Fernandina Beach was enriched in the late 19th century by tourists arriving on steamships from New York and wealthy snowbirds. Then Henry Flagler’s railroad bypassed the town, leaving Fernandina a Victorian village locked in time, undisturbed by the ravages of popularity and pretty close to perfect now.
Of note in a culinary scene celebrating local products is 29 South, a cozy beach bistro paired with the high-end stylings of Chef Scotty Schwartz, and Le Clos (photo below), with fine French cuisine from Paris-trained Chef/Owner Katherine Ewing. Look for buttermilk fried chicken at Leddy’s Porch at the Florida House Inn; British afternoon tea at the Hoyt House Bed & Breakfast Inn; and T-Ray’s Burger Station, an unmarked secret in a defunct gas station on A1A and named one of the 50 best burger joints in America by USA Today. Pop in to Marlin & Barrel distillery, making rum and vodka from local sugarcane, or the unrepentantly funky Palace Saloon on Centre Street, the oldest continuously operating drinking establishment in Florida.
And bring a cooler to Mayport’s Safe Harbor Seafood on your return trip to take home some of the best off-the-boat shrimp in the world.