Pat & Chuck Blackley / Alamy

An easy island escape for two off the northeastern tip of Florida.

Travel + Leisure
February 21, 2012

Historic, high Victorian Amelia Island is a chance to experience the Florida that so beguiled Americans in the Astor-Vanderbilt era. More than 13 miles of sand ring the state’s northernmost barrier island, making it an idyllic urban-beach escape. Explore it all at your own pace or in the cozy backseat of a horse-drawn carriage.

Fernandina Beach

When you’re not lounging on the crystal sand here, stroll around the tiny town. Built in the 19th century, it’s full of ornate, lovingly restored Victorian manses; pick up a handy free driving map with highlights from the chamber of commerce.

The Marina

This 100-year-old family-owned restaurant dishes up hearty Southern grits-filled lunches.

Palace Saloon

Grab a drink at this atmospheric 1878 saloon, with its carved mahogany bar and tin ceiling, claims to be the oldest bar in Florida.

Frisky Mermaid Bar & Grille

The Southern restaurant does excellent grits and hash, but its shrimp-garnished Bloody Marys are the true draw. Enjoy live jazz weekends at the beachy and relaxed casual Café Karibo (try the chili prawns).

Café Karibo

Enjoy live jazz weekends at the beachy and relaxed casual joint (try the chili prawns).

Florida House Inn

The charming inn (1857) is the state’s oldest hotel. The veranda-rimmed Cracker-style building houses 22 individually decorated en suite rooms, half with working fireplaces. There’s also a camellia-heavy garden.

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