Half the fun of a day spent on Fernandina Beach’s Centre Street is in exploring the charming historic downtown district. If the all-brick buildings elicit turn-of-the-century nostalgia, it may be because most of the structures were built in the late 1880s and ’90s. The locals’ connection to the town’s history is evident in long-standing establishments like the Palace Saloon (thepalacesaloon.com) — originally opened in 1903 — where residents mingle with visitors drinking pirate punch. Beware, it packs a wallop. A walk down the side streets turns up neighborly restaurants such as Third Street’s Green Turtle Tavern (green
turtletavern.com) and Le Clos (leclos.com), an intimate French restaurant on Second Street.
Treasure hunters will swoon in eclectic shops like Eight Flags Antique Market (904.277.8550); score any- thing from Victorian sofas to mounted moose heads. Find something even older at Hunt’s Art & Artifact Gallery (huntsaaa.com), which deals in ancient artifacts and fossils dating back to the age when dinosaurs reigned in addition to Persian carpets and handmade jewelry.
On Centre Street
- Amelia Angler Outfitters — Gear up with seasoned Capt. Terry Lacoss, who has fished Amelia’s waters since 1977. Fishing advice is free. ameliaangler.com
- Lemongrass — Find fun fashions, modern and vintage, for your head, feet and everything in between in this laid-back boutique. lemongrassai.com
- Fantastic Fudge — Spot this sweet shop by the crowd outside slurping down ice cream and chomping on chunks of chocolaty fudge. Stop in weekday mornings to catch owner Steve Colwell hand-making fudge on marble tables. fantasticfudge.com
Off Centre Street
- The Happy Tomato Cafe — Take a turn down Third Street (south of Centre) for what may be the best pulled-pork sandwich in Northeast Florida. thehappytomatocafe.com
- Karibrew — Also off Centre is Amelia island’s only brewpub, where fresh beer is guaranteed (we love the downtown nut brown). Dishes such as the soft-shell crab sandwich surprise, thanks to sister restaurant Cafe Karibo. Don’t miss Thursday curry nights. cafekaribo.com