Bypassed by Time, Sweetened by Modern-Day Luxury
On tiny Amelia Island, the past and present coexist in a very unusual way. At its northern end, Fernandina Beach, the island’s only town, revolves lazily around a fifty-block nucleus that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and features some of the nation’s finest examples of Queen Anne, Victorian, and Italianate mansions. In total, more than 450 historic buildings were built here before 1927, testimony of the island’s glory days when it played vacation home to wintering socialites with names like Goodyear, Pulitzer, and Carnegie. The cobbled (and aptly named) Centre Street is the island’s most appealing stretch, lined with galleries, bed-and- breakfasts, and turn-of-the- century eateries, and is reasonably free of tourist kitsch. The wonderfully atmospheric Palace Saloon stands along this street; built in 1878, it bills itself as Florida’s oldest watering hole and is still a perennial favorite with local fishermen and visiting golfers alike. It’s one of the town’s unofficial headquarters during the yearly Shrimp Festival, the island’s biggest and most enjoyable event.
The 13-mile long island is one of the few places left in Florida where you can still ride horseback on the beach—an exhilarating experience of wind, surf, and ospreys. One of the choicest and most pristine stretches of beach belongs to The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, whose guest rooms all enjoy enviable views and perfect sunrises. Considered by many to be one of the finest resorts in the South, The Ritz- Carlton offers golf, tennis, Southern hospitality, and exceptional dining in its award-winning restaurant, The Grill, proving that Amelia Island is, once again, the ultimate playground for island lovers with cash to spare.