Are you looking for the best things to do in St. Simons Island? If so, I’ve got you covered!
Over the past three years, I've had the privilege of calling St. Simons my part-time home. During this time I've made it my mission to explore every nook and cranny of this incredible island – from its charming streets to its sprawling parks, from its breathtaking beaches to its winding trails. And as a passionate photographer and lover of the outdoors, I've also scoured the island for the most picture-worthy spots, seeking out those special places that feed my nature-loving soul.
But my time in St. Simons hasn't just been about soaking up its natural beauty. I've also made it a priority to delve into the island's rich history and culture, which I believe is crucial to fully appreciating the unique fabric of its identity.
By taking the time to learn about its past and immerse myself in its magic, I've gained a deeper understanding of what makes St. Simons such a special place, and I’m super excited to share all that I’ve discovered with you!
Below I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of what I believe are the best things to do in St. Simons Island, which I’ve broken down into five main categories to help you find the activities best suited to what you like to do. So whether you want to immerse yourself in history, capture stunning photographs, enjoy outdoor activities, or simply connect with Mother Nature, St. Simons Island offers a perfect mix of relaxation, learning, and adventure.
So as you plan a trip for the entire family, a getaway with friends, or a solo escape by the water, I hope this travel guide of fun things to do in St. Simons Island helps you find unique and memorable ways to enjoy all the island has to offer.
Just one warning though: St. Simons has a way of working its way into your heart to stay!
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Things to do in St. Simons Island: History and Culture
Steeped in rich history and vibrant culture, St. Simons Island offers an endless array of things to do for those curious about the island's fascinating origins. From the colonial era to the present day, discover significant historical sites throughout the island that have helped shape the identity of this beautiful coastal town.
Whether you're looking to explore historic landmarks, visit fascinating museums, or embark on meaningful cultural tours, here are 11 things to do in St. Simons Island that I personally feel offer exceptional insight into the island's storied past and its one-of-a-kind culture.
Climb to the top of the Lighthouse
For anyone exploring the Golden Isles of Georgia, a visit to the St. Simons Island lighthouse should be at the top of your list!
Begin by immersing yourself in the island’s maritime past at the St. Simons Lighthouse Museum, where you can enjoy interactive displays, view rare relics, and peruse archival images that offer a glimpse into the daily life of lighthouse keepers and highlight the lighthouse's history and its significance during World War II. Then climb the 129 steps to the top of the lighthouse to enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of St. Simons and its picturesque coastline, including beautiful Jekyll Island and the renowned Sidney Lanier Bridge in the distance.
An iconic landmark on the coast since 1872, this lighthouse holds a special place in my heart as my grandfather brought me here as a child and regaled me with stories of his life as a Navy pilot while explaining the importance of lighthouses during wartime. It’s the starting point of any tour I give first-timers to the island and an activity I highly recommend you add to your list of things to do in St. Simons Island as it brings together the history and beauty of the place in such a special way.
Except for major holidays and during inclement weather, the St. Simons Lighthouse Museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sundays from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm. The cost of admission is $12 for adults and $6 for kids ages 6 to 12.
Travel back in time at Fort Frederica National Monument
Journey into the past to learn about St. Simons Island’s early days at Fort Frederica National Monument, one of the most sought out attractions and most popular things to do in St. Simons Island.
Established in 1736 by James Oglethorpe to protect the southern border of his British colony, visitors to Fort Frederica can immerse themselves in the captivating history of colonial America while exploring the ruins of this military outpost, which served as a crucial line of defense against the Spanish in the early 18th century.
Walk amongst the remains of the historic town's walls and military barracks while imagining yourself as a British soldier, standing watch and ready to defend the colony at a moment's notice. Take in the sweeping views of the surrounding marsh and stunning centuries-old oak trees draped in Spanish moss. Marvel at the strategic importance of this once-thriving settlement that served as a hub for trade, diplomacy, and communication with Native American tribes. And gain invaluable insight into the island’s founding and its early evolution.
Open daily (except on holidays) from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Fort Frederica is free to the public and is a great place for history buffs, military enthusiasts, and anyone who enjoys learning about colonial-era architecture. (And if you visit during the off-season when the park is quiet, chances are you’ll see deer grazing and lots of other wildlife enjoying the beautiful grounds as well!)
Visit the site of the pivotal Battle of the Bloody Marsh
Stand on the very site where the British successfully defended St. Simons Island and ended Spanish claims to the Georgia territory once and for all.
The Battle of the Bloody Marsh took place on July 7, 1742, when the Spanish attempted to invade Georgia but were met head-on by British troops led by James Oglethorpe who foiled their plans and forced them to retreat. This was the only attempt by the Spanish to invade Georgia during the War of Jenkins’ Ear (a minor war in American history, but a major one for colonial Georgia), and the British victory secured Georgia's position as a British colony.
Part of the Fort Frederica National Monument, this battle site is open daily (except on holidays) from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm and is free to visit.
Take an African-American Heritage Tour
Learn about the Gullah-Geechee community and its crucial impact on the island’s culture by joining a tour with the St. Simons African American Heritage Coalition.
Led by knowledgeable guides, the tour takes you on a historic journey through time to explore the legacy of slavery, emancipation, and the Civil Rights movement in St. Simons while teaching you about significant contributions made by the Black community to the island’s economy, culture, and social fabric. I think this is one of the most valuable things to do in St. Simons Island to really help you gain a complete understanding of the island's culture.
Schedule your tour by calling (912) 634-0330.
Attend a Church Service at First African Baptist Church
Feel the spirit of the African American community both past and present by attending a church service at the iconic First African Baptist Church, one of the most culturally significant places on St. Simons Island.
Constructed by slaves from various plantations around the island, First African Baptist Church is among the most notable and time-honored churches on St. Simons. Although originally established in 1859 in a small tabby building near the West Point Plantation, the church moved into its current building when construction was complete in 1869. And despite the difficulties of traveling by foot across the 12-mile-long island, church members ventured from all parts of St. Simons to attend worship services here every Sunday, which now serves as a lasting testament to the perseverance and determination of the enslaved people.
Although there are no tours offered, worship services are held on Sundays at 11:00 am.
Uncover Coastal Georgia’s wartime contributions at the World War II Home Front Museum
Learn about the Golden Isles’ multifaceted role during World War II, gain a deeper understanding of the sacrifices and contributions made by Americans, and honor the legacy of those who served at the World War II Home Front Museum.
Located in the Historic Coast Guard Station at East Beach, this museum provides an immersive experience, transporting visitors back to the 1940s with its extensive collection of artifacts, interactive exhibits, and audiovisual displays. Visitors can learn about challenges such as food rations and blackouts faced by Americans on the home front, try their hand at plane spotting or directing fighter pilots, find out about the efforts of women and minorities during wartime, and discover how the Golden Isles served as both a training ground for soldiers and a hub for the production of naval supplies.
This museum also tells the story of Glynn County’s three critical wartime facilities (a Liberty shipyard, an airship base, and a radar training school) and highlights just how close to the Atlantic shoreline the war really came.
And because my grandfather served in World War II and retired in St. Simons after his time in the Navy, I always suggest this museum when people ask me for ideas of things to do in St. Simons Island!
With the exception of major holidays, visitors can explore the World War II Home Front Museum from Monday to Saturday between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm, and on Sundays between 12:00 pm and 5:00 pm. Admission fees are $12 for adults and $6 for children aged 6 to 12.
Learn about the educational impact of segregation at the Historic Harrington School
Get a unique look at one of the most important cultural and historical sites of the Gullah-Geechee community by visiting the Historic Harrington School (formerly known as the Harrington Graded School).
Built in 1921, this one-room schoolhouse served as the educational hub for three Black communities from grades 1-7 during the era of segregation. Despite closing down after desegregation in the 1960s, the school has been lovingly restored to its former glory and now acts as a vibrant cultural center. Using a captivating array of artifacts and displays that highlight the work of notable African American teachers, scholars, and activists, the cultural center seeks to educate, inform, and uphold the legacy of the Gullah-Geechee culture in St. Simons Island.
Tours of the Historic Harrington School are available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
Walk where the Wesleys walked at Christ Church Frederica
Whether you're a history buff, a lover of beautiful architecture, or simply looking for a peaceful and inspiring experience, Christ Church Frederica is an iconic landmark and one of the most popular things to do in St. Simons Island.
Considered the most photographed place on the island, Christ Church is one of the oldest churches in Georgia, with worship services remaining continuous on the grounds since 1736. It is also a pivotal location in the early days of the Methodist Church as it is here that John and Charles Wesley preached before returning home to England to help found the Methodist Church.
Nestled among cedar trees, holly trees, and stunning live oaks in what I consider one of the most picturesque parts of the island, Christ Church is the spiritual home for many influential people both past and present, with its cemetery serving as the final resting place for many notable figures. And if you look carefully, you might spot the oldest tombstone in the cemetery, which dates back to 1803!
Christ Church holds church services in its historic Frederica chapel on Sundays at 8:00 am, 9:15 am, and 11:15 am on Sundays, with live streaming available for the 9:15 service. It is also open to visitors from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm Tuesday through Sunday, and the cemetery grounds are open on the same days of the week from sunrise to sunset.
Tour the Hamilton Plantation Slave Cabins at the Cassina Garden Club
Photo courtesy of the Golden Isles
Visiting the Hamilton Plantation Slave Cabins offers a solemn reminder of the profound and enduring impact of slavery in the Southern United States.
Built in the early 1800s and later restored by the Cassina Garden Club, these tabby cabins once housed enslaved workers who labored on the Hamilton Plantation during the antebellum era. Visitors can see the simple and cramped living quarters where these slaves slept and ate while gaining a deeper understanding of the daily lives and struggles of those who were held in bondage.
The Hamilton Slave Cabins offer a poignant and thought-provoking reminder of the importance of remembering and learning from our past, and a chance to honor the resilience and strength of those who endured the horrors of slavery.
Free tours are offered June through August from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm on Wednesdays, and March through November from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm on the first and third Saturdays of each month.
Stand on sacred ground at Ebo Landing
Photo courtesy of GPB News
Feel the resilience and sacrifice of enslaved Africans while standing on sacred ground at Ebo Landing.
Ebo Landing is a significant place in African American history as it is here that in 1803 a group of 75 enslaved Africans from Igboland (or the present-day Republic of Nigeria) made the powerful decision to revolt against their captors. Rather than be forced to live in slavery, they walked in unison into Dunbar Creek and drowned themselves, choosing death over enslavement. This act of resistance is one of the events that sparked the anti-slavery movement in the Western world.
Today this sacred site serves as a symbol of defiance as well as a sobering reminder of this deeply oppressive and dehumanizing era in American history. Here visitors can reflect on the strength and courage of those who took a stand against the horrors of slavery.
Experiences like this are among the most valuable things to do in St. Simons Island because they offer a complete picture of the island's history and help you to truly understand the roots of where its culture began.
Learn about Georgia’s rice coast at the Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation
Photo courtesy of Golden Isles Magazine
Get a dose of rice cultivation history and a bit of southern culture at the Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation State Park and Historic Site, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Once a rice plantation carved by slaves in the 1800s and then turned dairy, this property now belongs to the state of Georgia thanks to the 5th-generation Hofwyl-Broadfield siblings who left it as a gift with hopes of preserving their family legacy. One of the last remaining traces of the rice plantations that once flourished along Georgia's coast, this site now houses a museum and offers a guided tour where visitors can see the antebellum home and its heirlooms while learning about the challenges of rice cultivation and the era of forced labor that played an important role in the success of this plantation.
Things to do in St. Simons Island: Beaches
One of the first things that come to mind when people think of St. Simons Island is its beautiful beaches and for good reason! Boasting some of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the southeastern United States, the sandy beaches of St. Simons cannot be missed.
But don’t make the mistake of envisioning white sand and crystal blue water as you find in some neighboring beach towns along the East Coast – the beaches in St. Simons Island are what I like to describe as more rustically beautiful!
Here you’ll find yourself lost in the beauty of the picturesque sand dunes that surround the shore, offering a natural barrier against erosion and providing a habitat for various coastal plants and wildlife. (Sadly, due to storms in 2022 such as Hurricane Ian and Tropical Storm Nicole, a number of these dunes got washed away.) The sand here is also hard-packed because of the tides, so the sand between your toes feels a bit different than what you might expect! But perhaps the most notable difference about the beaches in St. Simons is the unique color of the water, which is a deep shade of brown due to the tannins, sediment, and microscopic plant and animal life that get churned up as nearby river waters empty into the Atlantic Ocean.
To me, these distinctive features of the Golden Isles’ beaches are what make them stand out, and taking the time to relax and appreciate the tranquility and stunning scenery of this coastline is definitely one of the best things to do in St. Simons Island. And although any time spent at the beach is always time well spent, here are 4 of my top recommendations for how to make the most of your time by the sea!
Enjoy a day of sunbathing and water sports at Coast Guard Station Beach
The most popular beach on the island – and my personal favorite – is Coast Guard Station Beach, named after the historic coast guard station that sits at the entrance and now houses the World War II Home Front Museum. (Locals often refer to this beach as “East Beach,” but East Beach actually encompasses the entire stretch of coastline in St. Simons, not just this section of it.)
The beach at the Coast Guard Station is the ultimate spot for beach lovers looking for ample space to lay out their towels, beach chairs, tents, and umbrellas. With a wide and expansive stretch of sand, it's the ideal location for a full-on beach day, and with its generous space, you have an excellent chance of finding a perfect spot even during the busiest days and weekends.
This island beach is also a hub for fishing aficionados, who often cast their lines at the water's edge, and perfect for anyone looking to try their hand at a range of water sports. Whether you're into boogie boarding, surfing, sailing, kite sailing, or just splashing around in the waves, this is the place to do it!
Plus, if you want a picture-perfect spot to witness the magic of sunrise, look no further! This section of East Beach is my all-time favorite place to watch the sun peek up over the horizon. Even on the cloudiest of mornings, the stunning sunrise skies will take your breath away!
Plan a picnic at Massengale Park
Photo courtesy of the Golden Isles
Another wonderful spot to set up camp for the day and indulge in some good old-fashioned beach fun is Massengale Park. This stretch of beach sits between the Coast Guard Station beach and the King and Prince resort and offers direct beach access from the parking lot. Although equally as beautiful and well-suited for a day in the sun as any other section of East Beach, what really sets Massengale Park apart is its fantastic amenities.
From a fun-filled playground for the kids to shaded picnic areas complete with community grills and picnic tables, Massengale Park has everything you need. This was always my family’s favorite beach access point when I was growing up because we not only enjoyed planning picnics under the trees, but the shade provided a welcome reprieve from the blazing hot sun!
Soak in the sites while walking along the water by the pier
The stretch of East Beach near the pier and Pier Village is an absolute must-visit for beachgoers who appreciate a good scenic walk. From the stunning seaside vacation homes to the picturesque St. Simons Island Lighthouse and even a view of Jekyll Island in the distance, there’s a feast of beautiful views to enjoy while strolling along the water's edge.
And if you're lucky enough to be there at the right time, watching the sunset from this beach is a spectacle not to be missed! Just make sure to check the tide times and plan your walk accordingly since beach access is only available during low tide and mid tide.
Look for shells and sand dollars at Gould’s Inlet
For the beachcombers in the group, Gould's Inlet has a treasure trove of goodies waiting for you to explore!
Even though it's the tiniest section of East Beach at the south end of the island, it's the perfect location to hunt for beautiful shells and sand dollars. And when the tide is low, an enormous sandbar extends far out into the water, which is often where the most interesting beach finds and hidden gems await.
Plus, it’s about as close to feeling as though you’re walking on water as you’re likely ever to get! Which I think makes it one of the more unique things to do in St. Simons Island.
Please note: The sand dollar pictured in this photo is alive and should not be collected! Live sand dollars are brown or pink in color and have thousands of little pink spines on the bottom. They are amazing to see and appreciate, but should not be disturbed! Only white, sunbleached sand dollar "shells" should be collected, which there are plenty of as well!
Things to do in St. Simons Island: Adventure, Outdoors, and Exploration
St. Simons Island offers a wide array of activities for those seeking adventure, outdoor exploration, and the chance to experience nature in a unique way. From kayaking through the salt marshes to horseback riding on the beach to playing a round of golf at one of the island’s world-class courses and so much more, there are endless things to do in St. Simons Island to help you enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer.
Although nearly an impossible task, I’ve narrowed down my list of recommendations to these 16 fun things to do in St. Simons Island for folks who enjoy the outdoors and want to experience the beauty of St. Simons in different and memorable ways.
Discover hidden St. Simons gems on a Guided Trolley Tour
Photo courtesy of St. Simons Trolley
Explore St. Simons Island in true southern fashion and enjoy a laugh on the St. Simons Trolley.
Southern Belle Bunny and Kevin the King provide interesting and informative narratives of 400 years of island history coupled with a bit of folklore and some hilarious anecdotes about life in the south. One of the most notable things to do in St. Simons Island, this drive-by tour includes 36 points of interest and culminates in a walking tour of Christ Church graveyard (except on Mondays when the church grounds are closed).
This 1.5-hour trolley tour runs daily at 11:00 am and is $20 for adults and $10 for children ages 4-12.
Fish for local Atlantic delicacies with a Chartered Fishing Tour
Photo courtesy of Gene Gallin
Explore the depths of the Atlantic Ocean with a chartered fishing tour.
With its abundance of fish species and stunning coastal views, St. Simons offers the perfect backdrop for a day out on the water. Whether you're an experienced angler or just trying your hand with a fishing pole for the first time, a chartered fishing boat tour is a great way to soak up some sun while getting a taste of the local fishing scene.
And don't worry, no matter what type of fishing excursion you’re looking for, there are a number of charter options in the area to help you plan the perfect day at sea.
Set a tee time at a world-class golf course
Photo courtesy of mk. s
Practice your golf swing and enjoy breathtaking island views at one of the island's renowned golf courses, by far one of the most in-demand things to do in St. Simons Island!
A true golfer’s paradise, go hit some balls at the driving range, take a private lesson, or book some tee times to enjoy a full 18 holes at one of the island’s acclaimed courses. Be it one of the three Sea Island Golf courses (where a number of professional golfers train), the Sea Palms Golf Course (offering the best bang for your buck), or the King and Prince Golf Course, (which boasts some of the best marsh views and wildlife sightings around) St. Simons has it all for those looking to hit the greens.
Adventure around the island on Horseback
Photo courtesy of Diana
Saddle up and see the sights of St. Simons on horseback.
Whether you prefer to ride on the beach, take a tour through the Musgrove Plantation, or tour the woods of Frederica Township, The Stables at Frederica offer rides for every age and experience level. They also offer lessons for folks of all ages and pony rides at the stable for kids ages 3-10.
I remember my first beach ride as a young girl, and to this day it's one of my best memories and one of my favorite things to do in St. Simons Island.
Rides can accommodate up to 10 people at a time and prices range from $85 and up.
See the sights by golf cart
Photo courtesy of Mikhail Nilov
Feel the wind in your hair and enjoy a leisurely drive around the island in a golf cart.
A fun and convenient way to see many of the sights that St. Simons has to offer, golf cart excursions allow you to travel at your own pace while taking in the island's breathtaking scenery in an up close and personal way. Cruise around the island's winding streets, stop for a picnic at a local park, or take a leisurely ride along the scenic salt marsh – whatever you choose to do, a golf cart excursion is an enjoyable and eco-friendly way to get out and explore.
Search for hidden Tree Spirits
Embark on a scavenger hunt like no other as you search for the elusive tree spirits of St. Simons.
Created by artist Keith Jennings and his son Devon, the weathered faces of these oak tree carvings each have their own distinct personality and expression. The legend goes that the images immortalize the sailors who once sailed aboard ships made of St. Simons oak, but Jenning says the faces actually depict the soul of each tree.
My mom and I went hunting for tree spirits for the first time last fall and had an absolute blast looking for their mysterious and soulful faces. I think this is without a doubt one of the most unique things to do in St. Simons Island, but be forewarned: some are definitely much harder to find than others!
For more information about the tree spirits and a map of where to find them, swing by the St. Simons Island Welcome Center and begin your scavenger hunt there.
Explore the island on two wheels
Rent a bike and go for a ride on the hard-packed sand along the water's edge!
With over 30 miles of bike paths encircling the island, there are countless views to enjoy on two wheels. From bustling shopping districts to lush marshland to serene river views and more, hopping on a bike is one of the most popular things to do in St. Simons Island and the ultimate way to uncover its awe-inspiring beauty and irresistible charm.
Kayak, canoe, or Paddle board through the Marshes of Glynn County
Photo courtesy of SouthEast Adventure Outfitters
Take your exploration of St. Simons Island to the next level by kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boarding through the stunning marshes of Glynn County.
Wade through tidal creeks and the tranquil waterways of the marsh for a unique perspective of the island's ecosystem that allows for up-close encounters with local flora and fauna. Whether you head out by yourself or join a guided tour, St. Simons’ maze of marshes and river inlets makes for an idyllic setting to enjoy the island’s scenery and wildlife.
Enjoy an afternoon of outdoor fun at Neptune Park
Have some fun and make a splash at Neptune Park and its Fun Water Zone water park.
Located in the heart of St. Simons Island's Pier Village, this lively oceanfront park is one of the most popular spots by the fishing pier. It's a great place for families looking for things to do in St. Simons for kids and for folks who enjoy a bit of outdoor entertainment. With two playgrounds, a public swimming pool with water slides, mini-golf for all ages, and more, Neptune Park offers a great time for the whole family.
There are also community grills and shaded picnic tables for planning a family BBQ or party, as well as a number of benches scattered throughout the park where you can simply sit and take in the stunning ocean views. And with concerts, festivals, and other exciting events happening all year round, Neptune Park has its finger on the pulse of the local St. Simons Island community.
Shop and eat your way through Pier Village
Photo courtesy of Real Escapes Properties
Eat, drink, and shop ‘til you drop in the charming St. Simons Island Pier Village in downtown St. Simons.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect souvenir or a mouthwatering meal, Pier Village is a haven for foodies and shoppers alike. Located within walking distance of the fishing pier, Neptune Park, and many hotels and beach rentals, here you'll find everything from trendy beachwear to tasty sweet treats to yummy seafood to exquisite local art. And with markets and festivals often taking place in the streets, it’s the ultimate activity for anyone looking for things to do in St. Simons Island that get you out and about amongst the locals.
Sail the open seas
Photo courtesy of Inge Wallumrød
Set sail and feel the wind in your hair as you embark on an Atlantic sailing adventure from St. Simons.
With its mild weather and stunning scenery, sailing around St. Simons Island is a perfect way to enjoy the island's natural beauty while relaxing on the water. Whether you're in the mood for a luxurious yacht charter, a thrilling Hobie Cat ride, or a romantic sunset sail, St. Simons Island has tons of marinas to choose from to help you customize the boat tour you desire.
Take a Dolphin Tour and meet the happiest creatures in the sea
Join lifelong St. Simons resident and licensed US Coast Guard Master Captain Cap Fendig for a dolphin tour with Lighthouse Trolleys Land and Sea Tours
Perhaps one of the most memorable things to do in St. Simons Island, Cap will guide you through the most extensive ecosystem on the East Coast and bring you face-to-face with Bottlenose dolphins. These intelligent creatures are abundant in the Golden Isles, and he knows just where to find them!
Along the way, you’ll also explore marshland rivers and inland waters, with the chance to see rare birds, manatees, sea turtles, endangered wildlife, and more.
Voted by locals as the best dolphin tour in St. Simons, the cost for this action-packed 90-minute tour is $35 for adults, $30 for teens ages 13-17, $15 for kids ages 3-12, and $10 for children under 2.
Join a Shrimpin’ excursion aboard the Lady Jane
Photo courtesy of Shrimpin' Excursions
Join Captain Cameron and his crew for a trawl through the Marshes of Glynn County.
Once a commercial steel-hull shrimping trawler, the refurbished Lady Jane now takes passengers on an exciting and educational eco-tour through the protected waters of the Golden Isles. Each excursion includes a trawl and the chance to discover and learn about the fascinating sea life in Georgia. (But don’t worry, everything that’s caught gets returned to the water unharmed!)
Definitely one of the most unique things to do in St. Simons Island, the Shrimpin' Excursion lasts about 2 hours and costs $53 for guests 6 years and older, and $43 for kids ages 2-5. Reservations are required.
Enjoy a kaleidoscope of birds along the Colonial Coast Birding Trail
Break out your binoculars and embark on an unforgettable journey along Coastal Georgia’s famous birding trail!
More than 300 species of birds call this area home, and you’ll have the chance to see some of them in their natural habitats and communities within shorelines, salt marshes, rice fields, woodlands, and wetlands. From majestic Bald Eagles soaring high above to adorable sanderlings chasing waves on a sandy beach to stoic egrets standing motionless in a placid pond, each visit to this trail offers the chance to discover something new.
The Colonial Coast Birding Trail consists of 18 sites in total, four of which are in the Golden Isles. The birds you see depend on where you visit, the time of year, and the rise and fall of the tide, but there’s no shortage of feathered friends to enjoy no matter when you go. For the bird watchers in the group, this is definitely one of the best things to do in St. Simons Island!
Spend an afternoon exploring Downtown Historic Brunswick
Eat, drink, and learn as you enjoy a leisurely stroll through Historic Downtown Brunswick, the only city of the Golden Isles.
Located about a 15-minute drive from the heart of St. Simons, this historic city by the sea is home to a treasure trove of fascinating landmarks, quaint shops, an amazing art scene, and some of the best restaurants in the area. Here you can discover the stunning Victorian-era architecture, charming parks, and picturesque squares that make this town a true gem of the Golden Isles. And if you time your visit right, make sure to include a wander through the Farmer's Market at Mary Ross Park, which is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Downtown Historic Brunswick is also just a short drive away from Jekyll Island, so you could start your day with sunrise on Jekyll’s famous Driftwood Beach, spend the morning learning about sea turtles at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, and then make your way over to Brunswick for lunch and a day of shopping and exploration!
Go crabbing or fishing off the St. Simons Island Fishing Pier
Grab a pole or a net and some bait and join the locals for a day of fun for the whole family!
If there’s one thing about St. Simons that brings me right back to my childhood it’s the days I spent with my dad crabbing for blue crabs off the fishing pier. I remember vividly tying our raw chicken into our net and waiting anxiously for a nibble! But what makes this one of my favorite things to do in St. Simons Island is getting to stroll up and down the pier to peek into buckets and see what others have caught! It’s such a fun way to chat with locals, most of which are happy to share what they know about what’s running at any given time and to tell you their fishing tales or personal stories about the island.
The great thing about this activity is you can do it any time of the day you want, and for as long or as short as your schedule allows! But if you only visit the St. Simons Island Pier once, I highly recommend timing your visit to include sunset as this is THE perfect place on the island to watch day turn into night and to see the lighthouse come alive!
Things to do in St. Simons Island: Natural Beauty
Home to some of Georgia's most stunning natural beauty, St. Simons is a true nature lover’s dream. From its scenic maritime forests to its fertile salt marshes to its gorgeous trails, majestic oak trees, unique wildlife, and more, there’s no shortage of things to do in St. Simons Island to immerse yourself in its charm.
Although nearly impossible not to be enveloped with the wonder of Mother Nature no matter where you go on the island, here are 6 of my favorite, extra-special ways to soak in the uniqueness of its natural beauty, especially for photographers looking to capture a bit of its magic on film.
Take a Golden Hour stroll through the Avenue of the Oaks
Bask in the beauty of nature during golden hour at the awe-inspiring Avenue of the Oaks.
Once an illustrious cotton plantation and now the grandiose entryway to the Sea Island Golf Club, this beautiful stretch of road is ornamented with live oak trees that have stood the test of time for over 160 years. The famous Avenue of the Oaks is a must-see at any time of the day, but especially during the golden hour when the Spanish Moss shimmers with a radiant glow.
Although parking and navigating around the active golf course that surrounds it might pose a slight challenge, it is well worth a visit, particularly for any tree enthusiast like me who is obsessed with the island’s live oak trees!
Soak in a Sunset at Epworth by the Sea
Settle into a spot in the waterfront gazebo and watch the sun dip beneath the horizon at Epworth by the Sea.
This serene and picturesque Methodist retreat sits nestled amidst lush foliage and stunning oak trees, offering a view of the Atlantic and a perfect place for anyone seeking solace and rejuvenation. To me, it’s one of the most beautiful places on the island and a place I enjoy going to sit and just “be.”
There’s also a gorgeous grove of live oak trees on the property just begging to be photographed, and the sweetest little Lovely Lane Chapel (where my parents were married) that you’ll definitely want to photograph, too! For the photographers in the group, I highly recommend adding Epworth by the Sea to your list of things to do in St. Simons Island.
Take a self-guided tour of the Wesley Memorial Gardens
Photo courtesy of the Golden Isles
Enjoy a stroll through the tranquil grounds of the Wesley Memorial Gardens.
Named after Methodist Church founders John and Charles Wesley to commemorate their evangelical efforts in Georgia, this two-acre garden is filled with native plants, trees, and beautiful flowers (including more than 4,000 azaleas!). An 18-foot cross surrounded by benches sits at its center, making this a peaceful and contemplative place to spend time meditating, praying, and connecting with nature.
The Gardens are free to the public and open during daylight hours.
Get a dose of history and beauty at Gascoigne Bluff
Photo courtesy of the Golden Isles
Relax and enjoy the serenity of Mother Nature at Gascoigne Bluff.
Believed to be the first possible landing area for ships entering the harbor and the site of an Indian settlement long before the Wesley’s arrived, Gascoigne Bluff is a historic site with 24 acres of lovely greenspace and a popular fishing spot and public marina for locals.
Here you can fish from its public fishing pier, plan a picnic in its pavilion, play a round of disc golf, or simply enjoy a stroll among its live oak grove. And for tree lovers like me, you can also see the second largest Southern Red Cedar tree in Georgia!
Fill your lungs with fresh air along the Alice Richards Botanical Trail
Photo courtesy of the Golden Isles
Enjoy lush greenery and tranquility along the Alice Richards Botanical Trail.
This hidden gem in St. Simons offers a lovely oasis for nature lovers where a rich tapestry of native plant species has been re-introduced to this land that was previously used for timber farming. With informative signs found along the way to educate you about the native flora on the island, this botanical trail is a perfect place to learn more about the plant life on St. Simons and a great place for a peaceful stroll or a quiet moment of reflection.
Connect with nature at Canon’s Point Preserve
Photo courtesy of St. Simons Land Trust
Take a breather and marvel at Mother Nature at Canon's Point Preserve.
Cannon's Point Preserve is a spectacular natural sanctuary located on the north end of St. Simons that offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy the island's pristine beauty and to gain a deeper understating of its plantation history.
The preserve boasts over 600 acres of green space, including some of the island’s last intact maritime forest. And with more than six miles of salt marsh, river shoreline, and tidal creek, the peninsula also serves as home to an incredible array of wildlife, including oysters, sea turtles, manatees, numerous birds, and a variety of fish.
Visitors can walk or enjoy a bike ride along nature trails, go birding through the maritime forest or saltmarsh, enjoy a picnic with family and friends, launch a canoe, paddleboard, or kayak from the non-motorized boat launch, observe shell middens dating back to 2500 BCE, or simply take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Visitors can also explore the ruins of the 19th-century plantation home and slave quarters that still remain on site, making it one of the things to do in St. Simons Island that truly has something for everyone.
Canon’s Point Preserve is open to the public on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.
Things to do in St. Simons Island: Annual Events
In addition to its local hsites, landmarks, outdoor activities, and natural beauty, St. Simons Island also hosts a variety of annual events throughout the year that showcase the unique culture of the island and the warm hospitality of its people.
From food and spirits festivals to antique shows, concerts, and holiday celebrations, there are always things to do in St. Simons Island that offer a bit of extra fun. So as you plan your visit to this special Golden Isles destination, consider timing your stay around one of the island’s annual events.
Some favorites include:
- St. Simons Land Trust Oyster Roast: Going strong for over 20 years, this super popular January event includes yummy coastal cuisine, rocking live music, and non-stop fun.
- Sea Islands Festival: Celebrating African American musical traditions, food, and crafts, this June event is a vibrant celebration of the Gullah-Geechee culture and traditions, which played a significant role in shaping the identity of St. Simons. (Note: This festival will not take place in 2023, but will return in 2024.)
- Sunshine Festival: This July 4th extravaganza features awesome live music, amazing arts and crafts, and a mesmerizing fireworks show to round out the festivities.
- St. Simons Island Food and Spirits Festival: Join this culinary October festival featuring mouthwatering eats and tasty tipples from local restaurants and artisans while helping raise money for Hospice of the Golden Isles.
- RSM Classic: Tee off with host Davis Love III at this November golf tournament that raises money for children and family-focused charities.
- Mistletoe Market: For more than 50 years, this December market features art in a range of mediums and offers a delightful shopping experience for those seeking unique gifts during the holiday season.
To see what’s happening in St. Simons and the surrounding areas during your visit, check out the Explore St. Simons Events Page or the Golden Isles Calendar of Events for activities to add to your list of things to do in St. Simons Island! The Golden Isles Welcome Centers are also a great resource for information to help you plan your visit.
More info about what to do on St. Simons Island, Georgia
Looking for more information to help you plan your trip to St. Simons? Check out these articles as you consider what to see on St. Simons Island, GA:
- St. Simons Lighthouse: some fun facts about this iconic St. Simons landmark
- Harrington School: the cultural background of this historical African American schoolhouse
- Tabby Cement: details about what it is and how it’s made
- Golden Isles: what they are and what they’re known for
- First African Baptist Church: the history of this important St. Simons church
- Avenue of the Oaks: where to find these famous trees
- Sidney Lanier Bridge: a brief history and how it got its name
And when you're on the island, the St. Simons visitor center and gift shop is a great place to go for maps and guides of what to see and do in and around the Golden Isles!
Frequently Asked Questions about St. Simons Island
In addition to this comprehensive list of things to do in St. Simons Island, below you can find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the island.
What is Saint Simons Island known for?
Known for its beautiful beaches, rich history, and natural beauty, St. Simons is a popular destination for history buffs, nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and photographers. From main attractions such as Fort Frederica National Monument, the St. Simons Lighthouse, and Christ Church Frederica to outdoor activities such as biking, birdwatching, golf, and fishing, the island offers a unique blend of history, culture, and outdoor fun making it a wonderful place to visit all year long.
What is the best time to visit St. Simons Island, GA?
The best time to visit St. Simons completely depends on the kind of weather you prefer and the types of activities on your list of things to do in St. Simons Island. Although the summer months are the most popular time to visit, it is a beautiful island to visit year-round.
If you like hot weather and lots of action, then St. Simons is an excellent place to visit during the warm weather months of the year (roughly April through September). Just be prepared for larger crowds and higher prices as this is peak season on the island. You’ll also want to make reservations in advance as you consider things to do in St. Simons Island to ensure availability.
If you’re wanting a quieter beach getaway, I recommend planning your visit during the cooler weather months of the year (roughly October through March). January is definitely the coldest month, but overall, the weather stays relatively mild so you can always enjoy the beach in some capacity!
Can you swim in the ocean at St. Simons Island?
You can absolutely swim in the ocean in St Simons Island! In fact, swimming, sailing, and all types of water sports are among the most popular things to do in St. Simons Island.
What is the prettiest beach on St. Simons?
Because the beach in St Simons Island is essentially one long, connected stretch of coastline, the honest answer is all the beaches!
However, each section offers something slightly unique, so if you’re looking for the most spacious spot to bask in the sun and enjoy the ocean, I recommend the Coast Guard Station Beach (also known as “East Beach”).
Is St. Simons Island worth visiting?
In case I haven’t made my love of the island obvious, YES, St. Simons Island is definitely worth visiting! To me, it’s a magical beach town filled with rich history and endless beauty and a great place to rest, rejuvenate, and feed your mind, body, and soul.
It's also just about an hour drive from both Savannah, GA and Jacksonville, FL, and super close to nearby Jekyll Island, Tybee Island, Cumberland Island, and more, so it's a perfect place to serve as a home base for exploring more of the Golden Isles.
What are the Golden Isles?
The Golden Isles is a collection of barrier islands located along the coast of Georgia. The four main islands that make up the Golden Isles are St Simons Island, Sea Island, Jekyll Island, and Little St. Simons Island, each with its own unique charm and character. These islands are known for their breathtaking natural beauty, pristine beaches, rich history, and abundance of outdoor activities.
Best things to Do in St. Simons Island, GA: The Wrap-Up
St. Simons holds a special place in my heart as I’ve been visiting this little island ever since I was a young girl. It’s where my grandfather retired after completing his service in the Navy, where my mom graduated from high school and later got married, and where my family always traveled for vacation. It’s a place I’ve loved for as far back as I can remember, and to now have the chance to live on the island and rediscover it as an adult has been one of my life’s greatest blessings.
From stunning beaches and wonderous natural beauty to important historical sites and cultural landmarks to an array of fun and unique outdoor activities, there are plenty of things to do all year long in this beautiful town on the Georgia coast. Whether you're a history buff, a photographer, a nature lover, or an outdoor enthusiast, St. Simons has countless unique and memorable experiences for everyone to enjoy.
On a personal note...
It’s been a gift to call St Simons Island my home over the past few years, and nothing makes me happier than to share my love and appreciation for it. So, if you have any burning questions that I didn't address in this article, feel free to shoot me an email! I'd welcome the opportunity to chat about this magical island with you and to offer trip ideas as you plan your St. Simons Island family vacation.
And to all you fellow St. Simons lovers out there, I’d be delighted to hear about your own cherished spots and memorable experiences from your visits to the island. Please leave a comment below and share with me what makes St Simons Island a happy place for you, too!
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