order of appearance, the flags were those of France, Spain,
England, the United States, and the Confederacy.
The other flags, the
Green Cross of Florida,
and the Mexican Rebel
Flag, were flown by patriots and pirates
for periods as brief as one day.
Amelia Island holds the
record for being under more flags than any other place else in
the United States.
Amelia Island eight flags.
Missing are the flags of the Confederacy and the USA.
Museum docent Marlene Schang
on left and
visitor Jeanne O'Connor on the right.
the Atlantic Ocean just north of Jacksonville, Amelia Island
offered one of the East’s largest and deepest inlets making it
an important port for commerce. The northernmost point of the
island is the site of Ft. Clinch. Construction of this fort,
facing Cumberland Island, Georgia, was begun by the South and
completed by the North but never saw a shot fired in anger.
Today the fort is a major tourist attraction.
In the past,
island had a cross state
railway connecting it to Cedar Key on the Gulf Coast and boasted
the largest shrimp fleet in the country. But time passed, things
changed and Amelia Island was largely ignored, which was in a
way a blessing,
saving the island from massive development and preserving the
island’s historic past and miles of pristine beaches.
Travelers consistently rank Amelia Island among the top island
getaways in North America.
The island has been listed in the “Top 10 North American
Travelers Readers Choice Award for seven consecutive years
and a Top 25 Island in the World in 2013.
Geographically, Amelia Island is divided by an invisible line.
The south end is home to affluent retirement and second home
communities and luxurious hotels reminiscent of Longboat Key,
east of Sarasota. It is the
area on the island’s northern end that is the draw for visitors.
northern end is where miles of accessible, wide, pristine
Atlantic Ocean beaches are. It is where the hotels and motels
offer moderately priced accommodations and easy access to family
friendly beaches. This is where you will find those wonderfully
tacky beach gift shops and fast food restaurants
stayed at the Amelia
Hotel At The Beach, on A1A directly across from one of the
island’s public beaches. Our room was large, clean and included
all of the amenities you would expect without being charged
extra. A generous
breakfast buffet with hot and cold food choices is included
daily and a special treat was being able to see a beautiful
sunrise over the ocean.
Downtown Fernandina Beach
is the magnet that draws visitors with its 50-block historic district. Many original structures dating back to the late 19th
century showcasing Victorian-style mansions and cottages,
reminiscent of the better sections of Key West, offer a
wonderful background for one-of-a-kind photos.
is the heart of the Historic District with shops, restaurants,
and historic buildings radiating off in all directions showcased
on quaint narrow streets.
Here, the wares of merchants and restaurants run the
gamut of offerings and prices. Visitors
will find something to their liking within their budgets.
Everything is basically within walking distance and there
is no charge for parking.
must visit is the Amelia
Island Museum of History located at 233 South 3rd
St. Housed in the
former Nassau County Jail building, it has a wealth of
information from the days of the Native American Timucuans
through the centuries of exploration, occupation and
eight flags are on display including the Confederate “Stars and
Bars” which will confuse many since it bears no resemblance to
the one we see today flying on the back of pick-up trucks. The
museum has two excellent narrated tours daily.
Entrance to Amelia Island museum
stopped for lunch at the nearby
Happy Tomato Courtyard
Café & BBQ on South 7th Street,
a delightful open air restaurant with a varied menu and
reasonably priced offerings. Its
owner, Richard Bolton, did his apprenticeship at the Amelia
Island Ritz before opening his own restaurant about 7 or 8 years
will be pleased with many of the selections.
Being an island surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Intracoastal
Waterway, Amelia River, and marshes, Amelia Island offers
practically any water oriented activity in which you might be
interested. But there is one that bears particular note.
It is the Amelia
Leaving from the docks of Fernandina’s historic downtown area, a
narrated tour on one of Amelia River Cruise boats takes you as
far as the mouth of Cumberland Sound and
Ft. Clinch before returning
by way of the shore of Cumberland Island Georgia and a detailed
narration of the Carnegie Family’s (Carnegie Steel) reign over
this island is offered. An
exciting bonus is the sighting of the wild horses that roam the
island. You also get a peek at the exterior of the super secret
nuclear submarine base of Kings Bay on the Georgia mainland.
A Fernandina/Amelia Island public beach
Sunset is a special time on the island. Visitors gravitate to
the downtown waterfront to hang out on the docks or visit one of
the restaurants for drinks and or dinner and a sunset
watching a sunrise to the east over the ocean to enjoying a
sunset over the rivers and marshes to the west on the same day
was only a 2 mile drive from our hotel. We had our sunset
viewing experience while having dinner and drinks at
The Salty Pelican Bar &
Grill overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.
a two story building with a family friendly restaurant on the
first floor and a totally open, west facing, sit-down bar on the
second floor. As for a
dress code…there isn't any. This is Florida and The Salty
Pelican is a meeting place for locals and visitors.
days on the island did not give us enough time to capture all of
the highlights. We
had no time to tour the
Amelia Island Lighthouse, the oldest continuously operating
light house in Florida, first lit in 1839. Then there are
numerous B&B’s and Inns in Fernandina’s Historic District.
One of them,
Florida House, is reportedly the state’s oldest hotel. A
short two blocks from the oldest hotel is the
Palace Saloon which
is billed as the state’s oldest continuously operating bar.
It’s an interesting part of Florida history but smoking
is allowed in the bar, which is obvious as soon as you enter. It
made for a very short visit for me for me, a former smoker.
Florida's oldest continuously operating bar
Amelia Island is a special place and an affordable destination
for families. This
was a low key trip and we did not take in high end expensive
venues like hotels or restaurants, of which there are many.
do your own research by going to
discover all the island has to offer. Then pick out those
opportunities that fit your life style like hiking, fishing
horseback riding or even taking a tour on a Segway.