Amelia Island

This post doesn’t really have anything to do with cooking, but I wanted to post and there are food related sections here! 
What a wonderful long weekend getaway our little family had on Amelia Island recently, thanks to Warrior Vacations; a wonderful program supported by Amelia Island property owners and supporting hotel chains that gives free vacation accommodations for Military families to reconnect. Thank you so much to all of their patrons and supporters who afforded our family this opportunity. We had the distinct privelege of staying at the Omni Plantation Resort and had a great room on the 6th floor overlooking the ocean, right down the road from Downtown Fernandina. Here was the view from our room:
I don’t know what it is about being next to the ocean like this that just makes you happy. Maybe it’s the cool, cleansing, salty, breezy air. Maybe it’s the spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Maybe it’s the striking color contrast between the cool blue water and white sands. More likely it’s all of the above.
Aside from having absolutely gorgeus beaches, Amelia Island is home to the very eclectic, quaint and peaceful downtown Fernandina. It is a town that doesn’t open until 10am, aside from the coffee shops. For me, it was very pleasant to window shop down empty streets with coffee in hand in this artsy, laid back crafty town along the beach. It was relaxing, reflective and refreshing.

Downtown Fernandina was beautiful in the morning, and so was their state park. Home to Fort Clinch with trails you can walk or bike down that are just long enough to spend a great morning outdoors, but not long enough to consume your entire day if you don’t want it too.

Another awesome note about the Amelia Island beaches are all the shells! I don’t know what it is about shell collecting, but it is addicting. You find a few great pieces and just want to keep walking down the beach to collect more. The sand is nice and stiff, so it is really easy to walk on and run for miles it seems, if you are so inclined.

After an afternoon on the beach, this is one of my all time favorite things to do on vacation. It takes a little forward planning and preparation, but it’s super fun. Go to a local (to the area) grocery joint or Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s type place. Talk to the locals/grocers about wines, cheeses and chocolates they like. Take their advice and pick out a cheese, a wine and some really good chocolate. Stash it away in your hotel refrigerator and enjoy in the room before dinner, around 4:00-5:00pm. At Amelia, we did it after our beach outings, on the balcony, watching the sunset. Pretty much perfect.

In these photos, we were drinking a Mondavi Reserve Pinot Noir, 3 year aged Gouda cheese and Ghirardelli 72% dark chocolate. It’s a tad bit pricey, but all great quality and it lasted us the entire time we were at Amelia. Much less expensive than in a restaurant, and to me, much more enjoyable when eaten on your own time at your leisure.
I would remiss if I did not mention our wonderful hotel accommodations. I really enjoyed our stay at the Omni. It was built as a luxury hotel in the 1970’s and has a certain charm about the place. All of their fitness facilities are equipped with bathrooms that have shampoo, conditioner, combs, lotion Q tips, deodorant, mouth wash, even little black combs in disinfecting liquid! I thought this was such a nice change from the basic small bottles of shampoo and towel you might receive at the more modern establishments. All of the staff always had smiles on their faces and seemed genuinely interested in helping you have a good time. Their bar and reception had a certain element of old world elegance. It was nice and open with plush antique, high backed chairs complete with coffee tables, grand piano and a fireplace. Granted, we went on their off season, but it felt like a library in my fantasy home and I could just show up with a cup of hot chocolate and slippers and sit by the fire and read a book.On top of all that, you could eat breakfast (or any meal) at the hotel in a restaurant that overlooked the ocean. I mean how can you not be happy when your morning starts out like this?

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