When you think about taking a vacation, an island getaway may immediately come to mind. After all, there’s nothing better than relaxing on a white sandy beach with a cold drink in hand and the sun shining bright and clear on your skin. If this sounds like your ideal experience, a weekend getaway to the Golden Isles might be just what you need.
Located off mainland Georgia, the Golden Isles are a network of mostly undeveloped islands that consist of St. Simons Island, Little St. Simons Island, Sea Island, and Jekyll Island. St. Simons Island serves as the main destination for visitors to the Golden Isles, as it’s home to many resorts and vacation rental homes for travelers. The main access route for St. Simons Island is by automobile via the F.J. Torras Causeway, but there’s a small airport on the island as well. No matter how you arrive, you’re sure to enjoy your stay, as the Golden Isles offer plenty to do and see!
A Day at the Beach
The beautiful weather afforded by the Golden Isles makes beach vacations a year-round treat! Head to either Massingale Park Beach or Coast Guard Station Beach on St. Simons Island for a relaxing day in the surf and sun. These beaches are family-friendly, with many tidal pools for young children to explore at low tide; there are even lifeguards on duty throughout the summer.
On Jekyll Island, the aptly named Driftwood Beach serves as the perfect destination for couples. Frequently appearing on the list of the “Ten Most Romantic Beaches in America,” Driftwood Beach features ancient driftwood monuments on its shores. Enjoy a romantic walk along the beach, hand-in-hand with your partner, or wade into the water for a quick swim.
Golden Isles Restaurants
After working up an appetite on the beach, head to one of the Golden Isles’ delicious restaurants for a meal. To dine by the ocean, take a seat at Southern Tide Restaurant on Sea Island. This casual restaurant offers fresh, locally sourced seafood that’s cooked with Southern flair. On St. Simons Island, we’re particularly fond of waking up for breakfast at Palmer’s Village Café. A St. Simons staple, Palmer’s serves up traditional breakfasts and comfort food.
If you’re looking for a luxury dinner while in the Golden Isles, we have a few treats for you, indeed. Delaney’s Bistro on Sea Island serves up incredible creations in a truly opulent setting. Options such as the shrimp Provencal, filet of beef Diane, and rack of lamb Provence will have your mouth watering for more. For the best seafood in the Golden Isles, there’s no better place than Georgia Sea Grill on St. Simons Island. Order the shrimp & grits, a genuine Southern dish, or go with the grilled verlasso salmon, served with sweet corn risotto, collard greens, and red pepper coulis.
Seeing the Sights
Whether you’re a history buff looking to dig deep into the past or a traveler just hoping for a few great pictures, the Golden Isles offer many exciting attractions to visit. Those interested in history will certainly enjoy spending a few hours at the Bloody Marsh Battle Site, the location of a pitched battle between English and Spanish forces in 1742. English troops managed to hold off the Spanish assault on Fort Frederica.
Speaking of which, tourists can visit Fort Frederica National Monument on St. Simons Island. First established by James Oglethorpe in 1736, Fort Frederica served as a key location to defend against Spanish incursion. Open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, visitors can take a ranger-led tour of the monument to learn all about the history of the fort and the surrounding area.
For those looking to get in touch with nature, the Wesley Memorial Gardens stand out. Walk through the painstakingly cultivated gardens that serve as a memorial to Reverends John and Charles Wesley, who served the ministries at Fort Frederica. With over 4,000 azaleas, bushes, shrubs, and ancient oak trees, Wesley Memorial Gardens will be hard to forget.
The Golden Isles proudly showcases its maritime heritage, and you’ll find that in abundance at the Maritime Center. Located in the Historic Coast Guard Station, this attraction boasts seven galleries filled with educational exhibits and activities. Check out the ecological displays mimicking Golden Isles habitats, and see the history of the area through the eyes of a 1940’s Coastie. The Maritime Center is a family-friendly attraction you won’t want to miss!
Just the Tip of the Isles
We can hardly cover every exciting attraction and activity in the Golden Isles, but we hope we’ve given you a few ideas. Vacationing on the Golden Isles is something everyone should experience at least once, so start planning your visit today—we’re sure you could use an escape!
Author’s bio: Charles Golden II is a college student at the University of Arizona studying Software Development while also working as an SEO Specialist / Web Developer for the luxurious vacation rental company Exclusive Properties.