Just south of Savannah on the southeastern Georgia coast and off the mainland of the city of Brunswick lie beautiful barrier islands.
St. Simons Island, Little St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island and Sea Island are known collectively as the Golden Isles. These beautiful, peaceful and historically rich islands were named for the color of their vast marshes in the autumn and feature superb attractions, magnificent resorts and some of the best food I’ve ever eaten.
Magical Views at St. Simons Lighthouse
My first stop was on the southern tip of St. Simons Island where the St. Simons Lighthouse is situated. The incredible lighthouse was built in 1872 with the majority of the structure made of a material known as “tabby” – a mixture of oyster shell, lime, sand and water. Enter the beautifully restored building and climb the 129 steps to take in the gorgeous views of the Golden Isles and learn more about the history at the Victorian-era lighthouse keeper’s dwelling, which is now a museum and gift shop. The gift shop offers a range of lovely souvenirs and I couldn’t resist a bracelet and some locally made peach jam.
Colonial History at Christ Church Frederica and Fort Frederica National Monument
Also located on St. Simons Island, Fort Frederica is the ruins of what was once known as the town of Frederica. When both Britain and Spain tried to lay claim to land between St. Augustine, FL and Charleston, SC in the 1700s, Britain’s General James Edward Oglethorpe defended and won the battle in 1742 between Spanish and British forces, ensuring Georgia’s future as a British Colony. The ruins and cannons take you back in time, and the sweeping Spanish moss trees covering the grounds make this a lovely attraction to spend some time.
My next stop was the nearby Christ Church Frederica, where John and Charles Wesley preached before returning to England to help found the Methodist Church. The first thought I had upon arriving was what an amazing location this would be for a filmmaker and how every woman should be so lucky as to find somewhere so picture-perfect for their wedding. The church’s grounds have an array of live oaks, cedar and holly trees and inside is equally as stunning with some of the prettiest stained glass windows I have seen.
Refinement and Luxury at Legendary Resort Properties
If class and sophistication are what you are looking for then the Golden Isles has the perfect resort accommodation for you and your family. The Cloister at Sea Island Resort offers five-star dining and accommodations include five miles of private beach, a spa, tennis and squash and three world-class golf courses.
Traveling just 30 minutes to Jekyll Island, you’ll find the Jekyll Island National Historic District, which was once home to the richest and most inaccessible members club in the world. Members of the Jekyll Island Club included such names as J.P. Morgan, William Rockefeller, Joseph Pulitzer and William K. Vanderbilt. Today this National Historic Landmark District is one of the largest restoration projects in the south-eastern United States and touring the lovely old houses is a wonderful look into yesteryear. Staying here at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel is another amazing choice. The hotel offers spectacular grounds to stroll, a swimming pool, tournament-level croquet, bicycles, a private beach pavilion and even an afternoon tea to enjoy.
The Golden Isles is truly a destination of unsurpassed beauty with warm people, charming sites and adorable family-owned shops and restaurants. You will love the classic and genteel atmosphere and will want to return again and again.