Jekyll Island's Driftwood Beach lures everyone from shutterbugs to wedding parties.

6 breathtaking attractions along Georgia's coast 

The Georgia coast isn't that far from Atlanta, but with its salt-water smells, huge oak trees draped with Spanish moss and historic lighthouses, it can make you feel like you're a world away.

»RELATED: 10 often-overlooked beaches

 The following are some of the most breathtaking attractions along Georgia's coast that you won't want to miss:

Marking the entrance to St. Simons Sound, the St. Simons Light was originally built in 1811 from tabby, a mixture of oyster shell, lime, sand and water. Destroyed during the Civil War by the Confederates, it was replaced in 1872 by the present 104-foot-tall brick tower. It is now one of the most recognizable features on the Georgia coast. Photo: William Berry

St. Simons Island

With its marshlands, waterways and historic lighthouse St. Simons Light, the setting alone is worth a visit to St. Simons. Although there's also plenty to do – from enjoying its beaches or shops to golfing, biking, kayaking, fishing or dolphin-spotting – it still remains under-developed.

Where to eat

Southern Soul, 2020 Demere Road, St. Simons Island. 912-638-7685.

Southern Living picked Southern Soul as the best barbecue in the region, noting that it "serves Southern barbecue treasures in a setting that strikes the pitch-perfect chord for a barbecue joint."

»RELATED: Is this Georgia spot the best place for barbecue in the South?

What to do at night

The Rooftop at Ocean Lodge, 935 Beachview Drive, St. Simons Island. 912-291-4300.

The Rooftop has gorgeous ocean views from an outdoor terrace or indoor seating. Full moon parties are held each month, with live music and an all-night happy hour.

Jekyll Island

Jekyll Island was once a private retreat for families with last names like Rockefeller, but it's now a charming state park. Jekyll is home to 10 miles of beaches and four award-winning golf courses. Georgia Sea Turtle Center, the state's only sea turtle education and rehab facility, is also located on the island.

Where to eat

Grand Dining Room, Jekyll Island Club Resort, 371 Riverview Drive, Jekyll Island. 912-635-5155.

The aptly named Grand Dining Room features fine dining in a restored Victorian setting. Favorites include the Sunday brunch or daily Victorian tea.

What to do at night

Wee Pub Beach, 20 Main St., Unit 100, Jekyll Island. 912-574-2337.

Wee Pub Beach has the casual, social atmosphere of an Irish pub, with gourmet burgers, nachos, beer and similar fare.

St. Marys is known as the gateway to Cumberland Island, and it can be reached by ferry.
Photo: the AJC

St. Marys

Sometimes referred to as the "Gateway to Cumberland Island," St. Marys has a thriving historical district. There are also plenty of activities to enjoy, from kayaking on the St. Marys River to taking a themed train excursion.

Where to eat

The Green Room2400 St. Marys Road, St. Marys. 912-882-2721.

This authentic Sicilian café serves traditional Italian fare, including paninis, pizzas, lasagna and espresso and cappuccino.

What to do at night

Bottomz Up Saloon, 2710 Osborne Road, St. Marys. 912-729-3760.

Bottomz Up is a casual bar with karaoke, a Friday-night DJ, happy hour specials, pool tournaments, free pool during select hours, trivia shots and more.

Midway Museum offers tours highlighting the town's history.
Photo: Tammy Lee Bradley/ the AJC

Midway Historic District

You may not have heard of Midway, which is located on the coast between Savannah and Darien, but this charming small town is worth a visit. The Midway Museum offers tours about the town's history, and you can also walk and tour the Midway Church, which was rebuilt in 1792 after burning during the American Revolution and later being taken over by Sherman's cavalry.

Where to eat

Captain Joe's, 317 S. Coastal Highway, Midway. 912-884-5118.

Plenty of seafood dishes are served, along with a soup and salad bar and traditional Southern side dishes like collard greens and grits.

What to do at night

Molly MacPherson's Scottish Pub & Grill, 3742 S. Highway 17, Richmond Hill. 912-459-9600.

Play trivia in a social Scottish pub atmosphere that serves food as well as plenty of scotch and draft beer choices.

»RELATED: 5 best beaches near Atlanta: Where to play, stay and eat

Tybee Island

The observation deck at the top of the lighthouse tower at Tybee Island Light Station provides the best view from on high in the area. CONTRIBUTED BY BLAKE GUTHRIE

If you're looking for the closest beach to Atlanta, you'll find it about four hours away on Tybee Island. Look for historical cottages with the island's distinct form of architecture, and for a beautiful panoramic view, climb to the top of the Tybee Light Station.

Where to eat

North Beach Bar and Grill, 33 Meddin Drive, Tybee Island. 912-786-4442.

Jamaican-influenced pub fare like jerk chicken and pork is a menu highlight, or try the white truffle lobster hoagie, which is big enough to share.

What to do at night

Rock House, 1518 Butler Ave., Tybee Island. 912-786-7176.

Sip a cold beer and enjoy some food before you hit the dance floor, sing karaoke or play darts or pool.

Sidney Lanier Bridge, Georgia's tallest cable-stayed suspension bridge, is located in Brunswick.
Photo: the AJC


Laid out in a grid-like pattern, Brunswick's streets are interspersed with plenty of green space. Explore Victorian homes in Old Town, or watch shrimp boats go by on the busy waterfront of this port city.

Where to eat

The Farmer & The Larder, 1523 Newcastle St., Brunswick. 912-342-7700.

Dishes have international and coastal inspirations, with an emphasis on fresh food. Matthew Raiford, the restaurant's executive chef and owner, is a sixth-generation farmer in Brunswick.

What to do at night

Tipsy McSway's, 1414 Newcastle Road, Brunswick. 912-267-9991.

A neighborhood bar and grill located in downtown Brunswick, Tipsy McSway's has excellent food, including fried goat cheese balls that are drizzled with honey. Live music is featured on many nights.

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