Someone once asked me if there was ever a movie that inspired me to travel. It took me no longer than 30 seconds to enthusiastically respond with, “The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking.” I chose it, not for the cinematic masterpiece that it is, but because as an impressionable 5-year-old, it shaped the type of traveler I would inevitably become. The film featured Pippi, a free-spirited girl living on her own and creating her own adventures. I watched in admiration as she carved her own path and in the same sense, carved mine. It was perfectly fitting that I would embark on my first fully solo adventure this month, on an island that is home to none other than Villa Villekulla itself, Pippi’s house in the film.
Amelia Island, aside from being the filming location of Pippi Longstocking (which as you can tell I mildly like) is a beautiful relic of the past, located in the northeastern tip of Florida. Driving up to Fernandina Beach, I instantly felt like I had traveled back in time. It was my first stop on the island and a great place to let my imagination run free. I could almost see before me a moving reel of Spanish and French explorers mixed with the spirit of pirates hunting for treasure–all characters that had passed through this vibrant town at some point. Centre Street and the surrounding Historic District was my favorite place to wander along and imagine a world that I never really knew.
With a short time to spend on the island, I got started on the rest of my adventure. The great part about traveling solo is that I could map out my limited time and cater to exactly what I wanted to do. My biggest advantage was staying at The Fairbanks House, a bed and breakfast owned by a couple that I could easily call my parents for the trip. They not only provided me with a magical room in a building built in 1885 and bursting with history, they made me feel safe. I was able to get advice on where to go and where to eat, and had the opportunity to socialize with fellow travellers during the evening social hour on their picturesque side porch.
I wish I could have spent longer relishing the charm of the Fairbanks, but I had an island to explore. The northern and southern tips of Amelia are park preserves and I decided to spend a sunny afternoon at Fort Clinch State Park. The main attraction is the fort itself, which is one of the most well-preserved in the country. It was amazing being taken back to 1864 and seeing how the soldiers worked and lived. Nest, I drove down the tree-lined road all the way to the beach. I walked a path surrounded by sand dunes and was happily surprised to land upon a quiet white sand beach. I set up shop and spent a couple of hours in and out of the water. Sun-kissed and salt water energized, I lazily roamed a few more areas before coming upon an alligator warning sign and deciding my day in the park was done.
After a quick freshening up, I arrived at Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro to see what local cuisine was on offer. I took a table for one in their intimate dining room. I thought I might get bored being there on my own, but with such delicious food in front of me, I was too busy eating to miss having company. Fresh and uniquely served seafood is not always a given in coastal towns, but it seems to be the norm on Amelia Island. Both this meal and the one I had at The Crab Trap the next day were fresh, tasty, and made with heart.
The next day, before I headed back to Jacksonville International Airport for my journey home, I caught the Amelia Island River Cruise. The two-hour tour took me around the island to get a good look at Old Towne, Fort Clinch, and Cumberland Island (where John F. Kennedy, Jr. got married). I was completely enthralled with the rich history and literally screamed with joy when I caught glimpses of dolphins, wild horses, and a seven-foot alligator!
I could not have imagined a better way to wrap up a short but magical stay on Amelia Island.
Thank you to Visit Florida for sponsoring this trip. As always, editorial control is maintained by MISSADVENTURES, and all opinions are our own.