JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Northeast Florida is a year-round family
The area is noted for its Atlantic Ocean beaches, historical
attractions in Fernandina Beach and St. Augustine, golf courses and
sports and cultural attractions. Because the weather is not as mild
as southern Florida in winter, rates are reduced to attract
visitors. This gives clients a savings of about 30% vs. the spring
and summer seasons, said Debbie Johnson, tourism director for the
Amelia Island Tourist Development Council.
For example, Amelia Island Plantation through Feb. 16 is offering a
$99 per night, double, rate at its 250-unit Amelia Inn. For
families, children ages 3 and younger can stay free, while kids
ages 4 and older are charged $13 each per night. In addition, the
inn offers two-for-one packages on golf, tennis, spa services, bike
rentals, nature tours, youth programs and meals. For information,
call (800) 874-6878.
Some Amelia Island properties set a 50% discount for the second
night of a two-night stay. Participants include the Amelia Island
Plantation, Summer Beach, two Hampton Inns and some
bed-and-breakfasts. Commissions vary by property. A $500 coupon
book also is given to winter visitors by the participating
Although Amelia Island is most heavily visited by families in
the summertime, Johnson said, "Many families and couples are
finding the Christmas period even more special because of the
island's history and charm."
Highlights for this season include a Holiday Tour of Historic
Treasures in Fernandina Beach. The Dec. 1 and 2 program showcases
more than 450 revitalized Victorian structures -- including 10
The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island's courtyard will sport a 40-foot
Christmas tree with more than 70,000 miniature lights. Each
Saturday through Christmas, the Ritz-Carlton hosts a storybook tea
with Santa and Mrs. Claus for children.
There are plenty of other diversions for families visiting this
area -- rain or shine. The beaches extend south from Amelia Island,
at the northeast tip of the state, and include Jacksonville Beach,
Ponte Vedra Beach, St. Augustine Beach (Anastasia Island) and Palm
St. Augustine, with many indoor historical attractions, can be
an all-day activity, especially on a rainy day.
At World Golf Village, St. Augustine, families can sign up for
lessons at the PGA Tour Golf Academy (20% off for kids), visit the
World Golf Hall of Fame or the Imax Theater and dine at the Murray
Bros. Caddyshack restaurant.
A PGA Tour Golf Academy package, fully commissionable, features
three-night stays at either the Renaissance Resort or Sheraton's
Vistana Resort. The plan also covers play on three courses, a
private lesson, admission to local attractions and use of an
18-hole putting course. The rate is $679 per person, double. For
information, call (800) WGV-GOLF.
Museums, nightlife, dining, Jacksonville Jaguars pro football
and the Jan. 1 Gator Bowl college football game make Jacksonville a
worthwhile stop. Jacksonville Landing and Riverwalk, in particular,
are popular with families because of music and dining. The local
zoo is another lure. For more information, call the Jacksonville
and the Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800)