Sometimes, a place has so much soul that it seems to seep out of every brick and every Spanish moss-draped oak. The Golden Isles is one of those kinds of spots... and there are tons of ways to experience it. From the distinctive cuisine, rich with fresh seafood and smoky barbecue, to the historic attractions, ranging from rice plantations to 18th-century forts, there is a ton of culture to discover. As you cross the region by land and by sea, you'll find yourself with a new appreciation for the little things that make the Golden Isles so unique.
There's no better way to experience a region's culture than through their cuisine. Fried green tomatoes, crispy okra, flavorful rice-stuffed collards, wild-caught shrimp served a ton of ways, bourbon peach cobbler, and more give diners a real flavor for the local low country cuisine. The casual, homey setting and scenery make this a typically relaxing spot that will have you tempted to come back more than once during your trip!
As one of three piers on the Georgia coast, the St. Simons Island Pier is a special experience for those in search of the culture of the Golden Isles. Stroll along it to watch the sunset after a meal, or spot dolphins in the distance. You could easily spend hours here enjoying the ocean views, refreshing breezes, and people-watching; it’s a popular spot for crabbing and fishing, and it really is fascinating to watch as locals cast out a line and reel in a catch in front of you!
Southern cuisine and hospitality are served up daily in this favorite eatery on St. Simons Island. Everything about Barbara Jean's is down-home and delicious, from their convenient location in the St. Simons Pier Village, to the mouthwatering crab cakes, to the soulful sides. Go classic and try the chicken fried steak, meatloaf and pork chops, or make like a local and add on sides of she crab soup and dirty rice. It's a great spot to sample the culture and flavor of the Golden Isles!
To understand the culture, it helps to understand the past, and the Golden Isles have a rich and singular history that's worth delving into. Go back to the 18th century, and Georgia's beginnings, at Fort Frederica National Monument. The Fort was founded in 1736, and a town quickly grew around it. The Fort played a key role in defending the newly established colony against threats from the Spanish, who, inhabiting nearby Florida, felt threatened by the Georgians. The forces at the fort were successful in repelling the Spanish, and Georgia began to flourish as a colony, despite the fact that the fort was abandoned not long after.
A visit here offers the chance to explore the castle-like ruins of the fort, to learn all about what life was like for early colonists here, and to see how these settlers managed to ward of the Spanish. It's incredible to learn just how many people lived on this now-grassy patch of scenic land!
Unwind with a stroll through the Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation Historic Site. Wander through the groves of live oaks and around the massive grounds that were once used to grow rice. The house still stands, as do various other buildings, including the dairy barn. The history here isn't always rosy, but it is important to learn, and a tour of the property can give powerful insight into the culture. From the early antebellum days and what life was like as a slave, through the Civil War and Reconstruction, all the way up to the story of how, after generations, the state came to own this property, a visit to Hofwyl-Broadfield is a fascinating look into the past.
The Golden Isles is a region rich in culture and personality. It's a special place that feels warm and laid-back but is still very reverent of the storied past that has given the region its identity. From the cuisine, prepared with unique regional ingredients and a dash of pride, to the welcoming atmosphere created by the locals who are delighted to show off why they love their home so much on tours and excursions, it's easy to see why the aura of the Golden Isles brings so many people back again and again.
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.