The First Coast does offer exciting day trips for those of you wishing to expand your travel horizons beyond our Historic District and our pristine beaches. We have charted out several road trips that allow you to enjoy a wonderful breakfast at the Addison, do some exploring and still be back at the inn by Happy Hour, ready to share your unique experiences.
To the North:
The barrier Islands north of Amelia Island offer plenty of opportunity for exploration. Jekyll Island is the second island to the north of us and is home to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. The center is full of interactive displays and information about sea turtles but our favorite part of the center is the sea turtle rehabilitation center. Visitors can view several pools filled with a variety sea turtles undergoing treatment for disease, barnacles and missing limbs. It is a tough life being a sea turtle and sometimes they need a little help. Turtles that are fully rehabilitated get released back into the wild while others are donated to aquariums. www.JekyllIsland.com www.GSTC.JekyllIsland.com Distance from Amelia Island: 62 miles. Drive time: approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.
A good spot for lunch before heading back to Amelia Island is just to the north on St Simon’s Island. Their charming little Historic District is home to Coastal Kitchen with nice views of the harbor and Tramici, an excellent Italian restaurant. Distance from Jekyll Island: 17 miles. Drive time: Approximately 25 minutes.
Savannah, Georgia is further north but well within the day trip distance from the Addison. There is plenty of time to stroll along River Street, have lunch and take a trolley tour through the Historic District with its cobblestone streets, manicured gardens, and oak-shaded parks drizzling with silvery Spanish Moss. www.savannah.com Distance from Amelia Island: 130 miles. Drive time: approximately 2 hours and 10 minutes.
To the South:
The barrier islands to the south of Amelia Island are home to Talbot Islands State Parks, the Ribault Club Visitor Center and Kingsley Plantation, all within a short distance from the Addison. Your first stop after crossing the Nassau Sound Bridge is Talbot Island State Park. The beaches on Talbot Island are natural and not manicured or replenished. Take the first driveway to the left after the bridge to see the Boneyard with petrified trees along the beach.
Keep heading south along A1A and cross over the bridge onto Fort George Island. Watch for the signs on the right to Kingsley Plantation and the Ribault Club. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many people came to Florida. Some, like Zephaniah Kingsley, sought to make their fortunes by obtaining land and establishing plantations. Others were forced to come to Florida to work on those plantations, their labor providing wealth to the people who owned them. Some of the enslaved would later become free landowners, struggling to keep their footing in a dangerous time of shifting alliances and politics. All of these people played a part in the history of Kingsley Plantation. The Plantation is in an absolutely gorgeous location on the river. The plantation house, barns and foundations of the slave’s quarters are on display. Distance from the Addison: 26 miles.
Along the same dirt road you will find the Ribault Club. The Ribault Club was established in 1928 as a playground for the affluent, much like the “millionare’s club” on neighboring Jekyll Island. The club has been the site of many memorable parties and events over the years, hosting foreign dignitaries, captains of industry and society mavens. The club now hosts weddings and private events and has an information center that is worth the visit.
Looking for lunch? Back out to A1A and turn right. A1A continues across the St John’s River via the ferry. Take the ferry across ($6 per car) and look for Singleton’s Restaurant. It doesn’t look like much but you can enjoy their fresh seafood on the deck that overlooks the river. The secret of Singleton’s lies in one of the back rooms. Hundreds of wooden boats fill the room, boats carved by a previous boat captain and Singletons employee.
Looking for lunch but have just missed the ferry? Head south along A1A to Chowder Ted’s, home of some really great chowder. Look for Brown’s Fish Camp on the left after crossing one of the smaller bridges. Turn right, right after that bridge and right across from Brown’s Fish Camp, down a steep driveway to a small white concrete block building. It is easy to miss. Great chowder served in old tin pots, along with fresh shrimp and burgers, best eaten on the picnic tables overlooking the creek. www.ChowderTeds.com
To the West:
Talk a walk on the wild side and explore the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Covering 630 square miles in southeast Georgia, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge encompasses nearly all of the world renowned Okefenokee Swamp. Alligators bask in the sun while flocks of white ibis, wood storks, and sandhill cranes forage in the shallow tea-colored water. The pine islands and uplands surrounding the swamp are home to such species as the gopher tortoise, endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, and indigo snake. This is a huge area with lots to offer so be sure to plan ahead. Your day trip plan starts at www.fws.gov/refuge/okefenokee Distance from the Addison to the main entrance: 55 miles. Drive time approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes