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Amelia Island’s laid-back southern hospitality welcomes all types of travelers, whether you’re looking to enjoy a romantic getaway, take a multigenerational vacation, or indulge in a fun weekend away with friends. The barrier island just north of Jacksonville, Florida, has 13 miles of pristine beach, dozens of acres of protected marshland, and also great shopping and dining in the downtown hub of Fernandina Beach. There are also a number of historic sites like Fort Clinch, a Civil War-era edifice. When it comes to lodging on Amelia Island, there is quite a wide range, from B&Bs in hundred-year-old houses to quintessential beach motels to a sprawling 1,350-acre resort. Here, we offer some insight into the different kinds of accommodations, picking our favorites for multiple types of experiences, from budget to luxury. Whichever you choose, you’re sure to have a great stay at one of these eight hotels and inns.
Best Overall: Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort
If you want a laid-back vacation where you have easy access to everything you need, Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort is the place to stay. Set on 1,350 acres on the southern side of Amelia Island, the resort offers guests a secluded location with enough activities and entertainment to keep them occupied for days on end. There are 404 rooms that range from standard kings to massive presidential suites, all outfitted in beachy-yet-sophisticated beige and blue decor. They’re built along 3.5 miles of shore, too, so each room has an ocean view (and outdoor space!). As for activities, the beaches are a major draw, as are the 10,000-square-foot family-friendly pool, the infinity-edge adults-only pool, more than seven miles of bike trails, guided kayaking and paddleboarding through the marshland, two 18-hole golf courses, the Cliff Drysdale Tennis program with 23 courts, a nature center, and a shopping village. That’s not to mention the spa, salon, fitness center, or the nine restaurants on site, too. And there’s even more for children, including a water playground, a gamer’s lounge, mini golf, and kid-specific programming.
Best Boutique: Elizabeth Pointe Lodge
If boutique lodging is what you're after, head to the Elizabeth Pointe Lodge, where you'll find all the best features of both larger hotels and intimate B&Bs. There are just 25 rooms here — including a number of suites and a private cottage — with the majority overlooking the beach. A great breakfast and wine happy hour with hors d’oeuvres are included, and though the public can dine at the on-site restaurant for both breakfast and lunch, dinner is reserved for guests only. While the exterior of the hotel is Victorian-style with Nantucket shingles and a large verandah with rocking chairs, interiors are an updated take on traditional (there’s no stuffiness or an outrageous amount of floral upholstery) without any beachy tropes. As the Elizabeth Pointe Lodge is set on the beach, it’s not quite within walking distance of downtown Fernandina Beach, which is on the harborside, but you can easily bike or drive the two miles.
Best for Luxury: Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island
Without a doubt, the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, is the most luxurious property in town, but it still delivers a healthy dose of the Florida coast’s laid-back vibe. Though there are 446 well-appointed rooms — all with ocean views and outdoor space — the hotel feels more like a residential neighborhood than a resort, with a more subdued, comfortable atmosphere. That said, service is top-notch, as you’d expect from the brand, and there are amenities galore. You’ll find four restaurants here, including the highly acclaimed Salt; the signature Ritz Kids Club and related programs; outdoor and indoor pools; a private golf course; tennis courts; a family game room; a state-of-the-art fitness center; and a must-visit spa (try the Heaven in a Hammock zero-gravity massage for a unique treatment). There are also programs like stargazing and surf lessons. Though the Ritz-Carlton is a luxury resort, it caters to families, so be prepared to see kids throughout the property.
Best Downtown: Hampton Inn & Suites Amelia Island-Historic Harbor Front
If access to downtown Fernandina Beach is what you seek, book a stay at the budget-friendly Hampton Inn & Suites Amelia Island-Historic Harbor Front. As you might guess from its name, it’s located across the street from the harbor in the heart of the historic district, so all the restaurants, shops, and attractions of Fernandina Beach are within walking distance. Though the hotel is a chain, the decor is more boutique than mass-produced, particularly in the lobby, where a grand circular staircase salvaged from an old church is the focal point. Rooms are relatively simple, but functional and clean, and many do feature kitchenettes or full kitchens. Breakfast is included in the rate and the front desk can prepare a to-go bag for you, too. As an alternative to the beach, which is a 10- to 15-minute drive away, you can lounge by the small pool. There’s also a business center and a gym, and a small parking lot that’s free for guests (note that it is first-come, first-serve).
Best Budget: Seaside Amelia Inn
Even with its prime beachfront location, just a five-minute drive from downtown Fernandina Beach, the Seaside Amelia Inn is an affordable option. Amenities are rather limited: the 46-room hotel does have a small pool, but you’ll find most guests utilizing the free beach loungers on the sand instead. There’s no on-site restaurant, but a hot breakfast is served to guests free of charge. Plus, the Sandbar + Kitchen is right next door and the Salt Life Food Shack is around the corner, next to a mini-golf course. The hotel also offers weekend yoga classes on the beach for $20 per person. As for rooms, you’ll want to book an oceanview one — some do overlook the pool and patio. Decor has been updated with beachy themes, but don't worry, it's not too kitschy. Each room has a mini-fridge and microwave, and some rooms have kitchenettes. If you’re weighing the option of bringing your pet, the Ground Floor Suite allows four-legged family members for a fee.
Best for Romance: Hoyt House Bed & Breakfast
With an adults-only policy, the Hoyt House Bed & Breakfast is the ideal spot for a romantic getaway. There are ten en-suite rooms in the early-20th-century house, each individually decorated in period style. Some rooms have original working fireplaces, which are great in the ever-so-slightly chilly winters. The most romantic room is the Mizell Suite, the largest of the ten, which has a Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom. Breakfast is, of course, included, but it’s much more than a simple spread — it’s a three-course gourmet affair. The guesthouse also has its own bar, the Hoyt Lounge, which is only open from 5 to 6 PM daily, though guests can ask the hosts to serve up a drink any time. The landscaped grounds are also spectacular, with a pool, hot tub, hammock, and gazebo. Though Hoyt House feels secluded, it’s actually right in the middle of downtown Fernandina Beach.
Best for Families: Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island
When traveling with kids, convenience is key, and the Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island is all about ease. Here, 133 contemporary suite-style rooms range in size from studios to two bedrooms, but they’re all spacious and have full kitchens — great for feeding the kids whenever they’re hungry. The Residence Inn also offers a free hot buffet breakfast each morning, which is an easy way to get the family up and out to start the day. If you’re looking to relax, there’s a pool with loungers, but the beach is just three blocks away. The hotel also backs onto the Egan’s Creek trail, which meanders through a natural area. Downtown Fernandina Beach is just a ten-minute drive away, but you don’t have to worry about parking — the hotel provides a free shuttle for guests, driving them anywhere on the island during the day. Other amenities include a laundry room and a small fitness center.
Best Eco-Friendly: Fairbanks House
The 8,000-square-foot, 1885-built Italianate mansion that’s now the Fairbanks House doesn’t immediately look like a green property, given its historic façade, but its owners have put a number of measures in place to create a more environmentally friendly B&B. A reflective roof lessens energy consumption, packaging for bath amenities are biodegradable, water bottles are replaced by glass pitchers, and the landscaping features drought-tolerant plants and a butterfly garden, among other features. That aside, Fairbanks House is a spectacular lodging option, with 12 rooms, including cottages and suites. Most have traditional Victorian-era decor, but the Grand Tower Suite is significantly more modern. Breakfast is a two-course affair served in the formal dining room each morning, with a happy hour served each evening (there are free homemade cookies, too). Amenities include a pool, free beach cruisers, and free beach loungers and umbrellas. The beach is a two-mile drive from Fairbanks House, which is located downtown.