A Day on St. Simons Island in Georgia’s Golden Isles
By Vange Tapia
When Spanish explorers explored the southern coast of Georgia looking for gold, they instead found beautiful beaches and golden marshes. Me? I went looking for the culture and history of St. Simons Island, the largest of the Golden Isles in Georgia in the southeastern U.S.
St. Simons Island Outdoor Activities
I began my stay on St. Simons Island with people-watching and absorbing the gorgeous views at St. Simons Fishing Pier. Many tourists and locals come here to go fishing, watch a spectacular oceanfront sunrise or just hang out.
Right down the street from the pier, I went to visit the St. Simons Island Lighthouse that still guides ships into St. Simons Sound and warns of the many sandbars in the area. I thought I wouldn’t be able to make all 129 steps up, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought and it sure was rewarding. I spotted stunning views of Little St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island and Brunswick. The lighthouse also has an interesting museum with various exhibitions and two museum stores.
Mallery Street and Neptune Park
Right by the fishing pier is Mallery Street and Pier Village, a colourful area where you can shop and dine at small boutiques and locally owned restaurants. I window shopped the quaint stores and savoured the aromas tempting me from restaurant patios.
If you’re with your family, take the kids to enjoy Neptune Park, just a short walk from the pier. Neptune Park has a playground, picnic tables and a miniature golf course. Children will love the Fun Zone, which has water slides, a zero-entry pool and a wading area. Best of all, it’s all along the ocean front, making for such a pretty and relaxing day on the island.
Historic Sites on St. Simons
About 20 minutes from the lighthouse, we drove to Fort Frederica. Regarded as a national monument of the 18th century, the fort was built as protection of British interests against the Spanish. Just a few minutes away from the fort, we visited Christ Church, Frederica. Built of wood in the cruciform design with magnificent stained glass windows, it also has a cemetery in the gardens with graves of early settlers and many famous Georgians. The surrounding live oaks covered in Spanish moss complete this ethereal setting.
Near the fort is something a little different – the Wesley Memorial and Gardens. Dedicated to the Reverends John and Charles Wesley (the latter wrote the popular Christmas hymn, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”), the gardens are as beautiful as they are tranquil. Time your visit to see the blooming azaleas. Between the flowers and the Spanish moss-draped trees, it’s hard to imagine anything more peaceful. The centerpiece of this memorial is a Celtic cross made of Georgia stone. Next to the garden is the Christ Church Cemetery, with its oldest headstone dating back to 1803.
The beach town of St. Simons Island offers a wide variety of activities and tourist attractions for the whole family.