If you yearn for one last summer jaunt to the beach, look no further than Amelia Island, Florida. Just 30 minutes north of the Jacksonville airport, its emerald waters have long attracted visitors. Coupled with excellent restaurants and a myriad of activities for when the sun shines too hot (or not at all), Amelia creates a retreat like no other.
Time seems to ebb and shimmer as you cross the Thomas J. Shave Bridge to Amelia Island. If you arrive in the early afternoon, stop first at the Down Under Marina Restaurant, which lies beneath the bridge on the mainland side. The huge entrées start at $15 and top out at $20. Take our advice and opt for a battered seafood dinner. Down Under could fry a dishrag and we'd eat it.
Once you're stuffed with the bounty of the briny deep, wallow your way onto the island. It offers plenty of fabulous places to stay, but, in truth, most are pricey. If you'd like to wake up near the village charm of Fernandina Beach, a quaint 50-block town listed on the National Register of Historic Places, park yourself at the Hampton Inn & Suites at 19 South Second Street. Rates range $114-$180; (904) 491-4911.
If you want a full-service resort where the beach comes with umbrellas, boogie boards, and kites, you can't go wrong with the Unlimited Summer Fun package at The Ritz-Carlton. This month package rates begin at $199; (904) 277-1100.