There's something magical about a family vacation. Knowing that you're making memories that will induce nostalgia is a good feeling, and a trip to the Golden Isles is sure to give everyone warm fuzzies for years to come. From hunting for mysteriously alluring tree spirits to experiencing the feeling of the wind in your hair as you watch from a boat while dolphins leap out of the water, the South Georgia coast is filled with enchantment for the whole family.
For some real magic, take the family on a scavenger hunt across St. Simons Island in search of the mystical tree spirits. They're carved into seven different trees on public property throughout the island, and they're waiting for you to find them! Kids and adults alike will enjoy the mysterious allure of the tree spirits, which were carved into dead parts of the trees - whether a knot from a severed branch or a scar from a lightning strike - meaning the trees were not harmed when these carvings were made. Keith Jennings began carving the tree spirits more than 30 years ago, and has been continuing this time-honored tradition ever since. Stop by the Golden Isles Welcome Center at the St. Simons Pier Village to pick up a map specifically for the tree spirits, and have the kids use it to find as many spirits as they can.
Get the kids into the unusually unique history of the Golden Isles with a trip to the St. Simons Island Lighthouse. Originally built in 1810, the first lighthouse was destroyed by Confederate forces during the Civil War to prevent the Union army from using it. The lighthouse was then rebuilt in 1872 and still stands to this day. Take advantage of the 129 steps to the top to wear the kids out, and use the views from the top as your reward. You'll see unbeatable treetop views of St. Simons Island. You'll also be able to see neighboring Jekyll Island across the St. Simons Sound and parts of Brunswick as well. On clear days, you can even see Little Cumberland Island farther down the Georgia coast.
Finding a place to stay that accommodates everyone in the family isn't hard in the Golden Isles, but one of the best options is The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort. For the adults, there's golf and a top-notch spa, and for the kids, they have three oceanside pools, two specifically for children, as well as a sandy play area. They're also pros at helping you plan activities and excursions and can suggest something for everyone, from ghost tours to the best beaches. The onsite dining makes for easy and convenient meal and snack options, and everyone will enjoy a good night's sleep in the rooms. If you've got a big group, you can even rent an ocean villa, or just go with one of their luxurious suites.
Craving something more casual, or have a couple picky eaters on your hands? Head into Brunswick for a couple slices of handmade pizza at Broomelli Boys Pizzeria. Beyond their delicious and creative pies, they offer pasta dishes, calzones, salads and more. Their lunch specials are notably awesome. Don't miss the Heart and Soul pie featuring special toppings from local favorite barbecue restaurant Southern Soul.
What kid (or adult, for that matter) wouldn't be completely enchanted with hanging out alongside a few dolphins? Spot the bottle-nosed dolphins in the waters around Jekyll Island with the friendly and knowledgeable crew at Jekyll Island Boat Tours. A kid’s ticket is only $15 (adult tickets are $25) and gets you onto a boat for a 90-minute tour that provides scenic views of the Golden Isles, up-close encounters with dolphins, and a guide who can offer tons of information on both the history of the region and dolphins. It's hard to not enjoy the wind in your hair, the ocean breezes, and the chance to see dolphins swimming freely in the wild!
The Georgia Sea Turtle Center is a must-visit for families. Kids can meet the "patients" (turtles that are being rehabilitated at the center), learn all about these endangered creatures, and get a look at what is being done to help conserve their habitats. If you can, plan to stop by during a feeding time or during one of the scheduled talks. The staff is incredibly friendly and great with kids!
Between the cruises, poolside fun, and beach beauty, the family fun in the Golden Isles is endless. The magic of the shore and the countless activities to keep everyone entertained will bring the family back for vacations year after year. And, of course, you'll have the memories you'll make to carry you through until the next spring break!
Nestled on the Georgia coast lies the mainland city of Brunswick and its four beautiful barrier islands: St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Little St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island. Pristine stretches of marshland, punctuated by small islands, define the Golden Isles' breathtaking landscape.