The Sunshine State is home to numerous destinations to relax the soul and rejuvenate the spirit. But most travelers make the mistake of skipping Northern Florida to head to more popular spots like Miami, the Keys, Tampa or Orlando. What they are missing is the quintessential Florida, complete with moss-covered oaks, rich Spanish history, dune-covered beaches and southern grace and charm. If you’d like to sample this type of Florida, away from the hustle-and-bustle of crowds, visit the barrier island of Amelia Island.
Located just outside of Jacksonville, Amelia Island was ranked “Queen of the Summer Resorts” in 1896 — and more than a century later, it hasn’t lost its touch as a resort destination. The island has 13 miles of beaches — the most popular being Fernandina Beach, ranked one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches. Fernandina Beach is also home to a 50-block historic district, perfect for strolling the cobblestone walkways while shopping for antiques and collectibles or wandering through Victorian neighborhoods filled with classic Victorian, Queen Anne and Chinese Chippendale-style homes.
Adventurous visitors can sightsee at the Civil War-era Fort Clinch, search for pirate treasure and Spanish galleons still rumored to be buried in Old Town, participate in a nighttime ghost tour in attempts to meet one of the area’s numerous spirits, or hike and bike along the many nature trails that pass along the beaches and marshes of the area.
But to really relax, kick back at the Amelia Island Plantation. The nearly 50-year-old plantation was built and developed on its 1,350 acres to be in harmony with its surroundings. Eighty percent of the natural tree coverage before the plantation was built is still located on the plantation.
The resort’s acreage affords privacy, and a visit to this barrier island will provide an uncrowded beach getaway.