Located just off of the Georgia coast between Jacksonville, Florida, and Savannah, Georgia sits 4 barrier islands, St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Jekyll Island, and Little St. Simons Island. The four islands are located off of the mainland city Brunswick. Saint Simons Island is known for its beautiful sandy beaches and salt marshes, this hidden gem is the perfect island getaway for a quick weekend trip. Rich in history and culture, there are plenty of things to do to keep you busy on the island. From sightseeing, water sports, and hunting down the tree spirits, you don’t want to miss anything while you are on the golden isles.
If you are looking into a weekend trip or planning a beach vacation for a few days, use our 72-hour itinerary for the perfect St. Simons Island trip.
Table of contents: ()
Prior To Arrival
Before heading to your 3-day getaway, it is vital that you choose a place to stay that can accommodate all of your needs. If you are interested in traveling with a large group of people, you may want to consider booking a beach house. If you are more concerned with location, booking a condo or home located near pier village may be your best bet. Many homes on the island will consist of modern decorations, upgraded appliances, pools, and some are even nestled on the beautiful white-sand beaches. To find the perfect vacation rental that fits all of your needs check here for some of our favorites.
Depending on where you choose to stay, check-in times may vary. Most rentals allow you to enter the room around 2-4 pm. However, if you get there early you can start to explore the city, historic sites, and area while waiting on your temporary home to be cleaned and prepped for your stay. Whether you drive in, or you catch a flight, everyone is hungry after traveling. So it is time to hit the road and find some of our favorite, spectacular restaurants.
For your very first stop check out Delaney’s Bistro. This bistro is not too fancy or too casual, so it is the perfect stop right after your arrival. Start your vacation off right with some delicious food paired with your favorite wine to start to relax and unwind. Once you are full and ready to continue exploring it is time to head out for some sightseeing. This way you have just enough time to get a lay of the land, check out the visitor’s center, and find some must-see places.
If it is still too early to check into your rental check out Pier Village or Redfern Village for some shopping. This family-friendly shopping center has something everyone will love. Browse through the home decor shops and grab some coastal treasures to take back home. The shopping centers are indoor and outdoor so you can enjoy the weather while you are shopping. Make sure to check out some of the locally-owned shops and boutiques as they will often have items that are handmade and one of a kind. Items such as handbags, laser cut or coastal style jewelry, and anything you can think of can be engraved or monogrammed, making the perfect customized souvenir. By this time, your vacation rental should be ready for you.
Once you have settled into your new home for a few days, it is time for some dinner and late-night strolls around the city to check out the nightlife. First, it is time to check out one of our second favorite restaurants to eat at in St. Simons Island, Del Sur Artisan Eats. This eatery serves ” honest food”, which is referred to as food that is kept in its most pure form. The homemade food is not only delicious and fresh, but it is also presented exquisitely without altering each ingredient’s natural taste. After a wonderful meal, it is time to hit the town, this is where you can see the lighthouse lit up at night.
If the weather is permitting, you can also go on a trolley tour. These tours will take you through the town to see all of the popular spots like the Christ Church, the Coast Guard Station, and the Fort Frederica National Monument. Unlike most trolley tours, these are not limited to an actual trolley. They actually have boat tours, land tours, and sea tours available too. This way you do not miss an inch of everything the island has to offer.
The First Full Day
Cook breakfast in your fully equipped kitchen or go out for a nice brunch, no matter what you choose, make sure you are fueled up for an adventurous day.
You can start by exploring East Beach. The Beach is made up of smaller sections, all named after each beach access point. On the northern tip of East Beach lies Gould’s Inlet. Following Gould’s Inlet is the most popular and sought after beach access, The U.S Coast Guard Station. It’s named after the historic Coast Guard Station that is still standing at the entrance as the WWII Home Front Museum, located next to the beach access.
Next, you will find the beach access located between the Coast Guard Station and the King and Prince Resort at Massengale Park. This access will be much more secluded than any other area.
The final access is accessible depending on the tide, the water may be too high covering the entrance. This southern access point of East Beach is located at Pier Village. This particular beach access is perfect for fishing during low tide and provides easy access to the village and bait shops. It is also right next to Neptune Park Fun Zone, a pool and park.
The beach is the perfect place to get your watersports fix. Try out paddleboarding, surfing, wind and kite surfing, or even rent a kayak. If you want to do something to explore the water without the work, consider taking a boat tour or a fishing charter. These can last several hours or all day, this way you can plan your day around everything you are trying to fit in. There are so many options to keep you busy at East Beach, you will not be let down if you decide to spend an entire day here.
For those who prefer not to be at the beach, enjoy the many golf courses the island has to offer. Each island offers several different private and public clubs to choose from year-round. Course settings range from maritime forests and salt marshes to oceanside dunes, with expansive greens in-between. There are more than 200 scenic holes to be played on some of the region’s most illustrious public and private courses, making golf one of the area’s most popular outdoor activities. One of our favorites is Jekyll Island Club. Although there are several golf resorts located in and around the island, St. Simons Island is actually home to 4 beautiful golf courses.
After spending all morning and afternoon outdoors experiencing the beautiful beaches and golf courses, it’s time to head to the fishing pier and gift shop. Here you will find local anglers bringing in the freshest fish, offering great pointers as well. If you are feeling up for it, try your hand in fishing off of the pier, or maybe cast out on the shore. You could end up catching dinner. There are also plenty of local bait and tackle shops to choose from. After you have finished fishing, grab a gift for your friends and family back home while shopping and seeing more of the island.
For dinner, try out Fancy Q Sushi Bar & Grill. This authentic Japanese restaurant features sushi rolls, hibachi, beer, and the best wine. The handpicked local ingredients are used to create more than 100 different menu items. There is certainly something for everyone here. Enjoy the option of indoor or outdoor seating to continue taking in the beautiful ambiance.
The Second Full Day
St. Simons Island Lighthouse
After a day full of exploring our favorite local spots, it is the perfect opportunity to learn about the history and culture of the island. Our favorite place to start after breakfast is the St. Simons Island lighthouse and the St. Simons Lighthouse Museum. There is so much to see and explore here in this historic district.
Attached to Neptune Park, this area is a great place to take those who are traveling with your furry friends. Pets may be in the park as long as they are leashed and their owner is with them. The lighthouse allows you to climb to the top as well as overlook the National Park providing a breathtaking view of the island and the beaches. Once you have finished exploring the actual lighthouse, head on over to the attached museum, where you can find tchotchkes and trinkets to take home with you. The museum is stuffed with old memorabilia of the area as well as the lighthouse.
To continue learning about some of the history and culture of the island, after the museum you can start your hunt for the “tree spirits”. The Tree Spirits are carvings in old, majestic oak trees that can be found all around the island. In the early 1980’s the artist, Keith Jennings, carved around 20 faces into different trees as a memorial to the many fallen sailors who lost their lives at sea sailing from the island. Go back in time as you see each of the carving’s sad, sorrowful expressions that reflect the grieving appearance of the trees themselves with their drooping branches and moss.
To find the tree spirits you can locate a map at the visitors center, and find all of the tree spirits that are on public property. You can do this as an individual task, a scavenger hunt, or just find them as you come across them while you are exploring other areas of the island. ( We will give you a hint there is one near Pier Village). While some carvings are majestic, like a mermaid, they each hold a very special place in the heart of the St. Simons Island locals.
Fort Frederica National Monument
After hunting down all of the tree spirits, make sure to check out a few of the state parks and monuments nearby. One of our favorites is Fort Frederica National Monument. It preserves the archaeological remnants of a fort and town that was originally built by James Oglethorpe in 1736. Not only is the park a beautiful nature trail, but you can also view and take pictures of the old town.
Jekyll Island State Park
If you can, you may even want to take a half-day trip to the surrounding areas to see some of their history and parks too. Jekyll Island State Park is just a short 30-minute drive up the road. This park offers a beautiful view of the island as well as many recreational and water-based activities. Enjoy fishing, swimming, hiking, or even renting bikes. Enjoy an outdoor lunch at the picnic tables and shelter. You may also find some of the best live music in and around these parks, so you can experience what is like to live like a local for a couple of hours.
The Final Day
It is never easy when you must return home, though you will consider just staying on the island forever. You are still able to make the most of the last day even if you have to leave later in the afternoon.
To wrap up your final day on the island you will want to do something that will set all of your other vacations apart from this one. This can be done by going on a bi-plane ride. This private flight will take you over the private beaches and white sand to explore the island from the air. The ride isn’t too long and it is absolutely worth waiting for the last day for it. Once you have finally packed up and left the lodge, beach home, or even condo, we advise you to stop by your favorite place that you have eaten so far. Or maybe try a brand new place. No one wants to leave a great location on an empty stomach.
No matter what your itinerary may look like, if you spend every day at the beach, shopping, or visiting the museums, you will not be disappointed. The island is not only serene, calm, and luxurious, it is also beautiful, with lots of energy. The history and culture, old and new, makes this island stand out. No matter if you are taking a road trip, flying in, or even just coming from a surrounding town, we hope you love it here as much as we do. Happy travels and enjoy the golden isles.