St. Simons Island is the largest of the Golden Isles of Georgia, located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. This beautiful island is a popular vacation destination for those seeking sun, sand, and sea. But St. Simons Island is only the beginning of what Coastal Georgia has to offer. The surrounding areas boast a plethora of picturesque towns, charming villages, and stunning natural beauty. In this post, we will take you on a journey through unforgettable day trips from St. Simons Island. From quaint historic towns to pristine beaches, wildlife refuges to ancient forts, we’ve got you covered. So get ready to explore the best of Coastal Georgia.
#1. Jekyll Island
Jekyll Island, a historic retreat near St. Simons Island, offers a blend of history, outdoor adventures, and breathtaking coastal landscapes. With its pristine beaches, charming atmosphere, and rich history, it’s a captivating destination for history enthusiasts and nature lovers. Visitors can explore the Jekyll Island Club National Historic Landmark, a grand hotel with Victorian architecture, and glimpses into the island’s glamorous past.
More so, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, a rehabilitation facility, provides interactive exhibits and educational programs for sea turtle conservation. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the island’s maritime forests and scenic trails, and wildlife sightings are possible. Finally, enjoy a memorable dining experience at one of the island’s waterfront restaurants, where you can enjoy fresh seafood delicacies and stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Savannah, one of the best day trips from St. Simons Island is noted for its charm, history, and Southern friendliness. It has a National Historic Landmark and wonderfully restored buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Visitors can stroll through the city’s cobblestone streets, see the historic Forsyth Park, and take in the scenic vistas of the Savannah River. The rich arts and cultural sector in Savannah includes art galleries, boutiques, and antique shops.
Classic Southern cuisine as well as cosmopolitan flavors are available to food aficionados. Guided tours provide an exceptional opportunity to learn about the city’s history and cultural heritage. Finally, watch the sunset over the Savannah River to round up the day.
#3. Cumberland Island
Cumberland Island, located off the coast of Georgia, is an unforgettable destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. With unspoiled beaches, dense maritime forests, and diverse wildlife, Cumberland Island offers a world of untouched beauty. Wild horses roam freely along the shores, adding to the picturesque landscape. The island is a haven of tranquility, with no paved roads or cars, and offers hidden treasures such as ancient ruins, historic landmarks, and freshwater lakes and marshes.
The Dungeness Ruins, once the Carnegie family’s grand estate, is a highlight of the island’s rich history. For an immersive experience, camping options are available on Cumberland Island, offering a peaceful slumber under a blanket of stars and the gentle ocean breeze.
#4. Okefenokee Swamp
Explore Georgia’s largest blackwater swamp, the Okefenokee Swamp, on a day trip from St. Simons Island. This natural wonder offers a unique and unforgettable experience for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. The swamp is home to diverse wildlife, including alligators, turtles, otters, and birds. Guided boat tours, kayaking, canoeing, and hiking trails provide fascinating insights into the swamp’s history, ecology, and inhabitants.
For a more immersive experience, visit the Okefenokee Swamp Park, which features educational exhibits, a wildlife show, and a boardwalk, enhancing your understanding and appreciation of this remarkable natural treasure.
#5. Tybee Island
Tybee Island, one of the charming day trips near St. Simons Island, offers a vibrant atmosphere with pristine sandy beaches and a picturesque lighthouse. Visitors can enjoy water activities like kayaking, paddle boarding, jet skiing, and parasailing, explore the island’s marshes and estuaries, and enjoy local cuisine at restaurants. The island’s vibrant streets offer unique shops, boutiques, and art galleries, while the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean creates a magical ambiance.
#6. Sapelo Island
This day trip to Sapelo Island, off the coast of Georgia, offers a captivating blend of Gullah-Geechee culture and pristine natural beauty. The island is home to the Geechee community, descendants of African slaves who have preserved their rich cultural heritage. Visitors can explore the historic Hog Hammock community and enjoy traditional Gullah-Geechee cuisine.
Additionally, Sapelo Island’s natural wonders include pristine beaches, marshes, and lush maritime forests. Nature enthusiasts can enjoy a leisurely hike along scenic trails and a guided kayak tour through the island’s waterways. The breathtaking sunset views from the sandy shores or boat will leave visitors in awe.
#7. Fort Frederica National Monument
Visit the historic Fort Frederica National Monument in coastal Georgia, established in 1736 by General James Oglethorpe. The monument showcases the colonial era and serves as a strategic military outpost, defending the southern border of the British colonies against Spanish forces. Visitors can explore the fort’s remains, including partially reconstructed fortifications, barracks, and officer’s quarters.
Moreover, guided tours offer fascinating insights into the everyday lives of the inhabitants, including military drills, trade, and interactions between English colonists and indigenous Creek Indians. The peaceful ambiance and picturesque surroundings make it an ideal spot for leisurely picnics or reflections. Visit the visitor center, where exhibits and a gift shop are available for souvenirs and books.
#8. St. Marys
This day trip to St. Marys, a charming waterfront town near St. Simons Island, offers a rich history and breathtaking natural beauty. The town’s well-preserved architecture reflects its colonial past. The highlight is exploring Cumberland Island, a pristine barrier island accessible by ferry. Cumberland Island is a natural paradise with stunning beaches, maritime forests, and an abundance of wildlife. Visitors can hike along trails and observe wild horses, armadillos, and bird species. The grand Dungeness Ruins, once a luxurious mansion, is a must-see attraction on Cumberland Island.
#9. Golden Isles Botanical Gardens
The Golden Isles Botanical Gardens, located near St. Simons Island, is a hidden gem offering a serene and beautiful experience for nature enthusiasts and garden lovers. Spread across acres of lush greenery, the gardens showcase a diverse range of plants, flowers, and trees that thrive in Georgia’s coastal climate. The gardens offer themed gardens such as the Japanese Garden and Butterfly Garden, providing a Zen-like atmosphere for contemplation.
Guided tours by knowledgeable experts provide insights into plant species and their significance within the ecosystem. The gardens also host cultural and educational events, including art exhibitions and horticulture workshops, providing a deeper understanding of the surrounding botanical wonders. In summary, it is one of the best day trips from St. Simons Island.
Darien, a charming coastal village in Georgia, is a destination that seamlessly blends history and natural beauty. The town’s charming streets and picturesque scenery transport visitors back in time, with well-preserved 19th-century buildings telling the story of its rich past. The historic waterfront features quaint shrimp boats, and the Fort King George Historic Site offers a glimpse into the area’s colonial history.
For nature enthusiasts, Darien offers outdoor activities such as the Darien Waterfront Park, kayaking or canoeing along the Altamaha River, and savoring local culinary delights like freshly caught seafood and the famous Darien shrimp. Reflecting on unforgettable experiences and memories in Darien is essential for a memorable day trip.
#11. Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation
This day trip to Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation offers an unforgettable experience in Southern plantation life. Located near St. Simons Island, the sprawling grounds with oak trees and Spanish moss provide insight into the lives of plantation owners and enslaved individuals who shaped the region’s history. A guided tour of the plantation house offers a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle enjoyed by wealthy plantation owners.
The grounds also hold an allure, with beautifully maintained gardens and a comprehensive on-site museum that explores the complexities of plantation life. The plantation hosts various events and programs, including living history demonstrations and cultural festivals, allowing visitors to engage with the past in an interactive way.
#12. Sapelo Hammock Golf Club
This day trip to Sapelo Hammock Golf Club in Georgia offers a serene and scenic setting for golfers and nature enthusiasts. The 18-hole championship course, designed by Keith Hall, showcases the area’s natural beauty while offering a fair test of golf. Each hole presents unique challenges, such as navigating hazards, overcoming greens, or utilizing winds. The signature par-3 17th hole, “Marsh’s Edge,” is a highlight, requiring a well-executed shot over the marsh.
The club’s knowledgeable staff is always available to provide guidance and ensure a memorable round. Beyond the golf course, Sapelo Hammock Golf Club also features top-notch amenities, including a cozy clubhouse for relaxation and a satisfying meal at the onsite restaurant.