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Advice on restaurants, attractions, and possibly watersports

Atlanta, GA
3 posts
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Advice on restaurants, attractions, and possibly watersports

My husband and I are planning our vacation here (I've been here before; 3 times last summer, and once years before, but never really cared, just wanted to go to the beach) from may 1st to may 6th.

1. I just found out there is a shrimp festival going on, is that worth checking out?

2. The seafood restaurants that sounded good, didn't seem to get very consistent reviews, crab trap, marina, etc. Any suggestions of like 3 great seafood restaurants for dinner and a few for lunch?

3. We were thinking of going on the Amelia Ghost Tour and one of the nature cruises. Any thoughts on the ghost tour and suggestions on the cruises (deciding factor would be focusing on the wildlife).

4. Does anyone offer parasailing on the island? Is it reputable? And we were also thinking of horseback riding with Kelly's seashore ranch. We've never rode horses before and it said on the website that you MUST be able to get on and off without assistance. Is that really all that hard? Also would you recommend wearing pants?

Thanks so much in advance for all of the opinions and advice! :)

Amelia Island...
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1. Re: Advice on restaurants, attractions, and possibly watersports

Hello!

I will try to answer some of your questions for you. First off, regarding the Shrimp Festival it is definitely worth visiting while you are in town. This is one of our biggest festivals of the year, and it seems to have something for everyone. There are several arts and crafts booths - great artists from around the southeast! There are also several booths with antiques and collectibles. Oh, and did I mention the abundance of fresh shrimp! There is a website with more information at www.shrimpfestival.com. I would also mention not to miss the great fireworks display on Friday night of the festival, and there is live music throughout the festival. If crowds make you anxious though beware, this again is one of the most popular events on the island. It's very family-friendly but there are definitely a lot of people who attend each year.

Most restaurants in our area feature seafood since we are in the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry. Many restaurants will get a mixed set of reviews, but I will say that I have had consistently great meals and service at 29 South Eats and Espana, but they are a little pricier than some places.On the more casual end, I have never had a bad meal at the Crab Trap and definitely recommend either the coconut shrimp or blackened fish of the day. I also enjoy Slider's Seaside Grill for a great crab cake and some fried pickles for an appetizer. Also, a fantastic place for Italian with great seafood is Ciao Bistro. Ciao is located just off Amelia Island, and Sliders is by the beach instead of in the downtown district. Don't be afraid to branch out. Do a search for restaurants within this forum too and you'll find loads more advice. There's just too much to cover in one post!

I have not taken the Ghost Tour, but I know they are presented by the Museum of History which has a wonderful (and knowledgeable staff). If you're looking for a nature cruise, definitely check out Amelia River Cruises - I hear nothing but wonderful feedback from everyone who has taken one of their scenic cruises! Here's the website - www.ameliarivercruises.com

I am not aware of any para-sailing available in the area

Kelly Seahorse ranch offers horseback riding on the beach at the very south end of the island. There is another company called Ride the Beaches of Amelia - their website is http://www.ameliahorsebackriding.com/

I have never had the chance to book a ride with either company, so I cannot give an honest opinion but come back and let us know how your experience was. Above all, have a wonderful time on your trip!

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
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419 reviews
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2. Re: Advice on restaurants, attractions, and possibly watersports

We just returned from a great trip to Amelia Island. We walked the beach, visited the historic district and Fort Clinch SP. We ate at the Marina one night and had a good meal. We also ate at Barbara Jeans and it was just ok. We are already planning a return trip in late April/early May.

Virginia
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103 posts
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3. Re: Advice on restaurants, attractions, and possibly watersports

For backwater sightseeing try;

www.onthewateradventures.com/index.html

Hopefully they're still operating in the off season. Capt Carole does a great job, especially with the kids (they get to handle the boat).

Amelia Island...
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1,136 posts
35 reviews
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4. Re: Advice on restaurants, attractions, and possibly watersports

Most restaurants offer seafood options. For casual and/or lunch spots you might try The Surf and Shuckers (it is just off the island). For dinner options Baxter's and The Verandah are very good. Have always had good shrimp at Crab Trap, but other selections have been less consistent. The crab cakes at Barbara Jean's are wonderful.

Horseback riding is along the beach. It isn't too difficult to get on a horse, but if you have never been on a horse before, hopefully they would explain how. You should wear long pants as it might be more comfortable for your first time to ride.

We have been on the boat trip that goes along Cumberland Island and would highly recommend. If you are lucky you will see dolphins, many birds and the wild horses on Cumberland.

Have a wonderful trip!

Atlanta, GA
3 posts
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5. Re: Advice on restaurants, attractions, and possibly watersports

Thank you all so much for all of the helpful reviews! Ive been looking at this forum (specifically saw one about real estate), and found a house here, and am coming down Sunday to look at the house, and I have an appt with a loan officer Monday! Everytime I have ever visited Amelia Island, I've always said it feels like "home" and it really always has! I am so excited to hopefully be making this beautiful island my home! But if I end up not moving here, I am going to be so anxious for the time to pass so I can come for my vacation! :)

Amelia Island
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for Amelia Island
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6. Re: Advice on restaurants, attractions, and possibly watersports

Hoping to welcome you to the neighborhood.

Fernandina Beach FL
Destination Expert
for Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach
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1,644 posts
197 reviews
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7. Re: Advice on restaurants, attractions, and possibly watersports

Amy,

Sure you will become entranced under the Fernandina Beach / Amelia Island spell as we were 9 years ago. It is a great place to live with so many unique characteristics that many have found to be most enjoyable.

There is an alternative to the Kelly Ranch horse rides which are located in Amelia Island State Park at the south end of the Island. That alternative is: www.ameliahorsebackriding.com Debbie only accommodates small groups and goes out of Peter's Point located just north of the Ritz Carlton mid-island. I am sure either will give you a great time. I'm the furtherest thing from an equestrian you could imagine, but I would think wearing pants would be a good idea to protect chafing on your legs.

Shrimp Festival will be April 30 - May 2 this year with a great small town Pirate Parade kicking off things on Thursday, April 29th. Website is www.shrimpfestival.com Hundreds of fine artisans will line Centre Street in the Historic District with various community social / service organizations offering food including shrimp fixed almost every way you can think of. There is also an "antique" vendor area (one person's junk is another person's treasure). And live entertainment down by the riverfront and marina area.

Don't know of any parasailing offering on the Island or immediate vicinity.

There are a couple of ghost tours offered. One is through the AI Museum of History and the other is a private company (www.ameliaislandghosttours.com) We have done the Museum ghost tour and enjoyed it immensely; but our experience has been the docent's "performance" is what makes / breaks such tours.

As to water tours, I always recommend the Amelia Island River Cruise over to St. Marys as one of the best bargains in town. You get 2 45-minute boat rides over to St. Marys where you can also explore their waterfront area as possible.

Hope you had a good visit as the weather this weekend was absolutely wonderful and hope to welcome y'all as full-time residents in the near future.

Roanoke,VA
9 posts
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8. Re: Advice on restaurants, attractions, and possibly watersports

Amyleigh,

I am the person that started the recent real estate thread. I am so excited for you and hope that your trip will yield great success. We are just as hopeful as you are and are still actively looking for the "right" property for our move to the island. DLWinger, AmeliaIsland Inn Keeper, and obxpat, especially, (and others also) have been so helpful. We are very grateful for their guidance and enthusiasm. Fernandina Beach is a friendly and welcoming community in addition to being a beautiful vacation destination. Please let us know when you find your new home. : )

Jacksonville, Fl.
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9. Re: Advice on restaurants, attractions, and possibly watersports

You will Love Fernandina ! The Shrimp Fest is a local traditon with lots of fun to see and do, besides the great seafood. You can also go to the Plantation at Amelia Island. Their Veranda Restaurant is open to the public, as are all of their shops and food services.

Horse back riding along the beach trails and woods is delightful. You will definitely want to wear slacks for this;shorts are also ok. You need to have walking shoes with a heel on them;not tennis shoes or flip flops as these won't stay in stirrups. Bring a hat for the sun !

10. Re: Advice on restaurants, attractions, and possibly watersports

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