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Amelia Island: Island getaway not too far away

The thought of not having another break from school until Spring Break in March can cause students to lose some steam. To keep this from happening, consider taking a weekend trip to Amelia Island, Fla. to relax and recharge.
Amelia Island, located in northeast Florida, is approximately a two hour and 26 minute (roughly 153.8 miles) drive from Valdosta. According to MapQuest.com, gas will cost $40.03 for a round trip in a 20 mpg vehicle. If four people ride together, $10.00 a person for gas is not too bad.
This time of year is tight when it comes to money that was either spent on Christmas presents or a reserved condo at the beach for Spring Break. Students can still get away from Valdosta for the weekend without spending a lot of money.
There are many fun but inexpensive things to do in Amelia Island. The weather still may be a little chilly, but sitting or walking on the beach is a good way to unwind. It is also completely free.
A great place to stay overnight is Fort Clinch State Park which has a full-facility campground and many different activities. There are 61 campsites in two campgrounds, which are both pet-friendly.
The park admission fee is $6.00 for a two to eight person vehicle or $4.00 for a single-occupancy vehicle. The camping fee is $26.00 per night plus tax.
The camping fee includes water and electricity at Amelia River and Atlantic Beach Campgrounds. Both campgrounds offer a dump station and new bathrooms with showers and washing machines. Each campsite also includes a fire ring, picnic table, potable water and a 20- or 30-amp electric hookup, according to the Florida State Parks website.
If you like to fish, Fort Clinch offers fishing along the Amelia River, along the Cumberland Sound or off a half-mile-long fishing pier that divides the Cumberland Sound from the Atlantic.
The park also has a six-mile trail that is great for hikers or off-road bicyclists, with wildlife viewing possible. There is a picnic area with picnic tables and freestanding grills which is a great way to save money.
If you would rather go out to eat, especially at night, Amelia Island offers a variety of restaurants with live music.
The Palace Saloon has live music every night starting at 9:30 p.m. with a mix of alternative, blues and classic rock. Wicked Davey’s has live bands on Friday night and reggae on Saturday night. Indigo Alley is a great place for dancing and live music, including jazz, Latin, blues, folk, and acoustic rock, starting at 7 p.m.
Amelia Island also offers great shopping with an eclectic mix of local stores, shops, galleries and boutiques.
If Amelia Island sounds like a fun weekend trip, you can make a camping reservation at Fort Clinch State Park by calling (904) 277-7274 or going to www.floridastateparks.org/fortclinch.
The VSU Center for Outdoor Recreational Experiences rents (for the weekend) sleeping bags for $4.00 and four person tents for $8.00. CORE also rents just about anything else you might need for outdoor activities.
So the total for gas, a park fee, a campsite, and camping equipment for four people is about $96.00 for one night or $128.00 for two nights which translates to $24.00 or $32.00 a person. Don’t forget to bring extra cash if you plan to shop or go out to eat.
Amelia Island is a great and inexpensive place to go to chill out from the stress of school and save some cash in the process. Just make sure you’re back by class on Monday!

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