By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: Any tips on visiting northern Florida. Our road trip will most likely end in Orlando but I heard we might like to take in some places in the northern part of the state.

A: Be sure to mark Amelia Island on your map. The southernmost islet of barrier islands off Florida’s most northeasterly tip is laden with beaches, sandy dunes and verdant marshes that once made hard-hearted pirates and robber barons swoon at her beauty.

Most travellers could bypass this wilderness refuge on their road trip to other destinations. Even railroad baron Henry Flagler, the renowned founder of Florida’s tourism, decided his Florida East Coast Railway ought to skip this island, forever locking its only town in a Victorian time capsule.

Officially Florida’s first beach town, Fernandina Beach, named after King Ferdinand II of Spain, remains beautifully preserved in a Victorian past. After the Civil War, teems of wealthy northerners arrived to enjoy the sandy beaches and leviathan dunes. During the island’s Golden Era (1870-1910), the shipping magnates settled in opulent homes along the Silk Stocking District, named after the preferred hosiery of the neighborhood matrons and not after the industry.

You’ll find many Victorian mansions are now quaint Bed and Breakfast Inns. The Florida House Inn, Florida’s oldest running hotel which first opened in 1857 is now an inn with period furnished rooms mixed with modern amenities. It’s part of a 50-block historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Fernandina Beach is also purported as the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry.

For more travel information phone the Amelia Island Welcome Center at toll-free 1-800-2AMELIA or visit them online at


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