Planning A Last-Minute Trip? How About The Most Charming Spot In Florida?

When it comes to a great place to escape to (or even just a tops destination spot in Florida), Amelia Island is often overlooked. It isn’t trendsetting or hip like Miami or glamorous like Palm Beach, and in the dead of winter, the weather can be iffy because it's so far north.
But, with that said, Amelia Island in the fall is heaven (and the temps are still in the 80s). The barrier island boasts 13 miles of wide and virtually empty beaches, a quirky and cool historic town, and acres of parkland to explore via bike, paddleboard, horseback ride, or even Segway.
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Oh, and another plus? Amelia Island isn't an insane trek, considering how secluded it feels once you arrive. It's just a two-hour flight from NYC to Jacksonville and then a 30-minute drive. We took the trip to check out the mellow beach town — and went ahead and planned your perfect fall weekend while we were at it! Do you mind? We didn't think so.
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The Secluded Stay: Elizabeth Pointe Lodge
Skip the big, cookie-cutter beach resorts, and go for one of Amelia Island’s unique Victorian-era inns. Dating back to 1890, Elizabeth Pointe Lodge is charming and historic, nestled in the dunes with pretty rooms that overlook the ocean.
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Photo: Via Addison Inn
The Budget-Conscious Stay: Addison Inn
Tucked away on a sleepy, residential street in Fernandina Beach, you’ll find the beautifully restored Victorian-era Addison Inn. A steal, the classic bread-and-breakfast-style rooms start at $185 a night.
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Photographed by Sara Bliss.
The Vintage-Lover's Dream: Florida House Inn
The quirky and charming Florida House Inn, in the historic town of Fernandina Beach, dates back to 1857 and is the oldest surviving hotel in Florida. Its 17 rooms are decked out with cool, old-school furniture that will make any vintage lover's heart soar — think poster beds, claw-foot tubs, and eccentric art. Plus, the Mermaid Bar downstairs is a groovy spot for a late-night cocktail.
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Photo: Via Amelia Island.
The Main Event: Fernandina Beach
Fernandina Beach is Amelia Island’s main town. The historic 50-block district features charming Victorian architecture, art galleries, and laid-back spots like Driftwood Surf shop, which can hook you up with surf lessons and gear.
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The Can't-Miss Seafood Stop: Timoti's Seafood Shak
For lunch, Timoti’s Seafood Shak serves up the local catch of the day blackened, grilled, or fried. And, it is amazing.
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Photo: Via Amelia Island.
The Best Comfort Food In Town: Kelley's Courtyard Café
We easily could have eaten every single meal at Kelley’s Courtyard Café. The laid-back outdoor restaurant serves up the best fried green tomatoes and fried oysters in town.
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Photo: Via Kayak Amelia
The Ultimate Vacation Workout: Kayak Amelia
Ten minutes from Amelia Island is the 2,500-acre Little Talbot Island State Park, where Kayak Amelia offers tours via bike, kayak, and — our personal favorite — SUP (stand-up paddleboarding, that is). The paddleboard tours are two hours through quiet, protected tidal marshes and secluded beaches. And, it's beginner-friendly — we promise. But, if you’re looking for more of a challenge, try the weekend paddleboard-yoga class.
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The Coolest Way To Explore: Kelly Seahorse Ranch
A most exciting way to explore Amelia Island State Park? On an ultra-mellow, hour-long horseback ride with Kelly Seahorse Ranch, of course. Kelly’s horses are perfect for, well, anyone who's looking for a serene riding experience through one of the most beautiful beaches ever.
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The Other Coolest Way To Explore: Eco Motion Tours
A little random, but hey, when in Florida…off-road on a Segway through the beaches and unpaved trails of Florida state parks. Do it all with nature guides leading the way, with Eco Motion tours.
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