Capture Florida’s Coastal Charm on an Amelia Island Photo TourBy Holly Kapherr
Eight different flags have flown over Florida’s Amelia Island since the French explorer, Jean Ribault, landed on the shores of Fernandina Beach in 1562. Since then, Spanish and British colonists, along with the native Timucuan peoples, have all left their mark on its gorgeous shores, making for incredible, Instagrammable sights.
From Victorian architecture and natural beaches to droolworthy dining, Amelia Island will spice up the ‘Gram with historic charm and natural beauty.
Here are some of our favorite spots to capture Amelia Island’s unique blend of coastline, color and culture.
As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.
Fort Clinch State Park
Covered with natural Florida scrub-oak forest and stretching to the island’s northern coastline, Fort Clinch State Park is directly across the street from SpringHill Suites Amelia Island, so you can simply lace up your walking shoes and head out first thing in the morning.
The park is chock-full of outdoor splendor within its 1,400 acres. The arching live oaks provide a perfect backdrop for hiking and biking, and wildlife photogs will easily spy gopher tortoises, pelicans, painted buntings, whitetail deer and plenty of shells and shark teeth on the shore.
The eponymous fort remains standing and was a strategic outpost during the Civil War, with rows of cannons still overlooking the St. Mary’s River.
Instagram tip: Visit on the first weekend of each month to take a sweet Instagram Reel of the soldier garrison firing the cannons and demonstrating other battlefield skills. Sunset is also beautiful here, as the fort sits directly on the water, and the soft light makes the redbrick building glow.
The Palace stakes its claim as the oldest continuously running bar in Florida, first opening in 1903 — that’s more than 117 years of slinging historic hooch. In fact, according to local lore, the Palace Saloon was the last bar in Florida to close during Prohibition.
Swagger through the double doors on the corner of Centre Street and S. 2nd Street today and marvel at the bar’s architecture, partly designed by Anheuser-Busch founder Adolphus Busch. Time your visit to hear live music on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Instagram tip: The monochromatic filters Willow or Inkwell would be ideal here. Order a foamy mug of beer and flash your best Roaring ’20s Cheshire Cat grin. The saloon is also a great place for interior-design lovers; the bar is full of interesting details to photograph, like wrought-iron filigree, brass taps and intricate woodcarving.
Victorian-Era Historic Homes
Just north of Centre Street, a bevy of Victorian-era homes are the ultimate in old-world Floridian charm. The area is perfectly walkable and quiet enough for leisurely bike riding, and you’ll see some dreamy dwellings along the way.
Don’t miss the Hoyt House, the Lesesne House and the Bailey House, all listed on the National Register of Historic Places. At Christmastime, the historic district hosts the Amelia Island Cookie Crawl, when the area is decked with decorations for the holidays and each home is open for exploration.
You’ll definitely want to head north to see the film-famous home of Pippi Longstocking. It’s a private residence, so you can’t take a tour of the Victorian beauty, but it’s a great spot to don some pigtails and pose like the 1980s cutie character.
Instagram tip: When shooting home interiors, using natural light to your advantage is generally key to a great shot. However, oft-crowded Victorian home interiors may be somewhat dim. If this is the case when you visit, use your Instagram setting to slightly up the exposure for a lighter, brighter look. Should you want to convey a moodier, more dramatic feel, use the same tools to drop the exposure.
Brunch at Leddy’s Porch
The historic building where Leddy’s Porch is located was built as a boarding house in 1857 by David Yulee, who attempted to build a railroad from Amelia Island to Cedar Key on Florida’s west coast; that is, before the Civil War broke out and Yulee’s dream was never realized.
Now the space is a must-see for travelers, as it’s served as a stopping place for some of the country’s most famous people, including Ulysses S. Grant, Jose Marti, Henry Ford, Laurel and Hardy, Mary Pickford and others. Leddy’s Porch serves an epic brunch seven days a week, with $10 bottomless bloody marys and mimosas each day.
Instagram tip: Ludwig and Juno are hands-down the best Instagram filters for food, but the best way to snap some brunch pics is by requesting a table on the long patio and letting the natural Florida sunshine work its magic.
Horseback Riding on the Beach
At the southern tip of Amelia Island, just off A1A, is Amelia Island State Park, home to Kelly’s Seahorse Ranch. No, Kelly doesn’t farm seahorses here. The moniker refers to the gorgeous horses offered for incredible horseback rides on the beach. The one-hour rides are relaxing and romantic.
If four-legged friends aren’t your bag, Kelly’s also rents beach cruisers for use on the Amelia Island Trail, immediately accessible from the ranch’s driveway.
Instagram tip: You’ll definitely want to snap an iconic pic from between your horse’s ears just as the sea foam rolls in with the horizon in the distance. Kelly’s offers a photo service, as well, so if you want someone with their feet on the ground to take your picture, you’re in luck.