Most of my blogs are focused on family friendly fun and while Fernandina Beach is an extremely family friendly destination, I wanted to write a little ditty for the couples, the moms & dads and the adults just needing to get away for a beat. Fernandina Beach is the perfect place for such a trip, it’s one of my favorite destinations, super close to our awesome city of Jacksonville and the perfect backdrop for a weekend breath of fresh air.
This area is absolutely, painstakingly perfect for all the things I love to do as well…riding bikes, boating, beaching, surfing, paddling, and riding those sweet golf carts around- if you want to rent one for your weekend getaway, you know who to call…me, you call me.
There is no shortage of awesome places to stay, but two of my favorites for an adult/couple’s getaway are the Elizabeth Pointe Lodge (beachside) or the Amelia Schoolhouse Inn (downtown). During our last visit we stayed at the Schoolhouse Inn and loved it. The beds were super comfy, the property is adorable, and we had the pool completely to ourselves, there was the coolest little bar in the lobby area to do some pre drinking at, and it was walking/biking distance to downtown Fernandina, which is where we spend most of our kid-less time. And it’s also an easy bike/golf cart ride up to beachside too.
We love to start our mornings (we are early risers even without kids) with a bike ride and beach walk, the early morning beach is super quiet and peaceful, and you can find some sandy creatures & treasurers. There is even a pickleball court walking distance from Amelia Schoolhouse Inn, for all you semiprofessional pickleballers out there. We haven’t hit up those courts yet, but on our next trip we might throw our gear in our truck for a little game or two.
On our way into town, we always stop at The Sandbar & Kitchen. It’s a great bar & restaurant and one of the few where you can sit directly on the sand. We like to get one (or a few) of their specialty cocktails, an app or two and then check in to our hotel from there. I also always pop into the Driftwood Surf Shop for some goodies, apparel and cool finds.
Once you’re headed to the quaint and adorable (I mean seriously adorable) downtown Fernandina, there are an array of yummy restaurants, bakeries, outdoor bars, patio hangouts and shops galore to hit up. We love to get on our bikes and ride around, pop into various bars and always make our way to the Harbor Marina where we can sit, relax, enjoy our drinks and watch the boats come in and out. There are charters and sunset cruises you could likely book as well, we tend to bring our own boat when we want to do that but if you don’t have a boat, you have some great options.
There are a multitude of great restaurants downtown but my number one and absolute favorite is Espana. They have a beautiful garden, where we always choose to sit (I don’t think we’ve ever even been inside) and enjoy their delicious tapas style menu. My two favorite dishes here, and honestly probably at any place I’ve ever eaten-ever, are the Gambas Costa Brava and their Grilled Calamari. They are drool-worthy, just like everything else on the menu. I cannot even go near Fernandina without hitting up Espana and getting these two dishes. They also have a deliciously refreshing sangria, and they serve my favorite Portuguese wine that’s impossible to find anywhere- Vinho Verde. You really can’t go wrong anywhere you choose but if you love Spanish/Portuguese food as much as me- go here. You’ll be happy you did. If that’s not your scene and you’re looking for more traditional seafood or American cuisine, I recommend The Boat House or the Salty Pelican Bar & Grill. Brett’s Waterway Café is great too, and right in the Marina with great views- if you’re looking for a place with a view.
Once the sun goes down there’s no shortage of great little bars for some after dinner drinks, live music, and fresh air. Some weekends places seem to close early but we can usually always find the doors to The Palace Saloon open for our late-night shenanigans. They have live music playing up near the front bar and as it gets later the back of the bar turns into a mini club, complete with a DJ. There’s also a room tucked away in the back with some pool tables, Jenga, darts, etc., which I am not too embarrassed to admit we didn’t even know existed the first few times we went there.
Both Elizabeth Pointe and Schoolhouse Inn serve breakfast (Elizabeth Pointe’s being a bit more gourmet) but if you’re looking for a good spot, the Garden Street Bistro has you covered. It’s got a very nice ambiance and nice selection of breakfast. The breakfast burrito is big, delicious, and legit and their homemade pancakes with fresh blueberries are oh so tasty. If you’re looking for an enjoyable weekend away without kids, especially if you’re a Jacksonville local, downtown Fernandina is such a great (and close) place to find yourself in a mini vacay. There’s also some awesome nearby outdoor-nature-filled-beautiful spots that are great to take the family, like Fort Clinch State Park and Amelia Island State Park, but we’ll get to those another time.
For this trip, I encourage you to take your bestie, your partner, your person and get out of Dodge for a little weekend escape. Relax, unwind, refresh, hit that reset button and enjoy some time to yourself, because you deserve it!
10 things to pack for your Fernandina weekend escape:
- Bikes, I know it tops my list almost every time but come on, biking is SUBLIME.
- Koozie, small cooler, Sublime Rides aluminum tumbler for your walks & bike rides.
- SPF & hats (especially if you plan to hit up the beach).
- Your kindle, book, ear buds, etc. for those relaxing afternoons by the pool.
- Bathing suits for dips.
- Bug spray, because Florida- ya know?
- Comfortable walking shoes/sandals for shopping.
- Light jacket, for spring/fall evenings- it does get cool when the sun goes down.
- Portable music device, because we just like to always have music, especially on our bike rides.
- Your golf cart, kayak, paddle board, etc. to add a little fun/adventure to your getaway. Or check out some local businesses for an excursion, charter, or rental!