2014 Fun in the Summer Sun Guide
Jul 09, 2014 11:50AM
The road to adventure is seldom paved, and neither are the local maritime forests, state parks, and green spaces located in and around Amelia Island. And there are eight of them! Fort Clinch State Park, Egans Creek Greenway, Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park, Little Talbot Island State Park, Fort George Island Cultural State Park, Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park, Big Talbot Island State Park, and George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier State Park make up a remarkable wilderness experience for the whole family, including hiking, biking, fishing, camping, picnicking, bird watching, and more.
Friends of the Amelia Island Trail have helped complete a bike trail that traverses throughout the island, through all sorts of neighborhoods and terrains, allowing visitors to travel by bike or on foot safely. They also offer organized bike rides for all ages and abilities. Their latest map can be found at www.ameliaislandtrail.org.
A short day trip from Amelia Island, the Great Okefenokee Swamp is one of North America’s most unspoiled, fascinating, and precious natural areas. It is the largest, intact, un-fragmented, freshwater and blackwater wilderness swamp in North America, and Okefenokee Adventures (866-843-7926) will help you explore this beautiful wilderness area with boat tours, naturalist walks, fishing opportunities, and even overnight camping trips.
Amelia Island Trolleys (904-753-4486) invites visitors to travel around Amelia Island in style, showing you the sights and sounds of our beautiful island paradise while you sit back and relax. Experienced trolley drivers offer a glimpse into the history of Fernandina Beach, and they can provide private tours in addition to their regularly scheduled tours.
[heading style="subheader"]Let’s Go Boating![/heading]
Amelia River Cruises & Charters (904-261-9972) has been around for over 14 years, offering unique and richly narrated sightseeing cruises from Fernandina’s historic waterfront to the breathtaking views of Cumberland Island, GA. The tour guides’ fascinating stories of Amelia and Cumberland will enrich your coastal experience with intrigue and wonder, plus there are many other cruise options, including Eco Tours, sunset tours, and family events.
Amelia Boat Club & Rentals (904-572-3216), formerly known as Suntex Boat Club, offers a unique boating experience for those wanting to get out on the water. Join the club, and you’ll have full access to any of their boats to reserve via their online reservation system. Amelia Boat Club & Rentals also offers boat and waverunner rentals to the general public.
Flying Fish Adventures (904-583-3420) also offers jet ski rentals and tours with a certified master naturalist to make your jet ski experience something you’ll never forget. Witness the pristine beauty of the Georgia and Florida coastline as you catch glimpses of dolphin, exotic birds, manatee, wild horses, and other diverse wildlife native to the area.
If kayaking is your preferred mode of travel, Kayak Amelia (904-251-0016) offers guided kayak tours, a great way to learn about how to maneuver a kayak while experiencing the beauty of our local ecosystems, and no previous experience is needed. Kayak Amelia also rents bicycles and stand-up paddle boards. They also rent Segways and offer Segway tours at Fort George Island, a fun way to tour the area.
Windward Sailing (904-327-3265) offers sailing excursions, including overnight trips, plus sailing lessons, as well as relaxing sunset cruises and rentals from the Fernandina Harbor Marina. Amelia Angler Outfitters (904-261-2870) offers the best in sport fishing, boating, and sightseeing opportunities, as well as all the gear you’ll need for the water at their Centre Street store.
[heading style="subheader"]Balancing Act[/heading]
Stand-up paddleboards are all the rage, and anyone can learn how to do it. The great thing about paddle boarding is that it offers a full-body workout that no other sport can match. And if you’re looking for a new dimension to this beautiful sport, Kayak Amelia offers SUP Yoga in a private lagoon, that combines yoga and paddle boarding.
Go Yoga Amelia (904-335-0539) offers all levels of yoga classes in their studio, on the beach, and all summer long on the balcony of the Ocean Club on South Fletcher Avenue at Sadler Road. They even host Yoga for Golf, guaranteed to improve your game and help your spine.
For another balancing act that’s a bit more daring, surfing is a great way to spend your days at the beach and catch some waves at the same time. Surfing is for all ages, and don’t let those youngsters intimidate you! Beach Rentals and More (904-310-6124) rents surfboards, paddle boards, and boogie boards and they’ll even arrange a surfing lesson. In addition, they also rent bikes, beach umbrellas, and have a complete beach shop for all your summer needs.
[heading style="subheader"]Flying High[/heading]
McGill Aviation (904-261-7890), located at the Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport, offers services to pilots, clients, and visitors to get you on and off the island safely, providing efficient and friendly aviation ground support.
If you’re looking for a bird’s eye view of our beautiful island, Air Amelia (877-WEDOFLY) has numerous ways to take you up, up, and away. Powered hang gliding, otherwise known as trike flying, is an experience in freedom and excitement that is unmatched. Flying up to a thousand feet or more, you will experience aerial views of Amelia Island unlike any other form of aviation.
[heading style="subheader"]Back in the Saddle[/heading]
Stay ‘N Country Ranch (904-322-9739) offers beautiful and scenic beach rides by horseback along the shore near The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. Take a relaxing ride near the waterfront for an hour to escape from reality. Or take a tranquil trail ride throughout winding paths of over 100 acres for a chance to see deer, wild turkeys, beautiful birds, and nature at its best.
Every summer Cheers Horse Ranch (904-277-7047) provides an educational kids camp for ages 6-14 years of age. They will learn how to care for and be responsible for a horse assigned to them for 1 week. During the week, they will clean stalls, feed, learn about their horse, arts and crafts, wagon ride, and water activities. They also provide private lessons and trail rides for all ages, and even weddings for riders on horseback.
[heading style="subheader"]Chasing the Little White Ball[/heading]
Florida boasts the best golf courses in the country and Amelia Island is no exception. The Fernandina Beach Golf Club (904-310-3175) is conveniently located and their facility boasts 27 scenic holes, a full-service restaurant, and clubhouse. The Golf Club at North Hampton (904-418-6107) is an Arnold Palmer signature course that is challenging and enjoyable for persons of all skill levels.
The Omni Resort at Amelia Island Plantation (904-277-5907) offers a first-class golf experience for members and guests, with three championship courses. The Amelia River Golf Club (904-491-8500) is another great local golf course known for its smooth TifEagle greens.
On the lighter side, try your putting skills at Island Falls Adventure Golf (904-261-7881), a vertically challenging and surprising family mini-golf course for the young and the young at heart. Heron’s Cove Adventure Golf (904-261-6161), located at the Omni Resort, is set underneath a beautiful canopy of live oaks featuring 18 nautical-themed holes.
[heading style="subheader"]Fun and Games[/heading]
Have you tried your hand at petanque? This fascinating game, which originated in France, has taken Amelia Island by storm. A petanque court is located downtown near the harbor and another can be found at Central Park. Petanque America (800-682-2557) can help you get started, and even help you find others to play with.
At The Nature Center at the Omni Resort (904-261-6161), join an experienced naturalist on a bike, Segway, or kayak tour discovering birds, turtles, edible plants, night creatures, and crabs. Several tours are designed for children and include educational crafts.
The Jacksonville Triathlon Series (352-637-2475) began in June, with two more events held July 19 and August 9, right here on Amelia Island. Swim 1/4 mile in the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean, followed by a freshwater shower. Then bike the flat, fast, course along the coastline of scenic Amelia Island, and run out and back through tree covered Fort Clinch State Park. For your little athletes, Y Kids Tri is held on September 27, sponsored by the McArthur Family YMCA. (904-261-1080).
[heading style="subheader"]Arts, Leisure, and Shopping [/heading]
If you’ve spent all day having fun the sun, perhaps it’s time to enjoy a little art, music, theatre, or dining. What a great way to end a busy day, strolling about the streets in historic downtown Fernandina Beach and stopping by a local watering hole or eatery! 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) and the Fernandina Little Theatre (904-206-2607) present local talent in new and familiar plays. Amelia Musical Playhouse (904-277-3455) is located at Island Walkway, the newest of Amelia’s theaters, and features the “Sound of Music” and “4000 Miles” this summer.
While you’re downtown, visit many of Amelia Island’s 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 (904-261-7378) 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.
There are plenty of places to shop around the island. If you’re staying at one the local bed & breakfast inns, be sure to check out the myriad of specialty items at Fernandina Beach’s downtown shops. Other places to shop include Palmetto Walk, The Shops at the Omni Resort, and the Harris Teeter Shopping Plaza And be sure to visit the Amelia Farmers Market (904-491-4872) located at The Shops at the Omni Resort at Amelia Island Plantation every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with its bounty of fresh local produce, delicious prepared foods, and much more.
[heading style="subheader"]Treat Yourself[/heading]
If you’re staying at the Omni Resort at Amelia Island Plantation 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 Boardwalk Bash every Friday evening from 5 to 8 p.m., and 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 and Welcome Center at (904) 261-3248.