This 13.1-mile stretch of land on the Atlantic is jam-packed with pristine beaches, unbeatable cuisine, and a historic cultural district. This small island is the perfect place to get a private getaway in your own backyard.

Amelia Island is well-known for its diverse wildlife. From morning turtle hatchings to mid-day dolphin jumping to sunset bird watching, this magical place has an animal spotting everyone will enjoy. Those wandering along the shoreline might even see wild horses roaming on the neighboring Cumberland Island.

No matter your age, I have listed the top 5 things all visitors should see or do in Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island.

  1. Take a ghost tour through the cemetery — If you are interested in paranormal activity, island history or legends this tour is for you. The tour is not meant to purposefully scare anyone, but rather it is an educational experience.

    View of the cemetery behind St. Peters Episcopal Church in Historic Downtown Fernandina Beach. Photo by Allison Jones
  2. Visit Fort Clinch State Park – If you are a Civil War fanatic, visit during the first weekend of the month to see an interactive display of park rangers dressing as soldiers and demonstrating life in the 1860s. The soldiers even partake in a cannon firing demonstration.

    Sunset view of the wall and cannons at the fort in Fort Clinch State Park. Photo by Allison Jones
  3. Go deep sea fishing— The Atlantic is home to a wide variety of delicious seafood. Typical catches can include bass, cobia, barracuda, grouper, flounder, hogfish and mackerel. An off-shore trip with a captain based  Amelia Island is a highlight for many visitors.
  4. Observe the lighthouse — Amelia Island is home to Florida’s oldest lighthouse, which was built in 1838. Tours run the first and third Wednesdays of every month. Unfortunately, climbing the stairs is prohibited.
    View of the Amelia Island from Fort Clinch State Park. Photo by Allison Jones

    5.Walk around Big Talbot Island State Park –– If you enjoy shelling, bird watching or photography, take a trip to this magical island. The dead trees on Big Talbot Island’s beach make it such a unique spot for taking photos.

Driftwood and dead trees found on Big Talbot Island State Park. Photo by Allison Jones


Difficulty of Exploration: 6/10

Items Required: transportation to Amelia Island, cash for endeavors including state park fees, swim suit (optional)

Travel Time from Gainesville:  2-hour drive from UF’s campus [dependent on traffic]

Contentment Level Post-Trip: 10/10