36 hours on Amelia Island

If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle, Amelia Island is the place to go.  With over 40 public beaches, state parks, and an island full of history, this hidden gem doesn’t feel like any other.  You can easily sneak away for the weekend, spend 36 hours here and return home feeling refreshed and renewed.

Amelia Island is located just north of Jacksonville and is a bit off the beaten path, so it is not overrun by thousands of tourists.  Fernandina Beach historic district (on Amelia Island) boasts some Victorian architecture and over 400 historic structures that are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Where to Stay in Amelia Island

We stayed at the Amelia Schoolhouse Inn, which was originally built as the first school on Amelia Island in 1886.  The school closed down and then the building was restored and reopened as the Schoolhouse Inn in 2017.  This boutique hotel has 17 rooms, a pool, a courtyard with putting green and a bar.  The bar is called “The Principal’s Office” that gives a unique historic flair to their cocktails.  The Schoolhouse Inn is located in a prime location, where you are within walking distance to over 30 restaurants and shopping.

 

The rooms are decorated in a schoolhouse theme and are very cute!  The rooms are well appointed to include cozy robes and plush beds.

Amelia Schoolhouse Inn Location:
914 Atlantic Ave
Fernandina Beach, FL

Amelia Island Weekend Guide

Friday

We drove down from Georgia Friday afternoon. We arrived to the Amelia Schoolhouse Inn and were greeted with such Southern Hospitality. The “innkeeper” lives on property and as soon as we checked in, she showed us to our room and made sure everything was perfect for us.

We put our bags away and headed directly to the Principal’s Office for a snack and drinks before we headed to our dinner reservations. I had two Principal’s Ritas and my hubby had two Rum Punches. These weren’t your ordinary drinks though, they are well thought out and much care was taken in preparation. Make sure you watch when they make your drink, you might see a flame and smoke involved in the preparation!

For dinner, we headed to Burlingame Restaurant. They realize dining out is more than just the food on your plate. They focus on the whole dining experience. I had the steak and frites and my husband had the Red Snapper. My husband hates eating anything related to rice out (he lived in Japan) and is a Puerto Rican native, so he knows his Red Snapper. They won him over though with the deliciousness and perfect preparation of everything. My steak and frites was delicious and was presented perfectly. I had a Lovely Rita at Burlingame and it was fabulous as well!

 

Burlingame Restaurant Location:
20 South 5th St
Fernandina Beach, FL

Sunset at Fernandina Harbor Marina

When we walked out of dinner, we saw the sun starting to set as we walked down Atlantic Avenue in downtown Fernandina. The sun as it peaked through the old oaks covered in Spanish Moss was an irresistible sight. We weren’t really sure where we were headed as we headed towards the mesmerizing sunshine, but the road ends at the marina where you can watch a fabulous sunset every evening.

Fernandina Harbor Marina Location:
3 S Front St
Fernandina Beach, FL

Saturday

Big Talbot Island State Park

While Big Talbot Island State Park is not on Amelia Island, it is a short drive and in my opinion worth it to visit. Big Talbot Island State Park is primarily a natural preserve providing a premier location for nature study, bird-watching and photography. Bird watching and nature photography are some of my absolute favorite things, so we spent the morning exploring here. The Boneyard Beach at the park had very few people and it was a very peaceful morning of exploration and photography. Boneyard Beach is a mile long beach littered with bleached skeletons of oaks that have tumbled on the beach through erosion. To me, it compares to Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island in Georgia. The Boneyard Beach is much less crowded though and much easier to explore and photograph freely.

Big Talbot State Park Location:
A1A North
Jacksonville, FL

Wave crashing and Beach laying

After we hiked almost 3 miles at the Boneyard, we headed to splash in the waves on Amelia Island. We headed to Main Beach Park. The beach had quite a bit of people, but plenty of room to social distance and enjoy ourselves. We enjoyed the water and a little laying in the sun. This beach has nearby rentals, restaurants, restrooms, pavilions, volleyball nets, and even lifeguards.

Main Beach Park Location:
32 N Fletcher Ave
Fernandina Beach Fl

We were ready for some drinks and a late lunch, so we headed to Timoti’s Seafood Shak for a light lunch. They are a casual dining establishment, but are full of fresh and flavorful seafood.

Timoti’s Location:
21 N 3rd St
Fernandina Beach, FL

Due to social distancing and limited seating at Timoti’s, we took our sandwich to-go and ate back at the Schoolhouse Inn. We split a grouper sandwich and it was absolutely delicious. Although the Principals Office was not officially open, they were able to serve us wine to go with our lunch. After we finished lunch, we lounged by the pool until it was time to get ready for dinner.

Dinner at Espana

Espana Restuarant and Tapas specializes in traditional flavors from Spain & Portugal. They are located in historic downtown Fernandina Beach. Choose to dine in our cozy main dining room, enclosed patio dining room or in our lush outdoor garden. We ordered four tapas (octopus, potatoes, pork belly (special) and duck empanadas (special)) and dessert (cheesecake with raspberry sauce) and of course some sangria.

Espana Location:
22 S. 4th Street
Fernandina Beach, FL

Walking tour of Fernandina Beach

After dinner, we walked around enjoying the shops and historic sites. There are boutiques and antique stores everywhere with so much to see.

The macarons at Nana Teresa’s Bake Shop were very fresh and delicious! This bake shop is right next to Timoti’s so I had scoped it out earlier in the day when we were nearby.

Nana Teresa’s Bake Shop Location:
13 N. 3rd St
Fernandina Beach, FL 

Sunset! Did you say sunset?

Another night, another sunset. Today, we didn’t make it to the Harbor as early as Friday, so we caught the end of the sunrise with more pinks and purples in the sky.

Today was absolutely filled with a ton of food and drinks, so we headed back to the room to relax with our full bellies. Now for a good nights rest before our Sunday explorations.

Sunday

We woke up early and headed to get breakfast. Hopped in the convertible and were headed to a breakfast spot when we spotted a corner Cuban restaurant called Hola Cuban Cafe and detoured. We had cheese pastelitos and pork empanadas. They had great cafecitos too! It was a perfect taste of the Caribbean.

Hola Cuban Cafe Location:
31 S 5th St
Fernandina Beach, FL

Fort Clinch State Park

Fort Clinch State Park is located right in Fernandina Beach. The historic fort is only one aspect of this diverse 1,400-acre park. Maritime hammocks with massive arching live oaks provide a striking backdrop for hiking and biking on the park’s many trails. You can also view the lighthouse at Egan’s Creek Scenic View.

Ft Clinch State Park Location:
2601 Atlantic Ave.
Fernandina Beach FL

Pier on Fernandina Beach

We had heard from locals, that we needed to check out the pier on the beach, but we had to do a little hunting to find it, as it isn’t very advertised. The closest beach access to the pier is Beach access 33, but the closest beach access with parking is Beach access 35. It is a wooden pier that is among one of the most photographed spots on the island, so of course, I had to check it out. This end of the beach had very few people, but a storm was rolling in. We wandered the beach, watching the birds and getting our feet wet before we headed back home.

This weekend was very refreshing and relaxing packed with a ton of tasty food and drinks. We would definitely recommend Amelia Island for a laid back food inspired weekend!

XOXO

-S

 

North Georgia Exploration

What do you do when you have a long weekend?  Well this long weekend, I rented a tiny house in Clayton Georgia and headed north to get a sneak peek of the fall colors.  I do think it was a little early for the full leaf changing, but when I get an extra day off of work I take full advantage of it.

Before we could hit the road Saturday, Perry played in Region Tournament…We had to leave before it even ended, we headed to Atlanta to drop Baylee off at the airport to head to meet up for her cruise…we dropped her and headed north east to get to our weekend getaway started.

We rented Little Red Roof, a brand new tiny house in Clayton Georgia. They have some specific house rules, like no shoes worn in the house, which just tickles my fancy. We are a shoeless house, so it makes me happy to see like-minded folks. I know it may seem silly to some, but my OCD just cannot stand the idea of shoes/germs on my floors and wearing down my wood finish and carpet…Our hosts were Andrea and Curtis. Their tiny house, was just perfect in every way. House listing

Up to $55 off your rental

Dinner Saturday night was at Universal Joint in Clayton. They are know for burgers and live music. While I’m not huge on loud music, I do love a good burger, so decided to check it out.

So it hasn’t rained in over a month in Georgia and guess what 80% chance of rain on Sunday…the day to hike Tallulah Gorge. So we let the anti-rain dance to commensurate. Hoping and praying for the best weather.

Rain dance didn’t work and it poured off and on until after noon or so. We had a quick breakfast and figured we’d drive up to Black Rock Mountain State Park and see what we could with the fog and rain. Rain stopped for a little while and we were able to get some photos of the fog in the mountains.

I wanted to check out Minnehaha Falls, but wanted to do it when the sun wasn’t too high, the cloudy skies were perfect so I could get the right exposure that I wanted on the water…a nice motion in the water as it falls over the rocks.  The hike to Minnehaha is only .2 miles, so it is very doable.  It is located off of Bear Gap Rd near Lake Rabun.  You depart the trailhead at the green diamond and number 147. The drive there was beautiful around Lake Rabun…all the houses and two story boat docks were phenomenal.

So the big thing I wanted to see was Tallulah Gorge.  Tallulah Gorge is one of the 7 natural wonders in the state. It is a must see! There are multiple trails there, but with my back, I had to just listen to my body and see what it could do as the day went on.  If you want to hike the gorge floor, you MUST get a permit.  

There are only 100 given out every day, so you need to arrive early!  My plan was to hike the easier hikes and see how I felt. Today though there were no permits given out because of the inclimate weather.

The easiest of the all is the Shortline Trail. It is 3 miles, but is paved.  This trail can be accessed from Terrora Circle Road.

Then next up is the Inspiration Loop Trail. It is 1.5 miles round trip; it is mulched with exposed rocks. This trail is accessed on the Interpretive Center Road.

The North and South Rim Trails are 3 miles total and take about 2 hours to hike. It is a mulched trail with exposed rocks.

The North Rim is accessed behind the Interpretive Center.  It is approximately ¾ mile one way with some incline and stairs. The trail has six scenic overlooks

1. Inspiration Point is the best southern view into the gorge.  Gorge depth is 900+ feet

2.View of Oceana Falls with Bridal Veil Falls at the far end of the gorge

3.View of L’Eau d’Or (pronounced Ladore) Falls, top of Tempesta Falls, and Hawthorne Cascade and Pool.  Gorge depth is 350 feet

4.View of L’Eau d’Or Falls, Hawthorne Pool and remains of Water compressor plant used in building the Dam

5.Good view of Tallulah Falls Dam (completed in 1913) and upper portions of the Gorge

6.View of upper gorge and southern view to Hawthorne Pool and Overlooks 2 and 3. Gorge depth is 250 feet

The South Rim Trail is accessed opposite side of the gorge from the Interpretive Center.  It is approximately ¾ mile one way with some incline.  The trail has five scenic overlooks

1. View of Hawthorne Pool, North Rim Trails overlooks 2 and 3, top of Tempesta Falls and down Gorge to Hurricane Falls.  Gorge depth is 350 feet

2.View of Hawthorne Pool, Tempesta Falls and Pool.  Gorge depth is 400 feet.

3.View of Hurricane Falls and Pool, Devil’s Pulpit outcrop below, and the interpretive center across the gorge.  Gorge depth is 500 feet

4.View of Hurricane Falls, Oceana Falls, Caledonia Cascade and North Rim overlook one. Gorge is 650 feet

5.View of Celedonia Cascade and the Wallenda north tower area.  Bluff to far right is approximately 1000 feet high.

I really wanted to go to the suspension bridge in Hurricane Falls Trail Loop…but had no idea if I could make it.  The Hurricane Falls Trail Loop has 1,099 stairs to the gorge floor…to get to the suspension bridge isn’t all the way down though. This is the trail you take to get to the gorge trail…and need a permit to go on the gorge floor.

Honestly I’m not even sure which trail we did…we did the stairs all the way down to hurricane falls and some of North Rim trail…my legs were jello and I was super thirsty. There are fountains along the trail, but are not functioning so make sure you bring water with you.

After our hike, we hit Goats on the Roof for some homemade ice cream…it was pretty good and servings were HUGE!

For dinner, yes I planned ahead.  I always look for Farm to Table restaurants before I travel anywhere.  The last thing I want to do is eat subpar food.  I made reservations at Fortify Kitchen and Bar in Clayton for 7:30pm.  Hoping that would give us enough time to see what we wanted to see and get back and showered and dressed for dinner. We had the special shrimp lettuce wraps for our appetizer and I had the pork chop and hubby had the lamb. Both were large portions and very tasty.

Monday morning we woke up and had to check out of the house by 10 a.m.

We had two little friends that looked to have be dumped by someone the day before. They even hopped in the van while we were loading it up…had to scoot them out and then we were on our way. Our host had no idea where they came from.

There is so much to see here, that really a few days isn’t enough to do it all, but if you know me, you know I will squeeze in everything I can.

I could not have come all this way and not visited a winery…after check out it was breakfast at the Dillard House. It is family style dining. You get a TON of food, my favorite was the cinnamon roll!  The Dillard House has been family owned since 1917.  They served locally sourced items and have won multiple awards in the Southern Living Magazine.  The views from the Dillard House were beautiful mountain views.  They are a full service resort…They also offers horseback riding and stables where you can visit their animals.  While there will be no horseback riding for me…I did enjoy visiting their beautiful grounds and animals.  

After breakfast and a visit of the grounds at the Dillard House, we were headed to Tiger Mountain Vineyards at 2592 Old Highway 41 in Tiger Georgia. But they were not open…so we changed our plans.

We went back to Black Rock Mountain State Park to the lookouts to get some more photos. It was very different without all the fog from yesterday!

After that we headed to 12 Spies Winery for a little wine tasting. We did the 10 tastes for $15 and hubby and I split it. My favorite was the sangria…it’s a blend of 5 different wines. The grounds were really pretty too.

After a little wine tasting and exploring, it was time to hit the road to make our trip home.

As we were driving down 441 I saw a sign for a tallulah gorge lookout…so we detoured to check it out. It was pretty but really not worth the detour as there were a lot of power lines in the view. There was a cute little store to buy souvenirs and local goods.

As we got closer to home, we were ready for dinner, so we stopped in Macon. We ate at Ocmulgee Brewpub. I had the Juliette Burger and this burger has moved up to my number one burger of all times. It is topped with a friend green tomato, bacon, onion, lettuce on a freshly baked bun…has a special sauce too! It won the best burger in 2018 and I know why!!

We are home and showered, ready for my next adventure…

Tomorrow morning…another adventure if you want to call it that-L5/S1 injections again…last round before nerve ablation.

XOXO

-S