Bailey House, Amelia Island
If flying to northeastern Florida, Jacksonville airport is convenient,
uncongested, and affordable. Amelia Island is 35 miles north, and St. Augustine
is just 43 miles south. When driving between the two, take the A1A to the
scenic little Mayport ferry, for a delightful taste of old-time Florida, and
lovely ocean vistas. For a historic coastal city driving tour between Florida
and South Carolina, consider stopping in St. Augustine, Amelia Island, St.
Marys, Savannah, Beaufort, and Charleston. It's only an hour or two between
each one, and the only challenge will be deciding which destination you like
When to Go
As always, midweek visits offer the best rates and availability, minus crowds,
traffic and congestion. Although cold fronts may bring occasional chilly
weather, average winter temps around 70 degrees are perfect for beach walks,
most sports, and general exploration.
If you're planning a December visit to Amelia Island, consider December
1-2, when many B&Bs of historic Fernandina Beach will be decorated and open for
the annual Christmas
Tour. In St. Augustine, we'd especially recommend Sunday
afternoon, December 9, 2001, when many area inns will be open for a
Holiday Tour. Another option is the Saturday evening
Nights of Lights program, beginning just before Thanksgiving and
running through January, when garlands of white lights illuminate the city's
Sights & Activities
St. Augustine: Although it dates back to
1565, much of St. Augustine's current charm is thanks to Henry Flagler, an oil
and railroad magnate, who arrived in town during the winter of 1883. He built
the Spanish Renaissance-style
Ponce de Leon Hotel (now Flagler College) and the Alcazar (now the
Lightner Museum), both well worth a visit. The historic downtown area
is compact and walkable, from the scenic Bridge of Lions to the Castillo San
Marcos-a 300-year-old fort-to the many shops and galleries. Just outside of
town is Old City
Stained Glass, a great source of antique stained glass windows.
Amelia Island: Be sure to take a
walking tour of the village of Fernandina Beach, at the northern
end of Amelia Island. This 50-block area is listed on the National Register of
Historic Places, and includes ornate Victorian mansions and the sturdy brick
commercial buildings along Centre Street. A favorite shop at 205 Centre Street
is the Island Art
Association, a co-op gallery featuring the work of local artists.
Equally worthwhile is a visit to
Fort Clinch State Park, with a restored 19th century fort, hiking and
biking trails, beachfront and a fishing pier. Civil War re-enactments are held
the first weekend of each month. North of Amelia, in the historic village of
St. Marys, Georgia, you can catch the ferry for
Cumberland Island National Seashore.
St. Augustine B&Bs
Beautifully decorated with careful attention to detail is the
Casa de la Paz, with an ideal location overlooking Matanzas Bay and the
Bridge of Lions. Sherri and Marshall Crews do their best to ensure that their
guests have a relaxing and enjoyable visit.
A few blocks away is the Casa
de Suenos, recently purchased by Kathleen Hurley, who left a career of
extensive corporate travel to provide her guests with gracious, relaxed
hospitality and artfully decorated guest rooms.
We had a wonderful dinner at the
Old City House Inn, combining delicious food, pleasing atmosphere, and
affordable prices. Fascinating owners James and Ilse Philcox proudly showed us
through the newly redone upstairs guest rooms, some overlooking a private
terrace for overnight guests.
In the heart of the historic residential area, just a block from the "Oldest
House," is the affordable St.
Francis Inn, with a garden courtyard and small swimming pool.
St. Augustine B&Bs.
More Jacksonville B&Bs.
Amelia Island B&Bs
Elizabeth Pointe Lodge
It's hard to go wrong with Amelia's appealing B&Bs, most located within the
compact historic area. The
Florida House Inn is Florida's oldest surviving hotel, beautifully
decorated with uncluttered charm, highlighted by owners Karen and Bob Warner's
extensive collection of quilts. Even if you don't stay over, stop by for a
boarding-house style lunch or dinner. For a memorable fine-dining experience,
we loved Who's on Fourth (904-261-7700), on the street behind Florida
House. Chris Franz works wonders in the kitchen, while his partner Richard
Stratton makes your evening magical at his keyboard.
Within a block of one another are the
Addison House, the Bailey
Fairbanks House, the Walnford
Inn, each offering their own distinctive brand of owner-operated
hospitality, Victorian décor, modern amenities, and romantic indulgences. Check
out each inn's website to see which one best suits your style and pocketbook.
Our favorite inn on the beach is the
Elizabeth Pointe Lodge, just two miles away; book early to get a
water-view room. Even if you're not staying over, stop by for a
soup/salad/sandwich lunch and a great ocean vista from the dining room or
An alternative about 30 miles north is the
Spencer House Inn, in historic St. Marys, Georgia, just a short walk to
the Cumberland Island ferry. Innkeeper Mary Neff combines Southern hospitality
with modern comforts and historic charm.
Amelia Island B&Bs.
Additional area B&Bs..