If you’re driving from Jacksonville towards Georgia’s Coastal Isles, one of the best islands to visit is Saint Simon located next to the city of Brunswick. It has plenty of activities for people who love the outdoors. It also has plenty of history dating back to the 1700s. Finally, like all quaint small towns, it has boutique shops that sell locally made products and artisan restaurants that feature seasonal dishes. Here are some suggestions on some of the things to do in St Simons Island GA if you’re only visiting for a day.
Things to do in St Simons Island GA
Sports and Outdoors
One of the reasons visitors flock to Saint Simon’s Island is for the number of outdoor activities available for everyone in the family. Firstly, the island, small though it is, has over two miles of beaches and plenty of seaside rental retreats. Swimming, paddle boarding and kayaking are popular activities especially for families. Fishing is another favorite. You’ll see companies that offer charter boats for deep-sea fishing or you can simply cast your bait along the small pier next to the village. If your preference for outdoor fun is geared more towards more land lock activities, check out the number of excellent golf courses within the island or explore the miles and miles of trails suitable for jogging and cycling.
Explore Saint Simon Island’s History
From its historic and sometimes haunted 18th century lighthouse, to remnants of an English fort, Saint Simon’s Island has plenty to keep a history enthusiast entertained for a day. Start your day with a visit to the island’s lighthouse where you can climb the 129 steps to the top and get amazing views of the adjacent Jekyll and Sea Islands. There’s also an accompanying museum that tells you about the history of the original lighthouse and its use.
From there, drive towards the First African Baptist Church to visit one of the oldest institutions in Saint Simon’s. Slaves that were working in cotton and sugar plantations established the congregation in the 1800s. Christ Church is another one of Saint Simon’s historic churches. Brothers John and Charles Wesley, considered father of Methodism, were known preachers at this church. If you go, make sure not to miss the stained glass window and the beautiful grounds where some of the island’s earliest settlers are buried.
War and Peace
British General James Oglethorpe commissioned to build Fort Frederica in 1736 to protect the southern boundary of Georgia against the Spanish invaders that were occupying parts of northern Florida. The town of Frederica bloomed and in just four years, its population expanded from just over 100 to 500 people. When the Spanish tried to take over the island in 1742, Oglethorpe and his men fought in what is now known as the Battle of the Bloody Marsh. The English won the battle and kept control of the island.
Ruins of the Frederica Village and the fort are available for the public to visit at Fort Frederica National Monument. The monument and its surrounding land is under the management of the National Park Service and contains a museum where archaeological artifacts from the village are on display. There are also several nature trails within the park available for people to explore. On occasion, visitors can partake in history-themed tours conducted by the park rangers.
Where to Eat
Eating, of course, is one of the best things to do in St Simons Island GA. The island’s village center has a number of great restaurants that serve a variety of cuisines from Southern to Argentinean. Its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean also makes it a great place to eat fresh seafood. If you’re looking for budget eats, head over to Southern Soul Barbeque, featured in Guy Fieri’s show “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.” The restaurant used to be a 1940s gas station but now serves authentic Southern barbecue which specializes in pulled pork. Zuzu’s on the other hand, arguably has the best burgers on the island. The atmosphere in this pier side restaurant is casual and relaxed. Kids love the in-house fries and the ice cream parlor next door where they can create their own sundaes for dessert.
For mid-range meals, head over to Del Sur Artisan Eats, the Argentinean and seafood themed restaurant offering prime meats and homemade pastas.
Seafood lovers ought to check out Crab Daddy’s Seafood Bar and Grill. The restaurant prepares their fresh fish catches for the day grilled, broiled, or blackened. They also serve steak, chicken, and pastas for those that don’t eat seafood.