Fernandina Beach, Florida 2024 (with Map & Photos)

A walk along historic Fernandina Beach can begin where generations of visitors have begun their tours of the elegant port town: at the waterfront train station, the eastern terminus of the first railroad to cross Florida from east to west.

Fernandina Beach Florida
Fernandina Beach Florida

The station is now home to the Amelia Island Tourism Development Council, whose employees and volunteers help familiarize tourists with the main sites in the Fernandina Beach Historic District, 50 blocks of history and architecture in the heart of the town. Northern Florida, also known as the Historic Coast of Florida.

"I love coming here because it reminds me of my hometown in Massachusetts," said Pat Homans of Miami, who grew up in Newburyport. "We just walk around and look at the stores."

The truth is that Playa Fernandina looks like a New England town with palm trees – but that has an explanation. On the outskirts of the business district, built in the 19th century around Center Street and flanked by the water, are a large number of pre-Civil War mansions, many built by northern industrialists.

"The deepwater port that we have allowed a lot of people to come here from the north," said Thea Seagraves, a volunteer and tour director at the Amelia Island Museum of History, Nassau County Jail, in the historic district. "Many northerners in Boston, Pennsylvania and New York realized that 'We don't have to suffer through harsh winters.'"

About Fernandina Beach

Fernandina Beach is the seat of Nassau County and the courthouse, a Victorian building built in 1891 in the center of town on Center Street, is the oldest county courthouse in Florida still in use.

Located north of Jacksonville, Fernandina Beach is north of Amelia Island, which has other attractions such as Fort Clinch State Park, a Civil War fort; the amenities of Amelia Island's Omni Plantation; and American Beach, with its moving story. That beach was a popular destination for African-Americans in the decades before the Civil Rights Movement, when they were barred from "whites only" beaches. Today, the beach is listed on the Florida Black Heritage Trail.

Fernandina Beach Map