Getaway To One of The Best Florida Beaches & Islands: Amelia Island
Amelia Island and Fernandina beach has become one of my absolute favorite Florida beaches! The island is 13 miles long and sits just over an hour south of two other favorite low country beaches located to the north in Georgia: Jekyll Island and St. Simons Island. We have stayed at the SPG Westin Property on Jekyll Island and can highly recommend it as well.
A Dream Almost Realized
My husband is currently pursuing his instrument rating on his private pilot’s license. He has been working toward this dream for over ten years now. His flight instructor indicated he and his wife would like a short weekend away to the beach. Did someone say beach? My little map dot in Northeast Tennessee is a day's drive from Florida's beaches. This presented a good opportunity for instruction for my husband and great opportunity to getaway. We decided to book a trip to the OMNI AMELIA ISLAND PLANTATION RESORT. We arrived in a little over TWO HOURS! Florida's beaches are only a two hour flight away? Oh my! Oh my!
Exploring the Plantation
Depending upon your vacation style, there are a few distinct ways to enjoy Amelia Island. Fernandina Beach is a lovely beach with a wide coastline, plenty of shells for those who like to collect them, and soft sand. Surprisingly, it seems to be a secret to the world! In fact, I am almost reticent to write about it for fear the word might get out and my respite might become another busy tourist attraction!
We enjoyed such a relaxing time strolling along the beach, dipping in the ocean, and lounging by Omni’s adult pool! Perhaps it was merely because the kids weren’t with us, or because it wasn’t a Disney resort (as much as I love them), but I thoroughly enjoyed our time here. It was a respite on a nearly uninhabited beach!
Within the plantation itself, there are numerous restaurants, shops, and activities. If golfing is your favorite vacation pass time, the plantation offers three,
"Audubon International certified sanctuary golf courses" as well as a golf academy.
If you prefer tennis, Omni's site states their tennis program is, "managed by Cliff Drysdale Tennis professionals" and offers "23 Har-Tru tennis courts"
Additionally, Omni Resort Plantation offers a "health and fitness center, nature-inspired spa and salon, shopping village, year round youth programs, Nature Center, fishing, Segway tours, bicycle and island hopper rentals" (also known as Golf Carts)
Dining On The Plantation
Our stay at the plantation included two visits to Marché Burette. On our first visit we enjoyed a deli style lunch. My husband was in the mood for a Po Boy, and while it wasn’t on the menu, the waitress replied with, “I am sure we can make it!” That is the kind’ve WOW service that VeraVise loves to tell others about. Make it they did! It was delicious. I enjoyed the Southwest Turkey Panini and our companions shared the Turkey Apple Brie Panini. We then shared a GIANT Peanut butter cookie! We were found a time or two back at the Marché Burette in line at the gelato counter!!
While eating lunch, the manager came around to tell us about their Shrimp Boil and Steak Out dinners. Saturday night’s Steak Out menu sounded appealing so we returned to enjoy this fabulous meal. The manager informed us to arrive by 5pm if we wanted to avoid an hour long wait.
Amelia Island's Other Attractions
If the beach isn’t your ideal vacation, see the doctor right away. Just kidding! In all seriousness, if you are like me, there is a time for lounging and there is a time for exploring. Amelia Island offers both. With its quaint shops, numerous restaurants, and lovely marina, the downtown is as enjoyable as the beach.
If you are a history nerd as I am, you will find much to satisfy your itch on Amelia Island. I found the history of the Lesesne House fascinating. The house has sat on the corner of Centre Street for over 150 years and now serves as a venue for weddings and events.
On our first visit in September, we stayed in the downtown district at the Hampton Inn. While there we visited the local visitor’s center and met two very friendly ladies more than eager to share their love for the island. As a homeschooling family, we were excited to find out about Fort Clinch State Park and enjoyed a nice afternoon exploring the fort.
One downside to flying your own airplane is that your plans are very subject to the weather. While we planned to stay three nights, we had to cut our time a bit short in order to avoid some bad weather back home. On our last afternoon we decided to make one more stop in downtown where we enjoyed lunch at Tasty’s fresh burgers & fries. It was this experience that sealed the deal for me in terms of my love for this town. Sitting in the warm sun, enjoying burgers & milk shakes while meeting the friendly people of Amelia Island has created a longing in my heart to not only visit this place, but make it my home. That may be a post for the future, but I have definitely been exploring the possibilities.
Here is an additional list of accommodations and restaurants on the island. VeraVise can recommend from experience those that are italicized.