We spent a lot of time exploring the downtown area of Historic Fernandina Beach when we visited Amelia Island, Fla., recently. Just steps away from the Amelia River, charming clusters of shops and eateries await discovery.
Mary Ashley and I spent an afternoon exploring these shops, and the whole family dined downtown nearly every evening.
Like most of the children visiting the island, Mary Ashley and Emma were eager to climb this anchor outside one of our favorite restaurants: Brett's Waterway Cafe.
We enjoyed the water and ocean views so much, we visited twice for dinner during our stay. I recommend the grilled salmon with Anson Mills manchego and chorizo grits with fresh citrus and avocado.
It was so peaceful sitting on the porch at Brett's, taking in the Amelia River views and enjoying the fresh-baked biscuits the restaurant is known for.
Sunset is the perfect time to stroll. Strands of white lights strung in the trees illuminate the sidewalk, making this a safe place to walk after dark when the shops have closed.
I knew as soon as I spied Amelia's Treasure, it was my kind of boutique. As soon as I stepped inside, I texted Joe that I would be awhile.
The shop owner graciously allowed me to take photos of this charming boutique. Don't you want to go today?
Amelia's Treasure is a feast for the senses with pretty displays, soothing music and wonderful bath scents.
One of our family's favorite Fernandina spots is located right next door. Fernandina Fudge -- the pink building on the corner -- offers homemade candy and ice cream. Grab a souvenir box of confections, or join the crowd for an ice cream cone.
Enjoying an ice cream cone with the family in this quaint setting as a tropical breeze tickles the leaves on a tree nearby ... well, that just feels like a perfect summer evening to me.
Christmas on the River offers an impressive selection of ornaments for tourists. We found a number of sea-inspired ornaments, but ultimately chose a less island-inspired ornament and asked the clerk to add Amelia Island ribbon to the top. With a scoop to represent each child, our four-scoop ice cream cone will be the perfect way to remember our visits to Fernandina Fudge. Yes, we enjoyed it so much we went twice during our week!
We also enjoyed a couple of downtown cafes during our visit. My pizza-loving family was eager to try Arte Pizza on 3rd Street. Joe and the kids enjoyed wood-fired pizza, while I opted for salad and a panini.
When Mary Ashley and I spent the day downtown, a local merchant recommended Kelley's Courtyard Cafe as a great lunch spot.
Patrons can dine outside in this cozy courtyard or sit inside the cool of the cafe. I loved my fried green tomato sandwich: fried green tomatoes with remoulade, pepper jack cheese, lettuce and pineapple salsa on a kaiser roll. They were out of kaiser rolls the afternoon we visited, but I would probably order it again as a wrap.
Eight-year-old Mary Ashley and I thoroughly enjoyed our Mommy-daughter date at Kelley's. She sounded so grown up as she gushed to her daddy, "The cafe where we ate was fabulous."
"Really?" Joe replied. "What did you have?"
"Peanut butter and jelly."
And speaking of fabulous, I just know this little French restaurant must be wonderful. We did not get to try Le Clos on this visit, but I am eager to go on a future trip to Amelia Island.
Seriously, could this little cottage be any more charming? If any of you have dined at Le Clos, I would love to hear your impressions.
Now, tell me your secrets! If you have favorite Amelia Island shops, restaurants or memories, please share them in the comments.
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