enjoy!
Take to the Water
For a fun and memorable outing with friends and family, come aboard Amelia River Cruises (904-261-9972) for an inspiring experience that takes you along salt marshes, wilderness beaches, and historic river banks. Catch a glimpse of dolphins, sea turtles, manatees, egrets, spoonbills, and ospreys, while listening to stories from local history and nature experts.
Driftwood Surf Shop (904-321-2188) is a local, family-owned shop that has been serving the Fernandina Beach community since 1979. A surfer-owned store, Driftwood understands the needs of surfers, from beginners to experts, carrying all the latest products from the most reputable brands in the surf industry, along with lessons for all ages.
If you love the outdoors, Amelia Adventures (904-500-8687) provides kayaking tours that are a great way to explore the rivers and marshes of Coastal Georgia and Florida. No matter what your age or paddling skills, Amelia Adventures will provide you with a safe and exhilarating outdoor adventure! If you like a little speed, Back Water-Cat Adventure (904-753-7631) offers one of the most unique boat tours you will ever experience. You get to drive your very own Craigcat boat, which is very safe and easy to operate. It’s one the best ways to explore Amelia and Cumberland Islands’ wildlife and sea life.
Be the captain of your own adventure on a jet ski tour of Amelia and Cumberland Island waters with George’s Jet Ski Adventures (904-310-5999), which offers eco-tours at the speed of fun! Look out for an array of Florida’s wildlife as you speed your way through local waters—every tour is unique and flexible. Or try Amelia Boat Club (904-572-3216) for a variety of boats, gear, and boating accessories where members can maximize their time on the water. In addition, they also rent boats and wave runners to non-members. Select a boat from their fleet and leave your cares on shore!
Kayak Amelia (904-251-0016) is the official concessionaire in Talbot Islands State Parks, offering guided kayak, SUP and Segway ecotours, as well as kayak, SUP and bike rentals, SUP instruction, SUP yoga, and a summer kid’s camp. Kayak Amelia wants you to get outdoors this summer! Amelia Island Kayak Excursions (904-557-5307) is a family owned and operated kayaking business offering a variety of guided eco-tours to help you get off the beaten path while exploring the scenic waterways on and near Amelia Island. Their tours, along with basic instructions, will enable you to enjoy your time on the water in the beautiful, natural settings of Amelia Island and surrounding areas.
Stand up paddle boarding is all the rage, and Amelia Island Paddlesurf Company (904-479-5SUP) will teach you everything you need to know about SUP, and also provides rentals, and eco-tours. It opens doors to a wide variety of paddling experiences from flat water to epic waves, and is considered one of the best and most refreshing ways to stay fit.
Have you considered trying your hand at sailing? Whether you want to learn how to sail or just enjoy some relaxing time on the water with family and friends, Windward Sailing (904-327-3265) makes it fun and easy with sailing excursions, overnight trips, and sailing lessons. Or if angling is your passion, join Captain Terry Lacoss at Amelia Angler (904-261-2870) for the best in sport fishing, boating, sailing, and sightseeing opportunities, for groups, families, and even hardcore “big game” anglers.
Take a Hike!
Here in Northeast Florida, our favorite paths are paved with sand, and our local beach parks provide people of all ages access to a spectacular shoreline and the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. But there are lots of other paths you can take throughout the island, too. Egans Creek Greenway, with its grass-covered paths, serve as a network of trails that are suitable for walking and bicycling, and its environment exhibits a variety of natural wildlife and vegetation. Local wildlife, such as alligators, snakes, bobcats, and many birds, may be enjoyed from a distance.
Friends of the Amelia Island Trail have completed a bike path that covers over seven miles, between Peters Point County Park to the south end of the George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier State Park, where it connects to Big Talbot Island. The trail takes advantage of the tree canopy alongside A1A so that much of the trail is shaded and shielded from the wind. A map of the trail can be found at www.ameliaislandtrail.org.
Active outdoor adventure-seekers will want to check out the local maritime forests, state parks, and green spaces located in and around Amelia Island. Fort Clinch State Park, Pumpkin Creek Preserve State Park, Little and Big Talbot Island State Parks, Fort George Island Cultural State Park, Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park, and George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier State Park all provide a remarkable wilderness experience, offering hiking biking, fishing, camping, picnicking, bird watching, and beach combing for the whole family.
Only a short day trip from Amelia Island, the Okeefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is one of the world’s most unspoiled, fascinating, and precious black water wilderness swamp in North America. Okeefenokee Adventures (866-843-7926) will help you explore this wilderness are with boat tours, naturalist walks, fishing opportunities, and even overnight camping trip. During the summer, alligators are out in full force basking on the flats and on the canal banks soaking up the sun. The prairies are filled with fragrant white water lilies, yellow and purple bladderwort, pitcher plants, sundew, grass pink, and ladies hatpins. Visit early in the day to avoid the heat!
Nature lovers will want to visit Amelia Island Nature Center (904-321-5082) and join one of their naturalists on a bike, Segway, or kayak tour, discovering birds, plants, and wildlife. Stop by the fully stocked retail shop, complete with top-of-the-line binoculars and field guides, to fulfill all your exploring needs. And be sure to visit with their local rescued critters.
The City of Fernandina Beach operates two recreation centers—Atlantic Recreation Center (904-310-3350) and Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center (904-310-3358) —offering aquatics, fitness, and other family activities. The McArthur Family YMCA (904-261-1080) provides swim lessons, youth and adult sports, summer specialty camps, and personal training so you and your family will stay fit and busy this summer.
Dance the summer away with your favorite baby at BoogieBabies Class (828-674-1049) held every Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at Precision Chiropractic on South 14th Street. This easy, gentle dance class is fun for babies, moms, dads, and caregivers! Wear your baby in your favorite carrier and be ready for fun and connection with your baby.
Top of the World
Are you ready to feel the excitement of skydiving at 120 miles per hour? Skydive Amelia Island (904-718-4648) can provide you with a tandem skydiving experience that deposits you two miles high in the sky! During your skydive you will see miles of beach views, along with the splendor of North Florida, and your instructor will even provide you with a video of your jump.
How about another thrilling Florida flying adventure experience? Hang Glide USA (877-WEDOFLY) provides motorized hang gliding flights for the first-time pilot as well as those with experience, and they cater to both thrill-seekers and the not-so-thrilled alike. Your power hang gliding experience will have you soaring over the beauty and wonder of Amelia Island, Cumberland Island, and the colorful green marshes on Fernandina Beach with a birds-eye view few ever experience.
Par for the Course
Golf is one of Florida’s favorite pastimes and Amelia Island’s fairways and greens are close to the beach, meandering through unique coastal maritime hammocks. The Golf Club of North Hampton (904-548-0000) is carved into the natural surroundings and framed by spring-fed lakes lined with coquina boulders and the wild grass and rolling dunes capture the feel of a Scottish links-style course. It’s a challenging Arnold Palmer signature course that’s enjoyable for persons of all skill levels. The Fernandina Beach Golf Club (904-310-3175) is conveniently located, featuring 27 holes, a full service restaurant, clubhouse, and is one of the most popular municipal golf courses in Florida.
Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort Golf (904-277-5907) provides the golfer with breathtaking views and intriguing play. The Omni offers a first-class golf experience for members and guests, with three championship courses including Oak Marsh, Ocean Links, and Long Point. The Amelia River Golf Club (904-491-8500), known for its smooth TifEagle greens, manicured fairways, and challenging pin positions, is one of the most interesting courses in North Florida. Whether a true beginner or a single digit handicapper, Amelia River’s par 72 course is a challenge for golfers of all skill levels.
For the young and the young at heart, Island Falls Adventure Golf (904-261-7881) is Amelia Island’s best miniature golf course with 18 (and a half) inventive and beautiful holes, surrounded by water falls, bridges and tunnels, with music throughout the course from their outdoor sound system.
Art and Leisure
After a day at the beach or a round of golf, treat yourself to Amelia Island’s vast array of art, music, theatre, and dining experiences. Many of the local pubs and restaurants have live music, featuring some of the best local bands around. And if you love live theater, Amelia Community Theatre (904-261-6749) presents local talent in new and familiar plays, celebrating over 35 years as Amelia Island’s premier theater.
Located throughout the island you’ll find many beautiful galleries and antique shops. Check out the Amelia Islander Magazine’s Galleries & Antiques page for a list of the area’s finest local paintings, sculpture, jewelry, textile designs, plus antiques, collectibles, and furniture. The Island Art Association (904-261-7020) also offers summer classes, open studio hours, children’s art programs, and more. And each second Saturday of the month, enjoy a special Artrageous Artwalk from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., taking visitors to many galleries in the downtown area.
The Amelia Island Museum of History (904-261-7278) is located in the old jail and boasts its own colorful past, in addition to the pirates, bawdy women, and rich history presented by its interesting docents and exhibits. On the Discovery Ship, “Margery,” children will learn about knot tying and be able to pilot their own ship, among other interactive activities.
And there are plenty of places to shop around the island. If you’re staying at one the local bed and breakfast inns (www.ameliaislandinns.com), be sure to check out the myriad of specialty items at Fernandina Beach’s downtown shops. Other places to shop include Palmetto Walk Shopping Village, The Shops at the Omni Resort, and Sadler Road businesses.
If you’re staying at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort or The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, both resorts offer plenty of amenities and fine concierge services. But many activities are also open to the public, including the Omni’s famous Shrimp Boil every Friday evening from 5 to 9 p.m., which features live music and family activities. The Spa at the Omni Resort (877-843-7722) will help you unwind after a long day of summer activities.
For more information on Amelia Island summer activities, call the Amelia Island-Fernandina Beach-Yulee Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center at (904) 261-3248. And be sure to check out the Amelia Islander Magazine blog, which features updated weekly activities and more summer fun at www.ameliaislander.com.