We had been living in Florida for 5years when I took the opportunity to visit Amelia Island for the very first time. Every year in December, the Florida Academy of Family Physicians hosts the Winter Summit at the Ritz Carlton in Amelia Island which is nothing short of exceptional medical education, engaging academic activities and great networking. I had no idea at the time how much Amelia Island had a lot to offer beyond rest and relaxation not only for myself but our entire family.
The southernmost part of the Sea chain Islands which stretch from South Carolina to Florida, Amelia Island is a barrier chain island spanning 13miles of quiet pristine untainted white sandy beaches. Also known as the island of 8 flags, Amelia Island historically changed hands of colonial powers between the French, Spanish, British, Floridian/Patriot, Green Cross, Mexican, Confederate and United States.
The island was named after Princess Amelia, daughter of King George II of Great Britain. There are a few historical sites worth exploring such as Fort Clinch State Park and the Amelia Island Lighthouse which offer scheduled tours. Prior to the pandemic, we did a trolley tour of the island which lasted 90minutes. One can expect some overcast days and possible rain in December in this town which otherwise gets approximately 225days of sunshine every year!
For an all inclusive experience when staying with family at Amelia Island I would recommend the Ritz Carlton or Omni Hotel Resort. Both locations are full-service resorts with dining and recreation options on site. The grounds are beautifully decorated in the spirit of Christmas this time of year. There are several other great accommodations in the area including beachfront Airbnb’s.
The restaurants at the Ritz over the years have been consistent with breakfast typically at Coast and in between educational sessions, we have lunch at Tidewater Grill. There is the live music in the evenings with either a guitarist or pianist while dining at The Lobby Bar. For fine dining there is the award winning restaurant Salt where 40 salts from around the world are incorporated into the menu options. On a sunny day, Coquina, an al-fresco restaurant provides casual oceanfront outdoor dining poolside.
When traveling with kids, we always look forward to activities they can engage in, learn from and enjoy. The resort has several pools, with tennis courts and a golf course on the property as well as beach access. One can rent paddleboards and take surfing lessons. Just walking the beach here is a fun activity as the walkway has signs with educational tidbits and a little history about the island. In a short walk, one can learn about the birds, wildlife that inhabit the area, what barrier islands are and the importance of sand dunes!
For families looking to spend some time together, Our Space Lounge has indoor games such as foosball, air hockey, gaming systems, DVDs, televisions and a private theater space. The Ritz also has a kids club with daily activities in addition to several customized events like Kids Night Out (break time for mom and dad), pirate tuck-in, indoor pirate camp and other seasonal events like Deck The Halls. This time of year, Santa and his elves are frequently spotted about the resort and then there is the world’s largest gingerbread pirate ship with hundreds of edible pieces on display, The S.S. Ginger Amelia!
With so much family fun, it is easy to see how attending plenary sessions can be hard to do but the FAFP makes learning just as fun. From lecture style settings to group learning and networking, here are a few highlights from the Winter Summit over the years.
Traveling to Amelia Island I get to do the things I love the most, travel and medical education, while spending time with those who mean the most. Leisure and learning could not be better merged and I couldn’t think of a better blog post to celebrate the one year anniversary of this blog site – Happy Anniversary!