St Simons Island is the most populous of Georgia’s Golden Isles, 90 miles of coastline and barrier islands. Of the 15 islands, only 4 are accessible by car, as the majority of the area is marshland.
Natives settled in the area in 2000 BCE, but it wasn’t long before the British left their mark on the new colony of Georgia. The island is now home to over 13,000 full-time residents, with that number inflating during tourist season. This seaside town is ideal for families, but you can find amusements for all ages.
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What to Do
St. Simon’s Island Lighthouse– This historic lighthouse is one of five in the state with its restored Fresnel lens. It still operates in guiding ships and visitors can climb the over 100 steps to the top. There’s also a museum on the island’s history. 610 Beachview Drive
Ocean Motion Surf Co– Located at Ocean Boulevard and Arnold Road, this store rents bicycles with locks by the hour and is easily accessible to the Village and the Lighthouse. Also on wheels is the well-known trolley tours, which point out the few sights in town, as well as offering a ghost tour.
Christ Church Frederica– Built on the grounds of a congregation formed by John Wesley, the current church was built in 1884. It’s now open for tours and the cemetery features the graves of well-known Georgians. 6329 Frederica Road
Kayaking- Since St. Simon’s is an island, much of the activities revolve around water. Many places around town rent kayaks, including Southeast Adventure Outfitters, to navigate the many creeks and waterways of the area.
Paddleboarding- The area’s calm waters are bad news for surfers as there are no waves to speak of, but are ideal for stand up paddleboarding with SSI SUP Paddle Surf Store.
Tours- For a more unusual way to see St. Simon’s by water, book a spot on the Lady Jane Shrimpin tours, which leave from Brunswick. You will sail with a marine biologist who will tell you all about the creatures found along the coast while helping you to understand Georgia’s seafood industry.
Where to Eat
Sweet Mama’s– This brunch spot is one of the first places I visited over five years ago and has moved locations a few times since then. They offer homemade baked goods like biscuits, cookies and the surprisingly good pork pops. 1627 Frederica Road, (912) 634-6022
Sandcastle Cafe– Sandcastle is where you want to go to stuff yourself silly before a long day of activities. They offer a la carte items as well as a sizable breakfast buffet. Husband and wife team Tim and Melissa Welford opened in 1989 and haven’t changed much since then, so you may have to fight to get a table. 117 Mallery Street, (912) 638-8883
Barbara Jean’s– What is now a local chain started right here on the island and is famous for their crab cakes. All of the locations offer fresh, local seafood, so be sure to try items like coconut shrimp or she-crab soup. 214 Mallery Street, (912) 634-6500
Southern Soul Barbeque– When you mention this place to practically anyone on the island, they sigh and say, “I love that place!” In fact, they love the slow-cooked barbecue so much that when the restaurant burned down a few years ago, the community chipped in to rebuild. 2020 Demere Road, (912) 638-SOUL
Tramici Restaurant– Not only is this Italian spot ideal for date night as it’s right next to the movie theater, they have a great selection for lunch as well. The Italian hoagie is piled high with sliced meats and the lasagna is enough for lunch and dinner. 75 Cinema Lane, (912) 634-2202
The Crab Trap– This island favorite opened in 1975 and is one of my usual stops during trips to St. Simon’s for their fried shrimp and battered fries. But it’s not all about the crab, so oyster fans will enjoy shucking their steamed bivalves. 1209 Ocean Boulevard, (912) 638-3552
Gnat’s Landing– The menu of this restaurant playfully reminds us of the annoying gnats that plague the coastal region, but offers tasty bar food but with an island twist. They host live music and are a great spot to watch a football game. 310 Redfern Village, (912) 638-PEST
Bubba Garcia’s– Also located in Redfern Village is this Mexican restaurant with everything you’re looking for: margaritas, queso dip, burritos, and tacos. 200 Redfern Village, (912) 634-0073
Brogen’s– The burgers are the main attraction at this pierside dining spot. The Georgia Bulldogs are the team to root for, so don’t mention any other team here. Sit on the deck on a nice day. 200 Pier Alley, (912) 638-1660
Where to Stay
The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort– Between the oceanfront rooms and delicious food, it’s hard to ever leave. The resort has its own pool, multiple dining options, cottages, and parking. It’s also close to restaurants and shops in town. 201 Arnold Road
Village Inn & Pub– This 1930s building is surrounded by the iconic live oak trees in the village. There are cottages and individual rooms that include daily continental breakfast. Rooms have flat-screen televisions and WiFi. 500 Mallery Street
Inn at Sea Island– While it’s a part of the Sea Island complex, this property is actually on St. Simon’s. Rooms contain modern coastal furnishings with access to daily breakfast, an outdoor pool, rental bikes, and shuttle service to Sea Island. 100 Salt Marsh Drive
Rentals- Choose from one of many rental properties on the island, whether you’re looking for a condo or a full house. Booking.com has a little bit of everything, as does HomeAway and VRBO.