Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Georgia's Islands

I'm feeling the need to head to the beach. Any one up for a road trip? My dream is to (again) live on the coast. Until then, however, I'm thankful I live only a few hours away from the Atlantic Ocean. Now if I could just get my job to let me off for sanity's sake!
Most people don't think "islands" when they think of Georgia. Peaches, "Gone With the Wind", Sweet Tea, yes, but not islands. But we Georgians know. We know what lies just south of Savannah. There's a stretch called the Golden Isles. I've only been twice, but I remember their beauty and slow pace of living matched Savannah and yet were worlds unto themselves.

I worked with a veterinarian from Brunswick. She talked lovingly about growing up in the small town on the coast, the beautiful architecture and quiet beaches. James Oglethorpe laid out her city plan in 1771 along the lines of the squares and streets he created in Savannah. Brunswick promises to be a feast for the history lover, filled with old manors, moss covered oaks and restoration projects much like her big sister. Antique shops, art galleries, bookstores and more beckon the shopper while seafood can be found around every corner and under most restaurant signs. Soak up the atmosphere in an historic Inn or B&B or soak up the sun on the beach. I can think of nothing better than sitting in the sand with a good book, listening the the mighty Atlantic as she taps the beach on the shoulder. If you're looking for festivals, you're in luck! Brunswick seems to have something going on all year round (and if it's like Savannah, there are more festivities than they ever publish on their website. You just have to wander down and find them!) Brunswick was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and the Historic Preservation Board works tirelessly at keeping her looking pristine and making sure those who have an interest in downtown properties adhere to strict codes to keep the city looking it's best. I'd like to know more about this city. I think a road trip is in order!

Now here's a place that beckons to me. Numerous times I've attempted to join an excursion to Cumberland Island, but every time they fell through. Not one to believe in chance, I'm going to say it just hasn't been the right time for me to wander the deserted beaches and explore the inner mysteries of this uninhabited island. No vehicles are allowed on the island and reservations for the ferry fill up fast! If you're looking to go in the fall, I'd book passage in early summer, just to be on the safe side. The ferry runs twice a day only so keep on your toes if you go (unless you want to be left behind!). You can opt to camp on the beach, camp inland or stay at the gorgeous Greyfield House Inn. The Inn is reputed to be haunted, but, then again, no self respecting Southern manor would be without a ghost or two in it's possession ;) Wild horses roam free on the beaches and further inland you can find ruins of an old settlement and few crocodiles if you're up for the adventure. This National Seashore is at the top of my list of places to visit. Now if I could just get that ferry boat ride penciled in!

St. Marys is the gateway to Cumberland Island, meaning if you want to go there, you have to go through St. Marys. St. Marys sits on the St. Marys' River and offers access to both Cumberland Island and Amelia Island, FL. She sits on the Georgia/Florida state line and if you're up for a wee drive, head on down i-95 a bit further to Jacksonville, Florida or a little bit longer for historic St. Augustine. Honestly, this place looks like a dream! The Inns look like estate homes, the marina is filled with yachts and sail boats. I could definitely get lost here and refuse to be found!There are museums and trolley tours, and 45 minutes away is the Okeefenokee Swamp. Ghost tours, scuba diving, sky diving...St. Marys has it all in a unique, small southern coastal town setting. And deep sea fishing. I can't forget about that. Something I've always wanted to do. The events calender is filled with festivals and things to do. I remember that about Savannah. If you live in a tourist destination, you will never be bored unless you choose to be! As for the shopping and the dinning and the additional links...well, you'll just have to check out St. Marys website for yourself. Whew!

On down we go to St. Simon's Island. I can speak personally for this vacation destination, having visited with my parents several years ago. It's beautiful. Even on a rainy, grey, chilly autumn day it's beautiful. The seafood is fresh and the crab cakes melt in your mouth. The beach is reminiscent of Tybee Island: grey sand, grey surf, grey gulls. Moody. It seems the towns of Coastal Georgia are reminiscent of each other. Small shops, friendly residents, antiques and quirky gifts, local sea food and more than enough local color. I've half a mind to pack up the car and cruise down to scope each and every one of these towns myself, taking note of similarities and differences. That would make for a much more interesting post! I do adore first hand accounts. However, I must live vicariously through the Internet for now. Hopefully, I haven't lost you! :)

Last on our trek among the Golden Beaches of the South is Jekyll Island. The only time I went there was on a lark as a child. My parents, aunts and uncles decided to pack up the kids and scoot on down to the beach for the. We packed into one hotel room and stayed the night, enjoying laughs and sun and salty air. I remember my cousin Jason saying he wasn't tired and would prop his eye lids open with toothpicks if he had to. My father getting pinched on the toe by a crab and my cousin and I rushing after him afraid we, too, were in for a pinching. Judging from the pictures I'm seeing, I don't remember much of anything about the actual place. A paradise it seems, a past retreat for the rich and elite. Golf is a mainstay there and if you or someone you know enjoys putting around the green, I've heard the courses there are wonderful!

One final mention: this website has a ton of information on Coastal Georgia, far more than I could post here. If you're interested, wander over. There's much more to see and do than even I was aware!

Happy Trails!
(image of Jekyll Island found here)


Jon said...

We need to grab D&L and go to Cumberland Island next year. Let's make it happen. :)

Mountain Woman of Red Pine Mountain said...

Because my Mother is a native Savannahian, I've spent lots of time in Georgia. I'm very fortunate to have been to all those wonderful places you mention and I've had the privilege of seeing them many years ago when they were very different from today.

Jen Chandler said...

Jon: It's a plan! Let's go!! I need a good spontaneous road trip.

Mountain Woman: I would love to take a summer and spend it roaming the Golden Isles of Georgia. You're fortunate to have been able to do so before they built up as they are now.