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Explore Historic Sites

Take a step back in time and learn all about Amelia Island’s colorful history! While widely known for its beautiful beaches, experts can point to various reasons why the many Amelia Island historic sites are perhaps even more noteworthy! Our island’s fascinating history is filled with tales of international explorers, daring pirates, Victorian progress, massive fires, political coups, and more. Some of Florida’s oldest architectural gems and forts reside here!

Amelia Island Lighthouse

Did you know our lighthouse is the oldest existing lighthouse in Florida? Few structures in the entire state have as long and intriguing of a history as this one built in 1838. It’s remarkable the first time it sent a beam of light out to sea that Florida wasn’t even a state yet! Throughout it’s life, the lighthouse has given both sailing ships of the ‘olden days and new modern freighters a beacon of light to follow to safe harbor. The Amelia Island Lighthouse property is open to the public for viewing on Saturdays from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. For access inside the lighthouse, a tour must be attended through the Recreation Department. The tours are on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month (excluding observed City holidays.) To register for a tour of the lighthouse, call 904-310-3350 or visit the Atlantic Recreation Center at 2500 Atlantic Avenue. Payment of tour fee due at time of registration ($10 per adult and $5 per child ages 12 and under.) The bus leaves the Atlantic Recreation Center promptly at 10 a.m. on the day of the tour.

Location: 215 O'Hagan Lane (accessible from North Wolff Street)

American Beach

Today the sleepy little community of American Beach on Amelia Island is in transition. The neighborhood is dotted with vacant lots sandwiched between new builds and old, abandoned buildings. Modest vacation homes dating from the 1930s still stand, and as visitors walk or bike throughout the unusually hilly community, they’ll take note of various historic markers sharing how American Beach has played a significant role in recent African American history. The A.L. Lewis Museum, formerly known as the American Beach Museum, is on Julia Street and it is the best place to truly learn the community’s unique story. Also, don’t miss Nana, the tallest dune in Florida!

Location: American Beach, Lewis Street

Fernandina Beach Historic District

Explore this quaint 50-block area full of rich history! On the National Register of Historic Places (like many of the other historical sites listed here), the downtown invites you to stroll the streets, appreciate the Victorian-era architecture, and imagine an olden time. More than 400 structures are recognized on the national register for their cultural significance!

Location: Centre St, Fernandina Beach

Fort Clinch

Fort Clinch State Park is located on a peninsula near the northernmost point of Amelia Island, with the Amelia River on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. The more than 1,100 acres of protected Florida wilderness and coastal land includes the 19th-century Fort Clinch, a brick fortress begun in 1847 after the end of the Second Seminole War and which later served as the base of Union operations in the area throughout the Civil War. Naturalists love the sand dunes, plains, maritime hammock and estuarine tidal marshes.

Location: 2601 Atlantic Avenue

Old Town

Set near the northern tip of Amelia Island, the area now known as “Old Town" was originally settled by Timucuan Indians long ago. Historians speculate that they chose the land because of its high and dry location along the Amelia River. Interestingly, the town was later platted by the Spanish in 1811 – the last town platted to the Law of the Indies in the Western Hemisphere. The original grid, which encompassed some 26 blocks, mostly remains. Today it is a neighborhood in transition, with fully-renovated historic homes sitting beside vacant lots or homes left to the elements. Visitors should be sure to visit the Plaza de la Constitution (Plaza San Carlos) that occupies a full block of green space overlooking the Amelia River — a great spot for watching the sunset! A new historical marker is there sharing about the plaza’s role in the saga of the slave ship of Guerrero.

Location: Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park, Estrada Street
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