Georgia is known for its delicious peaches, world-famous golf, Atlanta’s metropolitan city, President Jimmy Carter, and Savannah’s stately squares. What you might not know is that the Barrier Islands start in The Peach State and are full of beaches, maritime forests, live oak trees dripping with moss, and coastal delights. St. Simons Island is the largest barrier island.
The Unspoiled Beauty of St. Simons Island, Georgia
How would you like to discover one of the best-kept secrets in the South? My family discovered St. Simons Island nearly 20 years ago and we’ve have watched it grow in greatness, but stay true to its nature. This laid-back town with unspoiled beauty doesn’t need theme parks, National Parks, or James Beard chefs to make a name for itself. With dripping Spanish moss, hundreds of shore birds, excellent sweet tea, and a deep-rooted community, it is the quintessential Georgia town.
Together, Little St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island, and St. Simons Islands make up The Golden Isles.
Where to Stay at St. Simons Island
Consider the elegant King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort for your home away from home accommodations. Just the name King and Prince and St. Simons Island are pretty much synonymous. The luxury resort excels in Southern hospitality and making the guest feel at home, wanted, and appreciated all at the same time. Many of their guests are repeat visitors, which speaks loads for their commitment to customer satisfaction.
At the King and Prince Resort, you are genuinely enveloped in island beauty, pristine sandy beaches, crashing ocean waves, and swaying palm trees. Lodging choices include the main hotel, beach villas, or resort residences (some of which are dog-friendly). Unless you have a large group traveling with you, spring for an ocean view room in the main hotel, leave your floor to ceiling sliding glass doors open at night, and enjoy hearing the waves going to sleep. The rooms’ interior is beach chic done up in demure, relaxing colors. A couch and chairs provide additional seating in the room. Rooms include mini-refrigerators, flat-screen TVs with CD/DVD players, and a small arsenal of books.
The King and Prince’s aesthetically pleasing grounds offer two huge oceanfront pools (3 others throughout the property), children’s play area, Royal Treatment Cottage for massage services, and plenty of spots for relaxing and lapping up the scenery. Rooms include complimentary Wi-Fi, parking, and no resort fees are required. The King and Prince Resort is also a member of the Historic Hotels of America.
ECHO: Oceanfront, Food, and Drink
ECHO, a Southern contemporary oceanfront eatery and bar, is the King and Prince’s onsite restaurant. Chef James Flack and his culinary team serve a foodie-friendly menu that is sure to please. Grab a craft beer sampling from the rotating beers on tap while you munch on Truffle Fries. Handcrafted cocktails and over 40 wines (served by the glass) are also good choices.
For dinner at ECHO, I recommend the Tuna Niçoise Salad, Crab Cakes, and the Fried Wild Georgia Shrimp and Grits. The shrimp from Georgia are white, different from other areas of the Atlantic, and scrumptious! Melt in your mouth delights. I am sure that whatever you choose from this kitchen will be a winner.
More King and Prince Resort Offerings
Practice your swing on The King and Prince Golf Course’s 18 challenging holes, enhanced with extraordinary southern beauty, lagoons, and salt marshes.
If you are not a golfer, perhaps an invigorating tennis game played on Rubico clay tennis courts or renting a bicycle from nearby Ocean Motion is more your speed. There are 21 miles of bike paths to keep you busy. The King and Prince Resort is also an excellent place for banquets, meetings, and corporate events.
Things to See at St. Simons Island
History buffs will be pleased with all of the choices St. Simons Island offers. Drive through the double row 190-year-old lives oak trees at Avenue of the Oaks en route to see the Fort Frederica (built by General James Oglethorpe) National Monument, Bloody Marsh Battle Site, Christ Church (built 1884), and the First African Baptist Church.
If you love seeing lighthouses, SSI has one that is sure to please. Climb the 129 steps to the top for stellar 360-degree views of Neptune Park and its oceanside pool and playground. The treasured St. Simons Lighthouse was built in the 1800s and is one of only five remaining Georgia lighthouses. Be sure to explore The Keeper’s Dwelling, a two-story Victorian structure (the keeper’s home until the 1950s) that is currently a museum with rare artifacts and memorabilia.
A more adventurous option would be to take a Coastal Georgia Tour or Dolphin Cruise with Cap Fendig and crew. You may be greeted with sea life and wildlife, so have your camera ready to go.
And don’t forget the magnificent oaks that adorn the St. Simons Island landscape.
Shopping and Dining
Downtown St. Simons Island (SSI) is a treasure trove of locally-owned shops, cute cafes, and art galleries. Check out Savannah Bee Company, where you can take home fine honey, natural body care products, and sample mead. Pier Village, the hub of town, has something for everyone.
Redfern Village is the ideal place for upscale purchases and browsing. One of my favorite eateries, Gnat’s Landing, is found here. Order the OMG delicious Vidalia Onion Pie for starters and a Shrimp Basket or Slaw Bowl for lunch. Shops that may catch your eye in Redfern Village are Cutie Patooties, Posh, Golden Isles Olive Co., and The Queen Bee. Need transportation? St. Simon’s Lighthouse Trolley has a fleet that can serve your needs.
If beaches are what you desire, you’ll love the simple charms of Driftwood Beach. As the name implies, this beach (Northern Jekyll) is dotted with interesting driftwood and trees. Chances are you will see a plethora of exotic birds, too. Bring your camera for the wonderful photo ops. Another noteworthy beach, Glory Beach, is accessible by a boardwalk that crosses a dune.
Foodies will have no trouble finding memorable meals of high quality and delicious taste in St. Simons Island. A restaurant that is casual enough for every day, yet special enough for a celebration, is Georgia Sea Grill. Whether you order fresh seafood, Southern classics (think Shrimp & Grits), or Braised Short Ribs, it will be fantastic. My favorite dishes are the Escargot (the best I’ve eaten) and Fried Pimento Cheese Balls with Tabasco syrup—both life-changing.
A few other palate-pleasing options at SSI include Barbara Jean’s (the best veggie plate and salads), Sandcastle Cafe & Grill (perfect breakfast dishes and burgers), and Mullet Bay Seafood Restaurant (the best atmosphere and fried seafood).
A Day Trip to Remember
Day trips around the area might include discovering historic Brunswick (one of the most viable ports in the United States) or Jekyll Island, millionaires retreat from 1886-1942. Jekyll Island was the most exclusive club globally with members such as J.P. Morgan and William Rockefeller. The Jekyll Island Club Hotel is a great place to start your day. Afterward, spring for the $25 tour to possibly enter some of the island’s historic homes. Do not miss Louis Comfort Tiffany’s unsigned work at the Faith Chapel.
A Little Slice of Heaven?
The charming community of St. Simons Island puts 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. Come for a vacation and leave enchanted!
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