After we have a wonderful day with our 4×4 camper on the beach had spent, we woke up the next morning wonderfully in another beautiful spot on the beach. Today we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise with a fresh cup of coffee. This is a bit of the standard moment for us these days to discuss what we are going to do that day. We decided to rent bikes to go and see the old city center of Amelia Island called Amelia City.
This article is part of a large one-year tour the United States en Canada, with a Dutch 4×4 camper that we shipped ourselves… It is a bucket list worthy and an once in a lifetime experience that will never be forgotten.
We wrote almost 100 articles about this ultimate tour. Visit our North America page for more information.
Table of contents
About Amelia City
Amelia Island (and city) has served under several flags since its inception. The French were here first, in 1562. This occupation didn't last long because the Spaniards chased the French off the island three years later. In the centuries that followed, the island and the accompanying city changed its flag several times. Also the indigenous people, the Timicua, has in the meantime conquered the piece of land once more.
In the 1800s and 1900s, mainly wealthy Spaniards and Americans settled here. With large cotton plantations they saw their wealth continue to grow and they built beautiful colonial houses, which are still there.
If you are interested in maritime and military history, pirates and Spanish treasure fleets, be sure to visit Maritime Museum in the historic center of Fernandina Beach† You might even hear a few stories about the sea from real divers who found Spanish gold and silver in Florida's seas as you tour the museum.
Waking up at the beach
We stayed this night in the parking lot of the Main Beach Park from Amelia City. We didn't see any 'no overnight parking' signs and decided to gamble on it. This went well the first night. Waking up to a beautiful park with beach + facilities on your doorstep is very nice.
Wild camping is not allowed here
But there is also a downside. These kinds of places where we 'just' wild camp are great as long as things go well. Today we enjoyed a bizarrely beautiful sunrise with a delicious cup of coffee in hand, these are moments that we cherish every time…
The night after, however, we were turned away from here by Uncle Agent, because we were not allowed to spend the night here. That was less nice. Then you suddenly sit up in your bed when there is a knock on the door in the middle of the night! Quickly put on a T-shirt to speak to the agent and yes, unfortunately we had to move.
Still, I thought it was strange to send it away. We had already been there one night and another night in another parking lot, a little further. There were also no signs to see indicating that it was not allowed.
That other parking lot was also on the beach and the agent had already seen us there. He drove past us in the evening. I suspect it has to do with the fact that we've been wild camping in this area for three days in a row now and that the locals don't really appreciate that.
Explore Amelia City
But what is there to do besides the beautiful beach in Amelia City? To start with: there is a nice fortress to visit and the small old city center is also worth a visit, according to several websites. It was around 25 degrees with a breeze and lots of sun this day. Perfect for cycling!
The Fort and the lighthouse
The fort is located in Fort Clinch State Park and after you have paid $5 to enter the State Park, you pay another $2,50 if you want to view the fort from the inside. Very reasonable price if you ask us!
The fortress played an important role in protecting the city. You just read in the section “About Amelia City” that the city has changed hands quite often. At the time, it was also at a strategic point for both countries.
After we had seen the fort we also drove by the lighthouse, the highest point of the island. There was nothing else to see or do here, but it was still nice to see it and take a picture.
Rent a bike in Amelia City
We had already seen those nice beach bikes a few times. They looked comfortable, with those fat tires! We decided to rent these too and we did that at The Beach Store & More† This bike rental company is the best rated in town and also the cheapest. In other words, highly recommended!
From The Beach Store we could cycle all the way along the coast to the town. It was actually just straight ahead and in about 30 minutes we were on the edge of the town.
By the way, cycling is not a punishment here. Take it easy! You cycle past all kinds of beautiful and colorful colonial houses that are located directly on the sea. We joked a lot while cycling about which 'house' would be suitable for us. Just pick one, we said to each other.
We happily cycled on until we ended up in the city center a bit more. We cycled a few streets there without purpose to get an idea of how people really live here. Those beautiful houses by the sea are of course fantastic, but for the average person that is also unaffordable here.
Yet people generally live here very nicely. The streets are clean, the houses are well maintained and everything is beautifully green.
It reminded us a bit of Savannah GA, the beautiful green city we had visited a week earlier. Here too we saw those beautiful trees with the Spanish moss hanging over the road.
By now we had arrived in the old city center of Amelia City. By the way, don't imagine too much of this, it's only a few streets. We immediately noticed that it is a touristic spot because mainly sweets, ice cream and souvenirs were sold. In addition, there were the necessary Art Galleries.
Fortunately, the old city center was well preserved. The old Saloons are still there, but nowadays there are other shops and companies in them of course. Coca Cola also had a prominent place on one of the buildings.
Great food at Timoti's Seafood Shack
The day before we were greeted by a very enthusiastic and friendly woman on the beach, who found our camper super interesting, tipped to go to this restaurant.
"It's the best food in town!"
And she wouldn't have lied about that… We never just take anything from anyone when it comes to food, but when we went to look at the various reviews ourselves, this place really stood out. The restaurant has 4.7 out of 5 stars with more than 1700 reviews!
To our surprise, we had to stand in line once we got there. It was packed! And it was still early in the afternoon! Still, we got in line. We were in the mood for a good and healthy meal! They are not that easy to find here in the US.
What we also found striking was the price of the food. It was not really expensive by American standards. For a tenner you had a decent meal box with vegetables and fish. Top!
Malou and I both chose the BAJA BOX with fried shrimp in Cajun seasoning. I don't know if it was because of the wait, but within 10 minutes we were done eating. Hunger! The food was also really delicious, which of course also helps…
We ended the day with a beer and live music on the beach. It's crazy to say, but even though we work on the website for a few hours almost every day, this trip still feels like a vacation! In addition to working, we also continue to do many fun things, such as exploring towns and enjoying the beach.
After Amelia Island we drive further south again. There we also look for a place to spend the night on the beach and we visit the oldest settlement in America: St. Augustine.
More on that later!
Plan your vacation to America here
- Camper rental You can book this in combination with a tour Travelhome.
- Tours and Fly & drives compare to TUI, Americaplus, sawadee en Djoser.
- Flight tickets for America you book with TUI, KLM en Skyscanner.
- Rental cars : Sunnycars, Alamo en rental cars.
- Tours and Activities in America you book via GetYourGuide.
- Campsites in National Parks you book on RECREATION.gov.
- Travel insurance for America you will find at Allianz.
- Hotels & Resorts in America you can book with a discount Booking.com.
- SIM cards : USAsim en International sim.
- Parking at the airport you can arrange via Parkos, park care of iParking.
- travel items (suitcases, bags, world plugs, etc. can be ordered at Bol.com.
Seen a mistake? Ask? Remark? Let us know in the comments!