If you’re looking for another great place to add to your Florida adventure list, look no further than Amelia Island! Located off the coast of northeast Florida, this historic barrier island is packed with activities the whole family will enjoy. We recently spent 4 days here courtesy of our friends at Visit Amelia Island allowing us to round up some of the best they offer in accommodations, local eats and exploration. From abundant nature, to a bustling downtown – here are some of the best ways to spend a weekend in Amelia Island, Florida!
Location, location, location!
When deciding on your stay for your trip definitely consider the conveniently located Hampton Inn & Suites on Amelia Island’s Historic Harbor Front. This quaint and colorful hotel is located right in the heart of Centre Street within walking distance of boutique shops, bars, restaurants and the marina. It’s historic and coastal decor creates an inviting welcome to guests that truly captures the essence of this charming island’s vibe.
The room suites offer spacious accommodations for families that includes a small kitchen, dining table, living area and double queen bedroom. Every morning between 6-10am, the hotel also offers complimentary breakfast to guests with a wide variety of food beyond your average toast and banana. As wellness advocates we also appreciated their 24 hour gym access too!
Another notable sustainability effort from Amelia Island is their “Green Lodging Property” certifications that recognizes properties offering eco-friendly stay accommodations. The Hampton Inn & Suites is among the several hotels on the island to receive this honorary recognition.
Amelia Island has no shortage of food options! During our stay we made it a point to try as many local eateries as possible ranging from fast casual to finer dining. Whether your diet is veg, seafood or meat forward, there’s certainly something here for everyone! Here are some of our favorite round ups to add to your itinerary.
American Bistro offered under a canopy of oaks and ambient patio lighting
Casual outdoor venue with locally procured ingredients, a walk up order window and on site playground.
Specializes in traditional flavors and dishes from Spain and Portugal such as paella, a variety of tapas and house made sangria.
Creative, handmade fares ranging from salads, burgers and entrees after 5pm.
Asian street food featuring a local fan favorite selection of sake sangria.
Cozy bookstore doubling as a cafe offering quick bites, teas and coffee.
Japanese cuisine ranging from bowls, sushi rolls, noodles and more.
As adventure lovers, we were thrilled to find all the unique experiences Amelia Island has to offer! Native wildlife, historical sites and creative projects are among the many one of a kind activities you can choose from during your weekend here. A really great program also worth sharing about is the Amelia Island Passport. The Passport highlights participating local businesses that offer points during your experience to help you earn exclusive prizes.
Below are some top places from our trip that we highly recommend you explore during your stay!
Learn first hand about the rich history of Amelia Island and the Cumberland Islands aboard a large passenger boat! This scenic tour lasts about 2 hours showcasing Fernandina’s shrimp boats, Fort Clinch, Cumberland Island and other historic sites. Food and drink are allowed on the boat and rates are $33 per adult and $27 for kids (3 and under are free). Private charters and specialty cruises are also available.
Open daily from 8am to sunset, Fort Clinch is the island’s preserved fort filled with self guided historic tours, nature trails, shark teeth filled shorelines and camp grounds. Guests pay a small entrance fee ($6 per vehicle) and can also check in at the visitor center for tickets ($2.50 per person) to explore the fort. If you’re just looking to fish or hunt for shark teeth along the shore, you can walk past the center and access the beach directly. Swimming is not permitted.
This colorful art studio is a great way to tap into your creative side for travelers of all ages. With over 750 art projects to choose from, this crafty DIY studio makes for the perfect opportunity to create a one of kind souvenir. No art experience is required and everything you need is provided to you by the team. From signs to sculptures, this is a wonderful place to bring home a special memory from Amelia Island!
This unique spin on traditional bowling is a must! These micro lanes offer guests a fun, lounge like atmosphere with tiny bowling balls that are actually harder to strike with. So much so, Duck Pinz offers a shot on the house to anyone who manages to do it! In addition to the bar downstairs, there’s also a lounge area upstairs and balcony seating. Kids are allowed to enjoy the lanes before 5pm.
One of the perks to Amelia Island is that everything is fairly easy to get to in a short time frame. Downtown Centre Street is especially convenient with tons of boutique shops, restaurants and bars all within walking distance of each other. There’s even a place here that will turn your shark teeth into a necklace for you too! The vibe is charming and historic with a beautiful view of the marina. Shop, grab a bite and enjoy the island like a local.
Considering Amelia Island is known for its stretch of beaches, adding a day in the sun to your weekend getaway is never a bad idea! Unlike many other cities, most public parking here is free and cars are even welcome to drive directly onto the beach. The water was a great temperature during our beach day visit and the sand was filled with tons of unique shells perfect for collecting.
While this event does take place annually, its still worth sharing about in case your trip lines up with the dates! As mentioned before, Amelia Island takes their sustainability seriously and has dedicated volunteer clean up days along with their Wild Amelia Festival to encourage others to learn more about their native wildlife and eco habits. The festival has numerous wild life refuge areas set up allowing for up close encounters with owls, snakes, rabbits and turtles. A morning litter clean up was also curated downtown where volunteers were assigned a block to help pick up trash. Aftwerward, participants who were 21+ were gifted a drink ticket to redeem at Marriott’s poolside bar as a thank you incentive to help keep our planet beautiful! Overall, it felt really nice to give back during our stay and we highly recommend getting involved whenever you can.
Special thank you to Visit Amelia Island, Hayworth PR and all the featured businesses who helped to make our trip here memorable.