If you’re stationed in the King’s Bay area and someone mentions “the island” there’s a solid chance they’re talking about Amelia Island. Located about 45 minutes from Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Amelia Island is a top vacation destination in your own backyard. We’ve previously covered all the fun things the island has to offer for families, but the great thing about Amelia Island is that there’s something for everyone! Whether you’re child-less or looking for a date night escape, this 13-mile long barrier island has so many great spots to explore.
Here are just a few of my favorites:
I will eat at Wicked Bao any chance I get. Don’t let the surrounding warehouses fool you; this oasis a few blocks from Historic Fernandina Beach Main Street has some of the most creative and delicious food around. They’re known for their steamed Taiwanese Bao Buns but also have a great selection of small plates, pot stickers, and the best ramen in the area. Wicked Bao is currently open for dine in or carry out. Pro tip: Get some Vietnamese coffee! I prefer hot if I’m dining in and cold if I’m doing carry out.
This bistro is a casual lunch spot that happens to be in the best bookstore on the island (well, according to my 100% biased opinion because I love it here). Story and Song offers light lunch fare, coffee, wine, and beer. The chicken salad is one of their specialties and great on croissant or a salad. While you’re here explore the staff book recommendations or the selection of one of a kind items from Amelia Island artists and makers they carry in store! Story and Song prides itself on being a real neighborhood gathering space and offers a number of book clubs, poetry readings, and other events (both online and socially distant in person) all year long.
Salty Pelican is perfect for fun night out! Throughout the week they have live music, trivia nights, and a fantastic beer selection. On the weekends it’s THE place to catch a game and cheer on your favorite team. Their patio looks over Fernandina Beach marina and is absolutely beautiful when the weather is nice. Get the big pretzel and the seared tuna nachos!
I mentioned España in my Ultimate Guide to Kings Bay and I’m emphasizing it again because it’s that good. España is where we go to celebrate crew turn overs, promotions, or a random Tuesday. It’s tapas style so choose a few plates to start and keep them coming. And don’t forget to order a pitcher (or two) of house sangria! This is probably the only restaurant I miss eating at during COVID restrictions. I have great memories of eating way too much and laughing way too hard over glasses of sangria with friends and can’t wait until we can go back!
I always feel so fancy when I go to The Decantery. It’s the kind of bar you’d find in a much bigger city but the island vibe means it’s much more relaxed and the lounge seating feels welcoming and intimate. They have the most creative cocktails and, my personal favorite, half price champagne specials on Wednesdays. We love stopping by The Decantery for after dinner drinks and dessert!
Next door to The Decantery is Florida’s oldest continuously operating bar, The Palace Saloon. This bar opened in 1903 and doesn’t look like it’s changed since that day (in a good way!). It’s the kind of place full of stories and locals willing to share them. They’ve recently opened up an expansive back patio space to allow for better social distancing. Be sure to order their famous Pirates Punch!
No list about Amelia Island would be complete without a beach bar option. Slider’s outdoor bar is the quintessential island hangout. Curl your toes in the sand, watch the palm trees sway in the ocean breeze, and sip a delicious cocktail from a light up cup (who doesn’t love a cocktail in a light up cup?!). Slider’s is perfect after along beach day!
Green Turtle feels like the Cheers of Amelia Island. It’s funky porch gives off Key West vibes and the live music and friendly locals make anyone feel welcome the second they walk up the steps. Amelia Island is filled with artists which is reflected in the live music offerings. Green Turtle is one of many local places you’ll find live music almost every night of the week!
My spouse and I are obsessed with Escape Rooms. We do them everywhere we go and have tried out most, if not all, of the ones in the Jacksonville area. Amelia Island Escape Rooms has rooms for all group sizes! We loved Creighton House Attic and Unlock the 80s. They’re taking great COVID precautions by booking private rooms only (so you won’t have anyone you don’t know in your group) and sanitizing between parties.
I know you’re thinking “Really? Pinball Museum?” but hear me out. This is the kind of museum where you can touch everything. Check out the pinball machine list on their website and see if they have the classics from your childhood! Your admission fee gets you unlimited pinball play during your visit. I’ve had my eye on that Space Jam machine for a while now…
Putt-putt and boozy drinks. Need I say more? They’re located just down the street from Wicked Bao, too. Play a round of putt-putt with a few drinks and then walk down to Wicked Bao. Loser pays for dinner!
Water sports are a must do when on Amelia Island. Living in Florida means we get to enjoy the outdoors almost all year long. There are a lot of rental companies, but Amelia Island Adventures offers great guided tours as well as self-guided ones (and has a great military discount!). Check out their website for additional offerings like boat charters and beach horseback riding!
Have you been to Amelia Island? What would you add to the list? Comment below!