Fernandina knows how to be a beach town. It’s been doing so for almost 500 years, since its first French colonization. Today the historic downtown includes the Southern Touch gift shop, O’Kane’s Irish Pub and Eatery, Café Karibo, and Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro. The quaint downtown bustles with locals moving between the library, offices, and the growing foodie scene. Plus, river cruises leave from downtown for Cumberland Island. Fernandina Beach (population 11,610) takes up the north end of the 13-mile-long Amelia Island.
Jan Smith oversees the Saturday farmers’ market and notes that people who live here want to be involved. “We’re a bunch of self-starters, and the size and interests of this community foster that energy,” she says.