amelia island

Want to discover the best things to do in Amelia Island?

Nestled on the northeastern tip of Florida, Amelia Island emerges as a beacon of tranquility and unspoiled charm.

This barrier island, renowned for its pristine beaches, lush landscapes, and rich historical tapestry, serves as a perfect retreat for those seeking a blend of adventure and relaxation.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an outdoor adventurer, or simply in need of a peaceful escape, Amelia Island offers a diverse range of activities to satisfy every type of visitor.

Amelia Island is not just about its scenic beauty; it’s a versatile destination where every day promises a new adventure.

From exploring historic sites and engaging in exhilarating water sports to indulging in culinary delights and enjoying serene beach walks, the array of things to do in Amelia Island is boundless.

Each corner of the island brims with its unique allure, making it an ideal choice for families, couples, and solo travelers alike.

In this article, we’ll dive into the top 10 things to do in Amelia Island, each offering a unique way to experience the island’s enchanting charm.

Whether you’re planning your first visit or returning to rediscover its wonders, Amelia Island is poised to captivate your heart and fill your itinerary with lasting memories.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the 10 best things to do in Amelia island:

1. Explore Historic Downtown Fernandina Beach

Downtown Fernandina Beach

Downtown Fernandina Beach, the vibrant heart of Amelia Island, is steeped in history and charm.

As you stroll through the quaint streets, you’re walking on the same cobblestones that pirates, soldiers, and tycoons once tread.

Established in 1811, Fernandina Beach boasts a stunning array of Victorian-era architecture, with each building telling its own story of the island’s rich past.

The area is part of the Fernandina Beach Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, celebrating its significance in Florida’s history.

Shopping, Dining, and Special Events

The historic downtown is not only a feast for the eyes but also a hub for shopping and dining.

Whether you’re looking for unique boutiques selling one-of-a-kind items, antique shops filled with treasures, or local art galleries showcasing island-inspired works, downtown Fernandina Beach has it all.

The culinary scene is just as diverse, featuring everything from fresh seafood caught daily to gourmet international cuisine, making it a paradise for food lovers.

The district truly comes alive during its numerous special events throughout the year.

From the renowned Shrimp Festival, celebrating the island’s shrimp industry, to the charming Dickens on Centre holiday festival, which transforms the downtown area into a Victorian Christmas village, there are countless opportunities to immerse yourself in the local culture.

These events highlight the vibrant community spirit and provide visitors with unforgettable experiences, enriching their understanding of why exploring historic downtown Fernandina Beach is one of the top things to do in Amelia Island.

2. Visit Fort Clinch State Park

Fort Clinch State Park

Fort Clinch State Park is a remarkable blend of historical significance and natural splendor, making it a must-visit location on Amelia Island.

The park is named after the well-preserved 19th-century fort located within its boundaries—Fort Clinch, which played roles in several pivotal moments in American history, including the Civil War and the Spanish-American War.

The fort, completed in 1867, stands as a testament to the strategic importance of Amelia Island throughout history.

Surrounding the fort, the park extends over more than 1,400 acres of diverse ecosystems, from maritime hammocks and sand dunes to salt marshes.

This rich tapestry of landscapes not only provides stunning scenery but also supports a variety of wildlife, making it a picturesque spot for nature enthusiasts.

Activities in the Park

Fort Clinch State Park offers a plethora of activities that cater to all interests and fitness levels, ensuring that there’s something for everyone.

Hiking enthusiasts can explore the extensive trail system, which offers scenic views and encounters with local wildlife.

The trails vary in difficulty and scenery, including beachfront paths and dense forest trails, providing a full spectrum of the island’s natural beauty.

For those who love fishing, the park boasts some of the best surf fishing in the area.

Anglers can expect to catch a variety of species, including redfish, flounder, and sea trout, making it a popular spot for both novice and experienced fishermen.

One of the most unique aspects of visiting Fort Clinch is the opportunity to step back in time through historical reenactments.

The park staff and volunteers dress in period attire and perform daily routines and military drills, offering visitors a vivid glimpse into life at the fort during the 19th century.

These reenactments occur regularly, especially on the first weekend of each month, providing an educational and immersive experience that highlights why Fort Clinch State Park is among the top things to do in Amelia Island.

3. Enjoy the Beaches

amelia island beach

Amelia Island is synonymous with breathtaking beaches, and among them, Main Beach Park stands out as a favorite for both locals and visitors.

This beach is renowned for its soft, golden sands and family-friendly atmosphere, making it an ideal spot for a day under the sun.

Main Beach Park is equipped with a variety of amenities, including picnic tables, showers, and a playground, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable visit for everyone.

In addition to Main Beach Park, Amelia Island boasts several other beaches, each with its own charm.

Peters Point Beachfront Park is another popular choice, known for its wide expanse of sand and excellent facilities, making it perfect for everything from beach volleyball to sunbathing.

For those seeking a more secluded experience, American Beach offers a quieter retreat with rich historical significance, as it was founded in 1935 as Florida’s first African American beach resort.

Beach Activities and Amenities

The beaches on Amelia Island are not only perfect for relaxation but also for engaging in a variety of activities.

Beachgoers can enjoy swimming in the clear, warm waters or trying their hand at surfing and paddleboarding with rentals available along the shore.

The island’s beaches are also ideal for finding shells and shark teeth, adding an element of treasure hunting to your beach day.

For added convenience, many of the beaches offer amenities such as beach chair and umbrella rentals, ensuring that visitors can comfortably spend the whole day by the sea.

Lifeguards are present during the busy months, providing an extra layer of safety for swimmers and families with children.

Whether you’re looking to relax and soak up the sun, enjoy a picnic with a view, or indulge in exciting beach activities, the beaches of Amelia Island offer something for everyone.

Exploring these sandy shores is undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Amelia Island, combining natural beauty with endless opportunities for fun and relaxation.

4. Horseback Riding on the Beach

amelia island Horseback Riding

One of the most enchanting experiences available on Amelia Island is horseback riding along its picturesque beaches.

Various local companies offer guided horseback tours that allow you to explore the island’s beautiful coastline in a truly unique way.

These tours cater to all skill levels, from beginners to experienced riders, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

The guided tours typically take you along the softer, less crowded stretches of the beach where the natural beauty of the island unfolds dramatically.

Riders can expect to be matched with a horse that suits their riding experience, and professional guides lead the way, providing insights into the island’s ecosystem and history.

This activity not only offers a serene way to enjoy the beach but also creates lasting memories.

What to Expect from the Experience

Horseback riding on the beach is an incredibly peaceful and refreshing activity.

The rhythmic sound of the horses’ hooves on the sand, combined with the soothing ocean breezes, creates a tranquil atmosphere that is hard to find elsewhere.

As you ride, expect to see stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, and keep an eye out for wildlife such as seabirds and maybe even dolphins playing in the waves.

The experience is designed to be leisurely and is suitable for all ages, making it a perfect family activity or a romantic adventure for couples.

Most tours take place during the cooler parts of the day—either early morning or late afternoon—to ensure a comfortable ride for both the horses and riders.

5. Kayaking and Paddleboarding

amelia island Kayaking

Amelia Island is a haven for water sports enthusiasts, with its calm waters and scenic backdrops providing the perfect setting for kayaking and paddleboarding.

The island’s diverse waterways, including salt marshes, creeks, and the expansive coastline, offer ample opportunities for exploration and adventure.

One of the prime spots for kayaking and paddleboarding is Egan’s Creek, which runs through the island and is surrounded by lush greenery, providing a tranquil environment and the chance to spot local wildlife like birds and turtles.

Another excellent location is the Amelia River, where paddlers can enjoy smooth waters and picturesque views of the historic downtown Fernandina Beach.

For those looking to combine their paddling with a bit of history, a trip around Fort Clinch State Park offers not only beautiful waters but also close-ups of the historic fort from a unique vantage point.

Rental Options and Guided Tour Opportunities

For visitors who do not have their own equipment, there are numerous rental options available on Amelia Island.

Local outfitters offer everything from single kayaks to stand-up paddleboards, along with all the necessary gear, such as paddles and life jackets.

These businesses cater to all levels of experience, from beginners to seasoned paddlers, and provide brief training sessions to ensure everyone feels confident on the water.

In addition to rentals, many of these outfitters also offer guided tours that can enhance the kayaking and paddleboarding experience.

These tours are led by knowledgeable guides who can take you to the best hidden spots while sharing insights about the island’s ecology and history.

Whether it’s a serene sunset paddle or an adventurous journey through the marshes, these guided tours offer a deeper connection with Amelia Island’s natural beauty.

6. Amelia Island Museum of History

Amelia Island Museum of History

The Amelia Island Museum of History stands as a cornerstone of cultural preservation and education in the community.

Situated in the heart of historic downtown Fernandina Beach, the museum is housed in the old Nassau County jail, an architectural gem in its own right.

The museum’s exhibits delve deep into the rich tapestry of Amelia Island’s past, covering its Timucuan Native American heritage, its period under the rule of eight different flags, and its development through the ages.

Visitors to the museum can explore a wide array of exhibits that bring the island’s history to life.

These include detailed dioramas, interactive displays, and authentic artifacts that tell the stories of pirates, settlers, and the strategic importance of the island in various military conflicts.

The museum also offers special exhibits on specific aspects of local history, such as the shrimping industry, which has played a vital role in the island’s economic development.

Importance of the Museum to the Community

The Amelia Island Museum of History is more than just a repository of artifacts; it is a vibrant part of the community that engages locals and visitors alike in the ongoing story of the island.

The museum serves as an educational resource, offering lectures, walking tours, and school programs that emphasize the importance of history and preservation.

These programs are designed to inspire appreciation and stewardship of the island’s heritage among residents and tourists.

Additionally, the museum plays a critical role in community engagement through its numerous events and activities, including ghost tours, historical reenactments, and special community celebrations.

These events not only enrich the cultural life of Amelia Island but also foster a deeper connection between the community and its history, ensuring that the legacy of the island is preserved for future generations.

Visiting the Amelia Island Museum of History is a key activity for anyone wanting to understand the historical forces that have shaped this unique island.

It provides a comprehensive overview of the area’s past and underscores the importance of history in understanding and appreciating the present.

7. Golfing in Amelia Island

Golfing in Amelia Island

Amelia Island is a golfer’s paradise, boasting some of the most scenic and challenging golf courses in Northeast Florida.

The island offers a variety of courses that cater to different skill levels and preferences, ensuring every golfer finds their perfect match.

One of the standout courses is the Omni Amelia Island Resort’s Ocean Links, renowned for its breathtaking ocean views and strategically placed holes that challenge even seasoned players.

Another notable course is The Golf Club at North Hampton, designed by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay, which features intriguing natural elements like wild grasses and rolling dunes, set against a backdrop of meticulously maintained greens.

For those looking for a truly exclusive golfing experience, the private Long Point Golf Course at the Amelia Island Club offers a challenging layout with holes that meander through dense maritime forests and salt marsh wetlands, providing stunning landscapes and a peaceful environment for the game.

Unique Features of Golfing on the Island

Golfing on Amelia Island is distinguished not just by the quality of its courses but also by the unique features that each location offers.

Many of the courses incorporate the island’s natural landscapes into their design, creating a harmonious blend of sport and nature.

For instance, golfers at Amelia River Golf Club enjoy wide, forgiving fairways bordered by majestic oak trees draped in Spanish moss, which not only enhance the visual appeal but also add a layer of strategic complexity to the game.

Furthermore, the golf courses on Amelia Island are known for their commitment to conservation and environmentally friendly practices.

This commitment ensures that the stunning natural habitats are preserved, allowing players to enjoy not only a game of golf but also the local wildlife and flora.

The presence of various bird species, and occasionally even glimpses of deer or other wildlife, makes a round of golf here an immersive experience.

8. Dining in Amelia Island

Dining in Amelia Island

Amelia Island’s culinary scene is as vibrant and diverse as its history, offering an array of dining experiences that cater to all tastes.

The island prides itself on its fresh seafood, sourced directly from the surrounding Atlantic waters, and its blend of Southern and coastal cuisine.

A must-visit for seafood lovers is Timoti’s Seafood Shak, known for its locally sourced shrimp, fish, and oysters served in a laid-back, family-friendly environment.

For a fine dining experience, Salt at The Ritz-Carlton offers a sophisticated menu featuring innovative dishes that utilize local ingredients, including their signature steak cooked on a Himalayan salt block.

Another highlight is Espana Restaurant & Tapas, where guests can enjoy authentic Spanish and Portuguese dishes in a charming outdoor garden setting.

The restaurant’s paella and tapas are not only delicious but also reflect the cultural influences that have shaped the island over centuries.

Specialty Dishes Unique to the Island

Amelia Island’s unique location and history have given rise to specialty dishes that are a must-try for any visitor.

One of the standout local delicacies is the Mayport shrimp, known for its sweet flavor and firm texture, making it a favorite among seafood aficionados.

Many restaurants on the island feature this local shrimp in various forms, from simple grilled preparations to more elaborate dishes like shrimp and grits, a Southern classic with a coastal twist.

Another unique culinary experience is the wild-caught, blackened redfish, often served with a side of Southern succotash or over creamy grits.

The preparation of these dishes not only showcases the freshness of the seafood but also the skill and creativity of Amelia Island’s chefs.

9. Amelia Island Nature Center

Amelia Island Nature Center

The Amelia Island Nature Center is a hub for nature lovers and families looking to explore the island’s diverse ecosystems and wildlife.

The center offers a variety of activities and tours that cater to all ages and interests, making it easy to connect with the environment in an engaging and educational way.

One of the most popular offerings is the guided nature walks, where expert naturalists lead guests through the island’s scenic landscapes, explaining the flora and fauna along the way.

For those seeking a more adventurous experience, the nature center also organizes kayaking tours through the salt marshes, providing an up-close view of the aquatic life and bird species that inhabit these waters.

Additionally, the center offers fishing clinics, where participants can learn about local fish species and responsible fishing practices, all under the guidance of experienced anglers.

Wildlife and Natural Scenery to Explore

Amelia Island is home to a rich variety of wildlife, and the Nature Center is the perfect place to start discovering this biodiversity.

The center is situated in a part of the island that boasts a wide range of habitats, from maritime forests and wetlands to dunes and salt marshes.

These areas are home to an array of wildlife, including gopher tortoises, ospreys, and even the occasional American alligator.

Throughout the year, the nature center also provides opportunities to observe seasonal wildlife phenomena, such as bird migrations in the spring and fall, and sea turtle nesting activities in the summer months.

The center’s programs are designed to educate visitors about the importance of conservation and the roles they can play in preserving these natural settings.

10. Annual Festivals and Events

Amelia Island Jazz Festival

Amelia Island is not only celebrated for its natural beauty and historical sites but also for its vibrant calendar of festivals and events that draw visitors from all over.

One of the hallmark events of the island is the Amelia Island Jazz Festival, which brings renowned jazz musicians and rising stars to the island for a week of spectacular performances.

This festival not only showcases incredible music but also supports music education through scholarships and school programs, making it a vital part of the island’s cultural landscape.

Another significant event is the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, which celebrates the island’s rich shrimping industry.

The festival features a parade, a pirate invasion, live music, and, of course, plenty of shrimp prepared in every way imaginable.

It’s a fun-filled weekend that offers something for every member of the family.

The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is another prestigious event, attracting automobile enthusiasts from around the world.

This event showcases vintage, classic, and exotic vehicles against the backdrop of the lush fairways of the Golf Club of Amelia Island and the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.

What Makes These Events Special and Worth Visiting For

What makes these events particularly special is their ability to blend local culture with universal appeal.

Each festival is deeply rooted in the island’s traditions and community spirit but also welcomes visitors into its celebrations.

For example, the Amelia Island Jazz Festival not only entertains but also educates, fostering a love for jazz music across generations.

The Shrimp Festival pays homage to the local industry while providing endless entertainment and culinary delights, making it a perfect outing for both locals and tourists.

Moreover, these events offer a unique way to experience the hospitality and charm of Amelia Island.

They provide opportunities for interaction among locals and visitors, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Each event is meticulously organized to ensure a memorable experience that highlights the best of Amelia Island, from its music and food to its history and natural beauty.


Amelia Island is a treasure trove of experiences, seamlessly blending historical intrigue, natural beauty, and vibrant cultural festivities into a destination that caters to every interest.

From the charming streets of Historic Downtown Fernandina Beach to the serene beaches that line the coast, the island offers a plethora of activities that are sure to enrich your visit.

The top things to do in Amelia Island include exploring the rich history and stunning architecture of Downtown Fernandina Beach, embracing the natural splendor of Fort Clinch State Park, and relaxing or playing at the island’s picturesque beaches.

For those seeking a touch of adventure, horseback riding along the shore or kayaking through serene waterways offers a unique perspective of the island’s diverse landscapes.

The Amelia Island Museum of History provides a deep dive into the area’s past, while the local golf courses offer a chance to enjoy the outdoors in a lush, green setting.

Culinary enthusiasts can savor fresh, local seafood and other delicacies at various standout restaurants, each presenting a taste of the local flavor.

The Amelia Island Nature Center is perfect for families and nature lovers looking to learn more about the island’s ecology, and the array of annual festivals, such as the Amelia Island Jazz Festival and the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, highlight the island’s community spirit and cultural richness.

amelia island florida

FAQ’s About Amelia Island:

Why is Amelia Island famous?

Amelia Island is renowned for its rich history, stunning natural beauty, and luxurious resorts.

Known as the “Isle of Eight Flags,” it is the only location in the U.S. to have been governed under eight different national flags.

Its historical significance, combined with beautiful beaches and charming downtown areas, make it a unique destination.

Is Amelia Island worth visiting?

Absolutely. Amelia Island offers a diverse array of activities and attractions, from historical sites and museum tours to outdoor adventures like kayaking and golfing.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation or an educational journey through the past, Amelia Island has something to offer everyone.

Why is Amelia Island so expensive?

The cost of visiting or living in Amelia Island can be relatively high due to its popularity as a tourist destination, its luxurious amenities, and its well-preserved natural and historical sites.

The real estate market here also reflects a premium due to its desirable location and the high quality of life.

What is the best month to visit Amelia Island?

The best time to visit Amelia Island is during the spring (March to May) or fall (September to November) when the weather is most pleasant and the crowds are smaller compared to the busy summer months.

These periods offer mild temperatures ideal for exploring the outdoors and enjoying the island’s numerous festivals.

Do you need a car on Amelia Island?

While Amelia Island is relatively small, having a car is beneficial for conveniently exploring the wider area, especially if you plan to visit multiple beaches, restaurants, and attractions spread across the island.

However, much of downtown Fernandina Beach can be comfortably navigated on foot.

Is Amelia Island an expensive place to live?

Living on Amelia Island is considered expensive compared to many other parts of Florida and the United States.

The cost is influenced by its coastal location, the high demand for properties, and its status as a luxury destination.

Can you swim in the ocean at Amelia Island?

Yes, swimming in the ocean at Amelia Island is a popular activity.

The beaches here are known for their safety, cleanliness, and family-friendly amenities.

Lifeguards are typically on duty during the busy seasons to ensure swimmer safety.

Is Amelia Island crowded?

Amelia Island can be crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons such as summer and around major festivals or events.

However, its wide beaches and numerous attractions ensure that it rarely feels overwhelmingly congested.

Does Amelia Island get crowded?

Yes, especially during holiday weekends and special events, Amelia Island can experience higher visitor numbers. Planning your visit outside these peak times can offer a more relaxed experience.

Why is Amelia Island closed?

Amelia Island is generally open year-round to visitors. Occasionally, specific areas, parks, or attractions might temporarily close due to weather conditions, maintenance, or other operational reasons.

Are cars allowed on Amelia Island?

Yes, cars are allowed on Amelia Island. The island is well-equipped with roads and bridges that make it accessible by car.

Do you have to pay to get on Amelia Island?

There is no fee to enter Amelia Island itself. However, specific attractions, parks, or events on the island may require an admission fee.

These frequently asked questions cover essential aspects of visiting and understanding Amelia Island, ensuring that travelers can plan their trips with all necessary information at hand.

things to do in amelia island

(Island Expert)

Christian is a dynamic serial entrepreneur and a licensed real estate agent with a relentless passion for unlocking the potential of island real estate. Christian's expertise extends beyond entrepreneurship and property transactions. He possesses a profound expertise in crafting captivating content and persuasive copywriting tailored exclusively to the enchanting realm of island real estate.

Thanks for your enquiry.

Check your email shortly for the ebook download link.

Download Island Buyers Guide Ebook

Please fill in your details below and we will send you this ebook via email