2020 Fun in the Summer Sun Guide
Jul 06, 2020 01:53PM
By Tom Barrett
By Karen Miller • Photo courtesy Amelia Kayak Excursions
Amelia Island comes alive during the summer months, jam-packed with activities and entertainment for the whole family! While much of the South suffers with sweltering 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 will always find something new and different to occupy your lazy days of summer on Amelia Island, from boating, fishing, surfing, and shelling to hiking, biking, yoga, and golfing.
Take to the WaterAmelia Island is home to a number of marinas, including the Harbor Marina in downtown Fernandina Beach, Tiger Point Marina in Old Town, and the Amelia Island Marina, just off A1A at Shave Bridge, all great places to rent a boat, book a cruise, or find a fishing charter. Amelia River Cruises (904-261-9972) offers narrated historic sightseeing boat tours 7 days per week from Fernandina Beach to Cumberland Island National Seashore. Breathtaking views of wildlife and fascinating stories will enrich your coastal experience with intrigue and wonder, making it a fun and memorable experience for all ages.
Backwater Cat 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 Go-Cat boat, which is very safe and easy to operate. It’s one of the best ways to explore Amelia and Cumberland Island’s wildlife and sea life! 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.
If angling is your passion, join Captain Terry Lacoss at Amelia Angler Outfitters (904-261-2870) for the best in sport fishing, boating, sailing, and sightseeing opportunities for groups, families, and even “big game” anglers. Stop by the store for a full line of outdoor wear and fishing gear before your trip on the water. To get ready for a great day of fishing, visit locally owned and operated RennWorks Outdoors (904) 310-6794 for a full line of fishing gear, tackle, bait, lures, hand-tied flies, reels, and more! RennWorks will give you the best advice on freshwater, backwater, nearshore, offshore, and bluewater fishing. Also, they carry clothing, hats, and gifts for your favorite fisherperson!
Kayak Amelia (904-251-0016) wants you to get outdoors this summer! They are the official concessionaire for Talbot Islands State Parks, offering guided kayak, stand-up paddleboard guided ecotours, as well as kayak and bike rentals, SUP instruction, SUP yoga, and a summer kids camp.
Amelia Island Kayak Excursions (904-557-5307) is an award-winning business and a recent recipient of the U.S. Senate Committee Small Business award. Guests can experience a variety of guided adventures exploring creeks, rivers, and marshes in and around Amelia Island, Cumberland Island, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, and the Suwannee River. They offer guided kayak tours or rentals, Hobie Mirage® Kayaks, SUPs, motorboat tours, and annual kid and teen camps, too. Join the Bullington family for a fun and informative experience!
Amelia Adventures (904-500-8687) provides private nature boat charters, kayaking tours, and paddleboard experiences exploring the wildlife and nature around Amelia & Cumberland Islands. They also offer adventures camps for kids and teens. Tour information is available online at www.AmeliaAdventures.com.
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, as well as offering surf lessons for all ages and abilities.
Take to the Trail
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, its environment exhibiting a variety of natural wildlife and vegetation. Alligators, snakes, bobcats, raccoons, armadillos, and many birds can be spotted on a walk or bike trip through the Greenway.
Friends of the Amelia Island Trail have completed a bike path 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 to offer shade and protection from the wind. A map of the trail can be found at www.ameliaislandtrail.org. In addition, the Amelia River-to-Sea Trail has been completed along Simmons Road from South Fletcher Avenue westward to the ball fields off Bailey Road and then onward to the new Crane Island development on the Amelia River.
White Oak Conservation (904-225-3396) offers “Safari from the Saddle” horseback rides with experienced guides through manicured trails, while passing by a number of endangered and threatened species. Rides include lunch and a chance to talk to their animal experts. White Oak also hosts several summer camp experiences for all ages.
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 remarkable wilderness experiences that include hiking, biking, fishing, camping, picnicking, bird watching, and beachcombing for the whole family.
Only a short day trip from Amelia Island, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is one of the world’s most unspoiled and fascinating black water wilderness swamp in North America. Okefenokee Adventures (866-843-7926) will help you explore this wilderness area with boat tours, naturalist walks, fishing opportunities, and even overnight camping trips. An 8-mile long driving trail accesses the historic Chesser Homestead and miles of walking trails including the three-quarter mile long boardwalk to the 50-foot observation tower. During the summer, alligators may be 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 when wildlife is more active and to avoid the heat and insects!
Nature lovers will want to visit Amelia Island Nature Center (904-321-5082) and join one of their naturalists on a hike, 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. Or visit with their local rescued critters, chat with a naturalist, rent a fishing pole, or sign up for a tour or summer camp.
Take to the Gym
Summer is a great time to get into shape, and what better way to beat the heat and stay fit than a yoga or exercise class at one of Amelia Island’s fitness studios or gyms. Community Yoga + Wellness (904-613-6345) offers all the essential ingredients for an intelligent and safe yoga practice, a mindful vinyasa class, or a restorative yoga session for students of all levels and abilities. A beginner yoga series begins in July, and ongoing Qigong and Tai Chi classes are taught in their spacious, clean, and safe yoga school. Get well and be inspired!
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. Be sure to stop by Central Park on Atlantic Avenue to check out their tennis, pickleball, and petanque courts for players of all ages and abilities. Did you know the City of Fernandina Beach has a skate park and multi-purpose court at Main Beach Park and an outdoor lighted basketball court at the MLK Center? The Peck Center (904-310-3353) has an indoor gym and a fitness room as well. Amelia Island has 48 public beach accesses, with lots of opportunities to swim, surf, and watch the sunrise. And for your four-legged friends, consider a trip to Nassau Humane Society Dog Park (904-491-1511) or Hot Paws (904-277-3075) for canine socializing, doggie day care, and a cool down at their bathing stations.
Take to the Sky
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.
Take to the Greens
Golf is one of Florida’s favorite pastimes and the golf courses on and around Amelia Island are beautifully situated in our unique coastal maritime hammocks. 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. 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 wild grass and rolling dunes that 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.
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 and Long Point.
For the young and the young at heart, bring the whole family out for Putt-Putt at Main Beach! Continuing the 60+ year tradition of providing a family-friendly fun place to visit, Putt-Putt of Amelia Island is a “competition”-style 36-hole course and is the proud host/sponsor of the 2020 National Putt-Putt Championship with over $50,000 in prize money offered this September. Grab some ice cream, a Kona Ice, hot dog, corn dog, beverage, or snack while you play and relax in the ocean breeze.
And for more mini-golf fun, don’t miss Island Falls Adventure Golf (904-261-7881), another outstanding Amelia Island miniature golf course, with 18 (and a half) inventive and beautiful holes, surrounded by waterfalls, bridges, and tunnels, with music throughout the course from their outdoor sound system.
Take to the Town
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. Crescendo Amelia (904-302-6086) is planning some summer concerts so be sure to check out their website for their performance schedule at www.crescendoamelia.com. If you have children 9 and older who are interested in music, Les DeMerle, world-renowned drummer and Artistic Director of the Amelia Island Jazz Festival, in conjunction with Arts Alive Nassau, Inc., presents a virtual Zoom Summer Drum Camp (904-277-7942) that will help develop rhythm and enhance their musical skills. Camp is held July 13, 14, and 15. Personal drum lessons will also be offered.
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.
And what to do on a rainy afternoon, or if you’ve had a bit too much sun? Stop by Amelia Makery (904-310-9520) and get creative! They offer a myriad of crafty ideas, like sign-making, board and pottery painting, and more. Amelia Makery also offers the continued option of take-home kits available for pick-up or no contact delivery. And for those with a sweet tooth, Peterbrooke Chocolatier (904-277-0162) offers a Chocolatier Day Camp and a Mommy & Me Chocolatier Classes for all ages; it’s chocolate fun for everyone!
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. Check their website for current activities and hours at www.ameliamuseum.org.
And there are plenty of places to shop around the island! If you’re staying at one of the local bed & 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. At The Ritz-Carlton’s Florida Spa Resort (904-277-1087), let cares and distractions melt away as you relax under the therapeutic benefits of zero gravity with a Heaven in Hammock massage, or simply take time to breathe deep in a eucalyptus infused steam room. The Spa at the Omni Resort (877-843-7722) will help you unwind after a long day of summer activities with a vast array of herbal teas and organic citrus water, and rejuvenating spa treatments that include couple massages, facials, steam showers, and much more!
For more information on Amelia Island summer activities, visit www.ameliaisland.com or call the Nassau County Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center at (904-261-3248). And be sure to check out Amelia Islander Magazine’s blog that features updated weekly activities and more summer fun at www.ameliaislander.com.