FEATURE | March 2015
Explore The South
AMELIA ISLAND, FL
The legendary royal island with a Southern accent
Crystalline sand and clear beaches welcome visitors to Amelia Island, a place long known as one of the last unspoiled U.S. barrier island getaways, this sliver of land off the northwestern coast of Florida has been named one of the nation’s favorite beachfront towns by publications like USA Today, Travel + Leisure and The Huffington Post.
Amelia Island offers a romantic retreat for couples seeking the perfect honeymoon, with activities ranging from beachfront horseback riding to citywide tours on horse-drawn carriages. The island also boasts several world-class spas, with the “Heaven in a Hammock” package at the local Ritz Carlton hailed as one of the best spa treatments around. For a more secluded, intimate experience, guests are invited to stay at a bevy local bed-and-breakfast establishments, including Elizabeth Pointe Lodge, a boutique hotel that offers babymoon and romance-themed packages. Amelia Island also boasts a number of expansive wedding venues and lush gardens with planning assistance available from the Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau.
SOAK IT IN
Sand, sun and shopping are the typicalgoals of Amelia Island tourists, and there’s usually plenty of each to make for a memorable experience. The Amelia River Golf Course is hailed as one of the best-conditioned courses in the country, featuring a par-72 track that plays to a yardage of 6,808 from the back tees. Amelia Island promotes a number of ways to tour the island, including trolley, horseback, guided walking excursions, and more. A variety of consignment and thrift stores are available for the discerning shopper, as well as higher-end places such as The Salt Shop, a specialty boutique that offers therapeutic salts and daily infusion classes. The south end of the island offers the Palmetto Walk Shopping Village, a walkable mall featuring a variety of fine art and clothing stores.
Amelia Island packs more than 70 unique restaurants, ranging from waterfront seafood shacks to upscale dining establishments run by world-class chefs. Shrimp is among the biggest exports of Amelia Island, with nearby Fernandina Beach hailed as the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry. Timoti’s Seafood Shak, a local favorite, serves up freshly caught local shrimp and more, while also providing a pirate ship playground for the kids. For a more intimate dining experience, guests are encouraged to try the Italian cuisine offered at Ciao or brunch at Lulu’s at the Thompson House, an eclectic eatery that offers a wide selection of seafood, including a variety of specially made shellfish dishes. Early risers are encouraged to investigate Hola!, an authentic Cuban café and pastry shop.
Amelia Island hosts a number of elegant annual events, including the celebrated Councours D’Elegance in March, an event that brings a fleet of 250 of the world’s rare and classic cars as part of the Amelia Councours Week, a weeklong celebration that includes several silent auctions and automobile-themed events. May brings the Isle of the Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, named for both the myriad settlers who discovered the island, as well as one of its most celebrated exports. This citywide festival includes live music, arts and crafts, and of course – lots and lots of shrimp. Later in the year, the island hosts a two-day local blues festival in September featuring local and regional artists, followed by a jazz festival in October that will welcome Grammy winners David Sanborn and Ramsey Lewis to the island.
Amelia Island Tourist Information: ameliaisland.com
Lulu’s at the Thompson House: lulusamelia.com
Hola! Cuban Café: holacubancafe.com
Elizabeth Pointe Lodge B&B: elizabethpointelodge.com
Isle of the Eight Flags Shrimp Festival shrimpfestival.com
Amelia River Golf Club: golfameliariver.com