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A Comprehensive LGBTQ Travel Guide To Amelia Island

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Resting off the coast of northeast Florida is Amelia Island, an underrated 13 miles of stunning beaches, native wildlife, and LGBTQ attractions. 

If Florida is on your list of gay-friendly travel destinations, Amelia Island is ideal for immersive LGBTQ experiences without the hustle and bustle of the big city. This quaint, formerly Victorian village is an ideal destination for gay travelers who love bike rides, nature walks, an afternoon on the golf course, and other LGBTQ-centric activities.

Read on to learn more about what Amelia Island has in store for your gay-cation.

Fernandina Beach Pride participating in the Amelia Island Shrimp Festival. Photo by OutCoast

How LGBTQ-Friendly Is Amelia Island?

Amelia Island is an upscale, historic beach community growing increasingly rich in LGBTQ culture. Uncrowded and full of outdoor space, Amelia Island is now drawing tourists from other more popular Florida destinations.

After hosting Fernandina Beach Pride for the first time in 2019, Amelia Island has become a hotspot for LGBTQ happenings. Today, fellowship among local businesses and charities is strong, promising future prosperity for the Florida LGBTQ community.

Fernandina Beach Pride

You can’t plan a gay-cation at Amelia Island without taking part in Fernandina Beach Pride. Support LGBTQ non-profits and vendors by attending events like the Drag Queen Brunch, Drag Queen Bingo, and the Fernandina Beach Pride Parade!

Drag Queen Bingo Fernandina Beach Pride
Drag Queen Bingo with Fernandina Beach Pride. Photo By Rachel Covello

Things To Do

Like most Florida destinations, Amelia Island is rich with white-sand beaches and outdoor reserves. However, its LGBTQ events and activities are also on the rise. Here are a few things you should enjoy during your stay.

Beach Day At Seaside Park

2002 S Fletcher Ave, Fernandina Beach

Seaside Park is Amelia Island’s go-to beach. It’s pet-friendly, and you can also rent tents for your four-legged companions should the sun get too hot during the day.

Backwater Cat Adventure

3 South Front St, Dock E

If an afternoon in the water piques your interest, the Backwater Cat Adventure promises great scenery, wildlife, and a unique boating experience. Tourists will love the Amelia and Cumberland Boat Tour, where you can feast your eyes on some of the most stunning marshlands and sea life that Amelia Island has to offer.

Pedego Electric Bikes

4800 First Coast Hwy, Fernandina Beach

There is no better way to get around Amelia Island than on an electric bike. The good news is that Pedego Electric Bikes is fully equipped with rides for everyone in the family.

Pedego Electric Bikes Amelia Island

Kayak Amelia

13030 Heckscher Dr, Jacksonville

If you want to explore Amelia Island’s wildlands, the best way to do it is to immerse yourself through Kayak Amelia. This paddle-boarding experience puts you at the center of Florida’s most stunning ecosystems.

Fort Clinch State Park

2601 Atlantic Ave, Fernandina Beach

History buffs and nature enthusiasts will love a day out at the Fort Clinch State Park, where you can take in remnants of the Civil War. This 1,400-acre park is also home to hiking and biking trails and plenty of camping, fishing, and shelling hotspots. It’s also the perfect place to park your RV for a few nights.

Fort Clinch State Park

Sounds On Centre

5472 1st Coast Hwy #1

Every first Friday in April, May, June, August, September, and October is Sounds on Centre, a free musical event by The Historic Fernandina Business Association (HFBA). Concertgoers will enjoy blues tunes while giving back to local community service groups.

Lunch And Story Time For Grown-Ups At Story And Song Bookstore Bistro

1430 Park Ave Fernandina Beach

There is a lot in store at the Song Bookstore Bistro for literature lovers, from spoken word events to lunch and storytime for grown-ups. Enjoy dozens of free programs and an impressive variety of books.

The Atlantic Contemporary

1014 Atlantic Ave, Fernandina Beach

If you need a break from the sights and sounds of gay Florida, make a trip to The Atlantic Contemporary, a space for visitors to admire fine art. In-house artists include Aaron Whitehouse, Todd Alexander, and John Folsom. 

Amelia Island Nature Center

26 Amelia Village Circle, Fernandina Beach

Florida is full of natural wonders, and you’ll find many of them at the Amelia Island Nature Center. Visitors can interact with rescued species, chat with naturalists, or try their hand at fishing for the first time. 

Where To Stay

Amelia Island has no shortage of LGBTQ-friendly accommodations. However, it can be challenging to narrow your choices with that many options. Here are a few places we recommend:

Residence Inn Amelia Island

2301 Sadler Rd, Fernandina Beach

Just two blocks from the beach is the Residence Inn, which neighbors Amelia Island’s top attractions like Fort Clinch State Park and the historic district. Residence Inn has everything a traveler could possibly need, such as a 24-hour fitness center, outdoor pool, and free breakfast. The rooms offer mini kitchens and enough space to spread out.

Other Hotels And Resorts In Amelia Island

While The Residence Inn takes the cake for the best and most gay-friendly lodging on Amelia Island, these hotels and resorts also came highly recommended for all travelers:

For luxury lovers, Amelia Island’s Marriott hotels come fully equipped for a relaxing getaway with breathtaking views and quartz beaches. Meanwhile, accommodations like Sea Cottages are a little homier – perfect for LGBTQ families who love the natural settings of a majestic tree canopy.

Booking.com

Where To Eat And Drink

Amelia Island is rich with unique international and local cuisines, ranging from Asian hot dishes to signature Florida seafood. Below are a few of our local faves.

Wicked BAO

232 North 2nd St, Fernandina Beach

Wicked BAO serves authentic street food like fried shrimp baos, spring rolls, and steamed Taiwanese bao buns. Located in one of Amelia Island’s historical buildings, Wicked BAO is an excellent location for large party bookings.

Cafe Karibo

27 N 3rd. Downtown, Fernandina Beach

Food enthusiasts with an eclectic palette should treat their taste buds to Cafe Karibo’s spicy Thai noodles, Mediterranean couscous salad, and famous veggie burger. Its healthy menu offers both gluten-free and low-calorie options.

GoJuice

2022 1st Ave, Fernandina Beach

There’s nothing more refreshing than an ice-cold smoothie or drink on a hot Florida day. Get your juice fix at GoJuice, and make sure to try its signature Original Banana Coffee.

Le Clos

20 South 2nd St, Fernandina Beach

For local, fresh seafood, check out Le Clos in Fernandina’s Historic District. Headed by gastronomic chef Katherine Ewing, Le Clos’ signature salmon and bistro steak dishes are more than worth the visit.

First Love Brewing

22 South 8th St, Suite 5, Fernandina Beach

First Love Brewing is the best place to crack open a cold one on Amelia Island. Enjoy a taste of its quirkily named home-brewed beer, such as A Beacon of Light and Cardinal Truth. Don’t forget to pair your drinks with its selection of delicious burgers.

Sliders Seaside Grill

1998 South Fletcher Ave

Sliders Seaside Grill is the perfect place to enjoy a seafood platter while kicking your feet in the sand and enjoying the view. Early risers can attend the Oceanfront Balcony Sunrise Breakfast for a picture-perfect meal.

Palace Saloon

117 Centre St, Fernandina Beach

Palace Saloon is the oldest bar in Florida, once serving seafarers in the middle of their travels. Today, you can down the world-famous Pirates Punch with a friend or two or bop your head to the best DJs from Thursdays to Saturdays. 

The Palace Saloon is the oldest bar in Florida. Photo: OutCoast

The Decantery

 117 Centre St, Fernandina Beach

The Decantery is Amelia Island’s premier wine, craft beer, and cocktail lounge, where you can also enjoy homemade desserts. Weekly specials include Martini Mondays and Bourbon Thursdays.

Festivals And Events

Despite its small size, Amelia Island is home to a few events that LGBTQ travelers will love. Add these to your list of things to do!

Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival

6146 Fernandina Beach

Amelia Island’s Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival is one of the biggest events in the area. Visit dozens of fresh seafood booths while shopping for antiques, joining a pageant, going on the Shrimp Run, or decorating a shrimp boat! And of course, don’t forget to taste the shrimp!

Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival

1405 Park Ave, Suite 101, Fernandina Beach

Chamber music fans have to attend the seasonal Chamber Music Festival, which benefits local not-for-profit organizations. It features the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Vega String Quartet, Georgian Chamber Players, and other musical acts.

New Years’ Eve Shrimp Drop

The New Years’ Eve Shrimp Drop is everything you think it is – party hats, poppers, and all-you-can-eat shrimp, combined with the best beach views and exciting fireworks displays!

Amelia Island Restaurant Week

Restaurant Week on Amelia Island has been a tourist favorite for over a decade. Festival-goers enjoy this annual ten-day culinary showcase featuring award-winning chefs and establishments. Wine lovers, in particular, shouldn’t miss the Sip and Shop event.

Fish To Fork

39 Beach Lagoon Rd, Fernandina Beach

The dock-to-dish specialties you can enjoy at Fish to Fork are unmatched. Hosted at the Omni Amelia Island Resort, attendees can enjoy once-in-a-lifetime seafood dishes from renowned chefs – you’ll even get to see them flex their fishing skills!

Amelia Island Jazz Festival

16684 Fernandina Beach

Musically inclined islanders won’t want to miss the Amelia Island Jazz Festival, especially the Swingin’ Jazz, Wine, and Dance Party!

Zooma Amelia Island Women’s Seaside Challenge

Main Beach Park, 32 N Fletcher Ave, Fernandina Beach

Visiting runners can join the Zooma Amelia Island Women’s Seaside Challenge half-marathon, 5K, or 12K race. Jog past the historic Florida lighthouse and Fort Clinch before reaching the finish line.

Right Whale Festival

Main Beach Park, 32 N Fletcher Ave, Fernandina Beach

Since the return of the endangered North Atlantic right whales, Amelia Island has not been shy about celebrating their presence. Enjoy ocean-themed activities at the Right Whale Festival every November while aiding right whale recovery.

Amelia Concours

4750 Amelia Island Parkway

Car culture connoisseurs should attend Amelia Concours, a multi-day automotive experience where event-goers can test drive high-end vehicles, participate in family-friendly activities, and even join a car auction.

Where To Shop

Fill your luggage with Amelia-themed souvenirs from these must-visit shops.

Fernandina Beach Market Place

N. 7th St Downtown, Fernandina Beach

Take home seasonal fruits and vegetables from the Fernandina Beach Market Place, which welcomes new artisan vendors every year. You’ll find everything from gardening tools to freshly baked goods!

Island Vintage Market

2136 Sadler Rd, Fernandina Beach

For all things vintage and eclectic, visit the Island Vintage Market to purchase works from local artists, crafters, and collectors.

Pelindaba Lavender 

15 S 4th St, Fernandina Beach

Pelindaba Lavender is a lavender distillery where you can shop for scented soaps, lotions, fragrances, and candles. In this story EVERYTHING is purple.

Color It Green

301 Centre St, Fernandina Beach

Sustainability buffs will love shopping at Color it Green, which stocks a curated selection of earth-friendly homeware, kitchen supplies, bath products, and more.

Christmas Shop On The River

110 Centre St, Amelia Island

As its name suggests, you can get ahead of holiday decor at the Christmas Shop on the River, which has a wide selection of ornaments and centerpieces.

Fantastic Fudge

218 Centre St, Fernandina Beach

Satisfy your sweet tooth at Fantastic Fudge, Amelia Island’s favorite sweets shop since 1988.

The Bottom Line

If the prospect of an uncrowded beach chock full of LGBTQ-friendly accommodations and events piques your interest then book your stay and plan your itinerary through Amelia Island Florida!


**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.

Events and schedules are subject to change.

Written by Rachel Covello

Rachel Covello is an award-winning speaker, writer, diversity consultant, and LGBT advocate. She is the Founder of LGBT Equality Alliance, a Chester County, PA nonprofit organization, and CEO of OUTCOAST, an online marketing and concierge platform marketing the Gulf Coast as an LGBTQ-inclusive place to VISIT, CELEBRATE, and LIVE.

Rachel is also an avid event photographer and has captured photos for LGBT organizations around the world, including the IGLTA, NGLCC, NLGJA, and Out & Equal.


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