St. Simons Island is one of our top choices when we want to escape the chaos of life and slow down. Crossing the causeway from the mainland marshlands surround you. You find yourself relaxing and your breathing becoming more measured and even. You’re on island time now.
Four beautiful barrier islands hug the Georgia coast midway between Jacksonville, Florida, and Savannah, Georgia. These four islands, St. Simons Island, Little St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island, and Sea Island, make up the Golden Isles along with their mainland kin, the city of Brunswick.
St. Simons is an ideal base of operations for visitors to explore the Golden Isles. Each island is different and unique. St. Simons offers a beachfront resort, lots of local, kitschy, and boutique shopping, and loads of history.
Things To Do On St. Simons Island
There is so much to see and experience on St. Simons! These are our top recommendations.
Stroll On The Beach
Don’t miss an early sunrise walk on the beach! I have seen some of the most spectacular sunrises of my life on the beach at St. Simons. It’s also a fantastic way to begin the day — a sunrise stroll followed by a steaming cup of coffee from ECHO (more on this favorite St. Simons restaurant below).
Go For a Bike Ride, Paddle, Or Sail
Rent a bike for the day and explore the many bike trails on St. Simons. Biking is a great way to explore St. Simons and get your exercise also. Take a bike, head out on one of the bike trails, and stop for a refreshing sip on the way back.
Barry’s Beach Service offers bike rentals as well as kayak and sail rentals. Speaking of being on the water, renting one of Barry’s Hobie Cats is a fun way to skim across the waves and have a ball! But don’t worry, you’ll have a quick tutorial in how to sail these quick cats, and then off on the water with your instructor.
Lighthouse Tours With Cap Fendig
As a history lover, I enjoy taking the trolley tour offered by Lighthouse Tours. The trolley gives you a peek into St. Simons’ past, present, and future. Owned by Cap Fendig, a raconteur and lifetime resident of the island who is a member of one of the island’s oldest families, you are in for a real treat! Cap Fendig oozes history and will happily share his love of the island and its secrets with visitors.
The trolley tour will take visitors around the island for an immersive experience into the history of St. Simons. Each tour lasts approximately 90 minutes and covers the island’s history from 1742 to the present day.
Along with his wife Catherine, Cap owns several local businesses. Cap’s passion is helping “visitors create special memories that last a lifetime.”
Take To The Greens
For golfers, a trip to the Golden Isles is paradise. On St. Simons, don’t miss The King and Prince Golf Course. There are four signature holes nestled in the marshlands. The King and Prince course is on the top of many serial golfers’ lists when it comes to golf getaways.
Day Trip To Jekyll Island
Plan a day trip over to Jekyll Island and visit Driftwood Beach. Large driftwood “trees” are scattered along the beach, standing like sentinels. This is a must-see when visiting St. Simons and the Golden Isles.
Jekyll Island is a state park, and there is a charge for a parking pass ($8 per day). For more information on the parking pass and how to purchase one, click here.
Site Of The Battle Of Bloody Marsh
The Lighthouse Trolley tour includes the location of the July 7, 1742 battle between the English and Spanish, known as the Battle of Bloody Marsh.
It was on this site that the Spanish forces were beaten back in their only attempt to invade Georgia and attack Fort Frederica. This battle was the decisive end to Spain’s claim to the territory.
A fallen live oak tree at Gascoigne Bluff provided the timber for the framework and hull of the U.S.S. Constitution, also known as Old Ironsides, in 1794. This is also a stop on the Lighthouse Trolley tour.
Christ Church, nestled among live oak trees draped in Spanish moss and cedar trees, is one of the most photographed sites on St. Simons. But it is the history of this fascinating church that draws you in.
General James Oglethorpe arrived on the island in February of 1736 with the first English settlers. Church services started with services being held under the trees on the site of the present-day church.
In 1820, the first church building was built on the site. In 1884, the church was rebuilt by shipbuilders.
The design of the church resembles a ship’s hull paneled in gleaming wood. The present altar in the church, built in 1884, has incorporated the remains of the original church altar.
The cemetery of Christ Church contains unmarked graves dating back to 1796. Renowned author Eugenia Price is buried in the Christ Church cemetery.
World War II Homefront Museum
We seek out World War II museums along our travels, and the World War II Homefront Museum on St. Simons is one of our top favorites. Housed in the historic St. Simons Coast Guard Station, the museum highlights the role Coastal Georgia played in World War II.
There are interactive and immersive museum exhibits on radar technology and directing fighter pilot squadrons that guests can use to test their skills.
You’ll hear stories from locals who worked building liberty ships in Brunswick, what it was like during blackouts, and food rationing.
Admission to the World War II Homefront Museum is under $15 for adults, and rates are discounted for children and those with military ID.
Best Restaurants On St. Simons Island
St. Simons is a paradise for foodies! You’ll find seafood, Southern favorites, barbecue, and more.
ECHO at The King and Prince serves classic coastal culinary creations with a unique twist. The name ECHO pays homage to the role The King and Prince played during World War II. The restaurant is where the former officers’ quarters, classrooms, and towers were located.
ECHO is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For breakfast, try the warm peach parfait, made with yogurt and granola. For dinner, the local grouper dinner is delightful.
Georgia Sea Grill
Georgia Sea Grill is another favorite! Local restauranteur Zack Gowen has big visions for the culinary scene, and the Georgia Sea Grill is the linchpin.
Zach’s belief that fresh is best led him to Potlikker Farms. Potlikker Farms, part of Zach’s growing culinary vision, has been brought back to a thriving farm and is committed to delivering the best and freshest seasonal offerings to Tim Lensch, Georgia Sea Grill’s executive chef.
Chef Tim is creating some of the most extraordinary culinary dishes I’ve tasted. Favorites include the Low Country crab soup, Georgia bison carpaccio, and the bronzed fresh catch.
For an authentic laid-back island vibe, don’t miss Gnat’s Landing. Make sure to try the Vidalia Onion Pie. The name is misleading because it is not a pie, but a creamy, delicious dip that is heavenly. Made with Swiss cheese, sun-dried tomato, and onion, it is one of their signature dishes.
The fried dill pickle chips hooked me with the first bite, and I am not a pickle lover. The slaw bowl, crafted with ramen noodles, almonds, and sesame seeds in a vinaigrette dressing is fantastic.
Gnat’s is casual and laid-back, an excellent choice for lunch on the island.
Where To Shop On St. Simons Island
For a bit of retail therapy, plan a visit to Redfern Village. Redfern is in the center of the island near the traffic circle. You’ll find children’s boutiques, jewelry shops, home decor, and more in Redfern.
Two Friends is a boutique that carries home decor, women’s clothing, notecards, handbags, and more. Each time we visit St. Simons I stop in and, of course, take home notecards or that clothing piece I just couldn’t pass up. The boutique is located at 295 Redfern Village.
One of my favorite St. Simons stops is Golden Isles Olive Oil Company. The oils and vinegars are all imported, and the olive oil tasting is a taste-changing experience! They are located at 306 Redfern Village.
Best Hotels On St. Simons Island
The King and Prince Golf and Beach Resort is perched right on the beach and is our top choice for staying on the island. In fact, The King and Prince is the only beachfront hotel on the island.
There are several types of accommodations to choose from, including oceanfront beach villas and private guesthouses.
Whether you choose to play in the ocean, relax on the beach, or relax poolside soaking in the sun and breathtaking views, The King and Prince has you covered.
The King and Prince is steeped in history, starting with its humble beginning in 1935 as a seaside dance club. The oceanfront hotel opened in 1941. During the World War II years, the hotel became a naval coast-watching station and training facility. The hotel reopened in 1947 and has undergone several extensive renovations since then.
From the moment you step through the front doors, you are family. A cozy and inviting fireplace, just steps from the ECHO bar, is a popular gathering spot. I love sitting in front of the fire in the early winter months, sipping a Peach on the Beach handcrafted cocktail.
Anytime is a good time to visit St. Simons. I have visited St. Simons during all four seasons of the year, and I prefer to visit in the late fall or early winter. I like the island’s uncrowded feel during this time of the year and getting an opportunity to chat with the locals.
No matter when you visit St. Simons, you will not be disappointed.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Golden Isles, know that Little St. Simons is a haven for nature lovers. The island is accessible only by boat from St. Simons Island’s Hampton River Marina.
Jekyll Island is home to Driftwood Beach, one of the most photographed sites on the Golden Isles and my day trip recommendation. Jekyll is also home to the famous Jekyll Island Club. Sea Island is home to two five-star resorts, The Cloister on Sea Island and The Lodge at Sea Island.