Amelia Island, Florida

Sunset in FloridaOn the intracoastal
Jeremy Duguid Photography/Getty Image

If your mental map is blank, you're not alone: for most family travelers, the Florida landscape is dominated by Orlando. Wonderful fun, yes; yet many families seek a different kind of holiday, somewhere relaxing, at a beach-- a getaway.

Amelia Island for Families

Amelia Island, a twenty-minute drive from Jacksonville, has two excellent beach resorts, and interesting day-trips if you feel like moving from the beach or pool. Take a nature walk or boat tour; stroll through the beautifully restored Victorian town of Fernandina Beach; visit a historic fort; ride horses on the beach.

Just Who was Amelia?

The island carries the name of an English princess: the daughter of the British King George II. It's the only place in the US that's been under eight flags: French, Spanish, British, Patriots, Green Cross of Florida, Mexican, Confederate, and the US-- this small island has been tossed by history since the rhythms of Timucuan Indian life were broken centuries ago.

The city of Fernandina Beach is a lovely place to stroll around, with many restored Victorian-style buildings. For history on-the-spot: The Amelia Island Museum of History is an oral history museum, specializing in walking tours and storytelling formats.

Climate and When to Visit

Because of its location in northern Florida, the Island is cooler in summer than further south. (Check average temperatures.) The island also has cool sea breezes. Amelia is long and narrow-- only two miles wide. On one side is thirteen miles of beaches; the other side is marsh wetlands.

April, May, and June are lovely months. Some visitors might prefer cooler winter months, for golf; with temperatures in the 60's, you probably won't swim in the ocean, though the hotels' heated pools would still be fun.
And something you don't have to think about: hurricanes. Brief thunderstorms are common from late spring into autumn, but Amelia Island is lucky not to get hurricanes.

Nature Tours and Boat Tours

With miles of wetlands and giant oak trees, Amelia Island has abundant birdlife to offer nature lover.

Guests at the Amelia Island Plantation Resort can hike or bike seven miles of nature trails; best of all, are the boardwalks that extend right into the marsh. (Click above for photo.) You can experience the stillness of the wetlands, a spot many kinds of birds, and watch the tide wash in and out of the marsh grasses.
Boat Tours: Getting out on the water is highly recommended! Take a tour of the Amelia River, the wetlands, and Cumberland Sound.
Out on the water, the shrimp boats have a wing-ed sort of beauty, and dolphins can be spotted. If you're lucky you'll spot the wild horses on Cumberland Island.

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