You don’t have to drive too far from Atlanta to enjoy pristine sands, endless marshes and coastal wildlife. Between Savannah and Jacksonville, Florida, you’ll find Georgia’s idyllic Golden Isles, which comprises the city of Brunswick and barrier islands of St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Little St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island.
Here are some of best ways to spend your time along Georgia’s Atlantic coast:
Stroll along Pier Village at St. Simons Island
The stretch of Mallery Street that makes up Pier Village may be less than a quarter mile in length, but it teems with enough shops, bars and eateries to keep debit cards busy and bellies full,” The AJC’s Jon Waterhouse wrote in 2014. “When the sun begins its dip, fishing often picks up on the pier itself. Join in by renting a pole at St. Simons Bait & Tackle (121 Mallery St.) or simply watch the anglers pull in shark, stingray and nets full of crabs.” Explore more Pier Village restaurants, accommodations and attractions.
Cool off at Jekyll Island’s water park
Summer Waves Water Park (at 210 S. Riverview Drive) offers both adrenaline-pumping action with its 40-feet tall twisting and turning slides. There’s also an idyllic lazy river for those who prefer a more relaxing escape. Adult tickets are $22; for kids shorter than 48 inches they’re $19 each. Ticket prices are lower for seniors ($11) and for everyone after 3 p.m. on weekdays and after 4 p.m. on weekends, though rates may vary.
Explore historic downtown Brunswick
The original 1771 grid-like plans of Old Town Brunswick remain in place today, with its oak-shaded streets and squares named for the city’s English heritage. The city itself has something in store for everyone: a casino cruise ship, the Historic Ritz Theatre and renowned shrimp vessel, Lady Jane. For kids, you may want to book a ghost tour, play at the classic arcade or visit the pottery studio. More about downtown Brunswick.
Visit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center
The Sea Turtle Center (214 Stable Road) on Jekyll features an interactive exhibit with endless sea turtle and wildlife conservation knowledge for all. Next door, you’ll find the rehabilitation pavilion, where sea turtle patients heal in tanks and prepare to re-enter the wild. The Sea Turtle Center is open to the public 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Tickets range from $7.49 to $9.63, and kids 3 and younger get in free.
Kayak the salt marshes of St. Simons
For those who feel at peace surrounded by the sounds of bird chatter and leaping mullets in the water, this might make the perfect escape. The AJC’s Suzanne Van Atten wrote about falling under the spell of the marshes of Glynn County in 2016. “It was a weekday morning, so other boats were scarce, making it seem as though the marsh was all ours,” she wrote. “We crossed Village Creek and paddled into the creeks behind Sea Island, where we spotted brown pelicans, oystercatchers, cormorants and white ibis going about their avian duties. Every once in a while, a mullet leaps from the water and slapped its gills on the surface.”
Horseback on the beach
You can take riding lessons or go for a scenic trip horseback all around the Golden Isles. Jekyll Island’s Three Oaks Farm is your best bet for beach rides and St. Simons Island’s Stables at Frederica takes you on a tour of the woods of Frederica Township. More horseback riding information at goldenisles.com.
Get a taste of luxury at Sea Island
The Sea Island Company is an internationally acclaimed resort featuring award-winning destinations such as Cloister on Sea Island and The Lodge at Sea Island. Visitors can spend their days golfing, playing tennis, enjoying some time at the spa and then venture out to the beach for some sailing and horseback riding. Learn more about Sea Island.
More AJC coverage on the Golden Isles
- Exploring the best of Georgia’s Golden Isles
- Discover Georgia’s barrier islands
- Affordable luxury on Jekyll Island
- Unexpected pleasures kayaking the salt marshes of Glynn County
- Amazing wildlife, scenes from Little St. Simons Island
- Three of the best island getaways in the South are right here in Georgia
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