This historic port town on Amelia Island, a former shipping hub once preyed upon by pirates, lies thirty miles north of Jacksonville. It’s convenient to a number of superb courses and has a lively downtown. For a splurge, book a round at the Golf Club of Amelia Island, part of an encompassing Ritz-Carlton resort.
Fernandina Beach Golf Club 904-277-7370; fernandinabeachgolfclub.com; $44–$49. Though it will never match the conditioning of the Ritz-Carlton course nearby, this bargain muni abounds with charm. Winding through inland oaks and pines, its three nines (designed by a pair of club pros) sport small push-up greens and plenty of doglegs.
The Golf Club at North Hampton 904-548-0000; hamptongolfinc.com; $49–$75. Arnold Palmer’s design team pulled out all the stops here, creating holes that play over man-made moguls and fescue-covered dunes to boldly contoured greens—a rarity in this part of Florida.
Laurel Island Links 912-729-7277; laurelislandlinks.com; $40–$55. Slip across the Georgia border to this Low Country course, the second joint design by Mark Love and Davis Love III. Three early holes merge with salt marshes of the broad Crooked River before the layout turns to a secluded inland area.
Hampton Inn & Suites Amelia Island 904-491-4911; hamptoninnsuites.com; $99–$189/night. Convenient to the region’s golf, this clean, modestly stylish hotel along the Intracoastal Waterway is just steps away from lively bars and restaurants.
Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro (Regional); 904-321-2558. There’s both indoor and outdoor seating at this Southern-inflected place near the marina.
O’Kane’s (Pub fare); 904-261-1000. This Irish pub offers a casual, well-executed menu, a fine selection of beers on tap and live entertainment.
Jacksonville Jaguars; 904-633-2000; jaguars.com. Join the tailgaters and vocal crowd at Alltel Stadium to watch Florida’s newest NFL team play.
The Landing; 904-353-1188. This area along the St. Johns River is the hub of Jacksonville nightlife, home to clubs, restaurants and bars.
This area one hour north of Tampa known as the Nature Coast is one of Florida’s fastest growing regions, but it still exudes an aura of undiscovered calm. It also happens to be one of the state’s ideal landscapes for golf thanks to its rolling pine-covered hills, massive live oaks and deep sandy soil.
Skyview at Terra Vista of Citrus Hills 352-746-3664; citrushills.com; $50–$70. The region’s elevation changes are on full display at this course outside Crystal River, where finely manicured holes dodge lakes and climb heights to offer panoramic views.
World Woods Golf Club, Pine Barrens 352-796-5500; worldwoods.com; $115–$145. Tom Fazio peeled back the earth to expose this site’s natural sand base, creating ragged-edged holes that melt into vast open waste areas, challenging the eye. The course, in Brooksville, boasts an excellent and sporty variety of holes.
World Woods Golf Club, Rolling Oaks $105–$135. Mature oaks, a traditional visual presentation and greater elevation changes make Rolling Oaks a true complement to its more flamboyant sibling at Pine Barrens. Many players find it to be several strokes easier, too.