If you thought South Beach and Naples were the best cities for a luxury Florida vacation, allow us to introduce you to Amelia Island. Just northeast of Jacksonville, Amelia Island nearly brushes the Georgia border with its beautiful landscape. Warm beaches, lush natural spaces, and lavish amenities await you at the best hotels on the extraordinary Amelia Island. Are you ready for another country?
Give the family a trip they’ll always treasure the memory of at the Villas of Amelia Island Plantation – an impressive resort right before broad sands. Parents can celebrate with steak and scotch after lowering their handicap on the golf course. With kids, they’ll get plenty of bonding time at the full-service spa and salon after spending the afternoon at the shopping village. Children of all ages will have a blast at the kids’ playground, Camp Amelia, and the gamer’s lounge. No kids in tow? Then make your way to the adults-only pool and prepare to switch off for the day.
At this wonderfully characterful oceanfront bed and breakfast you’ll get the repeated feeling that you’re vacationing on the New England coast, Every guest room is a few paces from the beach, inviting you to start every morning with a quiet stroll on the shore followed by a complimentary breakfast. Tread lightly though; sea turtles are known to nest near your suite. After a day spent lounging on the sand, you can savor complimentary beer, wine, and hors d’oeuvres nightly before you retreat to your comfortable suite to wind down with a good book.
Don’t let the name fool you; Amelia Hotel at the Beach is not on the beach. That said, it’s moments from downtown Fernandina, and its guests have no issue whatsoever with crossing the street to spend leisurely days on the sandy shores, lapped by the Atlantic. Budget travelers, you’ve come to the right place: this striking terracotta-colored hotel rolls out first class amenities – not least among them oceanside balconies in select suites, a heavenly pool, and a complimentary breakfast to give you the maximum bang for your buck.
Step back in time at the Blue Heron Inn. In the 19th century it was a family home; now, as a B&B, its charm and hospitality have stood the test of time. Antiques and original heart-pine flooring adorn all six guest rooms. There are relaxing bathrooms and a gourmet breakfast served on fine china. History buffs will relish staying in the National Historic District of Fernandina Beach. Budget-minded beach lovers won’t mind the brief stroll to the shore.
It’s the stylish nautical blue-and-white interiors that draw us back to this fine hideaway again and again – particularly in the Deluxe Ocean View Rooms with their balconies or patios. The slightly bigger Premier Oceanfronts have breathtaking views of the rolling Atlantic. This is a place for indolence, with a good half a dozen places to eat before you reach the beach. We love the treehousey Falcon’s Nest for old-skool burgers and blackberry-basil Moscow Mule.
The Beachside Motel is about as far removed from a “roadside motel” as you could imagine. It’s the only oceanfront motel on Amelia Island – so you and the kids can race from the room to the beach in moments, unless you want to wallow in the pool. When you aren’t collecting seashells or sleeping on the pool patio, you can cross the street for fresh seafood at The Surf Bar and Restaurant or hop in the car to explore the boutique shops in historic Fernandina Beach.
Too cool for school? Not at adults-only Amelia Schoolhouse Inn, you’re not. Remember your physics and mathematics lessons while you putt on the green in the courtyard. Get your state-mandated physical education at the heated pool – or perhaps riding around town on one of the free bikes for hire. Feel like skipping class? You might just get sent straight to “The Principal’s Office”, which is luckily an upscale bar that will give you a lesson in Mixology 101.
When you stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, you’ll find their 13mi (21km) stretch of beachfront works its way into every decision you make. Stand on your suite balcony and inhale the ocean breeze or make your way to the Intracoastal for a kayaking excursion in search of wildlife-viewing. The resort’s own beehives provide the honey for your signature wellness experience. The mouthwatering restaurant Coast serves the freshest seafood.