St. Simons Island: Eat, Drink and Party Island-Style

St. Simons Islanders like any excuse to gather and have a good time—and this charming getaway offers up some of the finest restaurants, musicians and festivals.

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The Cloister at Sea Island

The Cloister at Sea Island

This Forbes 5-Star relaxing escape on the privately owned Sea Island comes with all the amenities—even the ones you didn’t think of (Fish dissection for the kids! Spice-based exfoliation for Mom!). No wonder The Cloister has seen its share of Rockefellers, Fords and Bushes over the years. The original hotel opened in 1928 and it quickly became a retreat for the rich and famous. Today, the Mediterranean style main building sits on a veritable compound that includes a Beach Club, three 18-hole championship courses, a 65,000 square-foot spa, shooting school, stables and 5 miles of private beach. Throw in six top-rated restaurants and it’s easy to see why U.S. News rated The Cloister one of the best hotels in the U.S. in 2015. 960 1280

Christine Hall  

The Cloister: Kids’ edition

The Cloister: Kids’ edition

Just as easily as The Cloister can be a quiet escape for overworked business men and women looking to recharge, it can also be a destination vacation for families of theme-park proportions. Families can embark on day adventures like kayak tours, horseback riding and eco tours. Or, kids can enroll in the tennis and golf academies, take archery lessons, etiquette classes, or sign-up for the day camp where staff lead kids in discoveries, games, crafts and other outdoor adventures. And if the young ones get too weary they can always find their way to the kids’ spa. 960 1280

Christine Hall  

World-Class Courses

World-Class Courses

With 180-holes of golf and accommodating year-round weather, the Golden Isles have become a golf Mecca worthy of a pilgrimage. Stunning marsh and ocean views compliment the spectacularly designed and meticulously maintained courses, one of which was designed by PGA TOUR professional and Sea Island resident, Davis Love III (Sea Island’s Retreat Course). The Seaside Scottish-links style course at the Sea Island Golf Club is one of several such courses in the area; it is also the site of the RSM Classic. One of the PGA TOUR’s premier stops, the RSM Classic draws the world’s elite golfers to the Southeast and has raised millions of dollars for charities. 960 1280

GoldenIsles.com  

The King and Prince Resort

The King and Prince Resort

After six years as a seaside dance club, the space was converted into a modern hotel in 1941. Several additional renovations and updates over the years have transformed The King and Prince Resort into St. Simons Island’s most luxurious resort, and its rich history even earned it a place on the National Register of Historic Places. The resort rests directly on the Atlantic coastline and includes guest rooms, beach villas, resort residencies and breathtaking ocean-front pools. The sensationally designed golf course rests on the former site of the Hampton Plantation, an 18th-century antebellum plantation that produced cotton, indigo and rice. Today, in stark contrast, it simply produces play. 960 1280

Chris Johnson, Johnson Pictures Inc.  

Jekyll Island Club

Jekyll Island Club

What has been rated as one of the top 500 resorts in the world by Travel + Leisure, the Jekyll Island Club also had opulent beginnings. The club was developed post-Civil War as a hunting club to draw affluent Northerners. In 1888 the Queen-Anne style club was built, and the wealthy followed. The Rockefellers, Astors, Vanderbilts and Pulitzers were among the illustrious membership that enjoyed lawn parties and stately dinners. At the time, Munsey’s Magazine described the resort as the “richest, the most exclusive, the most inaccessible club in the world.” Today, Jekyll Island Club continues to play homage to its exclusive and historic roots; the 4-star resort has earned a place among the Historic Hotels of America. 960 1280

J and D Images  

Centennial Olympic Park

Centennial Olympic Park

Visit Centennial Olympic Park, which was built for the 1996 Summer Olympics. The 21-acre park hosts fun events such as Music at Noon, where local bands perform midday; Wednesday WindDown, featuring jazz during rush hour; and Fourth Saturday Family Fun Day, a free event with performers and children’s activities. Don’t miss the dancing water show harmonized with pop music, lights and sound effects at the Fountain of Rings. 960 1280

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Georgia Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium

Dive inside the Georgia Aquarium and discover more than 10 million gallons of water, where tens of thousands of animals — including 500 species from around the world — call home. Get up-close and personal with whale sharks, beluga whales, penguins, dolphins, sea otters and other marine life. 960 1280

Georgia Aquarium  

College Football Hall of Fame

College Football Hall of Fame

Head to Marietta Street in the heart of downtown Atlanta to explore the College Football Hall of Fame. The new 94,256-square-foot facility features the history of college football, a 45-yard indoor football field, the Game Day Theater, football artifacts and interactive multimedia exhibits. 960 1280

Atlanta Hall Management Inc.  

Atlantic Station

Atlantic Station

Walk the brick-paved streets around Atlantic Station to shop at more than 50 stores and boutiques, eat at hip restaurants or sit at a sidewalk café. This multipurpose area features a central park and hosts festivals, concerts and Cirque de Soleil. 960 1280

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The Wren's Nest

The Wren's Nest

Visit the Wren’s Nest on Saturdays and see the famous Uncle Remus stories come to life through storytelling at author Joel Chandler Harris’ historic home. Take a guided tour and stand on the front porch where Harris gave life to the Brer Rabbit tales. 960 1280

Jonathan Hillyer  

Turner Field

Turner Field

Have plans to visit Atlanta in the spring? Add a trip to Turner Field to see the Atlanta Braves play ball, or just take a tour of the Braves Museum & Hall of Fame, the broadcast booth and the dugout. Lucky fans may be able to go into the clubhouse if the team is out of town. 960 1280

Getty Images Sports  

Zoo Atlanta

Zoo Atlanta

See more than 1,500 animals at Zoo Atlanta, home to the largest collections of gorillas and orangutans in the US. This zoo is also one of only 4 in the country to house pandas. We recommend visiting the Giant Panda Conservation Center to see panda twins Mei Lun and Mei Huan. 960 1280

joerivlin  

Legoland Discovery Center

Legoland Discovery Center

Enjoy family fun at Legoland Discovery Center Atlanta, at Phipps Plaza. Kids ages 3-10 will have fun with interactive, hands-on attractions, the 4-D cinema and classes with LEGO Master Model Builders. Check out Atlanta’s famous landmarks in Legos at the Miniland exhibit. 960 1280

Legoland Discovery Center  

Atlanta Botanical Garden

Atlanta Botanical Garden

Explore more than 30 acres of beauty at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, located next to Piedmont Park in Midtown. Take the Canopy Walk, discover seasonal food in the Edible Garden, take the kids swimming in the Sunflower Fountain, and find out more about honeybees in the observation hive. Stop by the garden during the holidays to see a million lights illuminate one of the city’s popular attractions. 960 1280

Steve Harwood  

Six Flags Over Georgia

Six Flags Over Georgia

Take a 200-foot free fall on the Acrophobia at Six Flags Over Georgia. Batman: The Ride, Dahlonega Mine Train, Carrot Patch and Convoy Grande are just a few rides featured at the largest regional theme park in the Southeast.  It has 11 roller coasters, 3 children’s areas and water rides, including those in Hurricane Harbor, an area full of wave pools and slippery slides. 960 1280

Nicole Mays  

Stone Mountain Park

Stone Mountain Park

Welcome to Georgia’s most-visited attraction, Stone Mountain Park. This 3,200-acre park features live shows, shopping, dining and attractions such as the SkyHike, a scenic railroad, the Summit Skyride and Geyser Towers. Look up and gaze at the faces of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis carved into the mountain. Stick around at night to see the Lasershow Spectacular, where lights are choreographed with toe-tapping tunes and amazing pyrotechnics. 960 1280

Stone Mountain Park  

SkyView

SkyView

Step into one of 42 climate-controlled gondolas on this 200-foot-tall Ferris wheel, which towers high above Centennial Olympic Park. We recommend SkyView for breathtaking panoramic views of downtown Atlanta, and don’t miss seeing this grand ride light up the sky at night. 960 1280

SkyView  

Atlanta Movie Tours

Atlanta Movie Tours

Hollywood comes to Atlanta, and visitors to this Southern city can take a tour to see local spots captured on TV shows and in movies including The Walking Dead, Driving Miss Daisy, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, We Are Marshall, Remember the Titans and Anchorman 2. Atlanta Movie Tours also offers Zombie Tours and Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind Tour. And frankly, my dear, you will give a damn. 960 1280

Atlanta Movie Tours  

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site

Take a journey through the struggles of the South, as well as the life and legacy of civil rights pioneer Martin Luther King Jr. The 35-acre historical site features King’s original gravesite and current tomb, the King Center and an International Civil Rights Walk of Fame that displays authentic shoe prints of civil rights leaders. We recommend taking a tour of King’s childhood home, Ebenezer Baptist Church and historic Fire Station No. 6 — one of the South’s first desegregated firehouses. 960 1280

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World of Coca-Cola

World of Coca-Cola

Explore the history of the pop empire since John S. Pemberton invented the sugary concoction that is now a pop-culture icon. Visit the World of Coca-Cola to see advertisements through the years, pose for a photo with the Coca-Cola polar bear, sample more than 60 Coke products from around the world, and try your hand at mixing your own drink recipe. Visitors also get a closer look behind the fizzy beverage’s secret formula in a new interactive experience, Vault of the Secret Formula. 960 1280

Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images  

High Museum of Art

High Museum of Art

Art aficionados can’t leave Atlanta without a trip to the High Museum of Art, which houses American art, European art, African art, folk art, photography and more. The museum hosts visiting exhibitions throughout the year in addition to its main collection, which features Monet, O'Keeffe and other renowned artists. Sip on a glass of wine while listening to live jazz music on Friday nights or visit on a Thursday for family and youth programs. 960 1280

High Museum of Art  

Peachtree Trolley

Peachtree Trolley

Take a 90-minute tour on the Peachtree Trolley, which originates near Centennial Olympic Park. CNN Center, the Fox Theatre, Oakland Cemetery, the Georgia Aquarium and the state Capitol are a few city attractions that trolley riders will see during the tour. 960 1280

Mia McCorkle  

Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

The library and museum dedicated to Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the US, allows visitors the opportunity to peek inside an exact replica of the Oval Office and see what it was like to be the president on an interactive, virtual trip around the world. 960 1280

Robert Neff  

Sun Dial Restaurant, Bar and View

Sun Dial Restaurant, Bar and View

Spectacular views, classic American cuisine and live jazz create the perfect ambience at the Sun Dial. Located 723 feet above the city, it is Atlanta’s only tri-level dining complex, featuring a revolving upscale restaurant, a rotating cocktail lounge and an observatory that offers patrons 360-degree panoramic views of the city’s skyline. 960 1280

Rafterman Photography  

Margaret Mitchell House

Margaret Mitchell House

Take a guided tour of Apartment 1, where the famous author wrote her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Gone With the Wind. The 3-story Tudor Revival house, built in 1899, is on the US National Registry of Historic Places. We recommend checking out the “Making of a Film Legend: Gone With the Wind” exhibition to get the scoop on how the best-selling novel was transformed into a film classic. 960 1280

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Cassina Garden Club Slave Cabins

Cassina Garden Club Slave Cabins

A significant piece of African-American history resides on a former working plantation at Casciogne Bluff on the western side of the island. There, in the late 18th century, James Hamilton built four slave quarters made of tabby—a mixture of lime, sand, water and oyster shells—as part of a planned community of slave dwellings to work the 500 acres of the antebellum plantation that harvested Sea Island cotton and logged timbers. British troops later raided and looted the Hamilton Plantation during the War of 1812, liberating many of Hamilton’s slaves.

The Cassina Garden Club were deeded the property in 1950 and proudly took on the role of land stewards, restoring the two remaining cabins with as much historic accuracy as possible. Their work earned the cabins a place on the National Register of Historic places in 1988.
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Johnson Pictures Inc., GoldenIsles.com  

Fort Frederica National Monument

Fort Frederica National Monument

James Oglethorpe built the fort in 1736 to protect the southern border of Georgia from the encroaching Spanish. Overlooking the Frederica River, the military outpost gave the British an important vantage point from which they could control the inland passage up the coastline and operated as a hub of military operations for more than a decade. Most notably, the fortified walls proved impenetrable by the Spanish during the Battle of Bloody Marsh in 1742. Shortly after that British victory, the fort disbanded. 


Today, visitors walk among the fort’s archaeological remnants that include the ruins of the palisade walls, the magazine where gun power was stored and a soldiers’ barrack. The property, which is managed by the National Parks Service, also includes burial grounds from the 1700s, with ancient tombs emerging from layers of natural overgrowth.

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Johnson Pictures Inc., GoldenIsles.com  

Christ Church

Christ Church

Built in 1820, Christ Church is the second oldest Diocese in Georgia and regarded as one of America’s most beautiful churches—and most photographed. The quaint chapel not only serves as a memorial to John and Charles Wesley, the founders of the Methodist Church who delivered sermons there under a magnificent oak, but also to a young man’s lost love.


After Union forces nearly destroyed the church during the Civil War, 24-year-old Rev. Anson Dodge, Jr. financed its reconstruction in honor of his wife, Ellen, who died unexpectedly on their honeymoon. Anson had her buried beneath the altar. The peaceful and pristine grounds also bear one of the oldest cemeteries in the state, where a number of well-known Georgians rest, including novelist Eugenia Price.

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Chris Bordeleau, GoldenIsles.com  

Avenue of Oaks

Avenue of Oaks

Many a country club boasts a grand entrance, replete with auspicious waterfalls and Roman statues, but few can compare to the natural, breathtaking beauty encountered upon the approach to the Sea Island Golf Club on St. Simons. Formerly the entrance to the most prosperous antebellum plantation in the Golden Isles, double rows of majestic 160-year-old live oaks form an expansive canopy. It’s said that at one time the property boasted so many flowers that sailors could smell their alluring fragrance before ever stepping foot on land. 960 1280

GoldenIsles.com  

St. Simons Lighthouse

St. Simons Lighthouse

The white statuesque lighthouse is a signature of St. Simons—as is the ghost rumored to roam its spiral staircase. After the original lighthouse was destroyed by retreating Confederate troops during the Civil War, the U.S. Government built the current 104-foot structure in 1872. Eight years later, the keeper at the time, Frederick Osborn, was killed in a duel on the grounds by his assistant keeper. Reports of hearing mysterious footsteps along the staircase have been made ever since.

The keepers’ brick cottage at the base of the lighthouse has been converted into a popular museum, but the 129-step to the top of the tower is well worth the breathtaking, panoramic view of the Golden Isles.
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GoldenIsles.com  

Rooted in the South

Rooted in the South

The South is well-known for its cotton and rice production in the 1800s, but few realize that timber was also a thriving industry. St. Simons began exporting lumber in the late 1700s. The timber harvested from Gasciogne Bluff was sent up north to build the USS Constitution, better known as “Old Ironsides,” as the hardy oak planks helped prevent cannonballs from penetrating the ship. Nearly a century later, lumber from St. Simons was also used in the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. 960 1280

Johnson Pictures Inc., GoldenIsles.com  

Ebo Landing

Ebo Landing

In 1803, a slave ship made the harrowing trek through the Middle Passage and landed in Savannah, Georgia, to be sold at the slave market. There, some of the African people known as the “Igbo” (also spelled Ebo or Ibo) were purchased and sent by boat to a plantation on St. Simons Island. En route, the Africans united and rebelled, sending their captors overboard. From there, the story of the Igbo’s landing on Dunbar Creek diverges along several paths.


One written account claims that the Africans immediately walked into the creek, proudly singing, “The Water Spirit brought us, the Water Spirit will take us home,” and drowned themselves. Other stories claim only a few drowned, and the survivors were re-enslaved or relocated. But another account, handed down by African American oral tradition, is known as the “Myth of the Flying Africans,” and has been immortalized by notable writers like Toni Morrison, Alex Haley and Jamaica Kincaid, to name a few. According to the legend, the Africans transformed into buzzards and flew back to Africa. While a historical marker does not yet officially designate the private property on which Ebo Landing exists, it will forever be an important piece of African America.

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GoldenIsles.com  

Wesley Memorial and Gardens

Wesley Memorial and Gardens

On the grounds of Christ Church, one can enter the venerate scape of the Wesley Gardens. The 2-acre garden is adorned with 4,000 azaleas and shrubs of 60 varieties, of particular interest to visitors with green thumbs. But the garden’s centerpiece remains the 18-foot Celtic cross made of Georgia stone to honor the early ministries of John and Charles Wesley.

The brothers came to Georgia in 1736. And while Charles was revered as a poet and writer who penned well-known hymns like “Hark the Herald,” and served as Oglethorpe’s secretary of Indian Affairs, John would be remembered as the founder of American Methodism.
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GoldenIsles.com  

Tree Spirits

Tree Spirits

As the legend goes, back in 1982, local resident and artist Keith Jennings first carved a face into the truck of an oak behind the local haunt Murray’s Tavern in an attempt to settle a bar tab. The intricate weathered face then inspired Jennings to carve more than 16 in the trunks and severed branches of trees across the island. Many of the faces allegedly pay homage to the sailors who lost their lives at sea, but it’s more likely that the trees themselves determine the spirit that emerges from their skin. Either way, the artistically rendered faces perpetually serve as a reminder of the creative talent literally carved into the island’s roots. 960 1280

GoldenIsles.com  

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