Amelia Island Plantation - with Video Tours
Our family has a longstanding tradition of Florida vacations, and one of our favorite destinations is Amelia Island. I’ve been visiting the island since before I could even walk, so I know it well. When my daughters were kids, they fell in love with the island, too, and now my grandkids are enjoying it with us. In fact, my middle daughter adores the place so much that she named her youngest child "Amelia." We usually try to stay a week or two during the summer, with shorter trips through the rest of the year - especially during the fall months when the fishing is awesome and the days aren't so hot. We used to do a lot of camping on the island, but as I’ve grown older, I sort of prefer more comfortable accommodations. This little island is loaded with southern charm, and it has some great beaches, some awesome restaurants, and lots of things to do and see. When it comes to accommodations, you’ll have a slew of choices, including hotels, beachfront condominiums, an oceanfront motel, bed and breakfast inns, campgrounds, private homes, and luxury resorts. One of the finest is Omni Amelia Island Plantation.
Amelia Island Hotels - accommodations
You won’t find wall-to-wall Amelia Island Hotels, but you will have several choices. Stay right on the beach at the Beachside Motel, or stay at the harbor-front Hampton Inn & Suites. There’s also a Hampton Inn just a block from the beach. Other hotels within walking distance to the beach include Amelia Hotel, Comfort Suites, Residence Inn, Days Inn & Suites, and Seaside Amelia Inn.
If you prefer staying in a cozy bead-and-breakfast, you’ll love the beautiful Elizabeth Pointe Lodge. This sprawling old inn is located right on the sands of the Atlantic, so your toes can be in the water in just a few steps. Several other historic homes have been turned into inns, too. They include the 1904 Blue Heron Inn, the 1885 Fairbanks House, and the 1905 Hoyt House. You’re sure to enjoy a few nights at Florida House Inn, too, the state’s oldest hotel that’s still in operation.
How about renting a vacation house? If you have a large group and like privacy, this is a good option. There are tons of beach houses on Amelia Island that serve as vacation rentals, so you can pretty much find whatever you’re looking for. Some are small older cottages, while others are large modern homes. Of course, there’s everything in between, too.
Oceanfront condos are yet another choice you’ll have with Amelia Island rentals. Most of the complexes have swimming pools that front the beach. Our favorite complex is Amelia-by-the-Sea. We prefer it because it has a private fishing pier, and most of my family members are big fans of saltwater angling.
Omni Amelia Island Plantation:
Amelia Island Plantation
Amelia Island Plantation, or “The Plantation,” as it’s referred to by locals and regular visitors, is located just north of Jacksonville, on Amelia Island. It’s near the town of Fernandina Beach, Florida’s northernmost seashore. The Plantation is a luxurious four-diamond resort, perfect for the ultimate beach vacation experience!
What does the Plantation offer? Luxurious accommodations in one, two, and three-bedroom condominiums and villas, an inn, three championship golf courses, twenty-three tennis courts, gorgeous swimming pools, lakes, natural surroundings, a spa, world-class shopping, nightlife, a gorgeous expanse of beach, a fitness center, a salon, and both casual and fine dining.
Amelia Island Plantation also has its own Nature Center, with a staff of biologists and naturalists. Activities at the Center include bird watching, walks through maritime forests, kayak trips, bike tours, crafts, shark-tooth hunts, crabbing, and outdoor classes about edible plants.
What else is there to do at Omni Amelia Island Plantation? You can gather round a bonfire on the beach, learn to surf, take a Segway tour, or try your hand at fishing. Didn’t bring your fishing gear? No problem – you can rent it at the resort. If you prefer some deep sea fishing, the staff can arrange a charter boat.
The Plantation meets the needs of every guest, regardless of age. For the kids, there are special poolside activities, nature tours, and kid camps. For teenagers, there’s a special teen concierge to help the young people stay busy and engaged. The entire family can enjoy swimming, bicycling, sailing, and fishing, or just playing on the warm sands of the Atlantic.
Amelia Island Plantation has some wonderful restaurants on the grounds. Start your day at the Sunrise Café, where you can enjoy the hearty buffet or order form the menu. For a casual lunch, check out the brick oven pizza at Marche Burette, or enjoy a great salad and a cup of lobster bisque at PLAE. At night, sit under the live oaks at March View Bar and Grill, cut into a superb steak at The Ocean Grill Restaurant, or sample the crab cakes at The Verandah. Later in the evening, you can grab a late snack and an adult beverage at The Falcon’s Nest.
You can find all kinds of package deals for affordable trips to Amelia Island Plantation. Some of these include all-inclusive packages, stays with unlimited golf or tennis, bed-and-beach deals, and romantic getaways. One of the most popular packages is the book-three-nights-and-get-the-fourth-night-free deal.
Make some memories at Amelia Island Plantation. You’ll get a lot of “bang for your buck” here, and you’ll be amazed at the value you get for the price. This is the ultimate in Florida beach vacations!
Fernandina Beach – and more
With everything you could possibly need right at your fingertips, you may never want to leave the Plantation! But if you do, you’ll find plenty more activities on the island. One place you just have to check out is downtown Fernandina Beach. It has a great historic section, with lots of shops and restaurants, many housed in turn-of-the-century Victorian homes. Drive the few blocks to Old Town, where the sea captains used to live. The kids will get a kick from seeing the Pippi Longstocking house – the movie was filmed here.
Another place of interest on the island is Fort Clinch State Park. Here, you’ll find nature walks, a concrete fishing pier, and of course, the fort itself. Take an hour or so to tour the old fort. Kids will love all the tunnels and ramparts, and they might just learn a little history, to boot. You might want o check out the beaches within the park, too. The best one for families is located next to the pier. The sand is soft, the water is calm, and there are restrooms and showers adjacent to the sand.
Just a short drive from the Plantation you’ll find Seahorse Stables, where the whole family can take a horseback ride on the beach. This is one of the few places left in Florida that allows horses on the beach, so this is a real treat.
If you and your family are into animals, head down A1A to the Jacksonville Zoo. The drive itself is worth the trip! You’ll pass little fishing camps, islands, maritime forests, and you’ll cross rivers and creeks on the way to the zoo. Once at the Jax Zoo, you’ll see all kinds of wild animals in natural settings, along with rides for the kids.
You probably won’t tire of the Plantation restaurants, but in case you do, you’ll find plenty of eateries on the island. There are lots of fast-food joints, along with restaurants that serve Spanish, Mexican, Italian, steaks, sandwiches, and good ol’ Southern cuisine. From our experiences, some of the best are Barbara Jean’s, Slider’s, Kelley’s Courtyard, The Marina, and T-Jay’s. For a real party atmosphere, plan on spending some time at The Surf, and stop in to soak up the history at The Palace Saloon. After spending a great day shopping, playing in the waves, and enjoying some incredible food, I’ll bet Amelia Island will become one of your favorite spots for beach vacations. If you’re lucky enough to stay at Amelia Island Plantation, I can practically guarantee it!
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