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Fernandina Beach, a mix of history and nature
Fernandina Beach is a small city on Amelia Island in the very northeast of Florida, less than one hour from Jacksonville. Although primarily a base for visitors enjoying the beaches and nature around Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach is also one of Florida’s most historic sites. The area is famous for having flown under eight different flags since its initial settlement in the mid-16th century, thus as a result it has a rich and varied history. Therefore, this blend of history and nature leaves the Fernandina Beach area a desirable destination to a range of tourist demographics.
The urban centre of a nature-rich island
Despite being the largest urban area on Amelia Island, the city area of Fernandina Beach is compact and small in comparison to most beach cities in Florida. The city is located on the west side of the island and focused around its sheltered harbour, away from the exposed Atlantic Ocean. The main streets lead away from the harbour and marina, with the aptly named Centre Street being one of the most significant sections of Fernandina Beach. Many of the historic sites and buildings are also found in this area, plus several museums. For greater understanding of the area, the Amelia Island Museum of History provides a fascinating insight into the historical development of the area. The Maritime Museum and The Shrimp Museum offer further focus on the significance of the maritime industries which have shaped the region. As well as attractions, there are a variety of Fernandina Beach hotels in this central district, ideal for exploring the downtown on foot.
A seafood focus amongst an array of eateries
For a city of such a small size, Fernandina Beach has a reasonably diverse and vast number of restaurants, cafes and bars. Perhaps owing to its history of the eight flags, there is a noticeable European influence on the cuisine and atmosphere around the downtown. The waterfront area houses several establishments offering scenic views of the sea and harbour and thus are particularly popular with visitors. Back from the waterfront along Centre Street and on the north-south running 2nd and 3rd streets there are multiple restaurants of varying themes. Naturally, seafood is a significant theme but there are also further American style diners including a variety of Southern style cuisine being represented. These restaurants are interspersed with cafes and bars including many taverns and premises showcasing live music. With most of these businesses within a few blocks of each other, access is easy and convenient for guests staying in any of the central hotels in Fernandina Beach FL. That said, there are also some hidden gems away from the downtown core, with smaller independent restaurants offering a more local atmosphere for visitors.
Embracing the outdoors and the fantastic coast
The majority of tourists staying in Fernandina Beach visit, at least in some part, for the impressive and diverse array of outdoor activities on offer. Being an island, the coastline is clearly a major element of this and the multiple beaches on Amelia Island are a big draw. The closest to Fernandina Beach city centre is directly east on the Atlantic Coast, simply known as Main Beach. The area contains a nature park and recreational area with volleyball facilities and a children’s playground. A boardwalk runs along the beach edge and there are restaurants and cafes situated alongside, offering further convenience for visitors. Fishing is a very common activity amongst locals, plus tourists also have multiple opportunities to get involved on land and on the water. Fishing trips leave from the marina at Fernandina Beach, plus there a couple of fishing equipment shops in the downtown. Aside from the beaches and water, inland there is also a large outdoor and sporting focus. Florida is well known for its golf courses and Amelia Island is no exception, there are several renowned courses on offer. Three of these are in the Fernandina Beach area of the island and enjoying a round of golf is a popular activity with visitors.
Two state parks at opposite ends of the island
Exploring more of the Amelia Island is a must-do for visitors to Fernandina Beach, with some of the highlights to be found further away from the urbanisation. At the northern tip of the island lies the Fort Clinch State Park, home to a long sandy white beach which is much less frequented than the busier Main Beach. The fort itself is said to be one of the most well-preserved 19th century forts across the whole of the States and is therefore a draw of its own. Visitors also enjoy the vast quantity of forest and serenity, something which is also possible at Amelia Island State Park. This park is located at the other end of the island on the southern tip and is again a popular nature area. Horse rides along the accompanying beach are possible here and prove to be a well-attended family activity. For nature lovers, the park area is home to an abundance of wild birds and is thus a crucial nesting area. Consequently, many areas are protected with tight restrictions at certain times of year.