A Traveler’s Guide to Winter on St. Simons Island

When you think of driftwood-covered sands, salty ocean air, and lounging beachgoers, you probably don’t picture the winter months. But when it comes to St. Simons Island, winter is an ideal time to visit due to mild temperatures and lower crowds.

This beach community along the Georgia coast has a permanent population of 15,000 with businesses and restaurants open year-round, making it a perfect destination spot in the winter season. With great vacation rental homes to keep you cozy indoors and plenty to do around the island, you’ll be tempted to make a winter trip to SSI an annual event.

If you’re planning a trip to St. Simons Island this winter, here is our traveler’s guide on what to expect and how to experience all that the island has to offer.

What To Expect in the Winter Months on St. Simons Island

Mild temperatures in the Winter

St. Simons Island is located on the southern tip of Georgia, about an hour south of Savannah and an hour north of Jacksonville, Florida. In the fall months of November-December, you can expect the average daily highs to run from 67-87 degrees.

The coldest time of the year in St. Simons Island is January-March, with the average high in the mid-to-lower 60’s. The temperature typically does not fall below 40 degrees during the coldest months, which leaves visitors with mild temperatures all winter long.

Lower Crowds and Seasonal Events

It’s no secret that most visitors plan their beach vacations in the warmer months. This means that you can expect fewer crowds when you visit in the winter. But don’t worry, it isn’t a ghost town either.

Instead, there is bustling activity in the winter months due to permanent residents and snowbirds, people who migrate south for the winter season. With the Golden Isles in Georgia being rated some of the best islands in the U.S. by Travel & Leisure for multiple years in a row, St. Simons Island has become a top destination for snowbirds escaping their frigid temperatures.

In addition to the year-round activity, there are seasonal events that you can only experience at this time of year. From events like the Mistletoe Market in St. Simons Island and the New Year’s Shrimp Drop in Brunswick, there are holiday activities all along the Golden Isles for you to enjoy.

Pet-Friendly Beaches

In the busy summer months on Saint Simons Island, dogs are prohibited on the beach during day-time hours. But in the off-season (Labor Day through Memorial Day), dogs are free to enjoy the beach with their owners at any time of the day. So if you’re looking to bring your furry friend along on vacation, winter is the ideal time to visit!

Outdoor Activities on St. Simons Island in the Winter

Bird Watch During the Winter Migration

Photo Credit: Judy Royal Glenn via Flickr CC2.0

While bird watching is an activity to enjoy at any time of the year in St. Simons, the winter migration patterns offer a unique experience for visitors. Birders will discover northern gannets over the ocean, winter piping plovers on the beach, and a variety of bird species in the water.

On St. Simons Island, the best spots to bird watch along the Colonial Coast Birding Trail are East Beach and Gould’s Inlet. If you’re looking to explore neighboring islands such as Jekyll Island, here is a full list of stops along the Colonial Coast Birding Trail.

Enjoy Golfing at One of the Top Golf Resorts

The Golden Isles is known as a golfing destination with multiple championship golf courses along the coast. With mild winter temperatures, it’s a great time to enjoy outdoor activities like golf without battling the humidity.

On St. Simons Island, we recommend teeing up at The King and Prince Golf Course. Nestled between Spanish moss oaks and salty marshes, this 18-hole golf course is the perfect spot for golfers to enjoy scenic coastal views while perfecting their game. Complete with a restaurant and clubhouse, it’s a great day-time activity for you and your group. You can book your tee time here.

Experience St. Simon Island’s Many Bike Paths

Photo Credit: electriccoastssi via Instagram

Another outdoor activity that is perfect for the milder winter months is biking. With St. Simons Island stretching 17.5 miles total, biking is a main form of transportation for locals and tourists alike.

The St. Simons Island biking trail system encircles the island, inviting visitors to bike along various scenic paths. The biking trails will take you past historic sites, beautiful beaches, restaurants and shopping, and marshland. What could be a better way to take in the full landscape of St. Simons Island than your very own biking tour?

And if you’d rather enjoy this activity with a group and an official tour guide, Bike Tours offers sunrise and midday biking tours around St. Simons Island.

Indoor Activities to Enjoy around the Island

Start Your Morning at Wake Up Coffee Company

Photo Credit: wakeupcoffeeco via Instagram

If you’re looking for a cozy atmosphere on a winter day, Wake Up Coffee Company is the perfect spot. Right in the heart of Saint Simons Island, this local coffee shop offers plenty of comfortable seating, breakfast pastries and desserts, and unlimited amounts of warm drinks.

In the winter months, Wake Up Coffee serves specialty seasonal drinks such as their delicious apple pie latte or hot cocoa. Grab a coffee to go before you explore the island, or bundle up indoors with their signature mug in hand.

Shop in Historic Downtown Brunswick

Photo Credit: discoverbrunswick via Instagram

Just a short drive from St. Simons Island is the city of Brunswick, a neighboring port city once dubbed the “Shrimp Capital of the World.” With a rich history dating back to the early 1800’s, Brunswick is known for its historic downtown, lively festivals, and local arts and theater culture.

Historic Downtown Brunswick offers a wide variety of local shops and eateries for visitors to enjoy. Between antique shops, home decor, bookstores, and boutiques, there are many local spots to discover and enjoy window shopping. When you’re ready for a bite, cozy up in one of the many downtown cafes offering pastries, coffee, or dessert fit for a winter day.

Visit Historic Sites

Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks

St. Simons Island and the surrounding Golden Isles are brimming with historic landmarks for you to experience. Head to Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation first where you’ll learn about the culture of Georgia’s rice coast. The museum offers a brief film on the history of the plantation, family artifacts, and a nature trail leading visitors to the marsh where rice once grew.

Located on the north side of the island, Christ Church is another historic landmark where John and Charles Wesley preached before founding the Methodist denomination.

While in this area of town, finish your historic tour at Fort Frederica National Monument, which features the remnants of a fort built in the early 1700’s to protect the British colony of Georgia from Spanish raids. The park also hosts a visitor center where you can watch a film about the history of Fort Frederica.

A Warm Welcome in the Winter Season

Coastal Georgia is beautiful at all times of the year. However, winter on St. Simons Island offers visitors a unique chance to escape the weather in colder climates, embrace a slower pace of life, and experience the activities locals enjoy year-round in this small town community. If you’re planning a winter vacation, you can’t go wrong on Saint Simons Island.