Rustic and rugged, refined and unique. All of these words describe one of Georgia’s best kept secrets: its beaches. Families in the know have been flocking to the Peach State’s shores for decades. Others have started to take notice of the “Golden Isles.” Travel + Leisure has named the region the number one “World’s Best Islands in the United States.” The islands include five different communities and Knoxville Moms has highlighted three of the most popular here.
Cumberland Island—This National Seashore offers 17-miles of secluded, sandy beaches. It’s only accessible by ferry, which makes it feel like a world away. It is the largest of barrier islands in Georgia and offers accommodations ranging from campgrounds to the luxurious and all-inclusive Greyfield Inn. Wild horses roam on the island along with lots of other wildlife. There are more than 50-miles of trails and roads you can explore on your own or on a guided park ranger tour. Those tours focus on everything from the island’s rich history to the wildlife that calls Cumberland Island home. Pro tip: If you’re planning to make the trip, it is important to make all your reservations in advance. This includes your ferry ride, tours etc.
Jekyll Island—Wide open beaches and ancient driftwood, make for an other-worldly beach experience. While it seems rustic and secluded, there is plenty for families to do. Sea turtle season is an ideal time to visit for animal-lovers. Lots of special programs are offered during that time. Mosaic the Jekyll Island Museum gives a glimpse into the island’s past. There are plenty of kid-friendly exhibits. The Summer Waves Water Park is another great spot for kids as well as Jekyll Island Mini Golf. There are also accommodations for every family’s budget, including VRBO rentals. The nearly 30 restaurants on Jekyll Island range from flip-flop casual to fine dining. The views of the marsh from The Wharf are worth the visit for lunch or dinner!
St. Simon’s Island—A charming village, giant mossy oaks and family-friendly beaches, are just some of the reasons people return to St. Simon’s year after year. Small inns and larger resorts give families plenty of options. As for dining, St. Simon’s prides itself on having lots of kid-friendly options. Three Little Birds is a favorite because you can grab a quick breakfast or lunch and even order meals to go to get you to the beach even faster! East Beach is a popular destination for families interested in a range of beach activities, including perfect sand for pedaling bicycles. The Coast Guard Station Beach is another favorite. It has a bathhouse with showers and on-duty lifeguards. It’s not a visit to St. Simon’s without a stop at the historic St. Simons Lighthouse.
Sea Island—This privately owned island is part of the Golden Isles of Georgia. The five-star resort has everything from sea cottages to a historic hotel. The 50-acre island surrounded by a river, salt marshes and the ocean are yours to explore no matter where you stay. Start with a day at the private beach playing in the surf and sand. From there, you can go sailing, kayaking and more. The activities on Sea Island don’t end there. Fishing, tennis, horseback riding and falconry are just some of the other offerings. The 15 resort restaurants offer everything from casual bites to fancier meals. Kids won’t want to miss Wonderland, home of Sea Island’s famous Gold Brick Sundae. Be sure to take advantage of Camp Cloister for kids ages three to 14. It’s a fun-filled day of activities while Mom and Dad get a day to themselves.