Idyllic St. Simons Island, on the Georgia coast, is a fabulous place to take a family vacation. With more than 60 restaurants, a wide variety of accommodations and fabulous ocean breezes to cool you as you play, the whole family is sure to enjoy this beachy getaway.
On my hosted visit, I got to explore the best of St. Simons Island, Georgia. The island is home to more than 60 restaurants, most of them locally owned. From casual fare to southern coastal cuisine, St. Simons Island is a foodie’s dream. When visiting, add these to your must try list.
ECHO, named to honor the role this hotel played in World War II, is the only oceanfront restaurant on St. Simons Island and is open for all meals daily. The menu includes southern favorites, seafood, and healthy options as well. Add in the stunning ocean views, and it’s no surprise that ECHO is a favorite for locals and hotel guests alike.
Gnat’s Landing, located in Redfern Village, is a longtime favorite on St. Simons Island. Open for lunch and dinner until “last call,” it’s a popular restauran and bar for locals and visitors both. The casual, beachy atmosphere is flip-flop friendly, and the food is spectacular. Gnat’s Landing is known for the fried pickles, “Gnat’s Famous Slaw Bowls,” and the Vidalia onion pie.
Georgia Sea Grill
Georgia Sea Grill is centrally located in Pier Village on St. Simons Island. Focused on serving local, regional and sustainable products whenever possible, not only is dinner delicious, but you know where your food came from – some even from the restaurant’s own farm. The cocktail menu and dessert menu are fabulous, too! With a romantic atmosphere, this is a great date night choice. They handle large groups well, too.
Golden Isles Olive Oil & Wine Bar
Located in Redfern Village, Golden Isles Olive Oil & Wine Bar offers olive oil tastings, a wine bar and a fantastic, healthy menu for lunch or a light dinner. Menu items feature their olive oils and vinegars. Enjoy small bites, salad, pizza or sandwiches and save room for dessert. After a delicious meal or olive oil tasting, shop this gourmet shop for oils and vinegars to use at home.
Where to Stay on St. Simons Island
My favorite place to stay on St. Simons Island is the King and Prince Resort. Besides the amazing oceanfront setting, the resort offers true southern hospitality. During my stay, I met many staff members – all incredibly friendly. Some have worked at the King and Prince for more than 40 years. That family feel comes across in how guests are treated.
Public spaces at the King and Prince are airy, comfortable and spacious. I spent a lot of time hanging out at the fireplace in the main lobby, cozied up in an oversized chair, sipping a cup of coffee. The nearby bar offers walls of windows that look out on the oceanfront pool area and beach. It’s so inviting!
Other amenities include a number of pools, tennis courts, an award winning golf course, ECHO restaurant and onsite spa. Guest services can assist with restaurant reservations, bike rentals or anything else you need during your stay.
When I wasn’t enjoying the fireplace, I found my room just as relaxing. The oceanfront rooms offer a king size bed and pull out sofa, TV, refrigerator, spacious bathroom, work area with lots of chargers and balconies that look out over the resort pool and beach area. In the winter, rooms offer both sunrise and sunset views due to how the resort sits on the island.
Other options include family hotel rooms with more space and two beds, condominiums with two or more bedrooms and a few free-standing vacation homes. Spread across the property, each of the accommodations has convenient parking, space to relax and use of all the amenities at the resort.
Other hotels, like the Home2 Suites by Hilton, are available on the island, but only the King and Prince sits oceanfront with a beach.
Where to Play on St. Simons Island
Whatever your interests, you’re sure to find it on St. Simons Island. Of course, you’ll find beaches, beach bike rentals and golf. Some other activities, unique to St. Simons Island are World War II Home Front Museum, at 4201 1st Street. This museum tells the story of World War II from the perspective of those in Brunswick County who lived through it. Personal interviews, interactive exhibits and storyboards share the sacrifice and dedication the people of this area had to supporting our troops. I was impressed by the stories told. Allow 1-2 hours. Group and military discounts available.
St. Simons Lighthouse
St. Simons Lighthouse Museum is still an active lighthouse. Visitors to the lighthouse museum can climb the 129 steps to the top for great views of the whole island. The keeper’s house, which was used into the 1950s, now houses a museum explaining how lighthouses work, the history of this lighthouse and history of the island.
The Harrington School
The Harrington School, 291 S. Harrington Rd, St Simons, GA. The Harrington School served the Gullah/Geechee population before desegregation shut it down. Today, the restored school serves as a park and community center for the neighborhood as well as a history museum preserving the Gullah/Geechee heritage. People who grew up attending the school give tours and talks, sharing the story of the school as well as stories of their youth. Hours are limited, but it’s well worth it to work in a visit.
Neptune Park, 550 Beachview Dr, St Simons, GA. This oceanfront community park is a great place to enjoy the waterfront with putt putt golf, a public pool, a playground, picnic areas and beach front. Swimming in the ocean is not recommended, though. Free parking is available, and the Saint Simons Pier is next door for those who want to go fishing or watch the boat traffic go by.
Lighthouse Trolley and Boat Tours, book online. A local legend, Cap Fendig and his crew take guests on trolley and boat tours throughout St. Simons Island. Learn the history of the island as your land tour takes you to Fort Frederica, Christ Church and cemetery, the slave cottages and many other places on the island. A master storyteller, Cap shares his passion for the island and its history in every tale told. In warmer weather, boat tours are also available. For those who like to learn about the places they visit, there’s nothing better on St. Simons Island.
Exploring a Real Gem
You might be drawn to St. Simons Island for the beachy, island vibe. But, once you visit, you’ll soon discover that this close-knit community loves welcoming visitors like family. Like many I met on my trip, you’ll be planning your second visit before you even go home.
Article by Karen Dawkins of Family Travels on a Budget
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