Amelia Island, Florida, is a paradise for nature lovers, history buffs, and culture fanatics! You can find attractions that appeal to all of these tucked into the many Amelia Island parks. The island is packed with state and national parks, some of the most impressive in the southeast. Be sure to leave a spot at the top of your itinerary to appreciate all they have to offer! You won’t want to miss out.
Fort Clinch State Park
Calling all history buffs! Fort Clinch State Park is one of the most well-preserved 19th century forts in the country. Book one of their daily tours to experience period reenactors depicting garrison life to bring the fort to life! After the tour, head to the beach to enjoy an afternoon of sunbathing, swimming, and beachcombing. Plus, anglers can fish from the pier or take advantage of the excellent surf fishing. Hikers and bicyclists can enjoy a six-mile trail through the park. Self-guided nature trails provide opportunities to learn about and observe native plants and wildlife.
Little Talbot Island State Park
With more than five miles of beautiful, white sandy beaches, Little Talbot Island is one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier islands in Northeast Florida. Maritime forests, desert-like dunes, and undisturbed salt marshes on the western side of the island allow for hours of nature study and relaxation. The park’s diverse habitats host a wealth of wildlife viewing opportunities, including river otters, marsh rabbits, bobcats, and various native and migratory birds. The surrounding surf and tidal streams present excellent fishing for bluefish, striped bass, redfish, flounder, mullet, and sheepshead. Other popular park activities include hiking, kayaking, beachcombing, surfing, and picnicking.
Big Talbot Island State Park
Located on one of Northeast Florida’s unique sea islands, Big Talbot Island State Park is a natural preserve offering a premier nature study, birdwatching, and photography location. Explore the diverse island habitats by hiking Blackrock Trail to the shoreline, Big Pine Trail to the marsh or Old Kings Highway and Jones Cut through the maritime forest. Visit The Bluffs and enjoy a picnic at one of the pavilions overlooking the water or take a quick stroll down the trail to Boneyard Beach. The unique beach is famous for the salt-washed skeletons of live oak and cedar trees that once grew near the shore. These sights are exceptionally unique and provide incredible photo opportunities!
Amelia Island State Park
Amelia Island State Park protects over 200 acres of unspoiled wilderness along the southern tip of Amelia Island. Beautiful beaches, salt marshes, and coastal maritime forests provide visitors a glimpse of the original Florida. Amelia Island State Park is one of the few locations on the east coast that offers horseback riding on the beach and riding tours along the shoreline. Fishers can surf fish along the coastline or wet their lines from the mile-long George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier, which spans Nassau Sound. Visitors can stroll along the beach, look for shells, or watch the wildlife.
Fort George Island Cultural State Park
Native Americans feasted here, colonists built a fort, and the Smart Set of the 1920s came for vacations. A site of human occupation for over 5,000 years, Fort George Island was named for a 1736 structure built to defend the southern flank of Georgia when it was a colony. Today´s visitors come for boating, fishing, off-road bicycling, and hiking. The restored Ribault Club, what was once an exclusive resort, is now a visitor center with meeting space available for special functions. Behind the club, small boats, canoes, and kayaks can be launched on the tidal waters.
Cumberland Island National Seashore
Cumberland Island offers a chance to get away from modern life for a day, step back in time and view the Carnegie family mansions where the rich spent their summers. Wander through the Plum Orchard mansion with its indoor pool and squash court and view the ruins of Dungeness. You can access Cumberland Island by driving to St. Mary’s, Georgia, and taking the Parks Service ferry to the Island. Your innkeepers will provide an early breakfast so that you can catch the first ferry and make a full day of it!
Discover the stories of the life and times of Zephaniah Kingsley, his African wife Anna, and the hundreds of men, women, and children who were enslaved at the plantation. The Kingsley Plantation, administered by the National Park Service, is located on Fort George Island and includes the plantation house, a kitchen house, a barn, and the ruins of 25 of the original slave cabins. Explore life on a nineteenth-century Florida plantation.
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is an easy day trip from the Addison. You can leave after breakfast, enjoy the refuge, and still make it back for Happy Hour. The refuge is vast, with almost 402,000 acres (roughly 300,000 football fields in size) of cypress forest, marsh, lakes, and islands. It is a beautiful place to learn about Georgia and Florida’s wildlife, filled with alligators, Sandhill cranes, red-cockaded woodpeckers, and over 400 other animals. The longleaf pine, cypress, carnivorous sundews, and other plants make up different habitats from dry upland forests to open wetlands. Golden sunsets and thundering storms allow one to experience this magical place at its most beautiful and most awe-inspiring moments.
There are many ways to explore the Okefenokee. Guided boat tours take visitors through cypress forests, historic canals, and open prairies. Water trails and platforms allow people to canoe for the day or stay overnight deep within the 354,000-acre wilderness. Winding boardwalks and trails lead through unique habitats to observation towers and viewing platforms. Opportunities for nature photography, hunting, and fishing are readily available.