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Amelia Islander

2016 Fun in the Summer Sun Guide

Jul 11, 2016 02:18PM
At long last, summer is here! School is out, vacations have begun, and the endless stream of various committee meetings has dwindled away until the fall. Here on Amelia Island, lots of local businesses have a myriad of activities geared specifically to those of us who love to summer here. No matter what your interests are, you can always find something new and exciting to occupy these long, warm, and beautiful summer days. At this time of the year, many of us secretly hope that our lawnmowers will break down. It’s time of the year when we turn off the television, put away our computers, and head out to the beach, the golf course, and our award-winning state parks. When most of Florida is suffering with summer’s high temperatures, Amelia Island is the place where even Southerners seek respite from the heat. Children are building sandcastles, and colorful beach umbrellas brighten the shoreline. It is July, one of our favorite times of the year!

[heading style="subheader"]Life is Better on a Boat[/heading] For a relaxing excursion with family and friends, come aboard Amelia River Cruises (904-261-9972) for an inspiring experience that takes you along salt marshes, wilderness beaches, and historic river banks. Get a glimpse of dolphins, sea turtles, manatees, egrets, spoonbills, and ospreys all professionally narrated by local history and nature experts. Amelia Boat Club (904-572-3216) provides a variety of boats, gear, and boating accessories so that its members can maximize their time on the water. In addition, they also rent boats and waverunners to non-members. Select a boat from their fleet and leave your cares on shore! Or, be the captain of your own adventure on a jet ski tour of Amelia and Cumberland Island waters with Flying Fish Adventures (904-770-4660), which offers eco-tours at the speed of fun! Look out for an array of Florida’s wildlife as you speed your way through our local waters. Flying Fish now offers rentals, too (904-310-5999). Backwater Adventure Amelia Island (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. And 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! Have you thought about learning SUP? If so, Amelia Island Paddle Surf Company (904-479-5SUP) provides lessons, 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. 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, stand up paddleboard (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. They offer tours of all experience levels for families or groups. 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.

[heading style="subheader"]The Path Less Traveled[/heading] John Muir once said, “Of the many paths you take in life, make sure that a few of them are dirt.” Here on Amelia Island, 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. Golden Isles Riding Academy (912-506-3325) is a family-oriented premier equestrian center, conveniently located off Highway 82 in Brunswick, Georgia, on 50 beautiful acres. A short drive from Amelia Island, Golden Isles provides a safe and fun environment for horse lovers of all ages, which includes lessons, trail rides, and instruction for seasoned show riders. 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. 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 (904-261-6161) 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 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. Go Yoga Amelia Island (904- 335-0539) offers daily yoga classes, workshops, teacher training, private instruction, beachside yoga, bachelorette and family reunion yoga, corporate seminars, and even free yoga to connected and wounded warriors. Yoga is for everyone of all ages and abilities—it’s a noncompetitive mindful practice, and poses can be modified to meet each person’s individual needs.

[heading style="subheader"]A Bird’s Eye View[/heading] Are you looking for an exhilarating 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. 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.

[heading style="subheader"]Seeing Green[/heading] Florida visitors and residents love their golf, and Amelia Island’s fairways and greens are close to the beach, meandering through unique coastal maritime hammocks. 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. 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. Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort Golf (904-277-5907) provides the golfer with exhilarating 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.

[heading style="subheader"]Leisurely Pursuits[/heading] After you’ve spent all day having fun in the summer sun, perhaps it’s time to enjoy a little art, music, theatre, or dining. 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 its 35th year 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 lucky enough to be 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.