Horseback riding with Three Oaks Farm Equestrian Services on Jekyll Island, Georgia. Photo by @jodyo.photos
Georgia Coast: The Perfect Getaway with Friends
Coastal Georgia is great for a getaway with friends because you can get there within a few hours' drive from just about anywhere in the state. There's something for every group, whether you're into sightseeing, fitness, nature or shopping. If you're going for a weekend jaunt or a long week away, you and your friends are sure to have a great time in the Golden Isles of Georgia and Tybee Island.
What to Do
The activities and attractions in coastal Georgia will keep you and your friends occupied. Or you can just relax on the beach!
Driftwood Beach is one of Jekyll's iconic spaces, made up of large pieces of driftwood bleached by the sun, creating a natural jungle gym. Wake up early to take pictures at sunrise, or go horseback riding on the beach with Three Oaks Farm.
Another must-see is the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, which rescues injured turtles and nurses them back to health while also educating the public about the creatures.
If you find yourself on Cumberland or Sapelo Islands, look for wildlife along the trails. Cumberland also has the Dungeness Ruins, a popular photo op, and the First African Baptist Church. On Sapelo, visit the island's lighthouse and the Reynolds Mansion. Become immersed in the stories of Georgia's coastal history by visiting places like Fort Frederica National Monument on St. Simons, Historic Dorchester Academy & Museum in Midway, and Geechee Kunda Cultural Arts Center & Museum in Riceboro.
The best way to see the coastal communities is by bike, which you can rent from countless outfitters. Tybee Island has Tim's Beach Gear, St. Simons Island has Ocean Motion Surf Co., and Beachside Bike Rentals has everything you need on Jekyll Island.
Kayaking and Paddleboarding
In addition to the ocean, this area has inlets, rivers and other waterways only accessible by watercraft. 4-H Tidelands Nature Center offers both kayak rentals and tours as well as aquabike rentals on Jekyll. Southeast Adventure Outfitters - St. Simons Island has kayaking, paddleboarding and fishing charters. Sea Kayak Georgia on Tybee is another popular outfitter. You can even kayak to Cumberland and Sapelo islands.
When you've had enough active adventures, there are plenty of places for you to unwind. The Spa at Sea Island is a Forbes five star experience worth the splurge. In addition to the treatments, the facility boasts a steam room, mineral pool bath and hydrotherapy pool. On St. Simons Island, check out the Island Day Spa. They have you covered with facials, massages and skin treatments.
Learn more about your surroundings with the tour operators on the Georgia coast. Credle's Adventures out of Brunswick runs the Lady Jane Shrimpin' Excursions on a real shrimp boat. Lighthouse Trolleys runs trolley tours of St. Simons and Jekyll. Captain Phillip operates dolphin-watching tours on Jekyll, while Captain Derek's Dolphin Adventure provides a similar experience on Tybee. Sweet Lowland Tours and Tybee Beach Ecology Trips discuss the history and environment around Tybee Island.
Where to Stay
No matter the size of your group, you'll find a unique place to stay for your vacation on the Georgia coast.
Hotels and Inns
There are a few budget-friendly hotels on the coast, but there are also some truly luxurious accommodations. The Cloister at Sea Island is one of the top-rated properties in the country. Greyfield Inn is the former Carnegie family retreat turned all-inclusive inn. The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island was a family's hunting lodge but is a top-rated eco-lodge. On Jekyll Island, stay at the modern Westin Jekyll Island or the prestigious Jekyll Island Club Resort. St. Simons Island has the The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort.
Vacation rentals are another option for larger groups. Tybee Vacation Rentals, Hodnett Cooper Vacation Rentals on St. Simons Island and Jekyll Realty are a few of the companies that rent vacation homes.
Camping and Glamping
There's nothing better than waking up to the great outdoors. There are campgrounds on Jekyll Island, Sapelo Island and Cumberland Island, as well as in Brunswick and Darien. If you’re not up for pitching a tent, let someone else do it for you. Little Raccoon Key is a shell island in the Golden Isles that features luxurious tents, real beds and the amenities you'd expect from a hotel, not a campsite.
Where to Eat and Drink
For such a small area by land, there's no shortage of delicious places to eat. Be sure to try the locally caught seafood.
Tybee Island, outside of Savannah, is a small island with a big food scene. Locals love The Breakfast Club, rated "best breakfast in Savannah" year after year. Tybean serves Batdorf and Bronson coffee, and its walls are covered in art. Order the seafood platter at The Crab Shack, which gets you crab legs, shrimp and more fresh catches. Catch the sunset at A J's Dockside Restaurant, which serves fresh seafood and has an extensive beer list. For a more upscale meal, Sundae Cafe has seafood, steaks and martinis.
Jekyll Island is starting to become more developed after going without a gas station on the island for decades. This is certainly true in the case of restaurants, most of which are connected to hotels. The Grand Dining Room at the historic Jekyll Island Club Resort is a beautiful setting for a special dinner or Sunday brunch. Driftwood Bistro is located inside Villas by the Sea Resort. They're known for Lowcountry fare, with dishes like shrimp and grits and fried okra.
St. Simons Island
On St. Simons Island, visitors are spoiled for choice, especially early risers in search of a hearty breakfast. Sandcastle Cafe near the pier has a breakfast buffet and Bloody Marys that have made it a local favorite since 1989. Come lunchtime, join the crowd at Southern Soul Barbeque, a restaurant that is not only one of the best in the state, but also the country. The former service station serves pork in many forms, best paired with a classic bottled soda. Sports fans flock to Brogen's for games on the TV and shuffleboard while you wait for your burger. Bubba Garcias Mexican Cantina offers flavors from south of the border, including tacos, fajitas and margaritas.
Don't miss downtown Brunswick, the gateway to the Golden Isles. The historic city boasts a number of beloved restaurants, including Indigo Coastal Shanty, which serves coastal favorites for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.