What she thought
Jason and I went to Fernandina Beach this weekend. Jason lived there for a while when he was younger and had been wanting us to visit for a while. We only had a couple of days but managed to see some really cool things. Here's a little info about Amelia Island ---
Amelia Island is the southernmost of the Sea Islands, barrier islands that lie off the coast from South Carolina to north Florida.
The Timucua people settled on the island circa 1000 and were there till the 18th century when the French came..... then the Spanish.... then the British. Enter James Oglethorpe. Being from Georgia and having lived in Savannah, I found it interesting that Oglethorpe founded a settlement on the island that actually had squares like the squares in Savannah. Apparently he was a fan of squares. Oglethorpe renamed the island Amelia Island after the British princess. The island has been under the rule of the French, Spanish, British, Mexico and the US.
Please check out info on our hotel
The Residence Inn Amelia Island by Marriott on our "Hotels we Recommend" page or by clicking here.
On our first day on the island Jason was visiting his aunt so I decided to drive around for a couple of hours to see what I could find. Of course I drove for a bit along A1A and wandered around till I found a beautiful view of Cumberland Island. We had camped there when I was younger and it was cool to see it in the distance across the sound. I found the original settlement on the island, referred to as Old Town. This is where the squares were that I mentioned before. Nearby was a really old cemetery called Bosque Bello cemetery, which was founded by the Spanish in 1798. Not far from there is the historic downtown area still busy today with little shops and restaurants.
Jason and his mom met me for lunch and we found a great little Mexican restaurant called Pablo's. If you are ever in Fernandina you must check this place out. Pablo's family has owned restaurants for 5 generations. He started in his father's restaurant washing dishes and now has his own place. They have been open in Fernandina for 6 years now. We ordered an organic agave margarita which was more like a margarita bowl!! It was soooo delicious! Pablo also treated us to a sample of "Pablo's tequila", their own organic mix of tequila, vanilla, cinnamon and orange. It's not on the menu so ask for it by name. You won't regret it. The bar at Pablo's has over 100 tequilas so you may need to plan more than one trip. The chimichanga was the best I've ever had!! They also have a courtyard for outside dining on those perfect Florida nights under the stars.
After lunch we headed to Fort Clinch and walked on the beach 'til sunset.
The next day we walked the beach for hours looking for sharks teeth and other treasures and finished our visit off with lunch at Slider's Seaside Grill. It's a great not-so-little beach bar sitting right on Fernandina Beach. The second story balcony is the perfect place to have lunch while watching the waves come in. The menu is just what you'd expect, burgers, sliders, etc. The drinks were huge (one can never have a glass of Coke that's too big) and the service was great.
Our trip to Fernandina was alot of fun. If you are looking for a staycation give it a try!
What he thought
The greatest memories I have of my childhood are of searching for sharks teeth on Fernandina Beach. I remember root-beer floats, miniature golf, wearing my polyester disco shirt to the skating rink on Saturday nights. There's something really special, for a kid, about living in a small beach community.
As an adult, you always want to recapture the emotions of those pivotal moments in your childhood. Though, I have traveled up and down I-95 past the A1A dozens of times in the last twenty years, I never visited Fernandina as an adult to reminisce about my experiences there as a youth.
One thing I most wanted to do in Fernandina was hunt for shark's teeth on the beach. As always is the case with a walk on the beach, it's an experience that helps you unwind, clear your mind and be fully in the present. Adding the mission of finding those tiny black triangles in the sand makes the meditation all the more intense.
Not many beaches in the US offer the prospect of shark teeth. It's one of my favorite features of Amelia island but on our trip, I discovered many other charms that I missed as a kid.
Small towns with history -- I just love'em. When they are pre-colonial with forts and cannons and the stories include names like Oglethorpe, DeSoto and expressions like, "when the indians attacked" or "British occupation" it's hard not to devour every detail. Fernandina will satiate any appetite for history! Eat it up.
We just missed the shrimp boat festival on this trip and I dearly regret it. I happens every year at the end of April (or thereabouts). The whole historical city center is transformed into a celebration of local arts, crafts, music, food and history. There's a parade, fireworks and boat rides. I did it many times as a kid and almost forgot about it. I think we'll be there in 2014 - look for me. I'll be the one dressed like a pirate and pretending not to be a big nerdy software developer. Hey - they have rum - what can I say?!
I don't know what other people look for in vacation destinations. For me, I expect nothing and just appreciate the exploration and time spent with my little lady. Fernandina is a place for people who aren't looking for big theme parks but are happy with sunshine, a nice beach and homey restaurants with cheap entertainment and reasonably priced fried food.
The history may surprise you. How quickly you're forced into "island time" is an unexpected gift. Accommodations are affordable -- especially for a coastal resort. You can find shark's teeth. What else could you ask for?