For a casual, comfortable and lovely beach escape from Atlanta... think Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island in North Florida. I have lived in the Atlanta my whole life, and I'm surprised and perplexed that I haven't adventured down to this picturesque haven before. Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island is a five and a half hour drive from Atlanta (30 miles from Jacksonville). This delightful beach is simple to navigate by car. You can park in the downtown historic district, and spend days walking around the eclectic shops and restaurants.... then start walking those pristine beaches. We found the beaches very uncrowded and pleasant during mid March. There are wide, white beaches with firmly packed sand that invites walkers, bike riders, sun-bathers and sea- side frolickers.
Since I recently visited Fernandina Beach, I can give some current recommendations. I will describe a couple of places to stay and some wonderful, crowd pleasing restaurants. We went with local recommendations on restaurants and 'got it right' every single time! Restaurant overview: Visualize outstanding shrimp, scallops, grouper and tuna at places with interesting atmospheres: YES!
Here are a few restaurants to try: For a water view and good seafood downtown- Brett's Waterway Cafe at the Marina. We also enjoyed Cafe Karibo for lunch- recommend the shrimp croissant, side salad , shrimp and grits and crab chowder...yum! Another good choice was O' Kane's Irish Pub and Eatery (everybody at the table had great seafood!) and the band was fantastic- The Davis Turner Band! They play all types of classic rock...and they are a hit with the crowd. Needless to say, we were impressed with the tunes and the food.
Sliders Restaurant on the beach was also impressive and we liked the grouper, scallops and shrimp at this friendly, casual establishment. Pablos Mexican Restaurant had traditional Mexican with awesome shrimp and a casual, lively atmosphere!
We happened to visit during the weekend of the Concours d'Elegance car show at the Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island (March 12-14) which is a perfect time to visit with all the classic cars cruising around town (for even extra scenery). We also lucked out by catching an Art Walk Show in beautiful historic Fernandina that featured some amazing artists that are featured in this local newspaper article. This Atlanta girl was blown away by the creative work of the local artists! I will certainly go back to visit Fernandina Beach, with the warm, friendly people, the captivating seashore and southern live oak trees covered in soft, gray moss.
If you want to rent a Beach House you can check spacious, fully equipped rentals like the one we stayed in through ERA Fernandina Beach Realty . Many rentals are directly on the beach and some have pools and hot tubs. The Amelia Hotel at the Beach gets good reviews and also Hampton Island Inn .... if you want to splurge- there is always the Ritz Carlton. Check out Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island for a close and easy vacation from Atlanta and you won't be sorry! Travel often... and enjoy the ride.