15 Things To Do For A Memorable Family Vacation To Fernandina Beach, Fl - Updated 2021

things to do in fernandina beach florida
Genevieve
Genevieve
Updated

Voted one of the best beaches in Florida, Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island is a stunning choice for a vacation. But a trip here doesn’t have to mean the usual parade of watersport activities, sunbaking, and beach lounging. If you want to take a detour from the regular beach holiday, Fernandina has some surprising treasures to explore. Here are the best things to do for a unique and memorable family trip to Fernandina Beach, Florida.

1. Learn a new painting technique using epoxy resin (from USD 75.0)

Learn a new painting technique using epoxy resin at Judie Delf’s studio. She holds adult art classes only on Thursdays and Tuesdays. You will have to schedule an appointment with her if you can’t make it on those days. She will provide the materials and paints and guide you when creating your own artwork. She accepts students 16 years old and above. It’s a pleasant way to spend your day, bond with your friends and family, or have a unique team-building activity with your workmates.

Adult Kindergarten Epoxy Resin Classes

Duration: 2 hours

20 reviews

2. Know the history behind Amelia Island Lighthouse

Amelia Island Lighthouse
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user bubba73 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Amelia Island Lighthouse was built way before Florida was even a state. It is one of the most important historical sites that survived the Territorial Period with minimal repairs required. The territorial-period lighthouse first shone in 1838 and continues to guide fishing boats, modern freighter, and sailing ships. The US Coast Guard continues to operate the beacon though its ownership belongs to the City of Fernandina Beach.

Amelia Island Lighthouse

Address: 215 O, Hagan Ln, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034, United States

Website: Amelia Island Lighthouse

Opening hours: Sat: 11am - 2pm (closed from Sun to Fri)

3. Develop an appreciation for Nassau county arts at Island Art Association Gallery

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE IAA In the 1970s the Island Art Association (IAA) began with a small group of local artists with...

Posted by Island Art Association on Monday, August 31, 2020

Visit Fernandina Beach’s premier art gallery that showcases the artworks of more than 50 local artists. The gallery is owned by a non-profit organization, the Island Art Organization, whose mission is to develop the public’s interest and appreciation for Nassau county arts in an enjoyable manner. Workshops, classes, and events are available and held at the gallery’s educational center. To adapt to the new normal, they have an online store that sells all the artwork they have in the gallery’s inventory. The association honors member artists, who have in the past 15 years have contributed their talents and works of art to the gallery. You can view their paintings on the website.

Island Art Association Gallery

Address: 18 N 2nd St, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034, United States

Website: Island Art Association Gallery

Opening hours: Wed - Sun: 11am - 5pm (closed on Mon & Tue)

4. Spend some quiet time at Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park

Fernandina Beach FL Plaza
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ebyabe used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Fernandina’s historic state park sits on a cliff along Amelia River on the northern end of Amelia Island. In the 1800s, it was the former site of a Spanish Fort and a parade ground called Plaza San Carlos. Today, this area is now filled with residential Victorian-style houses, and the plaza was even renamed Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park. This is where several events happened that shaped Fernandina’s history. It became British territory, a Spanish colony, and a pirate haven until it was liberated by Florida Patriots. The park now symbolizes the peace and quiet that the locals enjoy.

Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park

Address: 715 San Fernando St, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034, United States

Website: Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

5. Watch the beautiful Florida sunset at Peters Point Beachfront Park

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

One of the best beaches in town, Peter’s Point Beachfront Park is a family-friendly beach open to the public. It has a wide expanse of sandy beach that’s safe for swimming, surfing, and horseback riding. While here, families can use the covered picnic areas, parking space, and restrooms with indoor showers and changing areas. You can conveniently take a shower to get rid of the sand after swimming and be clean as a whistle before getting on your car. Need to stretch out and relax? Then have a day off at Peter’s Point and watch the beautiful Florida sunset.

Peters Point Beachfront Park

Address: 4600 Peters Point Rd, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034, United States

Website: Peters Point Beachfront Park

Opening hours: 5am - 12am (daily)

6. Fire up your kids' imagination at Pirate Playground

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

This pirate-themed community playground is a lovely place to hang out with your kids. It has a wide tree-shaded area that combines music, art, nature, sports, and a little local history to fire up kids’ imagination. Its clean and safe environment is suitable for kids of all kinds of mental and physical skills. They can even pretend to be pirates for a day by wearing costumes. There are picnic tables and benches where the parents can relax while watching their kids. Restrooms and a swimming pool are steps away.

Pirate Playground

Address: 2500 Atlantic Ave, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034, United States

Website: Pirate Playground

Opening hours: 7am - 8:30pm (daily)

7. Learn about Florida's pirate history at Maritime Museum of Amelia Island

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account


The Maritime Museum of Amelia Island gives you a glimpse of its maritime past and intriguing pirate history. It’s lodged inside the former Nassau County Jail which is famous for its historic ghost tours. The museum itself is a treasure trove of artifacts and collectibles gathered from shipwrecks of Spanish and French fleets. View historical items like KGB diving suits from the Russian era, memorabilia from the US Navy, and weapons gathered from different periods. See real gold, silver, and other treasures recovered from the deep Florida sea on display.

The Maritime Museum of Amelia Island

Address: 115 S 2nd St, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034, United States

Website: The Maritime Museum of Amelia Island

Opening hours: Thu - Sat: 10am - 5pm (closed from Sun - Wed)

8. Go for a quick tour of Welcome Center and Shrimp Museum

Marine Welcome Center and Shrimping Museum, Fernandina Beach
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Michael Rivera used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Though this museum is currently closed for construction, it has a lot of features to look forward to upon its reopening in a few months. This tiny museum provides visitors with an idea of how the shrimping industry became part of the history of Fernandina Beach. The exhibits feature photos, videos, and artifacts that create the story of Amelia Island’s past. Tours of the museum are now limited in compliance with the safety protocols of the pandemic. The museum continues to provide a safe atmosphere where visitors can still enjoy learning about Fernandina Beach’s past and progress.

Welcome Center and Shrimp Museum

Address: 235 S Front St, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034, United States

Website: Welcome Center and Shrimp Museum

Opening hours: Sun: 1pm - 4pm; Mon - Sat: 10am - 4pm

9. Indulge in seafood at The Sandbar & Kitchen

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

We couldn’t ask for a better whiskey to take us to #835. It’s the best Boss Hog yet. Come visit NE Florida’s largest...

Posted by The Sandbar & Kitchen on Friday, October 23, 2020

The Sandbar & Kitchen is located at Fernandina Beach along Atlantic Avenue. It has a spacious, cozy indoor dining area with wooden interiors and a wide stage for live performances. Enjoy a picturesque view of the coast from the wide bay windows of the diner, the covered outdoor patio dining area, and the movable dining tables right on the beach. The bar offers a wide selection of alcoholic beverages and handcrafted cocktails that you can pair with delicious seafood and other international meals. Book them for parties, corporate events, and intimate gatherings.

The Sandbar & Kitchen

Address: 2910 Atlantic Ave, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034, United States

Website: The Sandbar & Kitchen

Opening hours: Mon - Tue: 11am - 9pm; Fri - Sat: 11am - 9:30pm; Sun: 11am - 9pm (closed on Wed)

10. Admire the quirky architecture

Victorian House
Source: Pixabay

Take the time to venture off the beaten tourist trail and explore some of the stunning Victorian architecture of Old Town. Amelia Island has some wonderful old houses, with colorful histories and the Fernandina area is no exception. Arguably, the most notable Victorian house in Fernandina is one opposite the Plaza San Carlos. Captain’s House/Downes House, affectionately known by the locals as “Pippy Longstocking House” because it was used as the set for the popular 1988 film “The Adventures of Pippy Longstocking,” is a fantastic example of the eccentric Victorian style. While not open to the public, you are welcome to take photos and the enthusiastic folks at Amelia Island Museum of History will happily tell you about the house’s history. If you like a little more structure to your wanderings, you can take a guided walking tour of historic Fernandina Beach, or, for the more adventurous, a ghost tour!

Amelia Island Ghost Tours

Address: 96215 Light Wind Drive, 32034 Fernandina, FL

Contact: 904-548-0996

Website: Amelia Island Ghost Tours

Walking tours of historic Fernandina Beach

Address: 233 South Third Street, 32034 Fernandina Beach, FL

Website: Walking Tours of Historic Fernandina Beach

11. Visit Fort Clinch

Barracks at Fort Clinch
Source: Pixabay

Fort Clinch was built in 1846 and is essentially a living history museum. Staff re-enacts daily life at the fort, and if you time your visit to coincide with the first weekend of the month, a whole garrison of soldiers perform demonstrations of a cannon firing, small arms, carpentry, masonry, and cooking, to name a few. Open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., admission is 2 USD per person, in addition to the 6 USD entry fee to Fort Clinch State Park. The park itself is open until sunset and offers a range of activities including hiking and nature trails, cycling, surfing, bird watching, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing- so you are sure to find something to keep everybody happy. If you feel so inclined, there are camping and RV sites available in the state park from 33 USD a night.

Fort Clinch

Address: 2601 Atlantic Ave, 32034 Fernandina Beach, FL

Website: Fort Clinch

12. Watch sea turtles

Nesting Sea Turtles
Source: Pexels

Florida is famous for nesting sea turtles, including the endangered loggerhead, leatherback and green turtles. Nesting and hatching seasons run from March to October. Time your vacation right, and you will get to witness a truly remarkable and unique natural wonder. Fernandina Beach is one of only a few beaches in the entire world that make up these turtle’s nesting habitats, so if you get to see this event you are truly fortunate. To see the turtles, it is best to go with an organized walking tour group led by a guide who knows the State and Federal laws around what is and isn’t permissible.

You can find tours that are free, but some can cost up to 20 USD. You will need to be able to walk about two miles up the beach in the sand, so if you have very small children, a baby carrier might be a good idea. Turtle watching is a very popular activity as it is so unique, and tours fill up fast, so be sure to book in advance to avoid being disappointed. It’s worth pointing out that in the high nesting season you may only need to take a walk on the beach in the late evening to witness this event. If you choose not to go with a guide, make sure you read up on what you should and shouldn’t do, to avoid disturbing the mother turtle.

Amelia Island sea turtle watch

Website: Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch

13. Visit a festival

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Throughout the year Amelia Island hosts many festivals, the two most famous being The Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival and the Concours D’ Elegance. Visiting a festival here will mean you must plan your vacation to coincide with these events, but it is definitely worthwhile if you are seeking something a little bit different. The Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival is a celebration of Amelia Island’s local history, where visitors can eat delicious local food featuring lots of shrimp, and learn about the history of this unique part of Florida. Pirate enthusiasts can witness a pirate parade at the day before the festival begins. Usually held the first weekend of May, the next one takes place on May 4 to 6, 2018.

The Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance is held annually at the Ritz Carlton Hotel and is a veritable feast for classic car enthusiasts. A Classic car competition and Silent Auction, the Concours can be an interesting outing for families with children of all ages with opportunities to see some of the rarest and most beautiful cars in the country. The next scheduled date for this event is March 9 to 11, 2018.

Island of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival

Address: Historic Downtown Centre Street, 32034 Fernandina Beach, Florida

Website: Shrimp Festival

Concours D'Elegance

Address: 4750 Amelia Island Pkwy, 32034 Fernandina Beach, FL

Website: Amelia Concours D’ Elegance

14. Explore the Amelia Island Museum of History

Amelia Island Museum of History corner, FL, US
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user bubba73 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Amelia Island has many museums that celebrate its’ rich and unique history, but the one that is going to give you the most bang for your buck is, without question, the Amelia Island Museum of History. As Florida’s first “Spoken History” museum, this is a great alternative if you have children who aren’t into reading long and wordy display plaques. The staff of this museum shares the local history via a series of stories. There are exhibits about the native tribes of the area, the civil war era, the Spanish influence on Florida, and an interactive exhibit designed especially for children called “The Discovery Ship”.

Admission is priced at 8 USD for adults, with 5 USD entry for children, active service members and students (valid ID is required). If you like your history a little more active, the museum offers a range of tours around the historic parts of the island for an added fee. Fees vary from tour to tour but are generally under 10 USD.

You can choose from walking tours lasting from 90 to 120 minutes, or for the less mobile, bus or van tours. If you don’t have minors with you, or just fancy some time away from the kids, the museum also offers a historic pub tour. If you’d like to take one of these tours, a little planning is needed as bookings are required 24 hours in advance.

Amelia Island Museum of History

Address: 233 South Third Street, 32034 Fernandina Beach, FL

Website: Amelia Island Museum of History

15. Take a tour of the Marlin and Barrel Distillery

Distiller Distillery Whiskey
Source: Pixabay

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Established in 2015, this distillery specializes in small batch, hand-crafted rum, vodka, and gin as well as some more local specialties like orangecello and grapefruitcello. Located on South 2nd street, Fernandina Beach, tours are free and, if you are 21 or over, so are the samples! The very knowledgeable staff and owners will happily answer any questions you have about the distilling process, the history of the building and the story of the company. If you are looking for a unique and memorable souvenir of your time in Fernandina, a bottle of your favorite tipple from this artisan company may be the very thing. The owner has been known to date and autograph bottles, a move sure to keep your vacation memories alive long after the bottle is empty!

Marlin and Barrel Disitllery

Address: 115 South 2nd Street, 32034 Fernandina Beach, FL

Website: Marlin and Barrel Distillery

Fantastic times await you in Fernandina Beach

If you’d like a change from all that relaxing on the beach, or maybe your children aren’t quite old enough to enjoy the more traditional beach activities that Florida offers, whatever your interests, Fernandina has some surprising and fascinating family-friendly alternatives to make your vacation truly memorable.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Genevieve is a self-confessed adventure and travel junkie who tends to end up living for a while in the places she visits! Having lived all over the world she loves sharing her travel stories and...Read more

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