When Everybody Knew Your Name
Stepping Back in Time on St. Simons Island, GA
by Lisa Moretti
Subheading: If you grew up in a sleepy beach community then you know – there was something charming about a slower pace and friendly wave. St. Simon’s Island, Georgia gives you the chance to turn back time.
Be Home Before the Street Lights Come On
There was nothing quite like warm weather days growing up. If you had a bike, you were gone! As a parent, your only worry was that you could convince your kids to come home or that they didn’t crash in the briar patch. Kids live in a smaller and smaller world today; most parents barely feel comfortable letting their children hang out in the front yard. But, if you want to give your kids the chance to feel the freedom you knew, it’s time to take a vacation to St. Simons Island, Georgia.
Even WWII Spies Couldn’t Ruin It
St. Simons is full of history of course, it’s part of the original colonies; but everywhere you turn history winks at you. The island has been occupied by the Native Americans, Spanish, French, English, even the Nazi’s tried to set up camp; everyone has left their mark whether in a name or a structure. A stroll through Christ Church’s cemetery is a testament to how many people came from near and far and suddenly (but not surprisingly) found the island felt like home. It’s true, German spies during WWII successfully landed on the islands after subs had sunk two Liberty line ships, but they couldn’t go through with their plans to betray the sleepy town.
Today, you can find ruins, artifacts (be sure to give them back), and a peek into days gone by as you explore the island. Out near the Hampton Club, the golf course that belongs to the King and Prince Resort, you can see old walls from an early mill. A visit to the Maritime Museum and Lighthouse offer insight into the changing landscape and beach of the island. A walk around the King and Prince Resort transports you to the days of the 1930s dance clubs, the impact of the war when the resort was a Naval Radar School, and a return to the safe feeling of a 1970s beach community.
Getting Lost But Finding You
St Simons is a small island, so before you grow concerned – it’s tough to actually get lost! Further, there are now wonderful bike trails all over the island that rival Eisenhower’s freeway system. As you are cruising along, be sure to check out those historical markers and take a turn down a street or two. You might find an old plantation or the First African Cemetery hidden down a side road.
There are sea turtles, shrimp, and a whole host of slimy sea creatures waiting to be discovered (if you have kids with you, take a trip out on the Lady Jane shrimp boat – their marine biologist will help pull in the nets and let people safely touch all the different kinds of waterway dwellers – gross out factor +10.) And have some shrimp right there at the landing at Spanky’s.
If you’re visiting kid-free, check out the newly rejuvenated course at the Hampton Club where you can golf surrounded by perfect vistas designed by Joe Lee with the latest course grasses that ensure a great golfing experience. Take in a spa treatment or two over the King and Prince. And at the very least, stop by the resort for a beverage, one of their famous oatmeal muffins, or Chef Robin Gomez’s life-changing shrimp and grits.
In fact, The King and Prince makes for a great homebase. They have a variety of room styles, cabanas, villas and multi-bedroom homes in a relaxed beach-side atmosphere sure to drop your blood pressure. Exploring St. Simons offers you the opportunity to see what makes you smile, try out something new, and enjoy old favorites. When you see something that tickles your fancy on St. Simons, check it out! Ask the residents questions, they’re all proud of their community and happy to share its history. Seize the day for adventure and discovery!
Turning Down the High-Maintenance Meter
Like Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, time is slower and flip-flops are expected footwear on the island. Be a local and stop in for breakfast or lunch at the Sandcastle in the Village. Pop over to Redfern where you can stroll the curve, window shop, and try an $8,000 margarita at Bubba Garcia’s. Make sure to catch the sunset (and maybe a Green Flash) down at the pier. It’s all about taking life a little slower and having a little more faith in the people around you.
And, in case you’ve forgotten, when someone lets you in at a roundabout or even when you just pass by on the street – smile and wave…just like you used to when you were a kid.
Getting There: Fly into either Savannah/Hilton Head International or Jacksonville International. Savannah is north of St. Simons Island and Jacksonville is just south across the state line in Florida. Rent a car and expect a drive of about an hour. Bikes are available to rent once you get there.
St. Simons King and Prince Resort: www.kingandprince.com
St. Simons Island Convention and Visitor’s Bureau: www.explorestsimonsisland.com
Bubba Garcia’s: www.bubbagarcias.com
Lady Jane Shrimp Boat: www.credlesadventures.com
Photos by David A. Monroe – www.damimagist.com
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