11603
Fernandina Beach
Amelia and Cumberland Islands and the Okefenokee Swamp
Alongside naturalists, discover the idyllic landscapes and unique wildlife of the Cumberland Islands and Okefenokee Swamp. Plus, visit historic towns and learn about Civil War history.
Rating (4.96)
Program No. 11603RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
949
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 5 L 4 D
Getting There
See travel details and required documents
DAY
1
Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner, Area History
Fernandina Beach, Florida
D
Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table in the main lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, other important information, and to confirm when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Dinner: In our conference/meeting room of the hotel, we’ll have a buffet dinner with coffee, tea, water.

Evening: History of Fernandina - Hear from an expert historian about the 8 flags of Fernandina. The area was first inhabited by the Timucuan Indian tribe. Known as the "Isle of 8 Flags", it has had the following flags flown over it since 1562: France, Spain, Great Britain, Spain (again), the Patriots of Amelia Island, the Green Cross of Florida, Mexico, the Confederate States of America, and the United States. It is the only municipality in the United States that has flown eight different national flags.

DAY
2
Cumberland Island Full Day Field Trip
Fernandina Beach, Florida
B,L,D
Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island

Activity note: All-terrain Beach wheelchairs are available upon request at either dock. Only three wheelchairs are available for use. These non-motorized wheelchairs are designed with balloon tires for ease of movement in sand. Wheelchair Accessible facilities at Dungeness Dock: museum, restrooms, River Trail(wide enough to accommodate beach wheelchair with fairly level surface), interpretive walks. Wheelchair Accessible facilities at Sea Camp Dock: ranger station, restrooms, interpretive talks.

Breakfast: Hot breakfast buffet served daily with fresh fruit, eggs, biscuits, waffles, pancakes, baked goods and breakfast meats with coffee, tea and water.

Morning: In preparation for our trip to Cumberland Island, we will sit back and relax and watch a breathtaking video of this beautiful and enchanting Island. We will then be driven by coach to St. Mary's where we will board the ferry for a 45 minute cruise to Cumberland Island, the state's southernmost and largest barrier island. A local expert will lead you on a slow walking field trip of Cumberland Island. You will see a wide variety of habitats including salt-water marshes, mud flats, tidal creeks, maritime oak forests, large sand dunes, inter-dune meadows, and expansive pristine beaches just to name a few. Take an extra water bottle and any snacks you may want. We provide a sack lunch with a bottle of water.

Lunch: Enjoy lunch on the ferry as you travel to Cumberland Island. It is about a 45 minute ferry ride and you may see dolphins and other wildlife on the way.

Afternoon: Continue Cumberland Island field trip. The afternoon ferry leaves at 4:45 pm for St. Marys dock. Your motor coach will be waiting for you for your return trip to Fernandina. Arrival in Fernandina is usually around 5:45 pm.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Amelia Island, Fort Clinch, Island Ecology
Fernandina Beach, Florida
B,L,D
Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island

Activity note: Getting on/off trolley. Walking and standing at Fort Clinch.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Today will be a day of fascination and historical adventure. We will explore the downtown historic district after being greeted by an historian who will begin by giving a brief history of Amelia Island and sharing the story of the visionary whose exhilarating dream so stirred his neighbors that they agreed to move their entire town to the site of a plantation he owned, thereby creating "New" Fernandina in the 1850’s. From the "giant" Timucua Native Americans, to Spanish and French explorers, to the lawless spirit of pirates, to the dignified air of Victorian-era residents, Amelia Island has been home to diverse cultures that have left a truly exciting heritage. Expect the rare privilege of observing the uniquely gracious and historic homes of another century. Allow yourself to get in touch with efforts to preserve the nearly extinct, pristine architectural styles within a small, gifted American town struggling to retain its fragile sense of family and community as well as its birthright and historical integrity.

Lunch: At a popular restaurant in the historic district, we will enjoy a plated meal, with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will next travel by trolley to Fort Clinch, a part of the Florida State Park system since 1935. The fort is one of the most well-preserved 19th century forts in the country, thanks to the preservation and restoration efforts of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. While garrisoned during the Civil War and the Spanish-American War, the fort has never seen action. Civil War-period reenactors will bring garrison living to life for us.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: Hear a presentation on island ecology in hotel meeting room given by a local expert.

DAY
4
Amelia Island River Cruise, Free Time
Fernandina Beach, Florida
B,L
Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island

Activity note: Getting on/off a boat; vessel is wheelchair accessible; the boat is covered and may be closed to protect guests against inclement weather.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: As we cruise the backwaters of Amelia Island and Cumberland Island with a local expert, enjoy the spectacular views while watching for rare birds, dolphins, manatees and other wildlife. We’ll glide back in time along the rivers, creeks and marshes that surround Amelia Island. The boat is covered and may be closed to protect guests against inclement weather.

Lunch: At a riverside café, we will enjoy a plated lunch, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Okefenokee Swamp, Musical Entertainment
Fernandina Beach, Florida
B,L,D
Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island

Activity note: Getting on/off a boat; the ride is approximately 1.5 hours into the swamp; vessel is wheelchair accessible.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Note: Approximately 500 square miles of the Okefenokee Swamp burned in 2011. Our Road Scholar field trips to the Okefenokee learn about the benefits of fire to the swamp. Lack of fire threatens the healthy diversity of forests and wildlife habitat, and leads to a buildup of vegetative fuels in the forest's understory. Swamp fire is beneficial for forest health and wildlife habitat, as well as for public safety through the reduction in frequency and severity of wildfires. A naturalist will lead a field trip to one of America's most famous national wildlife refuges. The Okefenokee Swamp has been officially designated as a "Wetland of International Importance" but that doesn't begin to describe its incomparable beauty or the complex web of life that exists. Rich in history, "swamp culture", flora, and fauna, this one-of-a-kind giant peat bog contains uplands and islands covered in pine & oak forests; black-water lakes of varying sizes; and interior freshwater marshes (locally called "prairies) dotted with floating mats of "botanical gardens" interspersed among stands of pond cypress, black gum, mixed-bay trees, and shrubs. The Okefenokee also provides significant wilderness habitat for large populations of Florida black bear and American alligator. Boat ride is approx. 1.5 hours into the swamp.

Lunch: In the swamp, we’ll have a tasty cookout lunch complete with a favorite local dessert.

Afternoon: Take a drive along Swamp Island Drive and explore the19th to early 20th century farmhouse located deep in the swamp that was home to a family that lived in the swamp for several generations. Its ability to survive the wet swamp conditions serves as a reminder of the swampers who once lived there. They were able to save the Chesser Homestead from the fire of 2011.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: Enjoy the music of a multi talented person who sings and plays numerous musical instruments.

DAY
6
Shrimping Industry, Program Concludes
Fernandina Beach, Florida
B,L

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: A local expert on the shrimping industry will speak about what is going on in the world of shrimping. He comes from a family of shrimpers and you'll be surprised to learn what is happening as shrimpers try to make a living.

Lunch: The program ends after the morning lecture. Hotel check-out is 12:00 Noon.






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