Amelia’s Charm

August 3, 2010

Amelia Island is one of those quaint areas you want to return to again and again.  Although the island offers the Ritz-Carlton and the Amelia Island Plantation, my preference is to stay somewhere close to the historic district and small marina of Fernandina Beach.  I like to be in walking distance to quaint shops and restaurants, and explore historic downtown areas.

The Bed & Breakfast Experience

For something different, we decided to give our first Bed & Breakfast a try.   I chose the 1856 Williams House in the historic district.  Although a bit pricey, the house itself is beautiful.

The Williams House Bed & Breakfast

Within the house you can reserve which particular room you want to stay in.  Each room has a theme of some sort relating to the house and its history.  I chose the most colorful room I could find, the Isle Santa Maria

We met the other house guests at the wine and cheese social from 5:00-6:00 p.m.  Interestingly, all were from Florida – Plant City, DeBary and Melbourne.  Our evening in Fernandina Beach included eating at one of the local Italian restaurants, and enjoying live music at O’Kanes Pub and Restaurant. A fancy breakfast and self tour of the house and grounds the next morning topped off the experience. I could easily become a fan of the B&B lifestyle.  The next time I want to take a unique relaxing weekend getaway, this is the way to go. 

Meg Teeth

A few of the shops in the historic downtown area sell fossilized Megaladon sharks’ teeth, all sizes up to 7 inches or so. Matt has found several of these while doing some dangerous diving off the coast of North Carolina, and has an incredible collection. 

Matt's Collection of Megaladon Sharks' Teeth

Fort Clinch State Park

The next day we explored Fort Clinch State Park.   We walked the full length of the fishing pier, then walked along the edge of the water looking for small sharks’ teeth.  This is an incredibly beautiful area.  The beach, the pier, the camping areas, and the fort itself.  Spending an hour or a day here is worth much more than the $6.00 park entrance fee.

Amelia Island is a fantastic spot to explore, for a day or a weekend.  And it is an obvious add to my List of 50 Things to Love About Florida.


Orchestras to Belly Flops

July 2, 2010


Fourth of July Weekend Happenings Around The State

Most Florida cities, large or small, have something planned for the 4th of July weekend.  Here are just a few that go a step beyond the traditional fireworks display.

Starting in the Northeast, Amelia Island, just north of Jacksonville, will present the traditional parade and fireworks in the historic downtown/marina area.  For something different, you can take a candlelight tour of the waterfront Fort Clinch and enjoy the fireworks from there.

Classy is what you would expect from the oldest city in America.  St. Augustine’s Fireworks Over the Matanzas program takes place from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on the 4th. The All Star Orchestra will present a two-hour show full of Big Band and Swing music, as well as traditional patriotic songs.  Fireworks go off at 9:30 p.m. to a “stirring soundtrack of great popular music.”

For those into NASCAR, Daytona Beach continues the tradition of holding the 160-lap, 400-mile Coke Zero 400 on the 3rd of July at the Daytona International Speedway.  The race starts at 7:30 p.m.  There will be a pre-race concert by Darius Rucker, and post race fireworks.  On the 4th, watch the fireworks from Daytona’s main pier.

Saturday or Sunday you can head over to the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford for the Red, White and Zoo festival.  Enter the watermelon eating contest, or just enjoy games, crafts, live music and something called “waterslide zoo animal encounters.”  9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. each day.

If you want to party 50’s style, head over to Celebration.  An All-American Sock Hop is happening, along with a 1950’s costume contest, concerts, and food, all followed by fireworks set to the “best loved music” of the 50’s. 

If you’re looking for a beer garden and dunk tank atmosphere, head over to Kissimmee and enjoy their Independence Day Celebration at Kissimmee Lakefront Park.  There will also be patriotic crafts, snow-cones and bounce houses for the kids.  Sunday, 5:00-9:00 pm.  Fireworks go off at 9:10 p.m.

The Florida Aquarium in Tampa is staying open until 9:30 so you can watch the fireworks over the Channel. The Aquarium is also taking their two-deck Bay Spirit II, a 72-ft. long catamaran, on a sunset cruise, ending with a spectacular viewing of the fireworks from the boat.  Hors d’ouvres and an open bar for wine and beer are included, with a cash bar available.  The price of $50 covers aquarium admission, parking, food, beer and wine. 

Cedar Key celebrates the holiday with Clamerica, described as a “down home 4th of July party, but with a clammy theme.”  Just the place for clam lovers.  Clams on the half shell, steamed clams, clam chowder, clam fritters…

And then there’s tiny Madison County in the extreme North Center of the State, midway between Pensacola and Jacksonville, where not one, but three celebrations will be held.  God & Country Independence Day Celebration takes place on Saturday from 5:00 p.m. until 10:30 p.m.  Fireworks included.  Celebrate the Stars and Stripes takes place July 2-5th with watermelon eating contests, mini golf, volley ball and horseshoe tournaments, and candy bar bingo.  Saturday at noon is the not-to-be-missed Non-Alcoholic Red Neck Games. Mud football, belly flop contest, and the ‘ole bobbin’ for pig’s feet.  Who could ask for more.