Last Updated on: 6th February 2023, 03:15 pm
Are you planning on spending two or three days on Amelia Island and wondering how to get the most out of your vacation time? Look no further!
To have a magical Amelia Island weekend getaway, you’ll want to see as much of the island as possible, enjoy the wonderful food scene (wild-caught shrimp, I mean really!), spend some time at the beach, and get out on the water.
This part of Florida is one of the state’s oldest vacation spots, and it’s packed with things to do, see, and eat!
Use this Amelia Island itinerary for planning 2 or 3 days on Amelia Island, but if you have more time, I also have suggestions towards the end of this article to spend 4 days on Amelia Island.
Read next: 17 Essential Amelia Island Travel Tips
Note: We were guests of Amelia Island during our Big Southern USA Road Trip. As always, all opinions are my own.
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My Favorite Travel Booking Sites for 2023
These are my favorite companies that I use on my own travels.
Protect Your Trip via Safety Wing
Find the best deals on hotels & vacation rentals on Booking.com.
For English-speaking private airport transfers, book through Welcome Pickups.
For road trips and independent travel, rent a car through Discover Cars.
Find information and cruise reviews on Cruise Critic.
For packing and travel essentials order via Amazon.
The Top 6 Most Popular Amelia Island Tours & Attractions
Before you dig into all the island has to offer, you should know that these are the most popular guided tours, attractions, and day trips on Amelia Island.
Where to Stay on Amelia Island, Florida
Luckily there are lots of great places to stay (many of them beachfront!), so you have a lot of fabulous choices from which to choose. However, I do have some opinions about which are the best hotels on Amelia Island.
We stayed at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Amelia Island. This new three-star oceanside hotel has quickly become one of the best places to stay on Amelia Island.
Our room had stunning ocean views, a separate living area, and a great balcony.
The area around the hotel has great restaurants within walking distance, and the beach itself is just a five-minute walk.
You can check into your hotel room, drop your luggage off, and be at the beach or a beach bar before your car engine has even cooled.
If you want to go swimming in the evening, the hotel pool and hot tub stay open late and make for a wonderful way to unwind at the end of the day.
More Places to Stay on Amelia Island
If you are looking to stay at one of the best resorts on Amelia Island, the four-star Omni Amelia Island Resort has a full-service luxury spa and is one of the best resorts for someone looking for hotels with golf courses.
Another luxury option is The Ritz-Carlton, a five-star resort that also features a golf course and spa along with five restaurants.
This is also the resort that hosts the annual Amelia Island Concours d’ Elegance. If you will be coming to the show, book a room here early as it sells out far in advance of the event.
There are many more options for Amelia Island accommodations, from bed and breakfasts to apartment rentals to budget motels.
How to Get to Amelia Island
We drove to Amelia Island as part of a big road trip around the South. Driving is the easiest way to get to Amelia Island since you will want to have a car here during your trip.
Because it’s a barrier island, you cross over a bridge from the mainland to get here. However, you do not need to take a ferry.
While you can get around without a car, we found having our own wheels made our stay here very easy.
If you want to drive to Amelia Island but don’t have your own wheels, I use Discover Cars when I rent cars on my travels.
If you don’t want to drive to Amelia Island, you have other options.
There is a small airport on the island, Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport, but it’s mostly for private flights.
You can fly into Jacksonville International Airport (JAX). Flights here are relatively inexpensive, and the airport is serviced by many major airlines.
If you fly, you will still need to get from the airport out to the island.
You will want to rent a car to get from the airport to the island if you want to have your vehicle during your vacation. I use Discover Cars for renting cars on my trips.
If you don’t want to rent a car, you can take an Uber or arrange a private transfer from the Jacksonville Airport to your accommodations in Fernandina Beach.
How to Get Around Amelia Island
If you plan to spend most of your time in Fernandina Beach, the area is charming and walkable. However, some of the best things to do in Amelia Island are not in downtown Fernandina Beach.
While people might wonder do you need a car on Amelia Island, the answer is that it makes life easier but you can get around without one.
Another option is to use a mix of taxis and rideshares. Keep in mind that there are not that many drivers for these programs, so wait times for cars may be longer than ideal.
Good to Know: For this itinerary, I will assume you have your own car to get around the island.
The Perfect 3 Day Weekend on Amelia Island & Fernandina Beach
Get ready to have an amazing Amelia Island weekend!
Good to Know: Not everything listed on this itinerary is open year-round or daily even during peak seasons. You should use this as a general travel guide and then check with the activities and restaurants to ensure they are open during your trip.
I recommend booking activities and tours ahead of time to avoid sold-out tours. I don’t usually make reservations for restaurants, but when I do I use Open Table.
One thing you’ll see is that I didn’t put a ton of beach and pool time on here. We hit the beach and our hotel pool during downtime and in the evening.
We found two hours at the beach each day and swimming at the hotel at night was enough for our family vacation, but it may not be enough for you.
If you want more beach time, you can simply drop items from the itinerary or move things around a bit.
Amelia Island Day 1: Old Fernandina, Pirate Tales, Downtown Fernandina Beach, + a Sunset Cruise!
Today is about seeing just how different Amelia Island is from your daily life back at home.
You’ll hear wild pirate tales (and I do mean WILD), enjoy delicious local seafood, see historic downtown Fernandina Beach at its best, and get whisked away on a magical sunset cruise.
9:00 AM: Breakfast on Your Own OR at Hola! Cuban Cafe
Many hotels on Amelia Island have great breakfast and brunch options included (ours did!), so you might want to enjoy breakfast where you’re staying.
If yours does not, Hola! Cuban Cafe is a great spot very close to the pick-up point for your tour below.
The empanadas are wonderful, and they are known for their Cuban coffee.
Just note that they don’t open until nine and your tour starts at ten, so be there right when they open and don’t dawdle!
They aren’t open every day, so check their schedule before you head over.
Address: 31 S 5th St, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
10:00 AM: Learn the Insane History of Amelia Island on a Guided Tour
The history of the Sunshine State has not always been sunshine and roses.
On the Amelia Island Historic Tours: Eight Flags Road Tour you’ll learn all about the history of the island from European contact through today.
The tour will go through all eight flags that have flown over the island, from ones you’ve probably heard of (the French and Spanish flags) to the ones you probably have not…
The tales include British Raiders, a pirate overlord, and the era when Amelia Island was essentially the Tiajuana of Colonial America – a place Americans escaped to play and avoid the reach of the US laws.
You’ll see the island’s historic cemetery (Bosque Bello Cemetery), the state’s smallest state park (Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park), and learn all about Old Fernandina.
And you’ll do this while driving in a comfortable van, perfect for seeing much more of the island’s historic homes and historic district than you could traverse on foot in ninety minutes.
Make sure to reserve your tour ahead of time since the van only seats eight!
I’ve done a lot (A LOT) of history tours over the years I’ve been a history-centric travel blogger. This one blew my mind.
I’ve never been somewhere with such a wild history that I had no idea about beforehand.
Address: Confirm your tour pick-up location upon booking your tour.
12:00 PM: Enjoy a Lunch of Locally Caught Seafood at Timoti’s Seafood Shak
This popular seafood shack in downtown Fernandina Beach is the perfect spot to relax after your tour.
You can walk over from the drop-off point of your morning tour and line up to place your order.
Specializing in wild-caught seafare, the food and atmosphere are casual but the food is on point.
The island is famous for inventing the commercial shrimping industry, so ordering the local shrimp basket is a no-brainer, but there are other great options if you’d prefer oysters, clams, or fish.
And yes, there are options for vegetarians, vegans, and people looking for meat, as well as tacos and poke bowls if you’re avoiding fried food.
There are drinks and cocktails available if you want a real “island vibe,” or you can get a soda or water to accompany your meal.
For dessert, check the board. We had a deconstructed key lime pie and OH MY it was tasty.
Address: 21 N 3rd St, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
1:30 PM: Shop, Snack, and Tibble Along Centre Street
There are so many great places to see in downtown Fernandina. Here are just a few of my favorites:
Amelia Island Wine Company
The Palace Saloon
Amelia Angler Outfitters
Art on Centre
The Book Loft
3:30 Enjoy more of Centre Street, Relax at Your Hotel, or Go for a Swim
Because the evening activities depend on sunset, which occurs at different times throughout the year, you might have anywhere from two to three and a half hours before your sunset tour.
You can use this time to see more of downtown, but if you’ve gotten your fill of shopping, then you can spend this time relaxing in your hotel or going for a quick swim.
Take this time to enjoy yourself in whatever way excites you the most!
Evening: Enjoy Sunset on the Water
Amelia River Cruises & Charters hosts two sunset cruises, and there’s no better place to be than out on the water at sunset!
The first option is the Family-Friendly Sunset Cruise, which operates daily. While it’s touted as family-friendly, it’s also great for couples, singles, and groups of friends.
You’ll see Old Fernandina, Fort Clinch, and Cumberland Island from the water, along with tons of wildlife like dolphins, rays, and even sea turtles.
There’s a separate Adult Twilight BYOB Cruise that runs on Fridays and Saturdays. This one is the option if you aren’t traveling to Amelia Island with kids.
Address: Confirm your tour pick up location upon booking your tour.
Nightfall: Dine in Downtown Fernandina
After your sunset cruise, enjoy dinner in town. Marina Seafood Restaurant is a hidden gem loved by locals for its old-school charm.
Located right across from the cruise drop-off, it is an easy place to sink into and relax after your wonderful cruise.
If you’re looking for something fancier, make reservations at Le Clos, the elegant French restaurant serving some of the most sophisticated food on the island.
Another option is to explore downtown and pop into whatever eatery piques your interest. You can’t go wrong!
If you want to continue your night after dinner, there are some live music options downtown.
And if you haven’t popped into the Palace Saloon yet, make sure to do so! It’s the oldest bar in Florida.
Amelia Island Day 2: American Beach, Fort Clinch State Park, & Main Beach
Today is about digging deeper into the historic sites of Amelia Island at American Beach and Fort Clinch State Park, along with seeing more of the island’s natural beauty and beautiful beaches.
8:30 AM: Breakfast on Your Own or Amelia Island Coffee
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel or check out another local breakfast spot, Amelia Island Coffee.
Along with coffee, they have an assortment of breakfast sandwiches, wraps, bagels, and avocado toast.
Address: 207 Centre St, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
10:30 AM: See History Come Alive at the Amelia Island Museum of History
Dig deeper into the history of the area at the Amelia Island Museum of History. Located in the island’s former jail, this compact museum has artifacts from centuries of island history.
Docent lead tours start at 11:00 AM (daily except for Sundays). If you arrive at 10:30, that will give you time to purchase your ticket, check out the gift shop, and watch the film before the tour starts.
I loved my tour, which was run by a volunteer who was so enthusiastic about sharing the island with the museum’s visitors.
The docent tour is included with the price of admission, so I highly recommend going if you’re at all intrigued!
I just love a museum where you can tell everyone involved loves the mission!
Good to Know: The museum hosts two paid tours that look amazing. I didn’t have time to go, but if they line up with your schedule you should!
Address: 233 S 3rd St, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
12:30 PM: Lunch on Your Own
There are several lunch spots near the museum, or you can go back towards Centre Street and eat somewhere downtown.
Grab something easy and quick, but fuel up! The afternoon is packed!
1:30 PM: Learn about an Important Chapter of Black History at American Beach + the American Beach Museum
I learned about the history of American Beach about six months before I arrived, and it was one of the things I was most excited to see for myself.
If you can, start at the American Beach Museum. Learning the history here will give you a better perspective for the time you spend at the beach itself.
American Beach was one of the most important resorts for African Americans during the era of Jim Crow.
Because Black Americans were not allowed to go to segregated White beaches, Black entrepreneurs created their own small towns for Black vacationers to enjoy.
A. L. Lewis, the founder of American Beach, laid out his vision as “Recreation And Relaxation Without Humiliation.”
Today the buildings are gone, but learn the history through the museum (either in person or online) and then come to the beach to see it for yourself.
You can bring your beach gear and enjoy a few hours in the sunshine and sand, or you can come just for a few minutes to pay your respects.
The beach is protected by the National Park Service as part of the Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve, one of Florida’s national parks.
While there aren’t as many buildings preserved today as the community would like, the American Beach Historic District entered the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.
Good to Know: the museum is currently closed due to the ongoing public health situation, but will be open again in the future.
In the meantime, you can visit their website to learn more about the history and see photographs from American Beach’s heyday.
American Beach Museum Address: 1600 Julia St, American Beach, FL 32034
3:30 PM: See Florida’s Natural Wonders at NaNa & Burney Park
A short drive from American Beach and also located in the Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve, Nana is the highest dune in Florida.
It’s technically in Burney Park, one of Nassau County’s public parks, so there are also public facilities here as well as beach access.
Address: 1830 Lewis St, American Beach, FL 32034
4:00 PM: See Civil War History Come Alive at Fort Clinch State Park
One of the best places to see Spanish Moss-covered roads and lighthouse views, Fort Clinch State Park also preserves the island’s Civil War history.
You can explore the historic fort and learn about what northeast Florida was like during the Civil War.
Park Rangers even dress like the Union Soldiers who took the fort from the South!
See the cannons, sea walls, and living quarters along with fabulous views of the Amelia River beyond.
There are also hiking trails and beach access here, so it’s a great place for both history buffs and nature lovers!
Address: 2601 Atlantic Ave, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
5:45 PM: Get a Glimpse of the Amelia Island Lighthouse
I adore the lighthouses of the East Coast, and the Amelia Island Lighthouse is no exception, which is the oldest in Florida.
The chance to go on a tour of the lighthouse is very limited, but you can still drive out to see it.
You will get to see it from afar in Fort Clinch State Park, but you can also drive to the entrance to see it much closer.
Address: 204 Ash Street Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
6:00 PM: Enjoy Atlantic Ocean Views at Main Beach Park
If you aren’t starving, spend an hour walking the beach at Main Beach Park before heading to dinner.
It’s been a long day, so no one would fault you if you decided to lay out a blanket and relax while staring out at the Atlantic Ocean instead!
Remember that you’re facing east, so any sunset you see will be behind you (depending on the time of the year it may already be time for sunset).
However, it’s really beautiful here in the evenings, and even in the summer its a great place to unwind, and an entirely different vibe from the Amelia River on the other side of the island.
While here, keep your eyes out for souvenir shark teeth washed up on the beach (though its easier to find them in the mornings than in the evenings).
Address: 32 N Fletcher Ave, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
7:00 PM: Keep the Views But Add in Drinks + Dishes at Salt Life Food Shack
If you want to dine on the roof deck, you can keep enjoying Atlantic Ocean views while being served cocktails, appetizers, and local dishes.
If you’d rather move inside, the vibe downstairs is jovial and loud with live music playing right outside on the patio.
Either way, this is a great beach restaurant with great cuisine and an atmosphere you’ll remember long after your trip is over.
Pro Tip: Reservations are recommended in high season, especially if you want a table with unobstructed ocean views.
Address: 17 N Fletcher Ave, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
Amelia Island Day 3: Horses, Kayaking, Craft Spirits, & a Farewell to Fernandina Beach
For your last day, you have to make some decisions. For both the morning and afternoon activities, I provide two great option. You decide which speaks to you.
8:30 AM: Breakfast on Your Own
Depending on the choices you make below, you will want to plan a breakfast that makes the most sense for your activity and where your tour will leave from.
Alternatively, enjoy breakfast at your hotel.
10:00 AM: Cumberland Island Tour OR Kayaking Tour
Would your rather take a cruise to see wild horses or jump in a kayak and get on the water?
Both tours are some of the most popular things to do on Amelia Island, so whatever you choose, it will be epic!
Option 2: If you want to be up close and personal in the water, the Guided Family Friendly Kayak Tour: Experience Old Florida is the better option for you.
Your tour includes your equipment rentals (kayak, paddles, and PFDs), so you don’t need to worry about arranging for anything ahead of time.
It also includes a complimentary digital photo album to help you remember your trip.
The water is dark a haven for wildlife, so keep your eyes open!
Your guide will point out the vegetation and animals you see as you go. This is a great option for eco tour lovers!
12:30 PM: Lunch On Your Own
Keep in mind your location and the starting time of your next activity as you choose where to eat.
I always like to ask local guides for their recommendations nearby since they work in the area and usually eat near the end of the tours often themselves.
Afternoon: Horseback Riding on the Beach OR Marlin & Barrel Distillery Tour
You have another hard choice to make for your afternoon activity. Would you rather ride horseback on the beach, or go on a distillery tour of locally crafted rum and spirits?
Different ranches go through different parts of the island like Amelia Island State Park and Big Talbot Island State Park.
Option 2: Go on a distillery tour at Marlin & Barrel. Tours leave in the afternoons but call ahead to reserve your spot and check the current tour times.
Serving hand-crafted rum, vodka, gin, and cello, there’s a little something for everyone here.
Address: 232 South 8th Street Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
Evening: One Last Hurrah in Downtown Fernandina Beach
If you are thoroughly tuckered out, no one will fault you for spending your final evening on the island ordering room service and relaxing in your hotel pool. However…
If you do have a little more energy, head back to downtown Fernandina Beach.
There are more shops and restaurants than you can appreciate in a single visit to Amelia Island or two, so come back to enjoy that one little restaurant that got away.
What to Do in 4 Days on Amelia Island
The truth is that there just isn’t enough time to do everything. The island may look small, but it’s packed with so many wonderful activities and adventures.
Here are a few ideas for what to do if you want to see Amelia Island in four days instead of three.
Go on a Day Trip from Amelia Island
I’ve listed one day trip option above, going on a Cumberland Island tour. However, there are other options for day trips as well!
You could go to Jacksonville or St. Augustine for the day, pick another cruise itinerary, or even head over the border and see Savannah, Georgia for the day.
While I would prefer to stay on the island or go on a cruise, the nearby cities are lovely if you want to mix it up a bit.
Enjoy a Few More Amelia Island Activities
If I had four days on Amelia Island, I would dedicate one entire day to the beach. But you could also add a round of golf or a day at one of the fabulous local spas.
While this itinerary has covered most of the best things to do on Amelia Island, you can always find a few more!
More Things to Do on Amelia Island
Exploring the island’s hiking and biking trails.
Shopping at the Farmer’s Market.
Going on a segway tour or an electric bike tours.
Going on a history walking tour.
Going on a fishing charter.
Trying out the shrimp po’ boy and cheese grits at Ms. Carolyn’s Restaurant.
If you still need more ideas for where to eat you can enjoy more local food and drink options at bistros and bars around town.
Going surfing or paddleboarding (surfboards and paddleboards can be rented at several places, including across the street from Main Beach)
Birdwatching (birds you can find at different times of year include Belted Kingfishers, Black-Crowned Night Herons, Great Blue Hero, Great Horned Owls, Harrier (Salt Marsh) Hawks, Hooded Mergansers, Mallard Ducks, Northern Gannets, Peafowls, Red-Tailed Hawks, Snowy Egrets, White Ibis, White Pelicans, and Wood storks)
Circle Back to Anything You Missed During Your First 3 Days
If you would prefer a slower pace of travel, you can spread out the activities on this itinerary and enjoy them over four days instead of three.
I don’t think it’s a particularly busy itinerary, but you can mix in more beach and pool time and spread out the bigger activities like tours and cruises so that each day has one big guided activity along with more time for relaxation.
Look for Special Amelia Island Events
We added a visit to Concours d’Elegance to our trip and pushed our departure time down late afternoon. Sometimes there’s something cool happening while you’re here that you didn’t plan for, like the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival.
Check out special Amelia Island events here and see if you want to add any to your itinerary.
Pro Tip: You can’t see everything here in one weekend. Even if you get to experience Amelia Island in 4 days instead of 3, prepare to leave wanting more!
Feel free to go ahead and book your return trip now, because I promise you’ll want to come back.
What to Do If You Only Have 2 Days on Amelia Island?
This is so tough! I set this itinerary up so that if you only have two days, you can follow days one and two and have an amazing time!
However, check to see if anything on day three speaks to you, since it’s a day with more special tours and activities. If there’s something on day three you simply MUST do, you can swap it in!
What to Do if You Only Have One Day in Amelia Island?
If you only have one day, I would follow day one. For the time listed as optional, I would use that to drive out to EITHER Fort Clinch State Park or American Beach. Unfortunately, you won’t have time to do both.
Amelia Island Travel Tips
I have many more tips for your trip in my post on Amelia Island travel tips.
Some of the tips in that article, like beach safety and alligator safety, are things you might not think about before you get here but are important to know.
A trip to Amelia Island should be relaxing and rejuvenating (or full of adrenaline and excitement if that’s more you think). It shouldn’t be stressful!
Reading up a bit more before you go will make your trip that much more enjoyable once you’re here!
When is the Best Time to Go to Amelia Island?
Amelia Island is a year-round destination, but there are a few things to consider when deciding when to plan your vacation:
First, what kind of weather do you want to have? Do you want to swim? Are you okay with high temperatures?
Second, is there a specific event like Concours or the shrimp festival that you’d like to experience? If so, make sure to look up the dates ahead of time and plan accordingly.
Third, do you want to go in the off-season so the island will have fewer tourists? If you want to see the island as quiet as possible, then you might prefer a late autumn getaway to the middle of summer or January.
Finally, are you looking to avoid hurricane season? I travel to the coast of Texas all the time during hurricane season (almost every summer of my life), and we’ve only had to leave early once.
So while I don’t avoid traveling during hurricane season, I always make sure to get travel insurance that covers trip cancellations due to weather.
5 Things to Pack for Your Trip to Florida
You know to bring sunscreen and sunglasses, but here are five items you do not want to forget!
First, get a guidebook like the Lonely Planet Florida. It’s not easy to find traditional guidebooks once you land.
If you will be going on a road trip around Florida or nearby Georgia and South Carolina, I love Lonely Planet’s Florida & the South’s Best Road Trips.
Second, make sure to bring your cell phone. You will want to stay connected during your trip, plus it will serve as a navigation system and a go-to camera.
Third, grab a camera. While it’s great to have a cell phone with you for quick pics, if you want to do more serious photography or take more videos, I find it nice to travel with a separate dedicated camera as well.
If I will be wrestling with my toddler on the trip, I’ll grab my Sony ZV-1, which is a powerful compact camera with great video capabilities as well.
Next, bring a waterproof bag (also knowns as a dry bag) so that you can safely bring your electronics to the beach or kayaking.
You don’t want to ruin your trip with a drowned cell phone or wet camera, but you also don’t want to miss out on capturing all those great beach moments with your loved ones!
Finally, bring a backup charging bank for your phone.
Even though my new phone has an awesome battery life, I would not want to be out on a boat or a tour for the day and end up with a dead phone.
It’s a safety issue as well as an inconvenience.
More Florida Travel Resources
We just love Florida! I’ve been six times, and I already can’t wait to go back! Here are all the Florida travel blog posts that I have to help you plan your trip around this wonderful state!
Florida State-Wide Guides
Florida City + Regional Guides
Florida is Included in these Round-Ups
Guidebooks I Used to Plan My Trip Around the South
These are the travel guidebooks that I used to plan my entire 5-week Southern USA road trip. I highly recommend each of them!
Lonely Planet Florida & the South’s Best Trips – this book was essential for me when I was trying to plan our road trip and understanding what was near each other and what absolutely not to miss.
Moon U.S. Civil Rights Trail: A Traveler’s Guide to the People, Places, and Events that Made the Movement – we did a lot of Civil Rights and Civil War historic sites on our trip, and if you’ll be doing any of this kind of travel, make sure to get this.
It was invaluable for finding off-the-beaten-path sites and can’t miss Black-owned historic businesses.
Before You Leave for Florida – Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
Before you leave for your Florida vacation, make sure you have a valid Travel Insurance Policy because accidents happen on the road. I like to use Safety Wings when I travel, and I happily recommend them.
It’s especially important to get travel insurance whenever you are more than one hundred miles from home, hanging out in large cities, or doing outdoor activities like going to the beach or kayaking.
So basically everything that is fun about visiting Florida.