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Scenic Drive: Amelia Island to Jacksonville, Fl, with Pics

Updated on March 24, 2013
Amelia Island, Florida
Amelia Island, Florida | Source

Amelia Island Florida to Jacksonville

We've visited Amelia island Florida on numerous occasions. Sometimes we go for a long weekend, but most of our trips have lasted for one or two weeks. It's a beautiful area, and I find it soul-soothing. I love the ocean and just about everything associated with it: marshes, beaches, tidal creeks, islands, moss-draped oak trees, and rivers. Nothing beats driving along the shoreline with the windows down, breathing in the invigorating salty air and soaking in the natural scenery. One of the most beautiful drives I’ve found is the thirty miles between Amelia Island Florida and Jacksonville, along A1A, or First Coast Highway.

Traffic along this route is almost nonexistent because most people are in a hurry and prefer traveling on I-95. I wonder if they know what they’re missing. Leaving Amelia Island, you drive through several miles of maritime forests, with a good chance of viewing native wildlife.

When you reach the tip of the island, you cross the Nassau River Bridge. You’ll notice lots of fishermen on the old bridge and along the beach, and sometimes you’ll see folks on horseback trotting along the shore.

Soon after crossing the big bridge, you’ll pass tidal creeks, including Simpson Creek and Sawpit Creek. Both have expansive marshes. The area looks like a sea of waving grasses cut by the dark lines of the meandering waterways. If you cross at low tide, you’ll see numerous gray oyster mounds along the banks.

You’ll also pass sand dunes and pristine beaches completely devoid of people, hotels, or any other traces of mankind. You’re bound to wonder why in the heck this area hasn’t been developed. Then you’ll offer a silent thank you that it hasn’t.

Just off shore to your left, you’ll pass the barrier islands of Big Talbot and Little Talbot and their wide, sandy beaches. In the warmer months, a few folks are always on the beach, fishing.

Most of the waterways you cross along the way will be shallow, and if the wind has been coming out of the northeast for a few days, the water will be clear and have a wonderful blue-green tint. If, however, the winds have been from the south, silt from the St. John’s River will muddy the waterways. I’ve witnessed the water along this trek when it looked like the Caribbean, and I’ve also seen it a grayish brown. Most of the times, it’s somewhere in between.

Farther south, you’ll cross more tidal creeks and pass old bait shacks, several of which have been the subjects of my paintings. Sometimes you’ll see several men wading in the shallows, pulling a seine net. I always want to stop to see what they’ve caught.

Soon, you enter back into civilization at Fort George Island, home to Fort George Island Cultural Park. Stop for a nature walk, kayaking, canoeing, cycling, or exploring the shell mounds made by indigenous people 7,000 years ago. Another great place to see here is Kingsley Plantation, an antebellum farm where you can explore the plantation house, the slave quarters, the barns, the kitchen house, the waterfront, and the gardens. Nearby are the Fort Caroline National Memorial, the Timucuan Indian Preserve, and the historic Ribault Club.

There’s a great restaurant at the St. John’s River called the Sand Dollar, in case you happen by at mealtime. If you stop for a bite, sit on the riverfront deck. Chances are you’ll view playful dolphins and myriad ships and boats plying the waters. It’s also time for you to make a decision whether to catch the car ferry to Mayport or drive over the Dames Point Bridge. I recommend the ferry.

The ferry crosses the St. John’s River, carrying you the short distance to the shrimping village of Mayport. Here, you’ll find the historic Mayport Lighthouse and the Mayport Naval Air Station. If you have time, treat yourself to a tour of the lighthouse and the naval station.

On the road again, you’ll soon enter the outskirts of Jacksonville and Heckscher Drive. Take a few hours to explore the fascinating Jacksonville Zoo, located on the banks of the Trout River. It has a walking safari, botanical gardens, and over 1,500 animals. Kids will love the train, the carousel, and the interactive exhibits.

If you’re ever in this neck of the woods, forget the interstate. Slow down and enjoy the magnificent scenery and history!

Check out the pics below!

dunes and surf
dunes and surf | Source
Mayport Lighthouse
Mayport Lighthouse
Fort George Island
Fort George Island
marshes | Source
a sea of marsh grass
a sea of marsh grass | Source
George Crady fishing pier
George Crady fishing pier | Source
wild dunes
wild dunes | Source
little islands and sandbars
little islands and sandbars | Source
wide beaches
wide beaches | Source
tidal creeks
tidal creeks | Source
Nassau River
Nassau River | Source
distant dunes
distant dunes | Source
mossy oaks
mossy oaks | Source


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    • Jicotea Kinsella profile image

      Jicotea Kinsella 3 years ago from Jacksonville, FL

      Great pics!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 6 years ago from California

      Breath-taking pictures. Would love to visit Florida, it has been way too long.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Sofs. We love Amelia Island!

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 6 years ago

      Beautiful picture and a picturesque description. Enjoyed both!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      NEVER been to Florida??? Girl, ya gots to go!

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      beautiful habee, never been to Florida, Thanks, Maita

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Take the drive, Ehern. ROAD TRIP!! Yay!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      I agree, Bpop. I hate flying!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Check it out next time you venture north, Lily!

    • ehern33 profile image

      ehern33 7 years ago

      Great pics! Left me wanting for more..

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 7 years ago

      Honestly, I think road trips are the way to go now. I may give up flying forever! Beautiful hub, habee.

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 7 years ago from East Coast

      I love road trips! Haven't been on one since my kids were born, though - not sure if I'm ready to dare that just yet, except to go to Disney World in a few months. As we're in South Florida, I will have to remember this hub when I'm ready to venture up this way - it sounds beautiful!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      It's def one of my favorite spots, HH!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      This must be so beautiful to be there. Thank you for showing it, habee.