Picturesque Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park lies along the northern end of Amelia Island in Fernandina Beach, 37 miles north of Jacksonville. At 0.8 acres, it is the smallest of all the Florida state parks. It is also the site of the historic Fort San Carlos, a Spanish fort that existed here during the 1800s.
Today all that is left of this historic structure is a plaza that overlooks a Victorian neighborhood from high atop a bluff along the Amelia River. Guests enjoy sightseeing, bird watching, picnicking and learning about the history of this fort and surrounding area. The land is managed by nearby Fort Clinch State Park, which features camping, hiking, biking, fishing and more.
Pack a picnic and your binoculars for a peaceful visit at this serene park. A large grassy area overlooking the river and historic Old Town Fernandina is ideal for a picnic lunch before or after touring the historic site. It’s also a popular wedding location, providing spectacular views all around.
Take a break from all the hustle and bustle and spend a quiet day here rediscovering nature. Here are some of the activities that you can do during your visit to Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park:
Historic Site at Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park
Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park houses and protects the historic plaza of Fort San Carlos. This historic plaza and grounds were once part of the larger Spanish Fortress built in 1816. At that time the fort was constructed from wood and earth to be used as a common place for those residing within this settlement.
Today this structure no longer exists, it was replaced by a community of houses built during the Victorian era. The plaza, or parade field, overlooks this neighborhood and the Amelia River. Historic markers and interpretive panels are in place for visitors wanting to learn more.
Birding at Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park
Don’t forget your bird list, binoculars and camera! You’ll have plenty of ideal viewing opportunities during your visit to Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park. Some you may see here include bald eagles, hawks, kestrels, owls, woodpeckers, mockingbirds, buntings, sandpipers, willets, Black Skimmers, osprey, pelicans, Royal Terns and Great Blue Herons.
Nature and Wildlife at Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park
During your visit to this part of the state you will see birds, fish, squirrels, deer, raccoons, snakes, turtles, alligators, dolphins and many other species.
Pets at Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park
Please make other arrangements ahead of time if you will be traveling with pets. Due to the park’s historic preservation, pets are not allowed. Service animals are not considered pets.
Camping Near Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park
Since Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park is a small day use only park you’ll need to look elsewhere for overnight accommodations. You won’t have to look far, Fernandina Beach has much to offer visitors – campgrounds, resorts and hotels. Here are a couple of nearby state parks with comfortable campgrounds:
Fort Clinch State Park – 2601 Atlantic Ave, Fernandina Beach
RV and tent camping is available at this state park, about 2 miles south of Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park. Campsites lie along the coastline or under ancient oaks along the St. Mary’s River. Each site has electric hookups, potable water, a picnic table and a fire ring. Modern bath houses with laundry facilities are available for guests.
Little Talbots Island State Park – 12157 Heckscher Drive, Jacksonville
Another picturesque state park with overnight accommodations lies about a half hour drive from Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park. Campsites here are nestled along ancient dunes and lush maritime hammock in one of the last undeveloped barrier islands in Florida. Sites have electric and water hookups and a picnic table, fire ring and access to hot showers and laundry facilities.
More Activities Near Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park
After walking through Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park take a drive over to Fort Clinch State Park, located nearby at 2601 Atlantic Ave in Fernandina Beach. This picturesque park offers guests opportunities to camp, swim, hike, bike, fish, picnic, bird watch and more.
This beachside park also features reenactments and guided tours of a well-preserved 1864 fortress. Check out the more than 10 miles of trails available for hiking and mountain biking; and bring along your fishing gear, you may catch flounder, mullet, redfish, black drum, whiting, sea trout, grouper and sheepshead along the Atlantic shoreline.
Each of the nearby Talbot Islands State Parks – Amelia Island, Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve, Little Talbot Island, Big Talbot Island, Fort George Island, Yellow Bluff Fort and George Crady Bridge fishing Pier – has something different to offer visitors. Hike, ride horseback, bike, fish, swim, boat, paddle, shell collect, and more along untouched beaches, salt marshes and coastal maritime forests.
And if you’re interested in shopping, dining and local entertainment head over to downtown Fernandina Beach.
Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park
715 Dan Fernando St
Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park: