view of a sunrise on the beach at Amelia Island

Is Amelia Island Worth Visiting in 2024?

Why should you trust our opinion about Amelia Island? Because we have spent a ton of time there!

Morgan’s family has a beach house on the island and it is the location of their annual family reunion. She has been vacationing here for so many years that she could not possibly count the number of days and nights.

wedding photo in Amelia Island, Florida

On Alan’s first visit to Amelia Island he told Morgan he could picture them getting married there. And that is exactly what happened in the spring of 2023.

After the wedding, all of their friends and family that had not visited the island before raved about how much they loved the area. In fact, several have already planned return trips!

Our Favorite Things to Do While Visiting Amelia Island

Play on the Public Beaches

Amelia Island has miles of public beaches with access points scattered across A1A which is actually referred to by its street name S Fletcher Avenue.

Keep in mind that not all of the access points are created equal – some do not have parking or restrooms. If you are driving to the beach, many people prefer to use the Main Beach Park, Seaside Park, or Peters Point Park access points.

  • Main Beach Park: this location has larger parking lots, covered pavilions, a playground, and restrooms. There are also a few restaurants nearby.
  • Seaside Park: this location does not have as much parking as Main Beach Park but more than most of the other access points. It has restrooms, showers, and a covered place to have a snack. There are also restaurants close to this location.
  • Peters Point Park: this location has a larger parking lot, covered pavilions, and restrooms with indoor and outdoor showers. This is the only location that allows vehicle access onto the beach. Non-residents must get a permit. If you are not accustomed to driving on sand, you may want to think twice about this option.
sunrise on Amelia Island beach

Explore Downtown Amelia Island

Wanting to spend some time in Downtown Amelia Island? Check out this Amelia Island Downtown Travel Guide. This area of the island is also known as Fernandina Beach and has wonderful shops and restaurants. This is a great place to pick up a souvenir or two.

You can also walk to the waterfront and stroll along the dock. Or you can be more adventurous and play a round of mini golf at Gregor McGregor’s Mini Links and Drinks.

Visit the Local State Parks

Go Horseback Riding (On the Beach!)

Check out Amelia Island Horseback Riding to see all of your options: sunrise, mid-day, sunset, and special occasion rides. There are some restrictions on their morning start time during turtle nesting season which occurs annually from May 1st to October 1st.

Sunset horseback ride along the beach in Amelia Island
Sunset ride along the beach in Amelia Island

Do You Hear Wedding Bells? Then Get Married in Amelia!

Ok, fine. This may just be special to us. All jokes aside, if you are considering a destination wedding, there are many wonderful people to work with in the area.

Play Golf

If you are into golf, and more than the mini golf we mentioned earlier, you came to the right place! Amelia Island is well known for having great golf courses. This page lists the local golf courses including The Golf Club of Amelia Island, Amelia River Golf Club, and the Fernandina Beach Golf Club.

If mini golf is more your style, there are other options for this too: Island Falls Adventure Golf and Putt-Putt of Amelia Island are a few other favorites with our nieces and nephews.

Check Out the Sea Turtle Hatchings

Hatchings typically occur from May through October each year. The Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch website has a ton of helpful information including things you can do to help.

During the months of May-October, to help the turtles please do not use flashlights on the beach at night unless they have red LED lights. Additionally, if you are staying beachfront, please turn off porch lights and close your blinds/shades at night.

Visit Cumberland Island

Are you willing to take an adventure off the island? If so, consider taking a day trip Cumberland Island! There is a 45-minute ferry ride from St Mary’s to Cumberland Island or you can charter a private boat. There are many attractions including wild horses, trails for hiking and biking, and the ruins of Dungeness.

horses grazing on Cumberland Island

The Best Places to Eat (And Drink) in Amelia Island

Salty Pelican Bar & Grill

Great location by the Intracoastal Waterway in Downtown Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach. They have indoor and outdoor seating – we love the exterior facing bar seating upstairs.

As far as the food goes, Morgan’s personal favorites include the Crab Dip (and she does not really like seafood) and Bacon Mac N’ Cheese.

Down Under Restaurant

If you are staying on the island, this is a little further away than the other suggestions but worth the ‘short’ drive. Down Under is aptly named for its location under the bridge onto the island.

The cool thing – it is located on the Intracoastal Waterway. In fact – you can come to the restaurant by boat!

We have noticed that there is often a little wait to get a table but do not let that turn you away. They have have cold drinks that you can order at the bar while you wait. And the food is worth it! Morgan’s favorite is the Down Under Tacos and her best friend loves the Shrimp and Grits.

Sliders Seaside Grill

You cannot go wrong with this choice especially if you have kids. It is located next to the Seaside Park, it has beach access, and it has a playground to keep the little ones entertained.

View of the beach from upstairs at Sliders

We love their swinging chairs at the Tiki bar. They often have live music and we have never ordered anything that was not good. Seriously… check this place out when you visit!

Salt Life Food Shack

This is a great option for food if you are already at the Main Beach for the day. They have a variety of options that should give everyone, even the pickiest of eaters, something they will enjoy.

On our last visit to Salt Life Food Shack, Morgan had the Big Wave Burger – YUM! It was way too much food but absolutely delicious.

Where to Stay in Amelia Island

There are a ton of great options which makes it really hard to choose. We are partial to anything on S Fletcher Ave because it provides easy access to the beach and several local restaurants. We especially love the Sandpiper community as they have two private boardwalks as well as a pool.

view from the Sandpiper community boardwalk
View from the Sandpiper Community Boardwalk

If you are looking to sleep a lot of people, there are multiple houses for rent. If you are interested in something a little cozier, here is a great 2-bedroom unit on the beach!

Frequently Asked Questions about Amelia Island

When is the best time to visit Amelia Island?

We think any time is a good time to visit; however, what you may choose to due during your visit can vary based on the timing.

  • The water is cold during a NYE visit but the fireworks show from the Ritz is amazing. Typically you only need a light jacket.
  • Summers are hot but the water is refreshing.
  • Spring is wonderful – it is when we chose to get married in Amelia Island
  • The island fills up every year for the annual Georgia vs Florida college football game in October.

Do not worry too much about the timing. Pick a date, plan a trip, and explore the island. Then do it all over again during a different season and decide which time of year you prefer the most.

What is the difference between Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach?

Amelia Island encompasses the entire island while Fernandina Beach takes up only a portion of the north end of the island.

Conclusion: YES! Amelia Island is Worth Visiting!

Don’t just take our word for it. Whether you are visiting as a solo traveler, with your friends, significant other, or kids, plan a trip to Amelia Island and see the beautiful location for yourself.