It’s difficult to imagine a more perfect spot for a holiday destination, or to live, for that matter, than St. Simons Island. Located on the Georgia coast, St. Simons Island is the largest and most developed of the four Golden Isles. It’s not only a seaside resort but also a small residential town with a rich history. As is typically the case with coastal communities, life has a slower pace here. The weather is also laid-back, so if you visit in the fall, you can expect mild summer weather.
The island offers outdoor enthusiasts plenty of opportunities for kayaking, fishing, camping, horse riding, biking, and much more. St. Simons also boasts beautiful beaches, challenging golf courses, top-quality restaurants, and a unique selection of shops. To ensure that you use your time well during your next visit, we’ve compiled a guide of St Simons Island fall things to do.
Go for a Bike Ride
St. Simons is the perfect spot for bikers. Especially when it’s low tide, the hard-packed beaches of the island make for comfortable beach cycling. Travelers who are stuck without a bicycle need not worry. You can rent one for cheap from Ocean Motion or MonkeyWrench Bicycles. In addition, more than 30 miles of biking trails encircle the island.
The trails, which are often lined with beautiful mossy live oaks, provide stunning views of the natural scenery on the island, which includes marshlands, rivers, and the ocean. If you bike mid-island along Frederica Road, you can explore some of the island’s shopping districts and grab a bite to eat. For a more leisurely bike ride, head towards the south end of the island.
Play a Round of Golf
St. Simons Island is a choice destination for golfers — pros and amateurs alike. Golfers can play on a variety of world-class golf courses, which are located among the oceanside dunes, marches, and other beautiful natural landscapes of the island. The reason for the prevalence of golf courses in the area is the Golden Isles’ rich golfing history, which includes both competitive tournaments and casual play. From the 1900s onward, the Golden Isles became the site of many new quality golf courses and famous golfers started to flock to the area.
One of the many top golf courses where you can enjoy a round of golf is the newly restored King and Prince Golf Course. This 18-hole championship course boasts beautiful views of ancient forests, lagoons, and marshes. But don’t get lost in the beauty of your surroundings — it’s a challenging course. Those who want to improve their game can ask for guidance from one of the two onsite professional PGA instructors.
If you visit the island in the fall, you can see a variety of exciting golfing events, such as the Paulk Cup Classic in October and the RSM Classic in November. The RSM Classic, which has been held annually on the island since 2010, has raised more than $17 million in support of various charities over the years.
Laze on the Beach
Because of the island’s perpetual mild weather, its beaches can still be enjoyed during the fall. Whether you want to go for long walks, take a refreshing swim, or pick up some shells for your collection, the pristine beaches on St. Simons will provide you with hours of sun-soaked pleasure. The stretch of beach along the Oceanside of St. Simons Island is called East Beach, or St. Simons Beach. Here you can go for a bike ride or take to the waters for some kite surfing.
The beach is made up of smaller beach sections, which are named after their access points. U.S. Guard Station, which was named after the historic coast guard station, is the most popular beach location on the island. The Guard Station is still there, quietly keeping guard at the entrance. If you prefer a more secluded beach area, opt for the access point at Massengale Park.
Shop and Dine at Pier Village
Pier Village, which is located on the south end of the Island, is the place to go to when you want to do some shopping or sit down for a meal at a quality restaurant. In addition to a wide selection of shops and restaurants, Pier Village also offers a playground for the kids and pleasant picnic areas.
The place is known for its excellent seafood restaurants. If you’re in the mood for a more upscale dining experience, the Georgia Sea Grill is a great choice. Back in 1997 when its doors first opened, the small venue had only 34 seats. However, due to its delicious seafood and good service, the restaurant soon became a hot local favorite. Today, you’ll often find the new 150-seat venue packed to the brim.
Another legendary seafood spot at Pier Village is Crab Trap, which offers a casual setting and a laid-back vibe. The joint has been a favorite haunt among locals and visitors alike for more than 45 years. It’s known for its tables with holes in the middle, where guests can throw their oyster shells and shrimp tails. Don’t forget to order a margarita or the famous “Blue Crab” cocktail to accompany your meal of local shrimp, scallops, oysters, or fish.
Climb the Tower Steps at St. Simons Light
Located on the southern tip of the island, St. Simons Island Light stands proud and tall. Built-in 1872, this lighthouse is still doing its bit by guiding ships into St. Simons Sound. Visitors can climb the 129 stairs to the top of the lighthouse to enjoy stunning panoramic views of the Georgian coast. From this vantage point, one can view the south end of the island, and also Brunswick and Jekyll Island.
Before you leave, don’t forget to visit the Lighthouse Museum, which offers a multitude of interesting artifacts, interactive exhibits, and also period-style rooms that are furnished and decorated the way they would have looked in 1872.
If rumor is to be believed, the lighthouse is haunted by the ghost of lightkeeper Frederick Osborne, who was apparently killed by the assistant keeper, John Stephens. The cause of the murder is disputed. Some say Osborne made an inappropriate remark about Stephen’s wife, while others think he perhaps made advances on her. Whatever the reason, many people have reported hearing unexplainable footsteps on the tower steps.
Play at Neptune Park
For families, a trip to Neptune Park is a must. This oceanfront public park offers a playground and pool area where the kids can frolic in the sun. However, the park also provides plenty of activities and fun for adults. You can, for instance, pack a picnic basket and sit down at one of the picnic tables under the old Southern Oak trees.
If you’re feeling competitive, take on the family for an 18-hole mini-golf game. And when the sun sets, take a pleasant stroll along the lighted pathways to take in breath-taking views of the ocean. Neptune Park also features a waterpark, complete with wading pools for the little ones, and lap lanes and waterslides for older kids. Various concession stands in the park offer snacks for when hunger strikes.
Visit Fort Frederica National Monument
Those who are interested in history might enjoy a visit to Fort Frederica National Monument. The fort dates back to 1736, when General Oglethorpe surrounded the fort and town of Frederica with an outer wall to protect the British colony of Georgia from Spanish raids. During the battles of Gully Hole Creek and Bloody Marsch, the British forces successfully prevented Spanish invasion, after which the Spanish were never a threat to the colony again.
Today, the peaceful ruins that lie scattered among large oak and pecan trees, create a homely atmosphere that belies the site’s violent history. Visitors can join a ranger-led tour to find out more about the fort. At the visitor center, you can also obtain some insights by viewing the historical exhibits and watching a short orientation film.
Enjoy a Festival at Gascoigne Bluff
Another historical site you can visit is Gascoigne Bluff. Throughout its long history, the site has had various uses. Apart from functioning as the headquarters for a military invasion, the site has functioned as a lumber mill and also a Sea Island cotton plantation. Today, Gascoigne Bluff is home to one of the second-largest Southern Red Cedar trees in Georgia. The site also features a gorgeous stand of live oak trees, as well as a fishing pier, a floating dock, a picnic pavilion, and two grills.
Numerous events are hosted at the park throughout the year, including the Georgia Sea Islands Festival. This 40-year-old festival is internationally renowned and celebrates the traditions, food, and music, of the African American cultures that call the coastal barrier islands home. You can also get fit at Gascoigne Bluff. A paved fitness trail, complete with educational signs along the way that show you how to obtain optimal fitness, can be accessed along the southeast side of the live oak grove.
Take a St. Simons Trolley Tour
To gain an overview of the island’s history in true southern fashion, sign up for a St. Simons Trolley tour. You’ll be privy to a well-informed narrative of how life was lived in the Old South by Bunny, an authentic Southern Belle. During the tour, which has been going on since 1993, visitors get to view 36 points of interest, including St. Simons Island Lighthouse, Fort Frederica, and the Bloody Marsh, which was the site of the Battle of Bloody Marsch. Customers also get to see the second-oldest Episcopal Church in Georgia, Christ Church, which features magnificent stained glass windows and a cemetery where many early settlers of the island are buried.