About an hour from Jacksonville, tucked away on Amelia Island, rests the quaint town of Fernandina Beach. Riding down Centre street, you see the quintessential American small town, with family owned shops and local restaurants. Fernandina Beach is the ultimate get-away from the hustle and bustle of a growing Jacksonville.
While you may pass by some construction on the way in if you chose to take I-95, it was not an issue. It added no extra time to the drive, just was a bit of an eye-sore. If you want better scenery for the almost hour long ride, I would suggest taking A1A. Take some time to walk around Centre Street, or at least drive down it. We parked in public parking at the intersection of Front and Centre Streets, probably your best bet parking wise.
We chose to eat at The Salty Pelican because they were willing to accommodate our party of eleven. The Salty Pelican has a very relaxed, beach vibe. It is not in any way upscale, so don’t go in expecting anything other than a beach bar and grill. The waitstaff wears t-shirts and shorts, and most patrons share the same style. Due to the size of our party, we had to sit on the patio, which was a little rough due to the wind that day.
I ordered a mojito, as it was a holiday and I wanted to keep with the beachy feel of the town. It was amazing! Most restaurants make their mojitos too sweet or strong, but this mojito had just enough of every ingredient. It was so good, most of our group followed suit and ordered one. My sister and I shared their seared tuna nachos and a half pound of the peel-and-eat shrimp. The seared tuna nachos were OUT OF THIS WORLD! They were comprised of seared tuna, seaweed salad, goat cheese, and wasabi sesame seeds. The chips were similar in texture to pork rinds, airy and crunchy. The combination sounds a bit strange, but somehow the dish worked. Our table all sampled the dish and loved it just as much as we did. The shrimp were delicious as well, perfectly seasoned and filling enough to complete our meal.
Overall, I was very impressed by The Salty Pelican. I was not expecting to get such a great meal from a beach bar and grill. We ventured over to the Green Turtle Tavern next. It was a terrific choice, a very relaxed bar with indoor and outdoor seating. A live band was playing and truly made the atmosphere electric. It is definitely worth the stop, especially for a relaxing drink after hitting the beach.
We went to the Palace Saloon as well, just because it is said to be the oldest bar in Florida. It was just your typical bar and you left smelling like smoke. It is cool to say you went to the oldest bar in Florida, but other than that it was not worth it.
If you ever make the trip to Fernandina Beach, try out the Salty Pelican. It really had some great food options, and the brunch menu looked phenomenal. Hit up the Green Turtle Tavern if you want a drink after hitting the beach, or just need an escape.