Travel Diaries: Amelia Island and St. Augustine, FL
It is officially autumn, minus the crisp blue skies and cool breeze, which really means that it’s basically winter. The wind is blowing, my flip-flops have (unhappily) been put away, and it doesn’t look like I’ll be wearing cut offs or a bikini for a few more months.
So yeah, if you were wondering, I’m definitely looking at apartments for rent on various beaches of the world (Italy, Croatia, Portugal, and Costa Rica are topping the list right now).
Luckily, I got to spend the majority of the last two weeks at the beach! Like I mentioned in last week’s post on my Top 5 Wardrobe Staples, my whole family spent a week on Amelia Island, Florida, thanks to The Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, took a day trip to our old stomping grounds, St. Augustine, for the day, and then had the ultimate tailgating and fan experience at the University of Georgia - University of Florida football game, thanks to our friends at Suntrust.
Even though I’m already itching to go back, I couldn’t wait to get in and write up a few blog posts detailing the highlights of our trip! Read on for the stand out restaurants, shops, and activities from Amelia Island and St. Augustine, and let me know where I absolutely can’t miss next time!
Amelia Island, Florida
Amelia Island is the second most peaceful place I’ve ever been in my life, directly behind Jekyll Island. The entire island is covered with biking and walking trails; the beach is clean and untouched; the water was even warm enough for us to get in. This is actually the first time I’ve ventured off of the Plantation Resort for a night out, in sister-city Fernandina Beach, where Nick, Beau, and Brandon enjoyed dinner and a few drinks at The Palace Saloon and The Salty Pelican (the guys definitely recommend the oysters).
Most of the time, though, there’s enough on the Plantation Resort to make a car mostly useless. Nick and I walked the dogs on the beach every morning, three or four miles a day. Charlie had a blast chasing the little sea birds (don’t worry, he was on a leash!), and Nico, my mom’s miniature Schnauzer, loved the waves! We sat out on the beach, on the deck, or at the pool, drank coffee with my parents every morning, and had an incredible family dinner almost every night!
We didn’t get a chance to go this time, but last time we were at the Plantation Resort, we went kayaking at The Nature Center! Our guide was amazing, and the view of the island and the marsh - as well as the glimpse of a manatee we caught! - were unbelievable. It’s scientifically proven that only yoga on the deck, overlooking the ocean, is a better way to wake up.
St. Augustine, Florida
When I was a kid, my family lived in a condo on St. Augustine Beach for a month every summer. As we got a little older, we started staying downtown; it was an easy drive to the beach, but had restaurants, cafes, and shops on every corner, to keep three teens and pre-teens entertained while Mom and Dad relaxed and took in the stunning view of the bay.
I’ve always enjoyed walking around historic, downtown St. Augustine, starting on St. George street, ducking into the shops along the alleys, and admiring the architecture; in fact, Flagler College was at the top of my list when I was in high school, because I loved the city so much.
There are three shops I go in every chance I get: Earthbound, for all my inner hippy needs, The Way We Were Boutique, a vintage clothing shop where I bought the cutest denim dress, straight from the 70s, about five years ago, and Second Read Books, a tiny little store filled to the brim with all the used books you could ever want. This time, I found another store to love, MOD Mari, and left with two Beatles shirts! My brother used to be obsessed with The Sword Shop, which has since closed, and but at the end of the day, there was only one thing we really cared about it St. Augustine: the food.
I could write an entire series on where to eat in St. Augustine. Kilwin’s, Harry’s, Creekside, O.C. White’s…the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, after being diagnosed with allergies, most of the places we used to frequent aren’t exactly diet friendly, so, with the help of a friend of ours, we landed on the cutest little restaurant, tucked away on Spanish Street, called the Floridian.
I can’t recommend this restaurant enough. Not only was their menu eclectic, it had vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options, fresh made juices, and house-made hummus, and the staff and chef went above and beyond to make sure we were able to eat comfortably and were well taken care of. I had more than my fair share with the Indian Summer Bowl; it was loaded with pickled veggies, spiced chickpeas, mango-pepper slaw, ginger caramelized sweet potatoes, spinach, toasted sesame seeds, and quinoa, and topped with chicken and a sesame-citrus dressing. In a word? Yum.
After dinner, we walked around downtown for another hour or so before landing on The Hyppo, an organic popsicle shop on Charlotte Street. We were just going to peek in, but the flavors were too good; I had the plum ginger, Nick had “The Elvis” (peanut butter, banana, and chocolate), and my sister had the blueberry acai.
The Georgia-Florida Game
Finally Saturday - my dad’s birthday - rolled around, after a long week of rest and relaxation (minus the one night we cooked steaks on a grill pan inside and set off the fire alarms about, oh, forty-seven times). Alarms went off at 6:30, so we could all wake up, get dressed, drop the pups with the sitter (shoutout to Rover for making the day so much easier), and head to Jacksonville. We’d been food prepping the entire evening before: barbecue, veggies, ground beef nachos on cassava flour chips with homemade guac and Mina Harissa Moroccan red pepper sauce, hummus and crudités, plates full of fruit…you name it, we had it (except the rib eyes that our tailgating neighbor was grilling after the game).
By the time we rolled up at 10:00, the tailgating party had been going for about five hours, but we had plenty of time to put out our chairs under the tent, pile our plates full, and hope and pray the game went in our favor, since it was my dad’s birthday, and a win was all he’d asked for. Luckily, he got his wish, and we were close enough to catch all the action up close!
None of us were ready to head home on Sunday, but lucky for me, Nick, Braeden, and my parents, we had a few more days at the beach coming up. Stay tuned for 24 Hours on Jekyll Island. xoxo
What’s your favorite vacation spot? Let me know in the comments below!