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County by County Riding Florida… Nassau County, Home of Amelia Island

By LuLu

County by County is the first of a monthly article we will feature. We hope to bring you interesting spots to visit in each county of our wonderful and diverse state. As bikers, we love to explore the ribbons of highway that take us on our adventures. We often have time limits that cause us to miss interesting biker friendly bars, local great food spots and beautiful roads to ride. Thunder Roads used questionnaires that locals filled out to name their favorite places to drink, eat and ride. We tried to hit as many of these spots as possible to give you a taste of the county. We will keep the monthly articles archived on our website, and extra photos will be posted there too.

We chose Nassau County as our first feature. Our most northern county on the east coast is the home of wonderful Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. It is rich in history with Ft. Clinch, their[singlepic id=395 w=320 h=240 float=left] lighthouse built in 1820 and Amelia Island Museum of History. Hotel prices range from $70 to $400. Unless you are hoping for a beach front room, many of the hotels, such as the Hampton we stayed in on Sadler, are convenient to everything, and inexpensive. If you are more of an outside type, there is also camping at Ft. Clinch, and nearby Cumberland Island, Georgia or Little Talbot Island south of Amelia Island.

Our bikers “Top Spots” for imbibing your favorite alcoholic beverages were Reni’s Redneck Yacht Club and Tucker’s on Hwy 17, Murray’s Grille on A1A, Hammerhead’s beachside, and the famous Palace Saloon in historic downtown Fernandina. Also mentioned were The Surf, Sliders and Sandy Bottoms at the beach, the Green Turtle in downtown Fernandino, The Treehouse in Hilliard and if you’re up for a ride to Georgia, the Bloody Bucket in Kingsland. We found Theresa at Reni’s to be our friendliest bartender in the county! This is a beer and wine bar on Nassau River which is a favorite spot for bikers from all over. [singlepic id=394 w=320 h=240 float=right]Another great bartender was Mark at the Palace Saloon where they serve Pirate’s Punch, a 93 year old recipe made with 5 liquors. Having opened in 1903 it is one of the oldest bars in Florida. Sandy Bottoms is a great beach front, full liquor bar with a wonderful outdoor patio with an ocean view and food. Our favorite local entertainment was the Mapheys, a couple with a dynamite female singer, Kathy, who puts on a great show at Slider’s on the beach.

Top biker friendly food stops by the locals were listed as Surf, Sliders, Sandy Bottom, Joe’s Bistro, Plae at the Plantation, Miss Carolyn’s, and Fancy Sushi. Our best meal, by far, was at Murray’s Grille where their Crab Soup, warm rolls with cinnamon butter and 3 Cheese Burgers were to die for. And for breakfast, Miss Carolyn’s which is a small local diner that I would imagine at times could be slammed and may require time for a bit of a wait.

On our list of things to see and do while in town are the quaint shops in downtown Fernandina, the historical Ft. Clinch and the beach, where when the tide is out north of Sandy Bottoms, you can collect shark teeth, sand dollars and star fish. Amelia Island also offers fishing, boating, kayaking, Ghost Tours, horse drawn carriage rides and[singlepic id=398 w=320 h=240 float=left] bicycles to rent. They are famous for being one of the only beaches where you can rent horses to RIDE ON THE BEACH!

The roadways to make sure you travel during your stay would be the trip going north to Fernandina Beach on A1A, through the islands bringing you up through Amelia City. You will travel bridges, waterviews and tree covered roadways, but my favorite was the 3 mile moss covered canopy ride which is the entrance to Ft. Clinch. We didn’t manage to make the trip up into Georgia, but we were told that it is a pretty ride going north on 17.

This was definitely an enjoyable biker friendly place to visit. Our visit was in January, so we were in leathers and it was COLD! But it also wasn’t crowded with beach visitors, so there wasn’t traffic or a long wait for tables at restaurants or bars. They have many festivals, during the year and their biggest is The Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival April 29-May 1st which features150,000 visitors, art and crafts, music, fireworks, pirates and, of course, SHRIMP!

In February on the 26th, they are having an event called Amelia Island Last Leg Rally sponsored by Sons of American Legion Squadron 54 at Wolf Park with a “Meet and Greet” the night before. See their web site LASTLEGRALLY.COM. This benefis a charity, Anchors Aweigh Charters, Inc., which provides recreational boating experiences for disabled U.S. vets. “They believe that the objective of fishing is not always to catch fish but that being on the water is therapy for the soul”. What a great reason to plan a road trip to Nassau County, hope to see you there!

View The Nassua County By County Gallery

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