This is Part 2 of my blog posts on our Amelia Island vacation last May. In Part 1, we cruised down the Amelia River, but we’ll stay closer to the hotel this time, the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort. Spacious rooms, a welcoming lobby and bar, and this each morning:
Sunrise is not something I normally do, but I didn’t mind when that was what dragged me out of bed. Besides, I promptly went back to bed after snapping a few pictures. My husband was the one doing things on normal-people hours, not I. He was speaking at JS Conf.
I was living the life of someone who gets a free hotel room because her husband is speaking at JS Conf. It’s a good life. Even if I never left the hotel grounds, it would have been enough. The grounds are so huge, I’m giving you only the top 5 areas of it to visit.
#5 The Sunken Forest
These pathways may or may not have been closed for renovations when I explored the Sunken Forest, (closed, shh!), but it would have been a short, sweet adventure regardless. I’m not going to lie; rickety old stairs added to the appeal.
The Sunken Forest is a small thatch of forest hidden behind a sand dune. There are multiple paths to the top, and while I’ve seen more amazing views, it’s fun to feel like you’ve lost track of the hotel for a little while. Or maybe that’s just the thrill of sneaking past caution tape speaking.
#4 The Nature Center
There are many family friendly activities at this resort including a minigolf course, biking, and daily crafting activities by the pool, but animals are always intriguing. At least they are for me, and that’s without a kid to gawk at them. Who needs kids when I have my own sense of wonder?
A friendly parrot greets visitors in the gift shop, and then it’s a simple tour of aquatic life in small tanks in one room—
–and land reptiles and mammals in the second.
The Nature Center also leads many daily exploration tours, so make sure to find one that interests you.
#3 The Shops at Amelia Island Plantation
Just a little ways farther up the main path from the Nature Center is the Shops at Amelia Island, a shopping and dining center on resort grounds. There are a few great restaurants right near the hotel, but walking over to the Shops can be a great change of pace, especially with the gem of Marché Burette.
Just look at all those goodies. They have a bakery, deli, and plenty of shelves full of gourmet delights.
You could get something to go from the counters, but I’d recommend sitting out on the patio for lunch.
I had the Southwest Turkey Panini with spicy sausalito turkey, cheddar, roasted red peppers, and a jalapeno cream cheese spread on sourdough.
Ooey gooey goodness with fresh pickles and a mustard-light potato salad? You can bet I enjoyed it. The tiramisu was pretty darn good as well.
Make sure you take the time to watch the turtles in the pond before you head back to the hotel.
Just strolling back on the path can be delightful.
#2 The Pool and the Oceanside
Of course the pool is one of the biggest draws here, and I loved its design with separate areas for adults and children.
Poolside service is available at any of the chaise lounges with prompt attention and delicious drinks by the pitcher. But the Oceanside restaurant has a great view of both the pool and the ocean and surprisingly good food for a resort. Get there at sunset for the prettiest meal.
I’m basing my prior resort food experiences on an all-inclusive in Jamaica, so it was an entirely different world from this. Expensive? Yes, but about the same as a nice meal at most upscale restaurants at around $25-$30 a plate. That salad was chockfull of crab that soaked up all the delicious, vibrant flavors of the citrus, garlic, and tomato. The plantain chips were an inventive and enjoyable way to scoop it up.
My husband and I also split a hamburger, and half was plenty!
These were double patty burgers with a spear of pecan-smoked bacon on top. Let me tell you folks—pecan-smoked bacon is divine. It’s a completely different flavor profile than the hickory and applewood we’ve grown accustomed to, and it was a refreshing change. You can get it at their Sunrise Café with breakfast as well. And do try it at least once.
Now that I’ve thoroughly fed you, it’s time to hit the beach.
#1 The Beach
The resort has an appealing row of cabanas for rent, but you can always save some dough and plop your towel anywhere on the private beach. And don’t forget to get in your strolls at sunset.
100% guaranteed to relax you. The resort also hosts free bonfires each night with marshmallows for toasting, but bring your own chocolate and grahams.
Honestly, those five days in Florida made up one of the best vacations I’ve had in a long time, and it was sorely needed after we put our house on the market in NC. I may encourage the husband to try and speak at JS Conf again next year just so I can go back—I need to try one of those nature hikes!
But I’m not done sharing this vacation with you quite yet. Next time, we’ll take in the marshland, which is a short bike ride or a long walk from the resort grounds. For the rest of my pictures on the hotel grounds and beach, click here.