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St Simons Island: an ideal family escape

The southeastern United States is a really fascinating area.  It’s got the colonial and Civil War history; it’s full of tidelands, swamps and interesting wildlife; and its own past is a varied collection of maritime lore and people.  As you stroll through the village area of St Simons Island, it’s got that quasi-Caribbean feel with the Spanish moss dripping everywhere and the wrought iron accents on the homes and buildings, but there is a lot of nautical nuance to each area.  We’ll tell you about just a few aspects, because St Simons Island is best seen in person.  Trust us, you’ll want to spend at least a few days there by the time we’re done…And you’ll want to sit under the Spanish moss as the wind gently moves it back and forth.  Really, it’s an ideal family travel destination.


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History – dating waaaaay back into the minus-20th century, St Simons Island was inhabited by several native tribes.  The 16th century comes along and the Spanish do their Florida thing.  The French do their Carolina thing.  The British do everything… Basically, St Simons Island becomes the border between everybody and the Spanish.

That’s why Fort Frederica was constructed.  This project brought England, France and Germany together because, well you know, those Spanish folk with their armada and soldiers and endless flow of funds…  Anyways, the fort served its purpose well, guarding the north and securing Georgia as a British territory.  There was a bit of fighting, both on St Simons Island (the Bloody Marsh) and southward, but peace came and the fort faded into the past.  

There are several plantation sites on St Simons Island too, but we weren’t able to access any of them.  We saw their long entry paths, like tunnels through the Spanish moss, but that’s it.  On our next trip we’ll coordinate some site visits, because that’s a whole different side of history that is fascinating in its own way.

For more information about seeing historical sites in person, peek at our blog post on Fort Frederica.

Rob Taylor Biking St Simons Island GA 1Island Life Today – when you drive across the inland waterway and marsh, you kind of don’t know what you’ll see next.  As you’ve come from either Florida or northern Georgia, the highway isn’t much to look at and doesn’t offer a lot for the imagination.  As soon as you’re on St Simons Island though, you can feel the vibe.  There is such a mix of residents, from older, long term folks to transient, seasonal vacationers.  There are vacation rentals, timeshares and some really beautiful resorts.  We stayed at the King and Prince which was right on the beach, and it was top notch.  Beyond the resorts, the village and boardwalk are hoppin’ too, as is the tiny airport.  

Tip:  it’s a pretty flat island and is perfect for biking.  We picked up our bikes at Ocean Motion and got completely outfitted with kid trailers, helmets and bike locks.  It was a perfect way to explore St Simons Island.

St Simons Island is also home to fancy golfing.  We say fancy because we don’t golf, so any golfing seems fancy.  While we were there, the whole island was prepping for the RSM Classic (PGA Tour) and you could tell it was serious business.  The King and Prince Beach and Golf Club (not the host of the RSM) is a beautiful course nestled among the marshlands, and everybody we met on the island asked if we were going to have a tee time there…so it must be good.Seared Tuna at Echo Restaurant at King and Prince Resort St Simons GA 2traveldads.com

There’s also good food.  Like, really good food.  There is a bit of a seafood industry on the island and the small restaurants, as well as the more upscale ones, know how to do seafood right.  We enjoyed several meals at Echo Restaurant and got to enjoy the best foods we’ve ever eaten (our article is a must read for foodies).

Tip:  even if you’re not staying on the beach, take time to visit the King and Prince and Echo Restaurant for at least one meal, as they’ve nailed southern coastal cooking and have the most awesome and diverse menu to suit any member of the family.

 

Maritime Landmarks – when life revolves around the sea, a town will take on a certain feel.  There’s of course a marina and a pier on St Simons Island, but there are other landmarks that truly tie the town to ocean life.  On the island they range from narrow fishing bridges to sand bars the community hangs out on at low tide.  And then there are other, more storied sights…

Spirit Tree at St Simons Island Georgia 2traveldads.comThe Spirit Trees – when we first heard about the spirit trees we thought it was a reference to a native or wiccan belief or lore.  Nope.  It’s in reference to the trees used for building the mighty ships that sailed out of St Simons Island, which were oaks, and now there are many oaks with somber faces carved into them, as symbols of mourning for the many lives lost at sea.  The carvings are beautiful and a wonderful memorial.  And the trees they’re in are dripping with our favorite, more Spanish moss.

Tip:  explain to kids ahead of time what you’re going to see, because for a kid the tree spirits might seem a bit creepy.  Our son wouldn’t go near them, but we thought they were cool.

Where to find them:  here’s a map showing the many locations of the spirit trees.  The map is from the man who carved them, Keith Jennings.

St Simons Island Lighthouse – so the lighthouse was built in the early 1800s…and then destroyed during the American Civil War.  It wasn’t until 1872 that the current structure was put up.  And today it’s the perfect step back in time.  It’s funny actually, you can tour the keeper’s quarters and they’re set up just as you’d expect to find them, frozen in time…except for the iPad interactive guides in each room so that you can explore the different aspects of 19th century life.  iPads:  so yesteryear.Taylor Family at St Simons Island Lighthouse Georgia 2traveldads.com

Climbing the lighthouse on St Simons Island is a lot easier than the one in St Augustine.  While the St Augustine light has 219 steps, the St Simons light is only a 129 step journey.  Gotta say, the 90 step difference is noticeable.  And you know, when you get to the top, the view is just as spectacular:  the sea, the town.  It’s all beautiful.

For more information and to plan your day, check out our blog post about the St Simons Island Lighthouse.

Tip:  next to the lighthouse there are two parks, one a playground and the other a water park complete with waterslides.  If you’re having a very grown-up trip and you’re with little people, spending some time at either park is a great idea and fantastic way to show kids that you’re thinking of them too.

 

Where to stay – While there are oodles of options for accommodations, we’ve only experienced one, the King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort.  So yeah, we don’t really need to try any other places, as the K&P was really amazing and accommodating.  It’s directly on the beach and has a great assortment of pools and amazing food.  Maybe on a future visit we’ll try another resort, but we don’t need to.Chris Taylor and TinyMan at Sunrise at King and Prince Resort St Simons GA 2traveldads.com

Tip:  the King and Prince Resort is great about providing all kinds of deals, both on and off season, so depending on flexibility for travel, it’s a great option for any budget any time of year.  And it’s a beautiful property in an ideal location.  You can’t go wrong.

 

So, what’s the point of all of these wonderful points?  St Simons Island is a great place to head with a family.  Or with friends.  Or a… lover.  Anyways, it’s a really cool destination with tons of cool options for any mood and level of energy.  The nautical feel of the whole island is a great break from city life and so different from a mountain escape.  St Simons is amazing and we’ll be back again.  And again.

 

Life Unexpected

17 Comments

  • Maria loves to travel

    I can’t express how inspiring your blog is, on so many levels (glad I found it).
    Thank you for sharing all these amazing stories!

    January 20, 2016 at 12:11 am
    • 2TD-Rob
      Rob Taylor

      Thank you so much! That’s why we share, to get others out into the world and to show people who might not ever see gay families that we’re pretty cool and totally normal too. Well, normal is relative. 🙂

      January 20, 2016 at 5:08 am
  • Emma

    What a fascinating post. Makes me want to get in a plane right now and get travelling! #whatevertheweather

    January 21, 2016 at 1:28 am
  • Claire at Tin Box Traveller

    On a cold and wet January in the UK I really needed to read this. Thank you for brining a bit of sunshine into my day. St Simons looks beautiful and you obviously had a great time #whatevertheweather

    January 21, 2016 at 12:10 pm
  • Chloe

    Wow what a beautiful, beautiful place. I love hearing about it’s history and what it’s like today. You’re really inspiring me to travel more. Between your blog and another family blog, my little family have decided to save, save, save and at the end of this year we’re packing up and heading off. Thank you so much for the inspiration and thank you for sharing your adventure on #whatevertheweather x

    January 24, 2016 at 1:16 pm
    • 2TD-Rob
      Rob Taylor

      That’s wonderful! Thank you for the kind words! Yes, travel is an essential part of our family life. Since one of us is a SAH parent, it’s how the four of us really get to connect. If you’re heading to the States (the colonies) let us know, as we’ll have lots of recommendations for different parts of the country.

      January 24, 2016 at 3:46 pm
  • Jenny

    It looks like an amazing place to visit! I especially love the spirit trees, although I can understand why your son wasn’t so sure about them! It sounds like the perfect place to go whoever you are.
    Thanks so much for linking up to #Whatevertheweather 🙂 x

    January 27, 2016 at 6:04 am
  • elaine massey

    You know I never would have considered this area for a trip, but your article has me really thinking we would like it. I have never seen a lighthouse even. That alone, along with the rest of the positive and interesting things makes me want to visit.

    February 23, 2016 at 5:16 am
  • Pam

    More then anything I love your photos which represent the best to me the joy 🙂

    February 23, 2016 at 7:17 am
  • Heather

    Great post. I am racking my brain trying to remember if I visited there as a kid or not. Seems so familiar but can’t say for sure. Guess I just need to go.

    February 24, 2016 at 3:35 am
  • Carlie

    Why is it that I always get a hankering to go back South whenever I read your posts? Seriously though, this looks like so much fun! I haven’t been to this area for many, many years. Maybe it’s time I should return?

    February 24, 2016 at 11:01 pm
  • Cynthia

    Waw, it sounds like such an idyllic island! Forgot for a moment where I was now and could smell the trees, feel the sun on my skin and the sand between my toes! Never heard of this island before, thanks for sharing!

    February 25, 2016 at 12:27 pm
  • Taylor

    Love all the the history bits you give on the location itself and everything else in this post.

    February 28, 2016 at 11:32 am
  • Joe Baur

    Whou would’ve thought such a place existed off the southern U.S. coast. Thanks for sharing!

    February 29, 2016 at 6:26 am
  • Ajay Sood

    Interesting history! And a scenic island! Nice!

    February 29, 2016 at 6:27 am
  • melody pittman

    I’m so glad you enjoyed St. Simon so much. Have you visited Tybee Island in Georgia? Or Reynold’s Plantation? Other great GA vacation choices. 😉

    March 2, 2016 at 5:01 am
  • Renne Simpson

    Sigh. War. What is it good for. Destroying lighthouses apparently. Glad they resurrected it though! Can’t believe I live in GA and have never been here though.

    March 3, 2016 at 10:11 pm

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