Things to do on St. Simons and Jekyll Island
What’s the first thing you do when you plan a vacation? You search things to do, best places to eat, and events going on while you’re visiting. Look no further, we have compiled a list of the Must- Do things to do while visiting the Golden Isles of Coastal Georgia.
Being in the directory business, we get asked a lot about the best things to do, the best restaurants, the best hotels in and around the islands of coastal Georgia-so we came up with a “Bucket List” of things to do. These are designed to be done in the course of a long weekend. Of course there are many many more things to do and if you are lucky enough to be staying longer, you find out just how much more. These are the MUST-Do things in order to be called a “certified visitor.”
The Golden Isles consists of several barrier islands, St. Simons, Little St. Simons, Sea Island and Jekyll Island. We are going to hit on just two-St. Simons and Jekyll. Nothing against Sea Island or Little St. Simons, but those are destinations all in to themselves. Sea Island is a 5-star resort that is truly like stepping into another world. The accommodations and service offered are world class. The cloister has a long, rich history of hosting world leaders and A-listers. Little St. Simons Island is a paradise for nature lovers and offers a host of recreational, naturalist-led activities including birding, boating, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, bicycling, interpretive tours, beach combing, fishing and swimming. Creature comforts include gracious accommodations in six charming cottages, superb family style dining and genuine Southern hospitality. Because visitors must take a boat to enjoy the island I did not include them on this list. Day Trips are available.
The Island Directory-Things To-Do Bucket List
Below is our list of Must-Do things on St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island. Most of these are self guided but if you’d like to sit back and relax, there are several tour companies on St Simons island that would love to show you around. Light House Trolleys, St. Simons Trolley Tours, and Colonial Trolley. You can also take a tour of the Historic District via a trolley. Purchase those tickets at MOSIAC.
Find all the Tree Spirits on St Simons Island-
Start at the Visitor Center – These 7 carvings, created by skilled hands, immortalize the countless sailors, mermaids and even a turtle. Many of the spirits lost their lives at sea aboard the mighty sailing ships that were once made from St. Simons Island oak. Their sad, sorrowful expressions seem to reflect the grieving appearance of the trees themselves with their drooping branches and moss. The great thing about this activity is that it is a family friendly scavenger hunt and can be done anytime of the year. Download this map for a complete list and location of all 7 carvings. Be sure to step inside the Visitors Center. There you can find maps, local works of art, souvenirs, books and all the information you could possibly want about the Golden Isles.
While you’re down at the Pier Village, you might as well start the day off with a world-class breakfast. Palmers and Sandcastle are where the locals eat! Click on their name for a menu. More about the best places to eat in another blog!
Climb the St Simons Island Lighthouse & Museum
On October 17, 1804, John Couper, a plantation owner on St. Simons Island, deeded four acres of his land, known as “Couper’s Point,” at the south end of the island for one dollar to the Federal government for the construction of a lighthouse. James Gould of Massachusetts was hired in 1807 by the Treasury Department to build the lighthouse and a one-story frame residence. Original specifications called for the lighthouse to be built of hard brick; however, for economic purposes, most of the material used in the construction was “tabby,” a mixture of oyster shell, lime, sand, and water. The uppermost part (12 feet) was constructed of the “best northward brick.” The 75-foot tower, exclusive of the lantern, was an octagonal pyramid, 25 feet in diameter at the base, tapering to 10 feet in diameter at the top. The tabby foundation was eight feet thick at the base. An iron lantern ten feet high and eight feet in diameter rested on top of the brick and tabby tower, making the lighthouse 85 feet tall. Oil lamps were suspended on iron chains in the lantern. Click here to purchase daily tickets.
Visit the World War II Home Front Museum
The World War II Home Front Museum is located in the Historic Coast Guard Station at East Beach. The new Museum brings to life Coastal Georgia’s extraordinary contributions during World War II. Through immersive exhibits and interactive experiences, visitors will learn about blimps on anti-submarine patrol, radar training to direct fighter pilots, building Liberty ships to supply troops overseas, and much more.Tickets may be purchased in either Museum Store or online. Click here to purchase daily tickets.
4201 1st Street • St. Simons Island, GA 31522 • (912) 634-7098
]Fish off of the St Simons Island Pier
Located in Pier Village at the end of Mallery Street, the St. Simons Island Pier provides outdoor lighting along the full length of the pier thus making it a great location for an evening stroll after dinner. The pier overlooks St. Simons Sound which is visited annually by North Atlantic Right Whales, usually seen between December and March, as they migrate from northeastern United States to the calving area in southeastern United States. Other months of the year you can spot dolphin feeding along the coast and an occasional massive cargo ship passing by on its way to deliver hundreds of imported automobiles to the Port of Brunswick. St. Simons Island Pier offers tray tables and water hoses along the railings for those fishing to prepare their bait or clean their catch. Benches along each side of the pier offer those passing by a place to sit and watch the fishermen and crabbers reel in their day’s bounty or simply enjoy the views of Jekyll Island to the south. A short stroll to the St. Simons Bait & Tackle shop in Pier Village makes it easy to purchase forgotten gear or bait. St. Simons Island Pier is said to be one of only three ocean piers on the Georgia coast with the others being Jekyll Island Pier and Tybee Island Ocean Pier. 121 Mallery St • 912/634-1888
Take a Ghost Tour by Trolley with Lighthouse Trolley
The Ghost Tour is the perfect after-dinner/evening activity! They will take you to visit historic sites of authentic island history and give you the ghostly story behind them. You will hear the stories of Mary, the Wanderer, our most famous island ghost! You will visit the graveyards of native Americans, ride down the Spanish moss dripped Avenue of Oaks, And whatever happened to Raymond Demere? It’s great fun for the entire family. Have a large group? You can book a private group tour. The tour leaves from the St. Simons Pier and lasts about an hour. Adults can BYOB. Times are seasonal so be sure to make reservations here!
View the Avenue of the Oaks
Anne Page King planted the famous “Avenue of Oaks” that highlights the entrance to the Sea Island Golf Club (available to Cloister guests and Sea Island members). Visitors may view the Avenue of Oaks by driving towards the Lodge at the Sea Island Golf Club and circling back. This is great location for family portraits, engagement pictures, or wedding picture.
Visit Fort Frederica and View the National Monument
In the early 18th century, the land lying between British South Carolina and Spanish Florida was known as the debatable land. This land (today’s Georgia) was the epicenter of a centuries-old imperial conflict between Spain and Britain. Fort Frederica was established in 1736 by James Oglethorpe to protect the southern boundary of his new colony of Georgia from the Spanish in Florida. Colonists from England, Scotland, and the Germanic states came to Georgia to support this endeavor. If you are visiting in the summer months, they have an Archeology Camp for younger students. Here they learn about excavation techniques at Shiner’s Trench, where in the 1950s hundreds of thousands of artifacts were reburied by National Park Service Archeologists. The students used those artifacts to do laboratory studies to learn how Archaeologists use artifacts as clues to tell the stories of years past. The students also learned about colonial life by doing several crafts, such as: weaving, pottery, dyeing, and flint knapping. These camps fill up fast, so if you know your schedule, check them out. Visit their website here.
Fort Frederica National Monument
6515 Frederica Rd. • St. Simons Island, GA 31522
Visit the Christ Church Cemetery
Christ Church is set in tall, mossy grass under towering oak trees. The church grounds include a cemetery. Christ Church, one of the oldest churches in Georgia, was founded on St. Simons Island nearly 70 years after the island was first settled by English colonists. Worship has been continuous since 1736 in Christ Church Parish, established by English colonists at Frederica under General James Oglethorpe. In February 1736, James Oglethorpe and the first English settlers arrived on St. Simons Island. Shortly thereafter, in March 1736, Reverend Charles Wesley, who also served as Secretary for Indian Affairs and Chaplain to General James Oglethorpe, entered his ministry at Frederica. Visit the website for service times and events. Like them on Facebook and you can even watch a service live on Sundays.
Head on over to Jekyll Island to experience a place like no other. Jekyll Island has a much slower pace and hosts many famous beaches and landmarks. Make plans to spend the better part of a day there-if not your entire trip. Jekyll has some of the most beautiful white sand beaches in the state. Visit the Jekyll Island website for all things Jekyll.
Visit Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island
Located on the north end of Jekyll Island, Driftwood Beach continually amazes guests with its beautiful driftwood and ocean views. This haunting and mesmerizing stretch of beach is often cited as a Gothic tree graveyard. Driftwood Beach an ideal location for photography, as well as a popular site for gorgeous island weddings. Enjoy a nice picnic or walk on Driftwood Beach and be just a 3 minute drive away when you stay at The Westin Jekyll Island. Just a little over 1 mile away from the hotel, guests can walk to and from Driftwood beach. Driftwood beach extends from the Clam Creek Picnic Area to the Villas By The Sea Resort and Conference Center and is only a short walk away from the Jekyll Island Campground. From Clam Creek Picnic Area, simply follow signs for the Wildlife Viewing Area and take the paved walkway toward Clam Creek. Walk over the bridge and you will see two beach access points toward the left. Multiple beach access points along North Beachview Drive also provide access to Driftwood beach. You can park at designated parking areas along the road, next to each beach access point..
Visit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Location: 214 Stable Rd.
Through sea turtle rehabilitation, research and education programs, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center increases awareness of habitat and wildlife conservation challenges, promote responsibility for ecosystem health and empower individuals to act locally, regionally, and globally to protect the environment. The Center is open to the general public and offers an interactive Exhibit Gallery and Rehabilitation Pavilion with a number of view-able sea turtle patients.The Georgia Sea Turtle Center is a hospital for ill and injured sea turtles. It is the only hospital of its kind in the state of Georgia.
Visit the Jekyll Island Club & Historic District on Jekyll Island
In 1886, Jekyll Island was purchased to become an exclusive winter retreat, known as the Jekyll Island Club. It soon became recognized as “the richest, most inaccessible club in the world.” Club members included such notable figures as J.P. Morgan, Joseph Pulitzer, William K. Vanderbilt, and Marshall Field. Members prized the island for its “sense of splendid isolation,” beautiful landscape, and moderate climate. Jekyll Island, with its cottage colony and clubhouse, was viewed as a little paradise, where members and guests pursued “a life of elegant leisure.” Here, they enjoyed a variety of outdoor pursuits, such as hunting, horseback riding, skeet shooting, golf, tennis, biking, croquet, lawn bowling, picnics, and carriage rides. Today, the former Club grounds comprise a 240-acre site with 34 historic structures. The Jekyll Island Club National Historic Landmark District is one of the largest ongoing restoration projects in the southeastern United States, attracting curious guests from around the world. Amid lush grounds at the riverʼs edge, the Jekyll Island Club Hotel is the centerpiece of Jekyll Islandʼs celebrated Historic District. The Hotel is the Islandʼs only Four-Star resort and is a National Historic Landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Hotel is also a member of Historic Hotels of America.
Rent bikes and ride on over 20 miles of bike paths on Jekyll Island
Hours: Seasonal hours; please call.
Discover the charm and history of Jekyll Island providing easy and safe access to many historic sites, restaurants, beaches, and shops without the use of a car. Bike paths connect many of the islands’ most popular sites along the Jekyll Island Trail System. You can even explore our many hard-packed beaches by bike to catch a glimpse of coastal wildlife and nature. Leave your vehicle at your accommodations or one of the many parking areas and enjoy the slower paced option of biking. Many hotels on Jekyll Island have access to bike rentals, but in case yours doesn’t stop by Beachside Bike Rentals. They rent bicycles at Days Inn & Suites, Seafarer Inn & Suites, and Villas by the Sea.
Rent Kayaks and Take a Trip to Shark Tooth Beach with Turtle Tides Jekyll
Turtle Tides Jekyll can arrange a shark tooth hunting adventure while you’re on a private eco tour with a knowledgeable guide. While most are scheduled during the low-tide, it is possible to paddle over at mid-tide as well. The tours are 2 hours and as much or as little of that time can be spent searching for shark teeth or paddling in the river and freshwater creeks. Most days frolicking dolphins and sometimes even manatees emerge to play in the afternoon sun. Children of all ages enjoy the beauty of the shells on the bank that capture and camouflage the teeth. A guide will teach you the art of finding long lost fossils. The kayaks are the stable sit-on-top style and are designed for beginner+ skill levels. Children will need to kayak with the adult in a tandem/triple kayak. Don’t want to hit the water? You can reach Shark Tooth Beach by foot, but it is a pretty good hike through some wooded areas. If you decide to set out for a hike, be sure to pack lots of bug spray and water. The hike is deceptively long and it gets really hot during the summer months.
Catch fresh shrimp off The Lady Jane Shrimp Boat
Technically in Brunswick, The Lady Jane is a United States Coast Guard certified passenger steel shrimping vessel recently retired after years of loyal service to the shrimping industry. She has been painstakingly refurbished for your cruising pleasure. Take two hours out of the day and spend it aboard Lady Jane. If you like, help the crew sort the catch of Bonnethead , Blacktip, Sand shark, Horseshoe Crab,Puffer Fish, Amberjack, Crocker, Spot, Whiting, Bluecrab and Skate. , If you’re worried about bad weather, relax! Each cruise will be in protected waters of St. Simons Sound. Lady Jane provides an air conditioned cabin, restroom, large open covered deck with ample room for you to walk around and enjoy the view. Your tour starts right next to Marshside Grill. And if you don’t catch anything, they have plenty of fresh fish and shrimp too. To book a trip visit www.shrimpcruise.com.
You now are considered a certified visitor. Check back for our blog about the Top 10 Things to do when it’s too hot or raining on St. Simons and Jekyll Island.
We hope you have enjoyed your stay with us and we look forward to hearing about what your favorite thing to do while visiting the Golden Isles. Legend has it that once you get our sand on your feet you are certain to return. So visit our website theislanddirectory.com for a list of The Best of The Golden Isles. We have compiled a directory of the best places to to eat, shop, stay and play in the Golden Isles. See you next time!
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