Amelia Island, Florida

Old Florida through New Eyes

History, nature, local cuisine, and upscale accommodations await travelers who indulge in a leisurely drive along Highway A1A in Northeast Florida. Spend time getting to know the area and soak up the sunshine along the 67 miles of roadways connecting Amelia Island and historic St. Augustine.

Amelia Island

At just a short, one-hour drive north from downtown Jacksonville, Amelia Island is known locally for its secluded beaches, luxurious accommodations, and quaint shopping boutiques on Centre Street. Spend time at Fort Clinch State Park, home to one of the most well-preserved 19th-century forts in the country and explore the park’s 1,400 acres of nature trails, beaches, and campgrounds.

Pamper yourself with an overnight stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island or the Omni Amelia Island Resort — both quiet getaways offering  luxurious accommodations in a natural setting with oceanfront views.

As you make your way south, stop in for a visit at Kingsley Plantation, Florida’s oldest standing plantation house, settled along the banks of the Fort George River. As part of the Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve, this national park encompasses 46,000 acres.

Afterward, check out the nearby Ribault Club, home to the “Millionaire’s Club’ in the 1920s, and now site of the Fort George Island Visitor Center. Hike the grounds’ 3.3-mile nature trail or do some geocaching around what was once a Donald Ross-designed golf course.


Further south on A1A, the St. Johns River Ferry provides a unique mode of transportation for cars and pedestrians between Fort George Island and Mayport Village. Departing daily from both sides of the river, this unique 0.9 mile ride takes five minutes. Since it’s only 2.5 miles upriver from the ocean, riders get a unique view of Northeast Florida’s most popular waterway.

When it comes to fresh seafood, diners at Safe Harbor Seafood Restaurant can watch the fishing boats offload their catch and then watch it make its way right to the kitchen. Be sure to try the Mayport shrimp. Then, walk across A1A and visit the Safe Harbor Marketplace to purchase fresh seafood, sauces, soups, and more. 

Jacksonville Beaches

As you make your way into the Jacksonville Beaches, put your feet in the sand at the oceanfront Lemon Bar, one of the area’s top beach bars. In the nearby Beaches Town Center, shop local boutiques, pick up a souvenir at Shorelines and wander the aisles at The Bookmark, Northeast Florida’s independent community bookstore — all steps from the ocean.

Further along A1A, the Margaritaville Beach Hotel Jacksonville Beach welcomes guests to enjoy the beach vibes with a swim and a poolside margarita. Go for a bike ride or a walk on the boardwalk and visit the newly reopened Jacksonville Beach Pier. Learn about the railways that once made their way through Northeast Florida at the ….


This is an excerpt from the latest issue of Porthole Cruise and Travel Magazine. To continue reading, click above for a digital or print subscription.

Carrie McLaren, a native of Jacksonville, Florida, is a former public-relations professional turned freelance writer and mom to two teenage girls. As a member of the Society of American Travel Writers, her work has appeared in travel guides, regional publications, and local newspapers. Follow Carrie’s adventures on Twitter at @CarrieMcLaren and at