Best of Lists

Top 10 Kid Friendly Destinations

Pools, Parks and Paddleboards

By
Doug
Simmons

Looking for a fun, child-friendly spot for your next family getaway or summer vacation? Here are 10 places the whole family will love!

1. Block Island, Rhode Island

The Narragansett Indians called it Manisses Island, meaning island of the little gods. It's fitting then that Block Island is now one of the top kid-friendly destinations in New England. Just 10 miles off the southern coast of Rhode Island, this glacial remnant remains blessedly unspoiled in fact, more than one-third of it is conservation land. Start your day by enjoying any of the 17 miles of beautiful beaches, then hike or bike inland along the many stone-line roads that crisscross the rolling hills and open meadows. An abundance of wildflowers, migrating birds and other animals inhabit Block Island, including camels, llamas, sheep and emus at Abram's Animal Farm & Petting Zoo. It's just a short walk from New Shoreham, the island's only town, where you can poke around the Historical Society Museum and dine on fresh seafood.

WHERE TO DOCK

Block Island Boat Basin (401-466-2631)

Champlin's Marina (401-466-7777)

2. Cape May, New Jersey

Known as the nation's oldest seashore resort, Cape May hasn't lost a step since it became a popular leisure destination in the 1880s. In fact, the passage of time has only made its authentic Victorian buildings more charming. Kids will love the boardwalk, with all of the kitschy shops you would expect and the white sandy beaches (you'll need to purchase beach tags for the family). The list of things to do is so long it's impossible to include it all here. Take a ghost tour, hit a water park, rent a bike, kayak or paddle board, hire a fishing guide, go dolphin and whale watching, play mini golf or explore the zoo. Visit the Nature Center of Cape May that offers summer children's programs every week including birding expeditions, ocean exploration, whale and dolphin excursions and a youth fishing camp. Even on a rainy day you won?t be bored! For families who want modern amusement park attractions, North Wildwood makes a great day trip and is just a short drive away.

WHERE TO DOCK

South Jersey Marina (609-884-2400)

Canyon Club Resort Marina (609-884-0188)

3. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Looking for a family-friendly spring break vibe along a picturesque sprawl of sand? This is the place. Virginia Beach is prime resort territory, featuring a two-mile boardwalk and oceanfront strip with high-rise hotels, restaurants, shops and entertainment galore. The beach is the main attraction, of course, with jet ski rentals,parasailing, kiteboarding, surfing lessons and sport fishing. But the excitement doesn't diminish away from shore. Ocean Breeze Waterpark, two miles south, offers 16 waterslides and a million-gallon wave pool. Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center has hundreds of hands-on exhibits, including an outdoor aviary and marshlands. And you can't miss First Landing State Park, where the Jamestown colonists alighted in 1607. Camp, hike, swim, boat, bike and explore while soaking in the historical and educational displays.

WHERE TO DOCK

Rudee's on the Inlet (757-425-1777)

Virginia Beach Fishing Center (757-491-8000)

4. Hilton Head, South Carolina

This congenial low-country resort island has a lot to offer families beyond the popular golf, spa, tennis and shopping pursuits for mom and dad. Its pristine beaches and marshes rank high with nature lovers, and several outfits offer guided kayaking, paddleboarding, hiking and horseback riding tours to experience them. The Coastal Discovery Museum teaches about the local ecology and cultural heritage, which includes Native Americans, European colonists, African-Americans, pirates and soldiers, and you can tour important historic sites on your own or with an organized group. Sea Pines Resort, at the southwest end of the island, has hiking and biking trails, a beach club, and waterside dining plus, you can take a ride on the America's Cup sailing yacht Stars & Stripes or the replica pirate ship Black Dagger.

WHERE TO DOCK

Harbour Town Yacht Basin (843-671-2704)

Skull Creek Marina (843-681-8436)

5. Duck Key, Florida

This secluded islet is unique among the Florida Keys in that it was developed primarily with family in mind. (If you want rowdy nightlife, look elsewhere.) The key player is Hawks Cay Resort, a 60-acre property surrounded by private homes. Designed for casual luxury, the resort is a destination unto itself, featuring five pools, five eateries (one an ice cream parlor), villas, shops, tennis courts, a spa and a fitness center. Water lies at the heart of the action: There's deep-sea as well as flats fishing, diving and snorkeling along a live coral reef, kayak and paddleboard tours, jet ski rentals and kiteboarding classes. Like dolphins? The on-site research facility let?s you view, feed, swim with and even help train these amazing animals. No wonder Travel + Leisure magazine readers voted the kids program here to its 'best of' list.

WHERE TO DOCK

Hawks Cay Marina (305-743-7000)

6. Paradise Island, Bahamas

When you're talking about Paradise Island as a family getaway, you're talking about Atlantis, the beach resort metropolis that resembles a cross between SeaWorld and Oz. Its 141-acre Aquaventure Waterpark features 18 water slides and a mile-long river ride with waves, rapids, tunnels and more. Eleven different pools beckon, or you can snorkel alongside tropical fish in mythical, man-made ruins. Dolphin Cay lets you interact with dolphins and sea lions. There's even the CRUSH nightclub and cafe for kids 9 to 17. Atlantis Kids Adventures & Camps offers supervised activities and expeditions for children ages 3 to 15, including junior scuba, junior golf and marine adventures. And did we mention the miles of on-site shopping, restaurants, spas, gaming and private beaches? Atlantis truly offers a once-in-a-lifetime family vacation experience.

WHERE TO DOCK

Marina at Atlantis (242-363-6068)

7. Sandusky, Ohio

Ohio?s Lake Erie shore is a great coastal retreat for Midwest boaters, with the town of Sandusky topping the list of family hot spots. Along with its beautiful beaches and stunning sunsets, this city tucked between Toledo and Cleveland is home to the roller coaster capital of the world in Cedar Point Amusement Park. In addition to 17 coasters (rated from aggressive thrill to mild thrill), the park has live family entertainment, a water park, a beach and kids camp programs. There are no less than three other water parks nearby - Kalahari, Great Wolf Lodge and Castaway Bay - plus diverse attractions such as the Sandusky Maritime Museum, Lagoon Deer Park and Ghostly Manor Thrill Center, a year-round haunted house, that up the ante with bouncy houses and a skate park. For auto racing fans, the Sandusky Speedway offers high-speed thrills from April through October.

WHERE TO DOCK

Cedar Point Marina (419-627-2334)

Battery Park Marina (419-625-6142)

8. Chicago, Illinois

The Windy City has long been a stopover for those traveling the Great Loop, and with its outstanding family attractions, it's not hard to see why some find it hard to leave. Navy Pier, once a military training facility but now a major tourist destination, consists of 50 acres of parks, promenades, shops, eateries and more. Take a ride on the 150-foot-tall Ferris wheel, see an IMAX movie or check out the childrens museum. Speaking of museums, Chicago has a zillion of them - the Field Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Science and Industry and the Shedd Aquarium for starters. A new Chicago Maritime Museum is scheduled to open soon in a facility adjacent to the Chicago River. Visit it on foot or see it from one of the many guided boat tours offered throughout the city.

WHERE TO DOCK

Burnham Harbor (312-747-7009)

DuSable Harbor (312-742-3577)

9. San Diego, California

A visit to sunny, mild-weathered San Diego can take on many different themes: historic, natural, adventurous ... or all three. Start at the downtown waterfront with the Maritime Museum of San Diego and its full-rigged iron sailing ship, Star of India. Nearby, the USS Midway Museum on the longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century features 60 exhibits, a collection of 29 restored aircraft and two light simulators. Next, head over to the world-famous San Diego Zoo, home to more than 3,700 rare and endangered animals, and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, where you can ride a expedition truck into the field. SeaWorld San Diego turns 50 this year with special surprises, gifts and performances throughout the year. Last but not least, LEGOLAND California Resort offers rides, shopping, dining, a water park and an aquarium, all built around connecting fun and learning.

WHERE TO DOCK

Sunroad Resort Marina (619-574-0736)

10. Seattle, Washington

Wait, the birthplace of slackers makes a great family vacation destination? You bet! People forget that long before grunge music, Seattle was known as the outdoor playground of the Northwest. A prime example is Discovery Park, a 534-acre green space overlooking Puget Sound that includes two miles of tidal beaches as well as dramatic sea cliffs, active sand dunes, thickets and streams. You can rent a boat for the afternoon or take classes at the Center for Wooden Boats on Lake Union or just check out its historic photos and exhibits. Seattle has no shortage of world class museums, including the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, the Pacific Science Center and the Seattle Children's Museum. The Olympic Sculpture Park offers art activities, performances and much more. Finish the day with a thrilling trip to the top of the Space Needle.

WHERE TO DOCK

Bell Harbor Marina (206-787-3952)

Related Articles
Florida's Fall Calendar of Events 2022
|

From the Gulf to the Atlantic and every bay in between, boaters and their families have plenty to look forward to on the Florida coasts this fall. Start the season with a couple of pints at Oktoberfest and spooks at a haunted ghost tour, throw in a boating event or two, and round it out with a lighted boat parade.

OCTOBER

Black trolley with "Ghosts and Gravestones" logo on the side
Source: Adonis Paul Hunter

HAUNTED GHOST TOURS

St. Augustine

Daily/weekly

Learn about the haunted history in the oldest city in the United States through the lens of the undead. Get tickets for haunted pub crawls, trolly tours and walking tours. You’ll get in the Halloween spirit and learn the stories behind St. Augustine’s most spirited locations from professional storytellers with just the right amount of spook. Kids are welcome on trolly and walking tours, and pets are allowed on walking tours! Check out Ghost Tours of St. Augustine or Ghosts & Gravestones.

Where to Dock: Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor

Band walking in a parade playing tubas
Oktoberfest | Credit Pixabay

OKTOBERFEST

Jacksonville Beach, Tampa

October 7-9

Kick off the fall season with Oktoberfest on the Atlantic or Gulf Coast with Beaches Oktoberfest and Oktoberfest Tampa. With Tampa’s event ranking in the top five in the country and Jacksonville Beach’s being the largest in the state, you’re sure to find the brew for you! beachesoktoberfest.com

Where to Dock: Fort George Island Marina (Jacksonville), Westshore Yacht Club (Tampa)

FLORIDA BIRDING & NATURE FESTIVAL

Apollo Beach

October 20-23

Just across the Bay from Tampa and St. Pete, Apollo Beach is teeming with wildlife on land and on the water. At this four-day festival, you’ll find a free expo with nature organizations and artwork, daily field and boat trips to sites not accessible to the public, and expert wildlife and conservation seminars. Nature aficionados won’t want to miss this opportunity at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Suncoast Youth Conservation Center.

Where to Dock: Apollo Beach Marina

PALM BEACH KENNEL CLUB 2022 MUTT DERBY

West Palm Beach

October 22

Has your dog always wanted to be an (un)professional racer? Now is Fido’s time to shine! Register your pup for a day full of zoomies, Doggie Costume Contest, and plenty of BBQ and entertainment for the whole family. Proceeds benefit Furry Friends Adoption, Clinic & Ranch.

Where to Dock: Palm Harbor Marina

Jazz band on stage under bright lights playing instruments

CLEARWATER JAZZ HOLIDAY

Clearwater

October 14-16

No matter your music taste, you’re sure to find something to jam out to at this three-day festival, from smooth jazz and blues to funk and zydeco. You’ll find plenty of vendors at the festival, and Tampa’s Ybor City neighborhood offers old-school charm and Latin American eateries. St. Petersburg offers hip breweries, coffee shops and more.

Where to Dock: Clearwater Beach Municipal Marina

SARASOTA WATER LANTERN FESTIVAL

Sarasota

October 22

Join in a celebration of life at the Water Lantern Festival this fall. Start the day with food trucks, music and family- friendly fun, and end by releasing your personalized lantern on the water at sunset.

Where to Dock: Marina Jack

Two dark grey mega-yachts docked at the boat show
Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show | Credit Informa Markets

FORT LAUDERDALE INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW

Fort Lauderdale

October 26-30

The largest in-water boat show in the world offers viewings and demos of everything from superyachts to kayaks and fishing gear. Stop by the Superyacht Village to sip a cocktail on one of the most luxurious boats in the world, the Convention Center for watersport and innovative boating gear demos, and take the family to a kid-friendly fishing seminar.

Where to Dock: 17th Street Yacht Basin, Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina, Pier 66 Hotel & Marina

NAPLES STONE CRAB FESTIVAL

Naples

October 28-30

Join the Old Naples Waterfront Association in the historic center to kick off stone crab season! Eat stone crab to your heart’s content in a prime harvesting location of the tasty crustacean and enjoy plenty of entertainment, from live music to local galleries and craft vendors. floridarambler.com/florida-festivals/ florida-seafood-festivals-calendar

Where to Dock: Naples Bay Resort & Marina

NOVEMBER

close up view of a seafood platter with vegetables, salmon, scallops, and shrimp
Florida Seafood Festival | Source VISIT FLORIDA

58TH ANNUAL FLORIDA SEAFOOD FESTIVAL

Apalachicola

November 4-5

Cruise to the charming Apalachicola, tucked away among expansive wildlife reserves and just a bay away from the Gulf. Along with some of the best oysters and seafood you can eat, the whole family will enjoy a parade, carnival, Blessing of the Fleet, hours of live music every day, and competitions such as the oyster shucking contest and blue crab races.  

Where to Dock: Apalachicola Marina

RIGHT WHALE FESTIVAL

Fernandina Beach

November 5

Celebrate the annual return of the North Atlantic right whale to the coasts of Florida and Georgia to give birth and nurse their young in historic Fernandina Beach. Learn about threats and conservation efforts for these gentle giants, participate in a beach clean-up, and enjoy family fun at educational exhibits, athletic events, and food and craft vendors.

Where to Dock: Oasis Marinas at Fernandina Beach

KEY WEST OFFSHORE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

Key West

November 6-13

Cruise to Key West for three days of epic racing and a full week of family-friendly fun. Don’t miss the World’s Fastest Boat Parade on the first Sunday, or any three of the races throughout the week: the Truman Waterfront Cup, Southernmost Continental Champion, and Championship. Use downtime to explore the Race Village at Truman Waterfront and try out local pubs, shops and restaurants.

Where to Dock: Conch Harbor Marina

crowd on the beach admiring a large sand sculpture
Credit JJS Photo

SIESTA KEY CRYSTAL CLASSIC INTERNATIONAL SAND SCULPTING FESTIVAL

Sarasota

November 11-14

Visit Siesta Key Beach to watch sculptors from around the world turn piles of white sand into sculpted masterpieces. Professional competitors have 24 hours to build their pieces, and visitors have the chance to participate in amateur sand-sculpting competitions and see the masters at work.  

Where to Dock: Safe Harbor Siesta Key

SARASOTA FALL FINE ART FESTIVAL

Sarasota

November 19-20

Art connoisseurs and amateurs alike will love this boutique art competition and festival in the scenic cultural center of Sarasota. Masters of different media—ceramics, jewelry, graphic art, painting, and more—will put the best of their work on display for patrons to browse and buy to their hearts’ content.

Where to Dock: Marina Jack

Mansion at night-time with palm trees filled with warm white holiday lights
St. Augustine Night of Lights | Source Om Flickr

ST. AUGUSTINE NIGHT OF LIGHTS

St. Augustine

November 19-January 31

Ready to get in the holiday spirit? Cruise back to St. Augustine as early as before Thanksgiving for a dazzling display of more than 3 million lights in the historic district. Gaze in awe at the twinkly lights and find photo ops at the Bridge of Lions and the Christmas tree at the center of Plaza de la Constitución. Enjoy the sounds of the All Star Orchestra on the first night and stroll to businesses open later than usual.

Where to Dock: St. Augustine Municipal Marina

DECEMBER

ART BASEL

Miami Beach

December 1-3

Since the 1970s, this annual art extravaganza brings works of contemporary and modern pieces by renowed and emerging artists from around the world to showcase in Miami. Held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, for three days the public can gaze upon unique masterpieces presented by leading galleries from five continents.

Where to Dock: Sunset Harbour Yacht Club

OCEAN REEF CLUB VINTAGE WEEKEND

Key Largo, FL

December 1-4

This annual four-day event showcases classic antique yachts, automobiles and aircraft to celebrate those who restore vintage collections. Experience a full schedule of events kicking off with a welcome party and dinner buffet on Thursday, then a weekend packed with drive-bys, shows, dinners, cocktail receptions, a costume party and more.

Where to Dock: Ocean Reef Club

HOLIDAY BOAT PARADES

With so many spectacular lighted boat parades on the coasts of Florida, we couldn’t choose just one! Dock at any of these coastal towns on the first three Saturdays of December to ring in the season on the festive Florida waterfronts.

Palm trees lined with warm white holiday lights and a sunset with boats in the background
Credit Florida Historic Coast

Daytona Beach Christmas Boat Parade
December 3


Palm Coast Yacht Club Holiday Boat Parade
December 3


The Seminole Hard Rock Winter Boat Parade
December 10


St. Augustine Regatta of Lights
December 10


Naples Bay Christmas Boat Parade
December 10


Northwest Cape Coral 2nd Annual Boat Parade
December 17

Read More
Maritime Museums in the Caribbean
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The Caribbean is well known for its clear blue tropical waters. But as rich as it is in beauty, the islands have an even greater wealth of his- tory. Luckily, museums are located across the region to share the stories and significant events that can provide glimpses of what maritime life was like throughout the years. Their exhibits, relics and archives will have you looking at the region in a whole new light.

Here are eight Maritime Museums: 

National Museum of Bermuda Flagpole

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF BERMUDA

You can find this treasure trove of artifacts in the Atlantic Ocean 650 miles east of North Carolina, the nearest land mass to this collection of islands. The museum shows how maritime events shaped the history, people and culture of Bermuda. It is located at the historic Royal Naval Dockyard within Bermuda’s largest fort. Exhibits cover 500 years of the country’s history from how the German U-505 submarine was captured by the U.S. Navy and concealed in Bermuda to how sailing races from North America to Bermuda have influenced the development of ocean-worthy boats and blue water sailing. Be sure to experience the museum’s unique spaces by strolling through the two-story boat loft to catching a dolphin show at the Keep Pond Terrace to taking in the expansive ocean views at the flagpole.

Where to Dock: Kings Wharf or Heritage Wharf

TURKS AND CAICOS NATIONAL MUSEUM

Turks and Caicos National Museum opened in 1991 to store artifacts found in the excavation of the Molasses Reef shipwreck, an unknown Spanish ship that sunk in 1515 on the Caicos Bank. The museum spans two locations: the Guinep House on Grand Turk Island, believed to be more than 180 years old and named after the large guinep tree on its property, and the Village at Grace Bay on Providenciales, where visitors can tour the Heritage House, an historically correct rendition of a typical 1800s Caicos dwelling. In addition to showcasing shipwreck artifacts, visitors also learn about the evolution of The Grand Turk Lighthouse as well as the rise and fall of the island’s salt industry. On Museum Day, the first Saturday in November, visitors can tour the exhibits for free, and in May, the Village at Grace Bay holds a “Back in the Day” event with activities reflecting historical life on the island.

Where to Dock: Blue Haven Resort & Marina

Map of the driving routes on the Grand Cayman Heritage Trail
Grand Cayman Heritage Trail Driving Routes | GCHT

MARITIME HERITAGE TRAIL & CAYMAN ISLANDS NATIONAL MUSEUM

If you like to take in history outdoors, these exhibitions are for you. The trail consists of 36 stops across all three islands (Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands) and is best traveled via car. Each stop is marked by a road sign that shares a notable historic event or contribution related to the maritime industry. Learn how turtling shaped the islands’ early economy, how ships were cleaned and repaired before boat lifts by a process called “careening”, and hear stories of notable shipwrecks. If you prefer to learn Cayman Island history in one place, you can check out the Cayman Islands National Museum, housed in Cayman’s oldest surviving public building, which has a series of permanent and rotating exhibits.

Where to Dock: The Barcadere Marina

COLUMBUS LIGHTHOUSE (FARO A COLÓN) MUSEUM IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Completed 500 years after Christopher Columbus arrived on the island of La Hispaniola, the Faro a Colon (aka The Columbus Lighthouse) is one of the Dominican Republic’s most popular attractions. Constructed in the shape of a Latin cross spanning the width of two soccer fields, the lighthouse was created to recognize the first “encounter between two worlds.” It includes a mausoleum that houses Christopher Columbus’ remains as well as a museum displaying original and replica artifacts from the time of Columbus’ voyage. The lighthouse also has a library containing documents and maps displaying some of the earliest drawings of the Americas.

Where to Dock: Marina Zarpar

Boats in the water with green hills in the background
Nelson's Dockyard | Source Alexa Zizzi

NELSON’S DOCKYARD IN ANTIGUA

The Antigua Naval Dockyard, now named Nelson’s Dockyard, was built in the mid-1700s to serve as a strategic post and support the Royal Navy battle against the French and protect trade routes in the region. The dockyard officially closed in 1889 and reopened in 1961 as an historic site. In addition to exploring the dockyard, take advantage of the park’s 12 miles of hiking trails, two forts, and tours such as the “Rum in the Ruins” where you can listen to stories of the dockyard while sipping on a cocktail. If traveling by boat, get the best view of the gorgeous English Harbour and snag a slip at nearby Nelson’s Dockyard Marina, the only continuously working Georgian Era dockyard in the world.

Where to Dock: Nelson’s Dockyard Marina

BEQUIA HERITAGE MUSEUM

Opened in 2020, the Bequia Heritage Museum includes the Boat Museum and Annexe that display and educate visitors about the boatbuilding and whaling industries as well as artifacts dating back to the period of the island’s European settlement. Vessels on display at the museum include a traditional Amerindian dug-out canoe and the decommissioned boat, Rescue, that was originally used for whaling.

Where to Dock: Bequia Marina

Curaçao Maritime Museum | Credit CP Hoffman

CURAÇAO MARITIME MUSEUM

Located in a mansion built in 1729 on the Waaigat inlet, the Curaçao Maritime Museum shares with visitors the story and events that influenced Curaçao’s involvement in the maritime industry. Learn how trade ebbed and flowed in and out of Curaçao’s ports, reflective of the events happening around the world to the arrival of the first cruise ship in 1901 from New York, sparking the cruise tourism industry until the 1970s when air travel took over as the primary way for tourists to visit the island. Visitors can explore the museum at their own pace or take a guided tour.

Where to Dock: Seru Boca Marina

GRAND BAHAMA MUSEUM

With a decent internet connection, you can visit the Grand Bahama Museum from the comforts of your remote anchorage or mooring. Bahamian history and culture are explored through digital exhibits ranging from the islands’ natural landscapes and the history of the port authority to the role the Bahamas played during the Golden Age of Piracy. Learn about the first recorded piece of mail sent from the Bahamas in 1761 and the evolution of mailboats. Or savor a dark and stormy while reading about the Bahamas’ role in the rum-running industry during U.S. Prohibition. The Grand Bahama Museum was originally housed at The Garden of the Groves but was unfortunately destroyed by weather and time. To reach a wider audience and share Bahamian history and culture, the museum decided to move to a digital platform.

Where to Dock: Grand Bahama Yacht Club or Flamingo Bay Hotel & Marina

Read More
This or That: Beaufort vs. Fernandina Beach
|

WHICH OF THESE RENOWNED SEAFOOD TOWNS WILL HOOK YOU?

Location

Fernandina Beach | credit Patrick Farrell

BEAUFORT, NC

Beaufort lies on an inlet leading south to the Atlantic and is considered part of North Carolina’s “Inner Banks” and the Crystal Coast. The Crystal Coast spans 85 miles of stunning coastline in southern North Carolina, including 56 miles of protected beach of the Cape Lookout National Seashore.

FERNANDINA BEACH, FL

Located on historic Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach is the northernmost city on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. Visitors will find easy access to Jacksonville, the mouth of the St. Mary’s River, and coastal destinations in southern Georgia such as Cumberland Island.

HISTORY

Beaufort History | credit Dori Arrington

BEAUFORT, NC

Established in 1709, Beaufort was originally known as Fishtown, having been a fishing village and port of safety since the late 1600s. In addition to fishing, Beaufort was a hub for whaling, lumber, shipbuilding and farming. The earliest settlers made their mark by building Bahamian and West Indian-style homes, and the Plan of Beaufort Towne can still be seen in a 12-block historic district.

FERNANDINA BEACH, FL

First settled in 1562, this town on historic Amelia Island went through many transformations under eight flags before it became what it is today. After the Civil War, Fernandina Beach became a bustling seaport and popular destination, called “The Queen of Summer Resorts” by many Northerners. Today’s visitors find themselves surrounded by the town’s lovely relics of the past — an historic district, Civil War port and the first cross-state railroad remain.

BOATING ATTRACTIONS

Fernandina Beach | credit Deremer Studios LLC

BEAUFORT, NC

Beaufort has a thriving scene for anglers. Cast your line off a dock downtown, book a charter or head north to Cedar Island Wildlife Refuge to catch flounder, trout and redfish. Boat tours and private charters are a popular way to experience the stunning views and wildlife of the Crystal Coast. See porpoises, dolphins and wild horses on the beach. Better yet, book with Cruisin’ Tikis Beaufort to imbibe while you observe. Dock at Beaufort Docks.

FERNANDINA BEACH, FL

Pier fishing is huge on Amelia Island, and anglers should head to the George Crady Bridge, which spans one mile of Nassau Sound. Snag a variety of fish in the area, including redfish, whiting, seatrout, tarpon and flounder. Boaters can start aquatic excursions in either the Atlantic Ocean to the east or Amelia River to the west. Go on a solo adventure, or join a tour or charter by boat, kayak or watersport with the likes of Amelia River Tours, Amelia Adventures & Kayak or Riptide Watersports. Dock at Fernandina Harbor Marina.

ACTIVITIES

Beaufort | credit Dori Arrington

BEAUFORT, NC

History buffs will feel right at home in Beaufort. Visit the Beaufort Historic Site to learn the town’s story through nine preserved historic homes in the middle of town. Three different maritime museums, including the North Carolina Maritime Museum, and the Bonehenge Whale Center offer marine merriment for the whole family. And for a taste of Crystal Coast wildlife, head over to the Rachel Carson Reserve where wild horses and countless birds, reptiles and aquatic mammals roam free.

FERNANDINA BEACH, FL

Fernandina Beach is known for its easy living. Amelia Island Welcome Center is a great place to revisit Fernandina’s history and plan your day. Make your way to Centre Street on the water to browse eclectic shops and bustling art galleries, taste wild-caught shrimp at a bistro, or grab a pint at the Palace Saloon, Florida’s oldest tavern. If you’re in town on a Friday, you might stumble upon Sounds on Centre, a local concert series.

Read More

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