I’ve been thinking about the beautiful state of Florida (among so many other places affected by this horrific hurricane season) and hoping the good people of the Sunshine State can quickly get back on their feet again to rebuild and restore. So many charities and non-profits that you can donate to, it can make your head spin. All Hands is just one of many highly reputable charity organizations that consistently ranks high in financial accountability and transparency. If you are able, please consider donating if you haven’t already done so.
I have so many lists. Lists of countries we’ve visited. Lists of countries we want to go to (you can’t even begin to imagine how long this forever-growing list is). Lists of restaurants. Lists of states. Lists of musicals and operas. Lists of books. Lists of natural wonders. Lists of cities. Lists of running races. So.Many.Freaking.Lists.I.Can.Barely.See.Straight.
As if all of these lists weren’t enough, T and I also have an NFL Stadium list. Our goal is to eventually visit each NFL stadium and our last visited stadium, the Jacksonville Jaguars, is our eleventh stadium to date. So excited to visit our twelfth stadium next month in Denver! Some favorite past stadium visits include Detroit, Kansas City, Dallas, Chicago, New Orleans, and Houston (the next post on my blog!.
Watching the Jaguars vs. Raiders game with our dear friends and frequent stadium companions, Jenna and Marc:
We decided to make a mini-vacation out of our football-focused visit and opted to stay on Amelia Island instead of Jacksonville, which is about a thirty minute drive away. So happy with our decision–we rented a condo on Airbnb that was a few blocks away from the beach and leisurely explored this enchanting and tranquil island. Steeped in history and oozing of charm, this Victorian-era island is such a welcomed reprieve from the typical touristy beach vacation spots that seem to prevail throughout much of Florida. Amelia Island fits the bill for anyone seeking a slower-paced getaway filled with placidity, natural beauty and endless outdoor activities.
Big Talbot State Park
Located on Big Talbot Island, Big Talbot State Park is a delightfully serene park that’s ideal to hike and explore. The accessible and uncrowded paths that lead to the unspoiled Boneyard Beach are terrific to stroll through and soak in that Florida sunshine.
The beach is covered in various formations of driftwood, creating a natural and calm setting.
Man do I love Segways. Like borderline obsessed. If loving a Segway is wrong, I really don’t want to be right. My love affair with this magical machine began years ago when T and I took a Segway tour throughout Annapolis. I haven’t looked back since. Go on and judge. Seriously, I don’t care. Riding a Segway is so freaking fun. Do you look cool while riding on one? Of course not. Are strangers laughing at you and possibly even pointing at you and heckling you? Well, I surely hope not, but it’s not entirely out of the question. In fact, I’m sure it’s virtually impossible not to look positively absurd while riding on one, but I could care less. Segways are the best. And no-one can tell me otherwise.
We booked a 90 minute tour with Omni Resorts’ Amelia’s Wheels, where we explored the Amelia Island Plantation including its maritime forest and marshside. Our private tour was led by a naturalist who taught us all about the diverse ecosystems that make up the island. So much fun.
We rented kayaks from Kayak Amelia, a small outfitter in Talbot Islands State Park. Our self-guided jaunt commenced in Simpson Creek and we were given maps, as well as a detailed overview of places of interest and dangerous areas to avoid. During our time out on the water, we paddled through a salt marsh and a network of small rivers. A wonderful way to enjoy that sensational Florida weather and its abundance of natural beauty.
One of the main attractions of this delightful beach town is of course its namesake, Fernandina Beach. Downtown Fernandina Beach is an endearing and historic seaside village lined with adorable shops and restaurants. Such a lovely little area with so much charm.
Who can resist an amazing sunset? No-one. That’s who.
EATING & DRINKING
Far and away our best meal of the trip, Espana Restaurant serves traditional Spanish and Portuguese fare in a cozy setting. Their tapas-centered menu lends itself to sharing and sampling a little bit of this and a little bit of that (my absolute favorite way to eat).
We loved their paella–no, it wasn’t as good as our beloved go-to paella dish that we always order whenever we’re back in the Dominican Republic, but it was still pretty damn delicious.
The Salty Pelican
This popular open-air eatery in Fernandina Beach was recommended to us by several locals. The arresting harbor views and lively atmosphere surely draw residents and tourists alike, but the food is really nothing special and is pretty much just meh. While your meal will unlikely blow you away, The Salty Pelican is a quintessential casual island spot that is worth checking out, if anything to enjoy some drinks with a killer view.
A diner-style restaurant that serves typical diner and comfort-style food for breakfast and lunch. A popular spot on the island.
Because I couldn’t leave and only see the inside of the stadium and nearby sports bars…
…we had to spend a little time in Jacksonville, right? We spent a few hours on and around Jacksonville Beach, which was a typical beach with a typical pier to stroll along…although being that we were there on an October Monday afternoon, our walk was rather peaceful and pleasant.
My takeaway? Amelia Island is a delightful stand-alone vacation for some r&r as well as a wonderful alternative for when visiting Jacksonville. Highly recommend for a lovely long weekend getaway.