Seafood, beaches and history are on the menu on these quiet islands on the Georgia coast
Many Americans are traveling domestically but are looking for lesser known, nature-focused vacations. The Golden Isles check all those boxes. Georgia’s Golden Isles are located on the Atlantic coast, just south of Savannah and north of Jacksonville, Florida.
The main vacation spots are St. Simons, with its quaint and beachy small town vibe, the pristine sanctuary of Little St. Simons, and the protected shoreline and regal history of Jekyll Island. Jekyll Island State Park is celebrating its 75th year in 2022.
The territory was fought over for centuries and changed hands multiple times. The islands were important to the American war effort in World War II as spotters were assigned as lookouts for German submarines and planes. But the islands are best known as the playground for the rich and famous during the Gilded Age. The Rockefellers, Vanderbilt’s, the Pulitzers, and many other American titans of industry met and vacationed here, some building mega-mansions that stand today.
What attracts visitors today are the beaches and seafood. The islands have a wide array of accommodations, from the luxury of the Jekyll Island Club Resort to the casual family-oriented King & Prince Resort. The most famous walk on these islands is Driftwood Beach, with the magical formations made from petrified trees. A favorite activity is to go horseback riding at sunset on the beach, joining a shrimp boat expedition, and bike riding on the miles of flat, paved, safe trails that traverse the islands, including beach rides.
The Golden Isles are also known for serving fresh-caught seafood and southern comfort food. Along with the local fish and shrimp, you can find places serving Gullah cuisine, including the oyster bakes at Barbara Jean’s and barbecue at Southern Soul Smokehouse.
One enchanting activity in St. Simons is looking for tree spirits carved throughout the island. Another is a day trip to the isolated, undeveloped bird and animal sanctuary at Little St. Simons, which is only accessible by boat.
The Golden Isles offer a beach trip like no other, with its combination of history, culture and old fashioned fun.
Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.