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Incredible Must See Things on St Simons Island, GA

Incredible Must See Things on St Simons Island, GA

A tranquil oasis off the Georgia coast, St. Simons Island is a magnet for discerning travelers seeking a blend of unspoiled beauty, rich history, and laid-back island culture. St. Simons, laden with live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, invites visitors to unwind and wander through its ageless charm. In this guide, we’ll explore the must-see things on St. Simons Island that will enrich any traveler’s visit.

must-see-things-st-simons-island

My family’s serendipitous discovery of this barrier island gem two decades ago has fostered a love for the area and a deep affection for the island’s many treasures.

Gastronomic Adventures on St Simons Island

Begin your culinary conquest at Porch, an eatery that epitomizes the warm hospitality and comfort of the South. Their classic Southern dishes, graced with a contemporary twist, are bound to tantalize your taste buds. Indulge in the Nashville Hot Chicken, catfish, shrimp, and an arsenal of sides. JB’s collards and the maple baked beans were my faves.

Fun Fact: Porch was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

porch-restaurant-outdoor-seating

The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort boasts ECHO, an oceanfront eatery that combines Southern flavors and global cuisine. Craft beer connoisseurs will find solace in the rotating taps as they pair them with crispy truffle fries or a succulent southern barbecue.

dinner-trio-from-echo-restaurant

If you’re yearning for an authentic Southern dining affair, Barbara Jean’s is the choice for award-winning seafood and hearty home-style sides. Stop by Palmer’s Village Cafe for an eclectic breakfast any time, or take advantage of the lavish spread at Sandcastle Cafe & Grill’s traditional breakfast buffet.

breakfast-buffet-biscuit-gravy

For those seeking an upscale dining experience without the formality, Georgia Sea Grill is the place to be. This restaurant, adorned with accolades, offers a delectable fusion of coastal flavors in a laid-back setting.

From Escargot atop a cloud of puff pastry to fresh catch bronzed to perfection with hoppin’ John and tomato cream, each dish at Georgia Sea Grill celebrates taste. Save room for the Georgia pecan pie. 

escargot-with-puff-pastry

Lastly, Gnat’s Landing is my go-to place for upscale pub grub and watching sporting events or televised specials. Order the lip-smacking Vidalia onion pie for starters, a great nod to everything southern, and the shrimp basket or slaw bowl (a unique offering) for lunch. 

caramelized-onion-dip

Golf and Games

Widely acclaimed for its premier golf courses, St. Simons Island is a haven for enthusiasts and novices alike. The meticulously designed fairways offer a challenge amidst the serene backdrop of the Southern landscape. Test your skill at The King and Prince Golf Course, steeped in local history and adorned with majestic oaks and tidal creeks.

Keep your eyes peeled for pro golfers, many of whom live in nearby Sea Island.

golf-course-st-simons-island

Not one for golf? Embark on an invigorating game of tennis on Rubico clay courts, or traverse the island’s network of bike paths (21 miles!) to soak in the lush scenery. Adventure-seekers will find no shortage of thrilling activities, from kayaking through tidal marshes to chartering a fishing expedition.

st-simons-island-pool

Historical Horizons

The rich history of St. Simons comes to life with a visit to Fort Frederica National Monument, the architectural gem built by General James Oglethorpe that pays homage to the island’s strategic importance in Colonial times. Envision the past as you stroll through the ruins and partake in a guided tour to unlock the poignant tales of the era.

For a spiritual and historical pilgrimage, don’t miss the iconic Christ Church, Frederica, with its stunning interior, unsigned Louis Comfort Tiffany windows, and a legacy that dates back to the 18th century.

Nearby, First African Baptist Church is a monumental testament to the island’s cultural heritage.

christ-church-st-simons-island

Bask in the serenity of the Avenue of the Oaks, a historical spectacle of nearly 200-year-old oak trees that leads to enchanting landmarks. These trees have witnessed centuries of change, standing as silent sentinels to the island’s resilience and enduring beauty.

Another popular thing to search for on St. Simons Island are Tree Spirits. The island has seven hand-carved masterpieces by Keith Jennings around town, including the Mermaid Tree Spirit at the Golden Isles Welcome Center.

You can pick up a map to find the other locations of 20 weathered faces carved into tree trunks or deadened branches from the center.

tree-spirits-mermaid

The Famous St Simons Lighthouse

Centuries of maritime history echo through the 129 steps that lead to the pinnacle of St. Simons Lighthouse. The circa 1800s lighthouse still stands tall to guide modern voyagers. The panoramic view from its apex showcases the island’s beauty, with the glistening Neptune Park and expansive ocean sprawled beneath you. 

A tour of the Keeper’s Dwelling, a beacon-keeper’s preserved Victorian home-turned-museum, promises a step back in time with rare artifacts and sea lore that adds depth to your island history experience.

st-simons-lighthouse

Shopping and Serendipity

Redfern Village is an oasis for shopaholics and casual browsers alike. Uncover a treasure trove of boutiques and specialty stores that showcase the finest local wares, from artisanal crafts to exclusive fashion finds. Meander through the charming streets, each brimming with its own unique allure, and immerse yourself in the local community.

st-simons-island-tour

Pier Village, in the heart of St. Simons, pulsates with a vibrant energy that is contagious. Peruse the eclectic assortment of shops, indulge in sweet treats from local bakeries, and witness the town’s bustling spirit unfold before your eyes.

A few favorite shops you might want to check out from the places listed above are Savannah Bee Company, Golden Isles Olive Co., and Posh.

shops-at-st-simons-island

Beachside Bliss

Driftwood Beach is an ethereal destination where the elements sculpt nature’s art. Wander among the surreal formations of driftwood and twisted trees, creating a landscape that is both haunting and beautiful. Capture the essence of this serene vista through your lens, for the memories of this place will linger long after you’ve departed.

dunes-at-st-simons-island

Glory Beach, accessible by a picturesque boardwalk, offers a more conventional seaside experience. Bask in the golden rays of the sun or frolic in the Atlantic’s gentle waves. This idyllic beach offers a tranquil respite for those seeking to reconnect with nature.

bird-island-st-simons

Day-Trip Delights at Surrounding Islands

While St. Simons Island may cradle you with its idyllic charm, a day trip to its neighboring islands adds a dash of diversity to your itinerary. Just a bridge away, Jekyll Island beckons with the opulent heritage of the Jekyll Island Club, where Gilded Age aristocrats (Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan to name a couple) once sought solace.

jekyll-island-georgia-historic-homes-and-church

Take a tour to wander through the opulent homes or simply bask in the natural beauty of the island’s pristine shores. Alternatively, venture into historic Brunswick, an erstwhile hub of maritime commerce, for a taste of the town’s vibrant past.

For a more adrenaline-fueled excursion, book a Coastal Georgia Tour or Dolphin Cruise with Cap Fendig, and set sail on a nautical escapade that might reward you with whimsical dolphins and awe-inspiring coastal views.

st-simons-island-cap-fendig-boat-ride

Luxuriate in Island Accommodations

Choosing where to lay your head is as much a part of the travel experience as the destination itself. The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort(KOP) is a quintessential choice that seamlessly marries Southern hospitality with modern luxury.

king-of-prince-bedroom

Settle into one of their beach villas or resort residences and wake up to the gentle song of the waves. The resort, nestled amidst swaying palm trees and pristine sands, offers ample opportunities for rejuvenation, from two huge oceanfront pools to indulgent massage services at the Royal Treatment Cottage.

There are no resort fees at KOP and parking is free. KOP is a member of Historic Hotels of America.

st-simons-island-sunset

For a more intimate stay, consider the Saint Simons Inn By The Lighthouse, where 34 stylishly appointed rooms afford a cozy vantage point to enjoy sea views. Or, immerse yourself in the bygone charm of Village Inn & Pub, a historic beach cottage from the 1930s nestled under the canopy of ancient live oaks.

The Culmination

In essence, St. Simons Island is not just a checklist of must-see places; it’s a compendium of moments that you curate and collect, like the seashells that grace the island’s beautiful beaches. The charming community may put you under her spell; maybe that is why Travel + Leisure has named it America’s Most Romantic Town and America’s Favorite Beach Town in the past.

colonial-coast-birding-trail

Special thanks to Leigh Cort Publicity and the King and Prince for the hospitality, and meals on one of my visits. As with all posts on this site, all opinions and conclusions are 100% my own and unbiased.

Read more of our Georgia adventures:

A Restaurant Guide to Savannah

Exploring the Mountain Towns of North Georgia

Epic Things to See and Do in Athens

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Alessandra

Tuesday 20th of December 2016

Wow I have never heard about this place but you definitely had put it on the map for me - this place looks beautiful! Thank you for sharing :)

MelodyPittman

Wednesday 21st of December 2016

Glad to know! Thanks Alessandra.

Nancy

Monday 19th of December 2016

If we are ever in Georgia again we will definitely put St. Simon's Island on our itinerary. It's way more tropical than I was expecting and the resort has a lot to offer. Thanks for posting!

MelodyPittman

Wednesday 21st of December 2016

Appreciate you reading. ;) I hope you make it over there. St. Simons is magical.

JEM

Monday 19th of December 2016

Wow! That's a great little secret. The hotel bed looks so inviting. But I think I'd rather go out and explore outdoor.

Angela

Monday 19th of December 2016

I feel the exact same way! Not many people know about St. Simons, but after visiting the Sea Islands a few years ago we cannot wait to get back. It is a unique and beautiful area! We camped when we were there to try to save some money, but would love to try Kings Resort. Maybe next time!

MelodyPittman

Wednesday 21st of December 2016

Definitely. It has a magical charm to it. Glad to hear from someone who has experienced it. ;)

Brianna

Monday 19th of December 2016

This is definitely a great option for a US beach getaway! Does it stay warm here in the wintertime too?

MelodyPittman

Monday 26th of December 2016

It gets pretty chilly in the winter but there are plenty of fireplaces at the common places to keep you toasty. ;)

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