There’s so much to experience in Fernandina Beach during your next trip to North Florida. Whether you’re entertaining kids on a family vacation or looking for a getaway with your better half, Fernandina Beach has plenty to keep you busy.
Fernandina Beach is the northernmost city on the Atlantic coast of Florida, located on Amelia Island. Amelia Island is a part of a chain of barrier islands called the Sea Islands that stretch from South Carolina to Florida, and the entire area is rich with history.
The flags of eight different nations have flown above Fernandina Beach throughout history – the only municipality in the United States that can make this claim. The different nations and groups that have fought for control the island throughout its history include – Spain, France, Great Britain, the Patriots of Amelia Island, Mexico, the Green Cross of Florida, the Confederate States of America and the United States of America.
Visit the Palace Saloon for some local history
Experience some of the local history of the island by visiting the Palace Saloon. The Palace is the oldest bar in Florida, and has been hydrating travelers since 1903. To sailors, it was known as the “shipcaptain’s bar.” They would grab a drink, pay their bill for the night and head back to the port. The locals paid for their bill at the end of every month.
The Palace Saloon endured the Prohibition Era by selling ice cream, 3 percent near-beer, cigars and Texaco gasoline. Nowadays, you can still get a number of signature and local drinks.
The Fernandina Beach Train Depot
After grabbing a drink and enjoying live music, you can walk across the street and check out the Fernandina Beach Train Depot.
The current building is the second train station to exist there; the first structure blew away in the Hurricane of 1898, the strongest hurricane on record to hit the island.
The current train depot now serves as a visitors’ center to welcome travelers to the island. While it’s small, its historical significance qualifies it to be included in the Historic American Buildings Survey.
Experience the attractions of Historic Centre Street
There’s a lot to do right on Centre Street in Fernandina Beach. If you need a pick-me-up after all your running around, stop by Amelia Island Coffee, Island Time Premium Frozen Yogurt or Fantastic Fudge. Here you can enjoy the Victorian-era charm, several restaurants and shops, live music on many days, and the Fernandina Harbor Marina.
Head just two and a half miles north to visit Old Town, a U.S. National Register of Historic Places site. The area was originally inhabited by humans 3,000 years ago, and has garnered attention from historians and archeologists over the last few decades.
It’s believed that some of Florida’s most colorful history occurred on the grounds there, including the Plaza San Carlos, a site where the former Spanish Fort San Carlos used to stand. It’s a bit tucked away from the higher-traffic Centre Street area
Visit Fort Clinch
Just another half a mile north, at the most northern point of the island, is the one of Fernandina Beach’s most famous attractions: Fort Clinch. The fort was built in 1847 in a unique pentagon shape, with two casings of protective walls. It’s estimated that it required roughly five million bricks to build.
A trip here takes visitors back through history, as they watch historical reenactments of life during the Civil War. Guests explore the grounds, galleries and many rooms and learn what life was like for a Union soldier day to day.
Located in Fort Clinch State Park, this destination is a must for any day trip. In addition to the history lesson, visitors can go camping, fishing, canoeing, surfing – the list goes on and on. It’s a great place to explore the outdoors and offers a unique experience for everyone in your family.
Leave your car behind and hike on six-miles of trails. For only a $6 entry fee, there’s so much to do. The park is open every day from 8 a.m. to sunset, and is located at 2601 Atlantic Avenue, not far from Fernandina’s Main Beach.
Explore Victorian Era Homes
Beyond the museums, parks and beaches that are all worth exploring, visitors are also invited to step inside some of the old homes to enjoy the historic architecture of the island.
Walking through the island’s Golden Age homes will help you set your clock to local time and relax. A few great examples of Victorian-era architecture can be found at the 10-bedroom Amelia Island Hoyt House Inn and the Captain’s House (also known as the “Pippi Longstocking” House) in the downtown historic district.
If hopping around between all of these fun historic stops sound overzealous for your family vacation, don’t worry because Fernandina Beach is very accessible and walkable. Check some of them out during your next vacation and get a glimpse of this island’s colorful past!