Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park

Last week I wrote about our visits to Amelia Island, and I still have a couple of places on Amelia to mention.  One of them is the smallest state park we have ever visited:  Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park.  It is the smallest state park in Florida.

Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park is a grassy area, less than an acre in size, that sits on top of a “bluff” on Amelia Island.  To understand a coastal island bluff, you have to understand that there is very little elevation change in coastal Georgia or Florida.  So what they call a bluff here is not the same as a bluff most other places.  The bluff at Fernandina Plaza is probably five feet above high tide.

Fernandina Plaza sits in the center of the oldest part of Fernandina Beach.  None of the original houses around the plaza are still standing.  The plaza itself is the original site of Fort San Carlos, built in the early 1800’s.  James Oglethorpe also built a small fort here when he was fighting the Spanish in 1740, but no one mentions that on Amelia Island.

To really enjoy Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park you have to use your imagination.  You can imagine how it looked to the French, Spanish, or British settlers when they first came to the island.  You can sit on a bench and watch the shrimp boats sailing up and down the river.  You can watch a beautiful Florida sunset (the plaza faces west).  Tom and Mom had some fun playing around with a cannon.  I imagined a Spanish village festival on the plaza in old Fernandina.

Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park is tiny but we enjoyed our visit there.  Walking around the plaza and reading all the plaques took about 15 minutes.  But it filled in some of the history of the island for us and gave us a good view of the river and the marshes beyond.