Earlier this month we visited Amelia Island as a family. We had the best time and are already trying to figure out when we can go back. The beaches are beautiful with white sand and miles and miles to run and explore. It was such a lovely, family friendly spot to go. I didn’t realize how much history there was on the island and how many historical spots there are to see and experience with the kids. Below you’ll find lots of details on our trip and tips to help you plan an adventure to Amelia Island with kids.
Amelia Island with Kids
Getting to Amelia Island:
It was so much easier to get to Amelia Island than I realized. We flew from Newark to Jacksonville and I found a lot of very inexpensive flight options. The flight is under 2 hours. Then, it’s a quick 30 min drive to Amelia Island from Jacksonville airport. We rented a car right in the airport and we were on our way.
Where to Stay on Amelia Island:
There are a number of options for staying on Amelia Island with kids. I know many people that have stayed at the Omni Amelia Island and at the Ritz Carlton and enjoyed their stay. We visited the Omni one day (details below) and it was a neat property. There are also a number of hotels closer to the downtown area that would be fun to stay in. With our large crew, the best option was a vacation rental.
We stayed in a condo at Amelia By the Sea. It was wonderful. The views were amazing, it was clean, there was a pool, plenty of space AND we were right on the beach. The location is super convenient to everything you’ll want to do. Tom was working some of the time so he needed a quiet room and it was also great to have a full kitchen.
Where to Eat on Amelia Island:
I mentioned this a lot on Instagram while we were traveling, but Amelia Island wins best spots to eat with kids while traveling. One thing we like about being at a resort is the ease of eating… we tend to go with ease when it comes to dinning while traveling these days… this time we felt like we explored so many restaurants and had all great experiences. Here are our favorites:
Sliders Seaside Grill: Ok… this spot has a full playground and sandbox for the kids to hang in right by your table. The food and drinks were great and the kids could play until their food arrived. Then they ate their meal and went back to playing while Tom and I actually got to enjoy the food and chat. Sliders Seaside Grill was so much fun. Tommy recommends trying the giant pretzel!
The Boat House: We went to The Boat House for Tommy’s birthday dinner. The food and drinks were fantastic. It’s a great spot if you have people that like seafood and some looking for steak. The staff was wonderful and came out to sing to Tommy with dessert. The Boat House has a pirate treasure chest that kids can visit and get a small toy. This was very exciting to our kids and kept them occupied and happy in their seats waiting for dinner.
Salty Pelican: We went to Salty Pelican for a late lunch one day. This is such a cool spot to enjoy downtown. It’s right along the train tracks so if your kids like trains grab a table near the front. We were lucky enough to see the train go by twice which was VERY exciting for my boys. Again, the staff here was so welcoming to the kids. The kids meals comes served on a Salty Pelican frisbee which was really fun for the kids and made for a neat souvenir to take home. I would highly recommend trying the corn & shrimp chowder and the fish tacos.
Fantastic Fudge: When we travel, finding a good ice cream spot is just as important as a good dinner… our favorite on Amelia Island was Fantastic Fudge. It’s right in the center of the downtown. We went a few times and the kids loved the ice cream and the milkshakes. Also be sure to take home some of their delicious fudge. It comes in the prettiest Amelia Island box.
Night in: V Pizza to go! :V Pizza was right down the street from our condo. We grabbed it to go to for dinner the last night while we packed and it was delicious. Us “Jersey” folk don’t often come to FL and say we had great pizza but this really was great pizza!
What to do with kids on Amelia Island:
Shark Tooth Discovery at the Omni Amelia Island Resort: We did the Shark Tooth Discovery at the Omni Amelia Island Resort on Tommy’s birthday and it was amazing. All 5 kids had fun and it will definitely be a birthday to remember for Tommy. You do not have to be staying at the Omni to do the activities at their Omni Nature Center.
The Omni Nature Center itself is a cool little spot to visit. There are lots of neat creatures to meet and learn about and a cute gift shop. The Shark Tooth Discovery started with a lesson on sharks which my kids were really into. Then they got to choose a shark tooth and make their own shark tooth necklace. After that, they learned about how to find shark’s teeth on the beach, which teeth they might find on Amelia Island beaches, and then our guide took us out to the beach to help hunt for teeth. All of the kids were able to find shark’s teeth. It was such a fun morning and cool experience.
Fort Clinch State Park: The Fort Clinch website says “History, nature and beauty meet in an experience like no other” and the description is spot on.We had planned for surf lessons yesterday but with the storm coming and the rough water, they were cancelled. The kids were really bummed and were a little skeptical about visiting an “old fort” instead but they loved it so much they have been begging to go back.They actually asked if we can come back to Amelia Island to go back to Fort Clinch!
Tommy wants to be “an army man” when he grows up, so he was in awe the whole time. Miles asked if you can launch people out of the canons into the water for fun…The girls loved going in and out of all of the rooms. If you pop over to my Reels on Instagram you can see some clips from our time there.
In addition to running around feeling like you’re living during in the 1800’s.. the beaches in front of Fort Clinch are covered in shells and shark teeth. If you come to the area, this park is a must see.
Gregor MacGregor’s Mini Links & Drinks: This is a fun spot for kids and adults. You can enjoy a round of mini golf while enjoying a drink. It’s right in the heart of downtown and a fun spot to visit before of after dinner!
Sunset River Cruise with Amelia River Cruise & Charters: We the Sunset River Cruise the evening of Tommy’s birthday. I highly recommend for any age and a must do while on Amelia Island. It’s a great way to learn about Amelia Island. Tom and I loved learning about the shrimp industry and history of the island. The kids really enjoyed listening too since there was lots to learn about pirates and treasure too! In addition to history and a sunset there were also lots of dolphins and wild horses to see. The boat was really comfortable and a great activity even for Teddy (18 months).
Pirate’s Playground: We spotted quite a few cool playgrounds on Amelia Island. Pirate’s Playground is located at 2500 Atlantic Avenue, Fernandina Beach.
Story & Song Bookstore: We almost always find a bookstore to visit while we travel. This trip we found a favorite: Story & Song Bookstore. This bookstore is 2 floors of books, a delicious cafe and a wonderful staff. We spent a couple hours here on a rainy day on Amelia Island: brought home some cool local books and some other new titles.
I think the story behind Story and Song is really cool: The owners have devoted their careers to helping people launch & operate successful independent bookstores for almost 30 years. Then a few years ago, they opened Story & Song Bookstore Bistro as a gathering place for the Amelia Island community and visitors to the island.
We truly love exploring independent bookstores on our travels and this one was amazing. The bookstore is not in the downtown area but close by. It’s a must visit for any age and be sure to grab breakfast or lunch while you are there.
Amelia Island Museum of History: I love a good history museum on a trip. The Amelia Island Museum of History was great for kids because it’s small, hands on AND you get a “treasure map” of questions to answer. When you find the answer you stamp your map and at the end… if you completed the map/answered all of the questions you get to visit a really cool treasure chest.
There’s a really neat pirate ship area where you can steer the ship, dress up and learn to tie different knots. The site of the museum was originally a jail (many, many years ago) and there’s a jail cell that remains in one of the room. I took the chance to “lock up” all of my crew!
Walk Around Downtown: Last but not least, make sure to spend time walking around downtown. There are so many cool historical facts to read in front of many of the buildings and there are great shops and spots to eat.
Overall, Amelia Island gets a thumbs up from our whole crew. The beaches are beautiful and there’s so much history packed into one town. We can’t wait to go back.
Disclosure: This trip was for a project with Visit Amelia Island. They were a pleasure to work with and we are so thankful they helped us experience this new place. As always, all opinions are my own.