Amelia Island lies on the northeastern side of Florida, right by the Georgia border. Once upon a time, this barrier island on the Atlantic Ocean was a much-coveted natural port, creating Spanish and English conflict. Today it’s a natural wonderland thick with wildlife, soft sand, and warm water. Select from a variety of Amelia Island vacation rentals and enjoy a fun-filled family vacation as you explore both the history and the nature of the area while taking a break from city life. Here are some great family activities to get you started.

1. Go Swimming

With 13 miles of beaches, swimming while on Amelia Island is a no-brainer. Splash in the waves with the kids, or lounge in the sand while they play. If you prefer less sand and more water, opt for a vacation rental with a pool, or head down to Kids Splash Park on Atlantic Beach.

2. Play on the Beach

American Beach, located on the south side of the island, offers a quiet, relaxing experience. On the northern side of the island, Fernandina Beach is great for exploring tide pools with the kids or building sand castles. Look for seashells and shark teeth, both of which can be found with a little exploration.

3. Stroll Down Memory Lane

Starting at Fernandina Beach, take in the local history with the kids. Stroll the Amelia Island Historic District. With 50 blocks of history, you can bike part of the time or hop onto a horse and buggy to really complete the trip back in time. Stop at the Amelia Island Museum of History, where kids can explore exhibits such as Timucuan Village or the Discovery Ship, an interactive display. Other exhibits focus on the history of the Florida Railroad, the Civil War in Florida, and the Spanish Missions of Florida.

4. Go Hiking

Hiking is available all over the island, whether you’re hiking through downtown for a little window shopping or forging alongside Egans Creek. Egans Creek runs parallel to the coast and Fernandina, with hiking trails that loop around it for a nice afternoon jaunt with the family.

5. Visit Fort Clinch State Park

For a true outdoor adventure, take the family to Fort Clinch State Park, which has hiking trails for nature lovers, historic sites, gardens, and fishing spots. The 6-mile hiking trail is ideal for avid hikers and families with older children. The Willow Pond Trail loops take under an hour to walk and offer families with younger kids ample opportunities for wildlife viewing. If your family prefers to bike, there are plenty of paths and bike rental stations. Make sure to stop at the Fort Clinch Museum and Visitor’s Center. Fort Clinch dates back to the Civil War, and the museum has several exhibits with weapons from that period.

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6. Go Horseback Riding on the Beach

Thrill the family with horseback riding on the beach. Kelly Seahorse Ranch offers 60-minute guided tours across the sands and through the trees for a unique adventure. This is the perfect outing for kids at least 13 years old.

7. Visit the Amelia Island Plantation Nature Center

Incorporate a little education into your nature adventures with a trip to the Amelia Island Plantation Nature Center. The center offers several family friendly programs, including the Crab Grab and Shark Tooth Hunt. In the former, the entire family learns to go crabbing like their ancestors of old. With the latter, kids sift through the beaches looking for treasures, especially shark teeth. They can then make a necklace at the center for a vacation souvenir. Other exciting options for your family include birding, marsh walks, night beach walks, and kayak tours.

8. Go on a River Cruise

View the scenery on an Amelia River Cruise. The boats go from Amelia River up to Fancy Bluff Creek and Cumberland Island. Here, your family can catch a glimpse of the wild horses, walk along the beaches, and enjoy the wildness of this undeveloped area.

9. Play at the Pirate Playground

Pirate Playground is more than just your run-of-the-mill play area. It’s a full-on pirate-themed wonderland perfect for kids of all ages. Children can play musical instruments, play make-believe, or navigate their very own pirate ship. While in the area, stop by the Fernandina Beach Recreation and cool off in the pool or hike along the Egans Creek nature trails.

10. Do Watersports

Take the family on a kayak excursion over to Cumberland Island National Seashore, or explore the waterways and salt marshes on paddle boards. If you don’t have your own water vessels, rent some at Amelia Island Adventures Tours, Amelia Island Paddle Surf Company, or Amelia Adventures and Kayak. You can also adventure out on jet skis, SUPs, and surf boards.

11. Visit Amelia Island State Park

Finish up your vacation at Amelia Island State Park, which lies on the southern end of the island. Spend a peaceful afternoon relaxing on the shore and fishing. Redfish floundered, and speckled sea trout are plentiful. The kids can look for shells and interesting wildlife. Bald eagles regularly pass through the area, and terns, pelicans, and black skimmers are often viewable. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of a whale or dolphin.

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