Old Town: Start your exploration of this extremely walkable 26-block historic district -- it was platted by the Spanish in 1811 -- at Fernandina Harbor Marina or board the Amelia Island Trolley at the marina for a 75-minute guided tour (trolleys depart Monday to Saturday, 12:30 and 2:30 p.m.). The town itself is situated on a bluff overlooking the Amelia River. Meander along Centre Street, first stopping at the Old Train Depot, where David Yulee established the first cross-state railroad that ran from the depot to Cedar Key in 1861. Since the visitors center is right next door, stop in for maps and coupons. Next, belly up to the bar at Florida's oldest continuously operating drinking establishment, the Palace Saloon, which dates to 1878. You can't miss it; a life-size pirate statue stands in front of the saloon's swinging doors. Then, take snapshots of other historic landmarks like the Captain's House, where "Pippi Longstocking" was filmed in the late 1980s, and the Queen Anne-style Bailey House, built in 1895, which has a wraparound porch featuring wood-carved carousel horses.
Amelia River Cruise: If you'd rather spend your day on the water, book an excursion with Amelia River Cruises (904-261-9972). The 2.5-hour narrated Cumberland Island Tour, which departs the marina daily at 10 a.m., is extremely popular since you have the opportunity to see local shrimp boats, parts of Old Town, Fort Clinch on the northern end of the island and even the wild horses of nearby Cumberland Island. You can also book a fishing charter right at the marina.
Beaches: Amelia Island's got 40 public beaches along 13 miles of beautiful coastline. Some beaches are located within Fort Clinch State Park in the north and Big Talbot Island and Little Talbot Island state parks at the southern tip of the island. Two fantastic beaches outside the park system include Peters Point Beachfront Park (4600 Peters Point Road) with plenty of covered picnic pavilions plus indoor and outdoor showers, and Main Beach Park (32 North Fletcher Avenue), offering shaded picnic areas, sand volleyball courts, the Putt-Putt Fun Center with a burger stand, playground, nearby skate park plus restrooms and outdoor showers. Kelly Sea Horse Ranch (904-491-5166) and Happy Trails Walking Horses (904-557-3126) offer horseback riding along area beaches.
Fort Clinch State Park: History buffs will want to visit this Civil War-era fort. There are daily tours of the facility and reenactments of life in the 19th century during the first weekend of every month. The park also encompasses six miles of trails for biking and hiking and beachfront where you can swim or search the shore for sharks' teeth. Note: While you might read about a fishing pier, it was destroyed during Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and it will be years before a replacement is erected. (2601 Atlantic Avenue; 904-277-7274; the park is open daily, 8 a.m. to sundown; the fort is open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
Shopping and Lunch: While Centre Street is lined with shops and restaurants, make a point to walk up and down the side streets, as well. There you'll find additional boutiques and art galleries like the artist-owned Amelia SanJon Gallery (218-A Ash Street; 904-491-8040; open Monday to Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and the Island Art Association Gallery (18 North 2nd Street; 904-261-7020; open Sunday to Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.). Looking for a unique gift to bring home? Visit Marlin & Barrel Distillery (115 South 2nd Street; open Thursday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), where you can purchase locally made vodka, rum, orangecello and grapefruitcello.
When it's time for lunch, head to Amelia Tavern (318 Centre Street; 904-310-6088; open Monday, 4 to 10 p.m.; Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) for a terrific small bites menu, including a delectable German-style pretzel that you'll dream about later, plus salads and more hefty fare like burgers and pulled pork with guava barbecue sauce. If you're not in the mood for pub fare, explore 3rd Street, where some of Fernandina Beach's best restaurants -- 29 South, Timoti's Seafood Shak and Sabbia Mediterranean Street Food -- are located. Save room for dessert, and visit Nana Teresa's Bake Shop (13 North 3rd Street; 904-277-7977; open Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.), which offers homemade cupcakes, cake slices, pastries, old-fashioned milk shakes and soda. And yes, Nana is in the kitchen almost every day.