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1379
Florida/Georgia

History by the Sea: Study & Stay on Cumberland & Amelia Islands

Experience beautiful Cumberland Island as you enjoy an exclusive two-night stay at the 1890 Carnegie compound and delve into 4000 years of history on sun-dappled Amelia Island.
Rating (5)
Program No. 1379RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,799
Florida/Georgia

History by the Sea: Study & Stay on Cumberland & Amelia Islands

Experience beautiful Cumberland Island as you enjoy an exclusive two-night stay at the 1890 Carnegie compound and delve into 4000 years of history on sun-dappled Amelia Island.
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,799
Program No. 1379 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Dec 12 - Dec 17, 2021
Starting at
1,799
Jan 16 - Jan 21, 2022
Starting at
1,999
Jan 23 - Jan 28, 2022
Starting at
1,999
Feb 6 - Feb 11, 2022
Starting at
1,999
Sep 18 - Sep 23, 2022
Starting at
1,999
Dec 11 - Dec 16, 2022
Starting at
1,999
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Dec 12 - Dec 17, 2021
Starting at
2,549
Jan 16 - Jan 21, 2022
Starting at
2,999
Jan 23 - Jan 28, 2022
Starting at
2,999
Feb 6 - Feb 11, 2022
Starting at
2,999
Sep 18 - Sep 23, 2022
Starting at
2,999
Dec 11 - Dec 16, 2022
Starting at
2,999
6 days
5 nights
13 meals
5B 4L 4D
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida
2
Amelia Island, Fort Clinch
Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida
3
River Cruise, Brett's Waterway, Cumberland Island History
Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida
6
Program Concludes
Cumberland Island, GA
View Full Itinerary

At a Glance

Discover two Southern islands close in proximity but a world apart in character, including a rare two-night overnight on remote Cumberland Island. Begin on Florida’s historic Amelia Island in the Victorian seaport village of Fernandina Beach where you learn about the island as a historical crossroads for native peoples, European explorers and lawless pirates. Then board a ferry to secluded Cumberland Island, Georgia, a National Seashore restricted to no more than 300 visitors per day. Stay at the Greyfield Inn, a unique and historic venue that’ll give you the rare opportunity to connect with nature at its most pristine. Discover 9,800 acres of protected dune fields, forests, marshes and beaches, and hear an expert naturalist interpret the island’s sensitive ecosystem.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to three miles daily on sandy paths, sand dunes and beaches. Accommodations on Cumberland Island in historic inn and surrounding cottages uses stairs to third and fourth floor bedrooms; cottages within 170 yards of inn.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Discover the rich history and culture of Amelia Island at Fort Clinch and the Victorian Village of Fernandina.
  • On the backwaters of Amelia Island, glide along rivers, creeks and marshes during a study cruise in search of wildlife.
  • Spend two nights in the only accommodations on the island, the Greyfield Inn, which was built in 1900 by the Carnegie family.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Kevin McCarthy
Kevin grew up in Gloucester, Mass. and settled in Fernandina Beach in 1968. He spent 41 years sailing the waters of northeast Fla. and southeast Georgia. He holds a 100 ton master’s license and developed his knowledge of the wildlife and history exploring the waters that surround Amelia Island, Cumberland Island and St. Mary's, Ga. Generations of Kevin’s family have been shrimpers, and he shares with participants his knowledge of shrimp farming and the future of the shrimp industry in the U.S.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Kevin McCarthy
Kevin McCarthy View biography
Kevin grew up in Gloucester, Mass. and settled in Fernandina Beach in 1968. He spent 41 years sailing the waters of northeast Fla. and southeast Georgia. He holds a 100 ton master’s license and developed his knowledge of the wildlife and history exploring the waters that surround Amelia Island, Cumberland Island and St. Mary's, Ga. Generations of Kevin’s family have been shrimpers, and he shares with participants his knowledge of shrimp farming and the future of the shrimp industry in the U.S.
Profile Image of Ron Kurtz
Ron has been an Amelia Island resident for more than 30 years. After attending Hiram College, he graduated from New York University with a degree in educational theater. He served as the director of the Amelia Island Museum of History and wrote a highly regarded history of the island, now in its sixth printing, as well as a series of children's books. Ron has lectured on the history and architecture of the first coast for the Historic Preservation Trust as well as the Smithsonian Institution.
Profile Image of Ann Marie Wilson
Ann Marie Wilson View biography
A resident of St. Simons Island, Georgia, Ann Marie Wilson has been leading Road Scholar groups for the last 10 years. Acquiring degrees in biology, forestry and secondary education while attending Clemson and Coastal Carolina Universities gave Ann Marie the perfect background for her birding and naturalist excursions. She owns and operates Driftwood Education Center, a residential science and environmental education center for youth from all over the Southeast.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Legendary Locals of Amelia Island
by Rob Hicks Dr
Amelia Island has been host to remarkable people throughout its 500-year history. These people are responsible for giving Amelia the distinction as the only place in the United States to have seen eight different flags. A new railroad followed the Civil War and brought those who sought to take advantage of the burgeoning shipping center. As opportunities waned, the island became a sleepy, blue collar community supported by the local paper mills. Prior to civil rights legislation desegregating the South, Fernandina's American Beach flourished as an African American coastal community. Meanwhile, local visionaries oversaw tight-knit communities and set the stage for the large resorts that came to the island's south end in the 1970s. Today, Amelia Island is a national tourist destination and home to a diverse of community of longtime residents and newcomers, both with remarkable talents and interesting stories to tell.
Cumberland Island: A Place Apart
by Thornton W. Morris
This book by Thornton Morris, the President of the Conservancy, exists in order to tell, in a personal, and sometimes amusing way, the story of how Cumberland Island was preserved and is now one the our nation's most treasured national seashores. It is a book about the relationship between life and death, a dynamic with which few of us consciously deal in the twenty-first century, but which is a day-to-day issue on Cumberland Island. It tells the story of why Cumberland was saved for future generations and the meaning of this preservation for all Americans.
A Natural History of Cumberland Island, Georgia
by Carol Ruckdeschel
Having lived on Cumberland Island for more than forty years, Carol Ruckdeschel's goal has been to document present conditions of the island's flora and fauna, establishing a baseline from which to assess future changes. Since the late 1960s, she has witnessed many changes and trends that are often overlooked by those carrying out short-term observations. This compilation of data, along with historic information, presents the most comprehensive picture of the island's flora, fauna, geology, and ecology to date. This volume will satisfy a general interest in the ecology of Cumberland and other Georgia barrier islands. New information on individual species is presented, contributing to its value as a reference for the Southeast.
The Big Sand Dune & the Beach Lady on an African American Beach
by Annette McCollough Myers
Broad age range, about an historical presence on Amelia Island: Environmental Activist; Historian; Opera Singer; Unique Character!
The Golden Age of Amelia Island, Revised
by Suzanne Davis Hardee and Kathleen Davis Hardee Arsenault
Late 19th Century history/Adult
Amelia Island
by Rob Hicks Dr (Author), Amelia Island Museum of History
Tiny Amelia Island, in the northeast corner of Florida, was once among the most important ports in the western hemisphere. Before Florida was granted statehood, the island served as an international gateway between Spanish Florida and the English colonies that would later become the United States. Where Spanish monks and pirates once roamed, the island eventually developed into a significant seaport that exported the rich resources of Florida's interior in the late 1800s. This era was known as the Golden Age of Amelia Island and the town located on its north end, Fernandina. The railroad that connected Amelia Island to the Gulf Coast was largely responsible for the Golden Age, as it brought a burgeoning economy and many of the South's most prominent and wealthy figures. Today the island is best known as a resort community but retains the influence and charm of its remarkable past.
The Beaches are Moving
by Kaufman and Pilkey
Our oceans are eroding, sinking, washing out right under our houses, hotels, bridges; vacation dreamlands become nightmare scenes of futile revetments, fills, groins, what have you - all thrown up in a frantic defense against he natural system. The romantic desire to live on the seashore is in doomed conflict with an age-old pattern of beach migration. Yet it need not be so. Conservationist Wallace Kaufman teams up with marine geologist Orrin H. Pilkey, Jr., in a evaluation of America's beaches from coast to coast, giving sound advice on how to judge a safe beach development from a dangerous one and how to live at the shore sensibly and safely.
Cumberland Island: A History
by Mary R. Bullard
Cumberland Island is a national treasure. The largest of the Sea Islands along the Georgia coast, it is a history-filled place of astounding natural beauty. With a thoroughness unmatched by any previous account, Cumberland Island: A History chronicles five centuries of change to the landscape and its people from the days of the first Native Americans through the late-twentieth-century struggles between developers and conservationists. Author Mary Bullard, widely regarded as the person most knowledgeable about Cumberland Island, is a descendant of the Carnegie family, Cumberland's last owners before it was acquired by the federal government in 1972 and designated a National Seashore. Bullard's discussion of the Carnegie era on Cumberland is notable for its intimate glimpse into how the family's feelings toward the island bore upon Cumberland's destiny.
Untamed: The Wildest Woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island
by
Carol Ruckdeschel is the wildest woman in America. She wrestles alligators, eats roadkill, rides horses bareback, and lives in a ramshackle cabin that she built by hand in an island wilderness. A combination of Henry David Thoreau and Jane Goodall, Carol is a self-taught scientist who has become a tireless defender of sea turtles on Cumberland Island, a national park off the coast of Georgia. Cumberland, the country’s largest and most biologically diverse barrier island, is celebrated for its windswept dunes and feral horses. Steel magnate Thomas Carnegie once owned much of the island, and in recent years, Carnegie heirs and the National Park Service have clashed with Carol over the island’s future. What happens when a dirt-poor naturalist with only a high school diploma becomes an outspoken advocate on a celebrated but divisive island? Untamed is the story of an American original standing her ground and fighting for what she believes in, no matter the cost.
Cumberland Island: Strong Women, Wild Horses
by Charles Seabrook
In Cumberland Island, Charles Seabrook uses his talent as an award-winning environmental writer to describe the island's natural bounty and to tell its long and intriguing history. You'll meet Catherine "Caty" Greene Miller, the widow of Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene and the woman who inspired Eli Whitney to invent the cotton gin. She was also the inspiration behind Dungeness, the 30-room tabby mansion built on Cumberland Island in 1803. Another strong woman who currently resides on the island is Carol Ruckdeschel, a naturalist who was the subject of a John McPhee profile in the New Yorker in 1974. GoGo Ferguson and Carol were great friends until they disagreed on the future of the island. Their ensuing feud reveals the continuing debate among residents, conservationists, and developers about how the island should be managed. In Cumberland Island, Charles Seabrook provides a fascinating look into the history of one of America's greatest natural treasures.
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6 days
5 nights
13 meals
5 B 4 L 4 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida
D
Hampton Inn & Suites Amelia Island-Historic Harbor Front

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

Afternoon: Program Registration. After you check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table in the main lobby to register with the program staff, get any updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived. Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will review COVID-19 protocols and will adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines and requirements throughout the program. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahea.

DAY
2
Amelia Island, Fort Clinch
Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida
B,L,D
Hampton Inn & Suites Amelia Island-Historic Harbor Front

Activity note: Getting on/off a trolley; riding about 7 miles, approximately 1.5 hours riding time. Walking 1 to 2 miles throughout the day, standing during field trips; concrete, some uneven, sandy, grassy terrain at Fort Clinch.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will be joined by a local expert for a presentation on the history of Fernandina and its eight flags. The area was first inhabited by early Native American people, the Timucua. Later it became known as the “Isle of 8 Flags” that have flown here 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 lived under eight different national flags. We will then board a trolley with our expert and ride to the downtown historic district. We’ll hear stories 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, creating “New” Fernandina in the 1850s. Amelia Island has been home to diverse cultures that have left a truly exciting heritage, 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. We will observe the uniquely gracious and historic homes of another century and learn of the efforts to preserve their nearly extinct, pristine architectural styles, as well as the small town’s fragile sense of community and historical integrity.

Lunch: At a popular restaurant in the historic district.

Afternoon: Next, we will travel by trolley to Fort Clinch, a part of the Florida State Park system since 1935. This is one of the best-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: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
River Cruise, Brett's Waterway, Cumberland Island History
Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida
B,L
Hampton Inn & Suites Amelia Island-Historic Harbor Front

Activity note: Getting on/off vessel; riding about 3 to 5 miles, approximately 2 to 2.5 hours. Walking to/from marina across street from the hotel.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will gather to watch a video that will give us background and preparation for the Cumberland Island stay. We’ll then walk two blocks to the marina and board a vessel for a study cruise with a naturalist along rivers, creeks, and marshes that surround Amelia Island. We’ll learn about the details of everything from the land to the sea.

Lunch: At a riverside café.

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 have what you like. We will have a list of suggested restaurants. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
4
Ferry to Cumberland Island, Naturalist Field Trip
Cumberland Island, GA
B,L,D
Greyfield Inn

Activity note: Getting on/off ferry; riding approximately 35 minutes. Getting in/out of safari truck with 4 ladder steps, bench seating; driving about 10 miles, approximately 2 hours riding time. Walking about 1 mile, approximately 1 hour; beach and wooded area, uneven, unpaved terrain that leads to the beach.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel, walk with our luggage two blocks to the marina, and board the ferry from Fernandina Beach to Cumberland Island for the ride of about 35 minutes. Upon arrival, Greyfield Inn staff will take our luggage from the ferry to the Inn. We will then check in at Greyfield Inn and walk through the Inn with a member of their staff and get acquainted with the facilities and learn some of the Inn’s history. Cumberland Island is 17.5 miles long and comprises 36,415 acres of which 16,850 are marsh, mud flats, and tidal creeks. It is well known for sea turtles, wild turkeys, wild horses, armadillos, abundant shore birds, dune fields, maritime forests, salt marshes, and historic structures.

Lunch: At the Inn, we will have boxed lunches.

Afternoon: We will divide into two smaller groups for our field trip. A naturalist will take half of the group on a safari truck for a field trip into Cumberland Island. We will ride in the back of a custom naturalist’s truck to encounter Cumberland’s historical ruins, wild horses, and lush maritime forests. The other half of the group will be led by a naturalist on a nature and beach field trip. Returning to the inn, we will have an opportunity to enjoy a social hour with hors d’oeuvres in the Inn’s oceanfront bar (drinks not included) and to share experiences with our fellow Road Scholars.

Dinner: In the Inn dining room.

Evening: We will meet in the living room for a presentation by the island naturalist.

DAY
5
First African Baptist Church, Plum Orchard, Free Time
Cumberland Island, GA
B,L,D
Greyfield Inn

Activity note: Getting on/off a Jeep. Walking about 2.5 miles, approximately 3 hours; uneven, unpaved terrain.

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room.

Morning: We will set out by Jeep for a field trip to the First African Baptist Church, where John Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette were married in 1996. We will also drive by Plum Orchard, an 1898 Georgian Revival mansion building by Lucy Carnegie for her son George and his wife, Margaret Thaw. The mansion was donated to the National Park Foundation by the Carnegie family in 1971. We’ll have commentary as we ride. We will then return to the Inn.

Lunch: At the Inn, we will have boxed lunches.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity to see and do what interests you most. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Bikes are available free of charge for anyone staying at Greyfield Inn. You might like to go beachcombing a short walk from the Inn or just relax and swing on the front porch with the beautiful view of the ancient live oaks and possibly a wild horse or more.

Dinner: At the hotel. Share favorite experiences with fellow Road Scholars during our farewell dinner.

Evening: We’ll enjoy a social hour on our last evening together. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
6
Program Concludes
Cumberland Island, GA
B

Activity note: Ferry will depart Cumberland Island for mainland Fernandina Beach at 10:45 a.m., arriving at approximately 11:30 a.m. Consider this when making flight arrangements.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Staff from the Inn will take luggage from our rooms to the ferry trip. The ferry will leave at approximately 10:45 a.m. and arrive at Fernandina Beach at approximately 11:30 am. For those who have left cars at the Fernandina dock, you will only have to walk across the street to retrieve your car. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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