An ultimate guide to ST. Simons island, Georgia
Originally posted on https://borntobeboomers.com/guide-to-st-simons-island-georgia/
Georgia is one of my favorite states and the coast of Georgia and St. Simons Island is a special place to visit. This guide will take you to the places in St. Simons Island that are a must-see. We love to learn all about the communities we visit and St. Simons has great beaches, a rich history and most importantly, great people.
This is a sponsored post in partnership with The King and Prince Beach Resort, Gnat’s Landing and Dunbar Yachts. All opinions are 100% my own.
You will find St. Simons located on the Georgia Coast halfway between Savannah and Jacksonville just east of Brunswick, Georgia. It is a part of the larger region of the Golden Isles.
St. Simons Island with Bo
While visiting St. Simons Island you will find pet-friendly, wide sandy beaches with gentle, rolling waves. There is plenty of room for everyone with public beaches on almost every street we went down. Memorial Day through Labor Day, dogs are permitted on the beaches before 9 AM and after 5 PM. The rest of the year pets are permitted all the time.
Where to Stay on St. Simons Island – The King and Prince Resort
On St. Simons Island, there is only one direct oceanfront hotel on the island and naturally, I had to stay there. The King and Prince Beach Resort has been serving visitors who come to St. Simons for more than 80 years.
The King and Prince Resort, St. Simons Island, Georgia
The King and Prince Resort is listed on the National Registry for Historic Places and has a rich history in the St. Simons Island community making it what it is today, a top-rated resort that offers impeccable service and amenities. The King and Prince is the perfect romantic getaway for couples and their pets! You can see my favorite things about The King and Prince Beach Resort here!
Wynn Cottage, King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort, St. Simons Island, GA
We were offered the Wynn Cottage, which is a pet-friendly villa just a short walk from the ocean. There is one bedroom, 2 bathrooms and a full kitchen for those who love to cook. You will want to try ECHO, the resorts 5-star restaurant, and you will likely change your mind about cooking!
ECHO is the only oceanfront restaurant on St. Simons Island. I loved listening to the waves while sipping on my cocktail and eating from the eclectic southern menu! ECHO is also pet-friendly so you can bring your pup when dining on the patio. Who doesn’t want to dine right by the ocean with their special someone?
ECHO Patio Dining
The resort offers several pools with poolside dining, The Royal Treatment Cottage for massage therapy, golf, tennis and an exercise facility. You can read more about our stay at The King and Prince Resort here.
St. Simons Pier Village
St. Simon’s Pier Village, St. Simon’s Island, GA.
We arrived at the island early and let the King and Prince know we were there. We decided to go exploring! I knew the first place I wanted to visit was the famous St. Simon’s Pier Village. The pier is located at the end of Mallery Street, the shopping district on St. Simon’s. Since most of St. Simon’s Island is pet-friendly so we decided to take Bo with us and check it out.
St. Simon’s Pier, St. Simon’s Island, GA
We found a parking spot and decided to head to the water first. A crowd had gathered taking photos of a large tanker which had run aground and turned over in the port earlier in the week. Fortunately, the eco-system and water were safe from any contamination.
Bo is people watching at the St. Simons Pier
Shopping in St. Simons
We left the pier and made our way over to the village. According to the locals I spoke with, St. Simons is very pet-friendly. As we walk around I can see people enjoying the outdoor venues with their pets. We went into multiple stores with Bo and everyone welcomed us.
We stopped at Iguanas, a local restaurant, known for their Wild Georgia Shrimp, to get a snack. Pets are permitted at most restaurants with outdoor seating.
Iguanas St. Simons Island
The server was awesome. My husband was craving cheese fries which were not on the menu but she had the kitchen make them for him. I love fried mushrooms so we ordered that as well.
Fried Mushrooms at Iguanas
We also asked our server about pet stores in the area and she directed us to Island Dog and pointed just outside of the village. We crossed Ocean Blvd. to get to Island Dog just a couple of blocks away.
The store is obviously, Bo Approved, as they gave him awesome low calorie treats made of 100% chicken and Bo got to shop for toys! It was nice to hear the owner’s story from the manager who was working that day. She is an accomplished trainer and was able to heal her German Shepherd’s issues, who was a rescue. We exchanged GSD stories as Bo enjoyed his treats!
Island Dog Chicken Chips, St Simons Island
We headed back to the village and towards our car. Our room was ready! We wanted to get settled because we had plans to visit another local eatery for dinner.
Gnats Landing is a casual, local restaurant off the beaten path. We reached out to meet with the manager and grab some local food where the locals hang out. The outside porch and patio allow pets so it is Bo Approved!
Bo looks a little nervous next to the giant GA Bulldog!
They have TV’s in every area so everyone could see the game. My husband was happy because Kansas City was playing.
I was happy because the restaurant is covered with old oak trees so the outside porch was heavily shaded and nice and cool. I decided to order the Front Porch Lemonade which was delicious and refreshing after a warm day shopping with Bo!
Front Porch Lemonade while hanging out on the front porch at Gnats Landing
We opted for some local favorites! We started with the Vidalia Onion Pie. I had heard of this dish but have never tried it. Swiss cheese baked with Vidalia onions and sundried tomatoes served with tortilla chips or you can upgrade to grilled crostinis! Yes, please! It was so delicious I brought some home!
One of their most popular dishes is the Gnat’s Landing Slaw Bowl which you can add the catch of the Day. I opted for the Redfish which was served fried. I can tell you it was some of the best Redfish I have ever had. The slaw was fresh, delicious and tangy. It was a nice alternative to the heavier mayonnaise version.
Gnat’s Famous Slaw Bowl with Fried Redfish
We almost closed the place down talking with General Manager, Jonathan Abbey. We had a great time learning about Wild Georgia Shrimp and exchanging management philosophies. Jonathan explained that Wild Georgia Shrimp is so delicious because of the nutrients that are special to the waters of the Georgia Coast. The shrimp is always local and always fresh.
Jonathan Abbey, General Manager at Gnats Landing
We had a great time! Jonathan is someone who cares deeply about his community, the food that he serves and Gnats Landing. Be sure to stop by for some great local food!
Day Two – Sun and Fun!
We had scheduled some time to meet with one of the directors of the resort. We were able to learn about the resort’s history and transformation over the years. You can read all about the resort and its interesting history here.
We decided to take the day, tour the resort and hang out at one of the pools at The King and Prince Resort. The resort offers several sitting areas by the ocean. The lush landscape was full of butterflies!
You will find locals and guests enjoying the beaches on the island. In the morning you will spot guests and locals running and playing with their dogs.A paddleboarder catching waves in front of The King of Prince ResortKing and Prince Beaches
There are several pools at the resort but we chose the one closest to the restaurant. It was a beautiful September day and we were able to relax and enjoy cocktails and a light lunch by the pool overlooking the ocean.
After our day by the beach, we decided to stay on property for dinner and head to ECHO again.
Our view from ECHOTuna AppetizerRed Snapper
The food was simply amazing and the atmosphere was so romantic eating by the full moon. My photos do not do it justice because of the lighting. After dinner, we headed to the fire pit with Bo to finish our drinks.
Hanging out by the fire pit at the King and Prince Resort.
Day Three- St. Simons Historical Tour and More!
We headed to ECHO for breakfast by the sea. They have an extensive breakfast menu with freshly made items like these beautifully handcrafted parfaits. We had a big day so we got fueled up and ready to go!
Fresh parfait from ECHO at The King and Prince Resort. St. Simons Island, GA
Lighthouse Trolley Tours
There is a lot of history on the island. We wanted to make sure we saw it all. We were invited to tour with Lighthouse Trolley Tours. They are the only pet-friendly tour on the island. They also are the only historical tour where you can get on and off the trolley to visit some of the sights.
Lighthouse Trolley Tour
When traveling with Bo we are always looking for the best options to visit spots where we can include him. Lighthouse also offers Ghost Tours for those interested in the spooky info the island has to offer.
Bo Approved Lighthouse Trolley Tours
The best part about visiting St. Simons Island in September is that there are no crowds. There were only a few people on the trolley so it was not crowded. The trolley runs Tuesday through Sunday at 2 PM.
We were able to visit several historical sights on the tour.
- You will see where the English defeated Spanish in 1742
- See where the start-up of the Methodism began.
- See sites where Eugenia Price wrote her best sellers.
- You will see the first slave congregational church.
- Tour Fort Frederica.
- See the site of the only woman-owned/operated plantation.
- Visit the only church where 4 sitting US Presidents sat in public service while in office.
- Tour the Harrison Historical School
Here are some of our photos of some of the places we visited on the Lighthouse Trolley Tour.
Hamilton Plantation Slave Cabins
The cabins are located on the Frederica River and maintained by the Cassina Garden Club.
Epworth by the Sea Methodist Center
Epworth by the Sea, Methodist Retreat, St. Simons Island located on the Frederica River
The First African Baptist Church
This was the first African American congregation on the island.
First African Congregation on St. Simons Island, GA
The fort is located on the northernmost part of the island and shows life as it was during The Battles of Gully Hole Creek & Bloody Marsh, 1742 and beyond. Fort Frederica offers historical and archeological information.
Fort Frederica, St. Simons Island, GeorgiaHousingGarden
Christ Episcopal Church
This is the only US church where 4 sitting Presidents have visited. Christ Episcopal Church is the second oldest Episcopal church in Georgia and was started by English settlers.
Christ Episcopal ChurchPresident Bush’s PewChrist Episcopal
Historical Harrington School
The school was saved and restored to its original condition after the community raised $300,000. The original Harrington School served the black community of St. Simons until desegregation in the 1960s.
A student from the Harrington School who is now a volunteer.Recently restored Harrington SchoolThe classroom
The tour lasts 90 minutes and is just the right combination of riding on the trolley and walking. As we approach the pier upon our return, we looked for a place to grab a light dinner.
We chose Mullet Bay, mainly because they had a porch that was shaded! This meant they most likely allowed pets and we were out of the sun. The easy part about finding pet-friendly restaurants on St. Simons Island is you can just look for the outdoor dining and they will most likely allow your pup to come in!
Mullet Bay outdoor dining
We chose the Grouper Ruben with Sweet Potato Fries and their unlimited chips and salsa so we could share!
After dinner, we headed to the famous Gould’s Inlet on East Beach. The farthest point of the island, the inlet at low tide is where the tide drops more than 10 feet. The packed sand makes it the perfect place for an evening walk or even riding your bike!
Many folks were there playing with their dogs or looking for sea life in the tidal pools.
Day 4 – Lighthouses, Museums, and Sailing!
Today was our last day on St. Simon’s Island and there was still so much to do. We only live a few hours from here so we scheduled some great activities before we headed home.
St. Simons Lighthouse
The current St. Simons Lighthouse was built in 1872 and replaced an earlier lighthouse that was destroyed in the Civil War. The lighthouse is 104 feet tall with a 21-foot diameter at the base. It is still operational and is maintained by the Coast Guard Auxillary.
A.W. Jones Heritage Center is located on the same property as the Lighthouse. The Heritage Center has archives, exhibits and a museum store. You can also but tickets to the Lighthouse and the World War II Museum.
A.W. Jones Heritage Center
Tip! But the pass to see both the Lighthouse and the World War II museum to save a few dollars!
World War II Home Front Museum
We headed a couple of miles down the road from our hotel to the Coast Guard Station Beach to visit the World War II Home Front Museum. Here you will be able to discover the contributions that Georgia made to assist in winning World War II.
The Museum is housed in the Historic St. Simons Coast Guard Station which was built in 1936. The most notable story was in 1942, the crew from this station rescued survivors of two American merchant ships that were torpedoed by a German U-boat just a few miles from St. Simons Island in the Atlantic Ocean. There are lots of stories and activities for kids and adults alike.
Coast Guard Station Beach
After visiting the museum you can walk to the beach for great views of the island! The Coast Guard Station Beach is pet-friendly, wheelchair accessible and has ample parking. While we were at the beach we saw tons of butterflies making their way around the wildflowers around the parking lot.
Another thing that is really fun to do on the island is to look for tree spirits. We found one almost immediately at the Golden Isles Visitor’s Center. These are hand-carved works of art on the trees of St. Simons Island. You can have a scavenger hunt for all the tree spirits on the island!
While doing research about the island I knew we had to do something that involved getting out in the water that was pet-friendly. I finally found the right activity with the right people at Dunbar Yachts! They also came highly recommended by The King and Prince Resort. I knew this would be a winner!
Dunbar Yachts was a perfect choice, with Bo, since we could do a private excursion on a sailboat without getting on a crowded boat with other tourists. This is a must-do activity if you are coming to St. Simons Island and it was definitely the trip favorite for all of us.
Dunbar Yachts offers many different ways to get into the sailing world in addition to a private charter. They have a Sailing School with classes for beginners to advanced navigation courses but you can also take private lessons from Captain Dave. He has helped many sailors prepare for whatever can come their way while sailing the open seas!
Our Sailing Lesson
We initially started in the office checking out the charts that would map out our trip in the St. Simons Sound. We learned that St. Simons Island has very shallow areas even a mile away from the shoreline. Several rivers also feed into the sound and all converge into one deep harbor that makes this one of the busiest ports on the east coast.
Bo trying to follow me into the cabin
We did a quick tour of our vessel, a 35 foot Catalina, and I investigated the cabin. There was a kitchen, head, sleeping quarters and a small living and dining area.
Next Jack helped to prepare us to leave and head out to the St. Simons Sound. Our plan was to get up close and personal with the giant cargo ship that was turned over in the sound, see the lighthouse, pier and Jekyll Island.
Jack and Captain Dave preparing us to leave
Jack really had no idea what I was getting him into! He is not the most comfortable on boats much less a sailboat with a lot more going on than your average motorboat! Jack really enjoyed learning all about the features of the boat and to maneuver through the channel and learn the navigational terms.
Jack learning how to maneuver the boat with Captain Dave
Captain Dave made it easy and I was impressed how well he explained things to beginners who have only been on a sailboat a couple of times.
The best part about the charter, I have to say, was hanging out with Captain Dave. He told us stories of his sailing life from the Bahamas to New England. Dave also made us feel super comfortable as beginners. Sailing for him is obviously second nature but it can be intimidating when you are first learning. He was such a great instructor that we quickly relaxed and enjoyed what the experience had to offer.
Leaving the dock
My favorite thing about sailing? No motor. Just the wind carrying you as you glide across the water. Sailing is definitely something that is popular with couples over 50 and now I know why. You are able to travel, live and enjoy your life aboard a beautiful sailboat!
The Golden Ray
As we approached the harbour we came to the overturned Golden Ray. A cargo ship that carries vehicles. Over 4000 vehicles. There are rumors and speculation as to why the cargo ship ended up in distress.
Golden Ray capsized
The best explanation I heard was they lost steering which would explain why the last 4 crew members needed to be rescued from the bottom of the ship as it was rumored they were trying to repair the issue. Regardless of the reason, the waters were safe from contamination and there was no loss of life.
Golden Ray Bottom
Once we passed the ship it brought us to the pier and the St. Simons Lighthouse. It is always cool to see an area from your vessel on the water and get a completely different view.
St. Simons Pier and Lighthouse
As we start to head back to the dock, it was my turn to get behind the wheel. We made our way through the channel and as the winds picked up, I learned how to navigate with the wind going the opposite way. I certainly did not master anything on this one trip but I learned there is a lot more to sailing than meets the eye! With a combination of experience, instinct and a great sailboat from Dunbar Yachts, you too can sail the seas with confidence and live life to the fullest!
That wraps up the Ultimate Guide to St. Simons Island! If you have been to the island let me know in the comments what your favorite thing is about St. Simons? Be sure to check out my 10 favorite things about The King and Prince Resort!