ritz_carlton_amelia_islandLast week this blog examined underappreciated Orlando pursuits beyond the world of Disney. So it felt right to stay on that path and consider Florida beyond Orlando, looking at Sunshine State locales that may not be top-of-mind when planning a family vacation. One such place, 30 miles north of Jacksonville and over a bridge, is Amelia Island.

Thirteen miles of sandy shoreline, Amelia is an excellent choice for a family desperately in need of lowering its collective blood pressure. Migrating birds and nesting turtles have long known this, hiding out on the serene beaches. You can join them at the granddaddy of the island’s resorts, The Villas of Amelia Island Plantation. The exceptional golf and tennis facilities here at times overshadow one of the resort’s more joyful family activities, biking around the property.


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About a mile and half down the road from the plantation is The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, which we noted previously offers the charmingly bizarre service of having a princess and a pirate tuck in your child. The resort subtly reinforces the pirate theme on November 23 when a 17-foot gingerbread pirate ship, made with 1,200 pounds of sugar and 3,000 eggs, will dock in the lobby through December 28. The ship’s arrival is televised and serenaded by a children’s chorus.


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Beyond the piratical, November and December are packed with other events your family might enjoy, including military reenactments at the History of the American Soldier event at Fort Clinch State Park on November 12. On November 19, a holiday cookie tour sponsored by the Amelia Island Bed and Breakfast Association throws opens eight inns for cookie sampling, helpfully providing the recipes in case you’re in the mood to bake when you get home. And from November 24th through the end of the year, the Omni Amelia Island Plantation, a sister property to the Villas, will be offering such activities as horse-drawn carriage rides and roasting s’mores under the stars.

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