Last updated: 04:18 PM ET, Thu May 12 2016

The Allure Of Amelia Island

The destination’s eclectic array of attractions and activities appeals to a wide range of travelers

Agent@Home | Destination & Tourism | Laura L. Myers

The Allure Of Amelia Island

PHOTO: The entrance to the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island.

Amelia Island, Florida’s northernmost barrier island with 13 miles of Atlantic island shoreline and more than 500 years of history, is basking in tourism accolades. The destination was named as one of Condé Nast Traveler’s top 10 islands and an American Planning Association winner for its seaport town, Fernandina Beach, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“The island presents a Florida beach with a southern accent, mixing [a] casual [ambiance] and elegance in a perfect blend not found anywhere else in the south,” says Gil Langley, president and CEO of the Amelia Island Convention and Visitors Bureau. “According to our research, customer satisfaction with Amelia Island tops 98 percent, with more than 90 percent saying they would recommend Amelia to their friends and relatives.”

Picturesque and free from overdevelopment, thanks to the presence of Fort Clinch State Park on its northern end, Amelia Island’s scenic landscape has been a backdrop for several movies: “Pippi Longstocking,” “The Diary of Preston Plummer,” “G.I. Jane” and “The Manchurian Candidate.”

One of the destination’s biggest draws is its wide-ranging portfolio of activities and attractions. “Spa and golf packages are hugely popular,” says Langley, adding that Amelia Island posted a 9 percent increase in 2015 over 2014 in golf tourism room nights. In all, Amelia Island features 117 holes of golf. Seven of the destination’s courses are oceanfront.

Other Amelia Island developments:

The Amelia Island Welcome Center (904-277-0717) reopened last summer following a two-year, $300,000 renovation at the historic Fernandina Beach Railroad Depot. Nearly 18,000 visitors from 17 countries and 30 states have visited the center, which is more than 115 years old and is in the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey program.

A new brewery and distillery are scheduled to open in Fernandina Beach this year, joining the Palace Saloon (904-491-3332), a Centre Street landmark since 1878 and Florida’s oldest saloon that remains in its original location. Back in the day, the saloon was frequented by the Vanderbilts, Carnegies and Rockefellers.

The Marlin & Barrel Distillery (321-230-4755), offering visitor tours as Northeast Florida’s second craft distillery, forged a partnership with Jacksonville-based Engine 15 Brewing Co., which will create a craft line of whiskies.

Fernandina Beach, with its 50-plus block downtown, won the American Planning Association’s 2015 People’s Choice Award over Lake Worth’s downtown, Tallahassee’s Gaines Street District and Lakeland’s Circle B Bar Reserve and Discovery Center.

During the annual Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, April 28 through May 1, history lessons about the Isle of Eight Flags at the Amelia Island Museum of History (904-261-7378) will be offered.

To celebrate Leap Year, Amelia Island unveiled the “Extra Day, Extra Play” campaign (, featuring a third or fourth complimentary night at small properties. The offers vary by property and will be updated throughout 2016.

The 12 participating properties include the Blue Heron Inn (904-445-9034); Amelia Island Williams House (904-479-4801); Oceans of Amelia (904-572-1274); Amelia South Condominiums (904-479-4873); Residence Inn Amelia Inn (904-601-3405); Fairbanks House (904-479-4814); Ketch Courtyard (904-432-3631); Amelia by the Sea (904-479-4836); Amelia Hotel at the Beach (904-601-3406); Hoyt House (904-479-4825); Beachside Motel (904-530-0618); and ERA Fernandina Beach Realty (904-479-4877).

The island, which is 18 miles long and three miles wide, is named in honor of Princess Amelia, daughter of England’s King George II. It is located approximately 65 miles from St. Augustine.

For more information on Amelia Island, visit  .


Amelia Island’s typical visitors are 49.3 years old. Their average length of stay is 4.2 days. More than 54 percent are first-time visitors; 84 percent say they plan to return.

Nearly 65 percent book Amelia Island vacations online, spending an average $1,911 for their vacation. About 26 percent fly in, according to the tourism bureau’s research.

Most domestic visitors hail from the Southeast, Florida, the Northeast and Midwest.

“Over 50 percent of our visitors are active couples in their early 50s, with household incomes of $150,000,” says Gil Langley, president and CEO of Amelia Island Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Another 25 percent are families with younger children.”

With 620,000 overnight visitors last year, a 10.7 increase over 2014, Amelia Island’s average daily room rate now ranks third in the state behind Naples and the Florida Keys, at nearly $215.

Room occupancy is also high and stood at 71 percent last year, which represents a 4 percent increase over 2014 occupancies.

Recently renovated properties include Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island; the Amelia Island Omni; Residence Inn Amelia Island; and the Elizabeth Point Lodge.

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Agent@Home Magazine

A version of this article appears in print in the April 2016 issue of Agent@Home Magazine.