We just returned from our Amelia Island (Fernandina Beach) trip. This was our second time visiting this beach. Prior to the pandemic, my family did not do too many driving trips, and would typically choose to visit places with a mix of activities (not just lazy beach days). In 2020, we took 3 “social distance” beach trips, and Amelia Island was our first one (in June). We even stayed in the same Condo community as we did in June 2020, so obviously we really like it.
What’s so good about Amelia Island??? For us, it is an easy drive. Where we stay, we basically get a private beach and a community pool. There is a bike path that runs through Amelia Island that you can use for morning runs, walks, or bike rides (if you like to get some exercise in on vacation). Downtown is a 10-15 minute drive if you want to break up the beach days and walk around, eat, or grab a drink! You can also find a place to stay that is pretty affordable compared to other popular Florida locations.
How to get there:
Amelia island is about 45 minutes north of Jacksonville. From Atlanta, it is a 5.5 hour drive, so we choose to drive when we go. If Amelia Island is as not as convenient of a drive for you, look for flights into the JAX airport.
Where to Stay:
Like I mentioned above, both times we went to Amelia, we stayed in the same Condo community. We used VRBO to book each trip but would have saved money had we used a local rental agency (like Amelia Island Getaway). We will definitely book through a local agency next time. Anyway, the community we stayed in is called Summer Beach Village. You can google “Summer Beach Village” or “Sailmaker Amelia Island” to see options. Both trips were around $2500 for 7 nights. The complex has condo-style options that are ground level. With these, you can easily walk out to the beach or pool The complex also offers townhome style options. The townhomes are 2 levels and are above the condos (so you do not enter ground level). With the townhome option, the bedrooms are upstairs away from the living area. The townhomes can be a challenge if you bring your pet or carry a lot of stuff to the beach. Our first visit we stayed in a townhome with a beach view. Our second visit we chose a condo with a pool view. Though we were a little further from the beach, we enjoyed the condo more. We also had our older dog with us, so it made taking him out much easier. That brings up another good point…some condos are dog friendly, so if you want to bring your pup, check for that.
If you prefer staying in Hotels, the Ritz is less than a mile from where we stayed. The last time I checked prices they were hefty, and we were able to go to Puerto Rico for a week for cheaper (with fights included). I have heard this hotel is great for kids though. There is also an Omni Hotel 3 miles south of where I stayed. I haven’t heard much about it, but it looks really nice.
Beach, eating, drinking…that’s pretty much all we do when we go.
Where to Eat/drink:
Grocery – Harris Teeter -Address: Shops at Amelia Market, 4800 1st Coast Hwy, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034. My husband made several runs to Harris Teeter and it was a really nice one. They have a prepared food section that makes for an easy dinner. We had some pretty decent pizza slices from there one night.
Amelia Tavern – We loved this place so much we went there twice. I’ve also included them below as a “Drink” option. Not only is their food menu really yummy, but they also are a brewery. For food, we tried the Quinoa Tacos, Grilled Onion and Mushroom Flatbread, Crispy Brussels (minus the pork belly), Rueben (husband), and cheese fries (Sienna). They have a kids menu too. Sienna got a grilled cheese and loved it. Everything we tried was delicious!
The Salty Pelican – We went downtown on Monday and discovered that many of the restaurants were closed, including the one we were planning on eating at. Luckily, we found this place and it was open. I was able to get on their waitlist in the yelp app, and we were seated right away. Nothing crazy special about this place, but it is decent and open on Mondays. I had an impossible burger taco (I am vegetarian, which I have failed to mention until now). They had a wide selection of drink options and a kid’s menu. So pretty much everything you need.
The Loop Pizza Grill – Our first trip to Amelia in June 2020, we ordered pizza from The Loop via Door Dash. If you are looking for an easy pizza night in, this is a good option. I had the Farmers Market Pizza and chose the Cauliflower Crust option.
Bantam – We have Bantam restaurants in Atlanta relatively close by, but have never been. There is a location in Amelia super close to the condo complex we stayed in. We ordered food there via Door Dash our first night there, and my husband picked it up. They have a wide selection of food and have breakfast items all day. I had a veggie plate (beets, quinoa salad, slaw), Sienna had pancakes, and Jonathan had chicken tenders. I got crazy and ordered the Spicy Strawberry Jalapeno juice too. When I was about done, I added Tequila to it 🙂
Pogos Kitchen – This restaurant was on our list of places to try. It is super close to where we stayed in Amelia. We never actually made it there, but if we go back, we plan to. I really want to go for the seared halloumi cheese small plate. Yum!
Cafe Karibo – Another place on our list that we did not make it to. We planned to go here Monday night, but they were closed. It is really cute, and I did get a picture in front of it….so that is almost as good as eating there. My menu picks are the Spicy Thai Noodles and Tofu Tower. They also have brunch on Sundays!!!
Restaurants at the Ritz– The Ritz has several restaurants, and it is basically next door to where we stay. We thought about heading over and trying Coquina for Mexican one night, but didn’t make it here either.
Sliders – This is a place several people recommended. The menu didn’t look like something I would enjoy, but wanted to add it here as an option since not all of us are vegetarians 🙂
Tasty’s Fresh Burgers – Another place downtown that was recommended, but I am just not a burger girl.
Ciao Italian – Ciao is downtown also. I have not heard of it, but we drove by it on our way out one night and I thought it looked cute. Looking at the menu, it looks like it could be a yummy spot.
Aloha Bagel – Aloha Bagel was recommended to me our first trip to Amelia. My hubby took my daughter there for breakfast one morning.
Island Time Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt – On our last trip, we stopped here twice. They have Ice cream, but we were really into the frozen yogurt where you can add all the yummy toppings. They had a caramel pretzel flavor that was my fave. They charge by the size of the cup and not the weight, so you can really just cram as much stuff in your cup as you possibly can.
Fantastic Fudge – Another good spot for Ice cream. Sienna got a rainbow ice cream that was really just vanilla flavored, but she pretended like each color was a different flavor. Anything to keep her amused for 10 minutes. They also sell fudge and chocolate candies there (like chocolate covered Oreos)
Nana Teresa’s Bake Shop – This is a really cute bakeshop with cupcakes, cakes, cookies. We got ridiculously yummy cookies there out the first trip to Amelia, and Sienna got a cupcake. This place is by Cafe Karibo, so stop here for dessert after!
Mocama Beer Company – I will first note that we love breweries. When we travel, we always like to find local breweries to check out. We stopped by here for maybe an hour and just had a beer. The beers were great and the place was really cute (not the typical Warehouse brewery like we have all over Atlanta). We would definitely check this place out again next time.
Amelia Tavern – I talked about Amelia Tavern above and their yummy food. They also have really good beer. I am a big fan of Sour beers or Seltzers…and they have both. I had a Cotton Candy Sour, which was different but good. You are able to take crowlers home, so we took one home for each seltzer flavor they had. Our favorite seltzer flavor was the Creamsicle.
SJ Brewing Co – This place is actually a little bit off the island, but my husband did drive here one day and pick us up some beer. This was our first trip to Amelia back in June 2020, so I don’t remember too much, but they did have Sours…and I am pretty sure I liked them.
OK, that is all I got. If you decide to take a trip to Amelia Island, hopefully you find this helpful.