St. Marys, the site of Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base?one of the world's two Trident submarine bases?was a natural choice for a museum devoted to the Silent Service. Yet the curators and collectors went above and beyond. The finished dive into deep-sea history is the largest of its kind in the South and the fifth largest in the country, giving a comprehensive look at life under the water.
With machines set up in rows to encourage competition, many ordinary gyms cater to men's bodies and psychology, right down to the urinals that were "accidentally" installed in the women's locker room. At Curves, you'll move around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with women's bodies to promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help manage your machine maneuvering and your muscle making. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing your momentum, the hydraulic machines use your body weight and fitness level to create resistance that matches your abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
Club 14 Fitness' roster of trainers reads like the manifest of a submarine on its way to SEALAB III. It includes one University of Chicago educated biologist, one former Navy man, one chiropractor-turned-holistic healer, one nutritionist, and the first runner-up in the Mr. Wyoming bodybuilding competition. Together, they downright plaster the walls with all manners of certifications, issued by everyone from AFAA to CrossFit. They lean hard on their multifarious backgrounds to build personal-fitness regimens and a schedule of calorie-blasting classes, including a lineup of LesMills sessions, that firm up bodies more effectively than falling asleep in a cement mixer.
When not dancing or spinning through group fitness sessions, members can bolster heart rates in the cardio room, hoist free weights, or target hyper-specific muscle groups on the gym's cache of Star Trac equipment. Guests wind down in the wood-paneled sauna, slake thirst at the juice bar, or bronze up in the tanning bed. To make getting to the gym more accessible, Club 14 keeps kids entertained with childcare and pint-sized fitness programs, and keeps its doors open 24 hours. All of this earned the gym the Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year award in 2010.
The Amelia Island Museum of History is the fortuitous result of circumstance. In 1975, a committee from the Duncan Lamont Clinch Historical Society gathered to found a history museum for Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island. Meanwhile, local collector William Decker was studiously acquiring historical documents and artifacts from the area—a lot whose pieces numbered in the thousands. When Decker died, the collection passed on to his son, a noted altruist, and just like that the Amelia Island Museum had its bones.
Today, the museum's exhibits examine local culture of the Timucua Native American tribe, Spanish and French explorers, pirates, and Victorian-era residents. Curators have assembled the Women of the Port photography display to highlight women working in the local maritime industry.
Museum guides are not restricted to the grounds, and often helm tours of the island's haunted locales, historic Centre Street, and Fernandina Beach's north end—with a focus on history from the mid-18th to 19th centuries.
With help from a staff of paddleboarders, surfers, environmental scientists, and a dog named Dillon, Kayak Amelia founders Jody and Ray Hetchka combine their love for outdoor sports with environmental conservation. Ray, a certified naturalist and self-described tree hugger, peppers guided kayak, bicycle, and paddleboard eco tours with facts on flora, fauna, and all the best smells circulating throughout the island's delicate ecosystem. In addition to guided tours, Kayak Amelia teaches paddleboard and kayak lessons, and leads fishing trips and overnight kayak excursions. Guests can sign up for tours, or rent equipment for the day, at Kayak Amelia's storefront, Y.B. Green's General Store, which carries eco-friendly gifts such as beeswax candles, carved bone necklaces, and clay-dyed clothing.
Since 1959, Putt-Putt of Fernandina Beach has hosted friendly rounds of mini golf for families, leagues, and tournaments. Co-owner Aaron Bean was one such player—he began working at the putt-putt location as a teenager and still currently holds the course’s nine-hole record of 10 strokes and most convincing celebratory swan dive into the ocean, which is located just steps away. The course has also tested the putting prowess of players in the 2010 Sonny’s Florida State Putt-Putt Championship and 2011 Southern Putting Tour Championship.