One of the most stunning spots hidden within St. Simons Island is the beautiful Avenue of the Oaks Park. As you walk through the oak tunnel in St. Simons of moss-covered trees, you feel a sense of warm solitude, with the age-old trees encapsulating you completely.
The historical park has deep roots in St. Simons. It continues to serve as the perfect destination for evening strolls, afternoon runs, and sight-seeing for historical enthusiasts, as well as weddings and other events. With a rich history and beauty that’s been left virtually unchanged, the Avenue of the Oaks is truly a spectacular Georgia landmark.
History of the Avenue of the Oaks
Located on Retreat Avenue on St. Simons Island, Georgia, the Avenue of the Oaks is a magnificent double row of 160-year-old live oak trees. The name was given because of their deep green leaves that retain their color throughout the year. These live oaks are known for their enormity in size and vast networks of twisting, turning, and winding limbs.
A woman named Anna Page King inherited the Retreat Plantation land back in 1826 and decided to plant the famous trees on the Avenue. It’s been said that King grew so many flowers at the Retreat Plantation that frequent sailors near St. Simons could often smell their fragrance before they could even see the island shores.
The land had been owned and managed by King until after the war. It was then made available by descendants of her family.
The area was known to house cotton and rice plantations from 1760 until the beginning of the Civil War. The Retreat Plantation was one of the most prosperous and was located on the southern tip of St. Simons Island. The Sea Island cotton grown at this antebellum plantation became famously known worldwide for its impressive quality.
As you walk towards this oak-lined pathway, the grand entry lane to the low-country plantation features rows of oaks dripping with Spanish moss lining the drive. Lined by an encapsulating corridor of 400 massive oak trees, the trail feels as though it goes on forever. Despite the many years since they were first planted, these grand live oaks’ natural beauty remains as it was.
Historically, St. Simons Island supported a booming lumber industry. Our beloved town citizens remember when Cannon’s Point on the Island’s north end contributed oak timbers to build the USS Constitution in 1794. This came to be known as “Old Ironsides.” In 1874, manufacturers used wood from the Island when constructing the Brooklyn Bridge. Legend has it that the average lifespan of the oak is 300 years.
Avenue of the Oaks Today
Today, these beloved century-old oak trees draped in moss continue to line the roads, sidewalks, and parks of St. Simons Island.
What was once the carriage entrance to the Retreat Plantation, the tree tunnel at Avenue of the Oaks, is now the grand entrance to the Sea Island Golf Club, located at the south end of St. Simons Island. Many visitors love to follow the drive around the magnificent double row of the 160-year-old live oak trees, then circle back.
The Sea Island Golf Club, which opened in 1929, is one of the nation’s oldest golf clubs. The Avenue of the Oaks sits between two Sea Island golf courses at the Lodge. It was originally the driveway, but traffic has since been diverted around it, creating a stunning scene that shows the true beauty of St Simons’ oaks.
The Seaside Course at Sea Island Resort holds the auspicious RSM Classic golf tournament, a must-play for any avid golfer. Seaside is a links-style course that oversees ocean views and complex fields. This is a challenging course that rewards players who prudently select their shots and who know how to easily recover as they move through this splendid marsh and forest.
Sea Island Traditions
As the resort has evolved throughout the many years, the simple traditions that define Sea Island have continued. Generations of children still play on the same beach their grandparents and great-grandparents once did. Many couples come to celebrate their golden anniversaries back at the place where they enjoyed their honeymoon.
Generation after generation have been continuously captivated by the stunning natural canopy of the thousands of live oak trees that grow to their majestic sizes in this area. Over the many years, visitors come to enjoy family picnics and other festive gatherings as an experience underneath the oaked pathway’s massive limbs.
Many couples, especially those with deep roots in the South, seek out the oak-lined pathway as a stunning wedding venue. They particularly love the scenic canopy that serves as the perfect background for their wedding photos. Generations of couples have had their weddings take place here, many of which whose ancestry can be dated back to the antebellum plantation.
You’ll often see many visitors strolling through the park, taking a gander at the scenic environment. Others might be rollerblading or going on their evening run through the park. It’s become a proud landmark for St. Simon residents and a popular destination for tourists and historians alike.
The park has been well-maintained over the years and looks almost identical to how it did over 100 years ago. The rich history and modern establishment have made this gorgeous park one that will likely be remembered and last for years to come.
The stunning imagery of the Avenue of the Oaks has been often used to inspire beautiful paintings, photography, and other mediums of art over the years. You can find many reinterpretations of the oak-lined pathway in photos and paintings sold in galleries and online. Lots of artists can be seen painting or taking photos in the tunnel at any given time.
Oak Tunnel St. Simmons
Along with many of the other stunningly scenic destinations you can experience here at St. Simons, the massive oak trees that line this pathway are definitely worth experiencing. Whether you’re looking for a beautiful spot for your wedding, a family gathering, or a simple stroll, look no further.
With a rich and complex history that has been refreshed and renewed, the magnificence of these oak trees will undoubtedly stand the test of time. The history that surrounds this place is one like no other. And like many visitors have mentioned, photos just don’t do it justice.
During your stay at Lighthouse Vacations, we recommend taking the time to come out and experience this oak-lined pathway and the true brilliance of mother nature. Whether you’re planning a wedding or a simple family picnic, an experience here with your loved ones will be like no other.
Getting There: It is located at Canary Dr, Saint Simons Island, GA 31522. You can turn off of Kings Way or drive to the southern end of Frederica Rd and cross onto Retreat Ave., which then becomes Canary Dr. It is a private road with no direct parking, so it’s best to park near the split on the northbound side.
Location: Canary Dr, Saint Simons Island, GA 31522.
Pricing: Free of charge. Be mindful of the Golf Course entrance where the park ends, as you cannot go past the gate without a membership.