Georgia’s Own Road Trip: St. Simons Island
The early mornings might still be a little brisk, but by noon, you know Spring has sprung in Atlanta. Sunny skies and warmer weather make us all want to get up and go!
Whether you’re looking for a week-long holiday or a weekend getaway, a short car ride can take you anywhere from the Georgia mountains to its sandy beaches. In fact, some of the best vacation spots are here in the Peach State!
One of our favorite destinations is St. Simons Island. The Golden Isles of Georgia are just five hours from Atlanta but a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With its majestic oak trees, historic landmarks, and quiet beaches, the St. Simons Island is an ideal place for a little R&R.
Places to go, things to see
Long lazy days on the beach and walks along the ocean are popular pastimes on the island, but so is fun!
Neptune Park is located in Pier Village and, throughout the year, its the most happening spot on the island. Events like Memorial Day’s Taps at Twilight, Music and Movie Nights Under the Stars, and their July 4th celebration are just a few.
Take a stroll along the oceanfront walking path, enjoy the view of the crashing waves from the benches that overlook the water, or pack a lunch and have a picnic beneath the oak trees. Neptune Park is family friendly, too. With its 18-hole mini golf course, Fun Zone pool, and children’s playground, it’s hard to beat!
If you’re looking for the sand and waves head for East Beach. It’s a great location for shelling, extreme kite surfing, and swimming. You can bike, fish, or just relax and soak up the sun.
The surf and the sand aren’t for everyone, so if the beach isn’t your thing, there are lots of other attractions, like Gasciogne Bluff. Overlooking the Frederica River, it was a Native American campground at one time. The Bluff has something for everyone with its 24 acres of green space, a fishing pier, a fitness trail, a disc golf course, and a picnic pavilion.
It’s also the home of Epworth by the Sea Christian Conference and Retreat Center, which is owned by the South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. On its 100-acre campus, they offer accommodations and facilities for guests attending retreats and conferences, and for vacationers as well. Lovely Lane Chapel, the oldest standing church building on St. Simons, hosts Sunday services, too.
If you’re a history buff, you’ll want to visit the archaeological remains of Fort Frederica. It was a military outpost initially established in 1736 by James Oglethorpe to protect the southern boundary of Georgia from the Spanish in Florida. Fort Frederica’s troops defeated the Spanish, ensuring Georgia’s future as a British colony. Today, the archeological remnants of Frederica are protected by the National Park Service.
Jekyll Island is one of the smaller barrier islands and a short 20-mile drive from St. Simons Island. One of its most unique attractions is Driftwood Beach where the constant erosion has created stunning driftwood and trees that resemble a tree graveyard.
According to the Golden Isles site, it’s due to the north end of the island slowly being deposited on the south end of the island. It’s created both a beautiful and haunting scene of sun-bleached driftwood that attracts artists, photographers, and other seeking-to-be-amazed visitors. It’s a short walk east from the big fishing pier on the north end of Jekyll Island, but you can see it from the pier. If you have time to make the drive to Driftwood Beach, it’ll be well worth it.
The best places to eat
You won’t go hungry on your visit as St. Simons Island has a wide range of memorable restaurants.
One of our favorites, Southern Soul BBQ, was named “The South’s Best BBQ 2018” by Southern Living Magazine. Founded by Harrison Sapp & Griffin Bufkin in 2006, it’s grown to be one of the most famous BBQ joints in the world. They smoke slow and long on Lang smokers with wood from the local Live Oak, and always follow one rule: Respect the pork!
The oldest privately owned restaurant on Saint Simons Island, Bennie’s has been a favorite of locals and tourists since 1954. At the Red Barn, you can enjoy steaks grilled to perfection over an old-fashioned open oak flame, fresh local seafood, and more in a classic setting. Their combined food and hospitality makes for a one-of-a-kind experience.
At Tramici, you’ll find fresh, passionately prepared Italian neighborhood cuisine. In their mammoth brick oven, they create delicious chicken and veal dishes, spaghetti and lasagna, and the most perfect pizzas. Interested in a cooking class? You can join Chef Dave during his monthly hands-on instruction. Check it out here.
Wake Up Coffee Company is not only a coffee shop, it’s a place that works to build community and a company that wants to foster change in the world. They only source coffees that they believe in and then roast them to showcase their unique flavor profiles. They serve certified Fair Trade or direct relationship coffees, teas, and retail goods produced by artisans and farmers in developing countries. Grab a cup of joe and have a seat!
At Sal’s Pizza, they believe that nothing’s better than food made by family and friends. If you’re looking for that neighborhood feel and pizza and dinners that are prepared from generations-old recipes, you’ve found it. Mangia!
St. Simons has tons of great restaurants and a myriad of fun things to do, but these are some of our favorites. If you’re headed there for some hard-earned vacation time, let us know which ones you liked best. Enjoy!