Even though my miniature schnauzer Jasper (pictured) is a seasoned traveler, he’s usually not welcome at posh resorts. So I was delighted to find that swanky Amelia Island loves canines as much as I do. In fact, most Nassau County beaches permit leashed dogs year-round. Many area restaurants and bars have outdoor seating, where servers greet your pooch with a friendly pat and a water bowl. I decided to check out the island and let Jasper get a little sand between his paws.
What to do
Owned by a husband-and-wife team, Adventure Up the Creek offers guided kayak tours for all levels of experience. For a peaceful paddle with lots of shade, try the two-hour Lofton Creek excursion. No need to risk your own camera; many guides are willing to take action shots of your party and any wildlife you spot and email the images to you.
Where to eat
For breakfast, the Patio Place has an extensive range of sweet and savory crepes, plus lots of outdoor seating and biscuits for your pooch. Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen is helmed by Kenny Gilbert of Top Chef fame and features inventive Southern fare, ranging from pimento mac and cheese to alligator ribs. For fine dining, AAA Five Diamond Salt at the Ritz-Carlton delivers stunning beach views, specialty cocktails, and its namesake salt tastings—including steak served atop a 250 million-year-old Himalayan salt block.
Where to stay
From around $300, the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort boasts 3.5 miles of beach access, several pools (including one for adults only), and pet-friendly rooms in both the main property and surrounding villas. Nine restaurants are on-site, and some have pet-friendly outdoor areas.
Where to drink
Get acquainted with local bars and island history on the two-hour guided Mixology Tour in downtown Fernandina Beach. After sipping off-menu cocktails crafted just for the tour, you’ll vote for your favorite.
Dogs are welcome at Dog Star Tavern (904-277-8010) and in the bone-shaped pool at the Nassau Humane Society Dog Park ($10 for a day pass), which benefits the Humane Society next door.
This article originally appeared in our August 2016 issue.