What a quick, wonderful getaway Amelia Island turned out to be. We were seriously craving some beach time, and this was a nice treat. Considered part of Florida's "First Coast," Amelia Island is the first exit you reach as soon as you head south across the Florida border (Exit 380; a long way from exit 1 at the Rickenbacker Causeway in Miami!). You wind your way down a two-lane road until you reach Yulee, then head east toward the coast. It's a short drive through pleasant, rural Florida (that, frankly, more resembles Georgia than Florida to me... it is just a stone's throw from Georgia, after all).
Fernandina Beach and Amelia had several components that made it a terrific stop: a nice harbor, lots of water, natural areas (two state parks), an adorable downtown, an interesting history, and, of course, the beach!
After having a light lunch on the roadside, we had an early dinner of pink snapper at Timoty's. Wow -- this was some of the best blackened fish I've had in ages. The spicing was just right, and the fries and hushpuppies were a yummy indulgence (queue guilt trip shortly afterward). We were the only ones there, since we were eating so early, but it was pleasant to sit outside in the warm, fall air.
The hotel where we stayed was ok. A chain, pretty clean, friendly, very quiet (which goes a long, long way for us), but with some quirks, too (awkward doors and room layouts, to name one thing). I think we didn't get the value we could have out of the room as we would have if we'd stayed longer. It was really spacious with a kitchenette, which was actually handy even during our short stay. We made lunch and ate in the room at the table before heading out on our last day. The property wasn't on the beach, but was an easy, short walk. We may or may not stay there again if we are back in the area. In fact, for any length of time longer than a weekend, I would probably consider finding a condo on Homeaway or something... So, no specific hotel recommendations for this post. Rest assured there are plenty of accommodation options there, though.
Our evening ended with a long walk on the beach. From Sadler Road north, there is no driving, and only modest, ocean-front houses lining the beach. That gave it a really open, natural feel. South of there, driving on the beach is allowed (with permit), which I am not a fan of, for both safety and pollution reasons. No cars were around while we were out there, so it wasn't an issue. We were treated to a glorious sunset to end the night, then headed back to the hotel.
Finally, a layout from our visit.
Stay tuned for part 2, when we explored Fort Clinch State Park.