The sand, the surf, the sun; they make for a perfect beach getaway. But the beauty of St. Simons Island, a part of Georgia’s Golden Isles, is when the crowds on the shore get a bit too much, there is a whole lot more island to explore, and lots of things to discover beyond mini-golf and the pool.

Escape to Georgia’s Golden Isles: Six Secret Things to Do

Escape to Georgia's Golden Isles: Six Secret Things to Do

Photo credit: Sue Rodman, Traveling with Teens Mom

The beach may be what brings you to the Golden Isles of Georgia, and the miles of bike paths may keep you entertained while you are there. Of course, there are lots of shops to keep you busy, and some fantastic restaurants for dining. But what do you do if you’re too sunburn for the beach, aren’t a shopper and it’s not time for dinner yet? Here are six secret activities to keep the family busy on St. Simons Island.

Footgolf at Sea Palms Resort: Golf courses are some of the most beautifully scenic spaces, but rather inaccessible if you don’t play the game. Enter footgolf. It’s golf, played with a soccer ball. It’s perfect for any age, all you have to do is kick the ball, and it’s a great way to experience the beauty of a golf course, without the frustration of playing the game. Sea Palms Resort on St. Simon’s has a 9 hole course you can either walk, or use a cart.

Look for Tree Spirits: Hidden among housing developments, outside restaurants and other establishments are the tree spirits. Carved into the trunks of old trees, these works of art are fun to find. It’s like a scavenger hunt through town. Each tree spirit is a little different and you can find them all over the island. Visit any of the Golden Isles Welcome Centers for locations.

Shrimp on the Lady Jane: Channel your inner salty seaman and head out on the marshes to explore the bounty of the sea in an authentic shrimp boat. The Lady Jane lowers her nets several times to bring up sea creatures for guests to examine. On board is a marine biologist who can identify the catch. Where else can you hold a puffer fish or see a stingray up close. Even if you don’t enjoy the sea life, the ride through the marshes is beautiful.

Say Hello to the Mayor and Mr. Bird: The St. Simons Island pier is always bustling with activity. Kids squeal with delight as fishermen bring in a catch, whether it’s an ordinary fish, or something more impressive like a shark. Parents and children alike peek into buckets of crabs clicking as they climbing over each other in hopes of freedom. At the end of the pier you’ll usually find the Mayor surveying the activity and keeping things in order. The ‘Mayor’ is a pelican that greets visitors and poses for photos. More famous than the Mayor is Mr. Bird, a female African Grey parrot that lives at the St. Simon’s Bait & Tackle shop in the Village off the pier. Mr Bird has been written about many times, including in the New York Times.

Escape to Georgia's Golden Isles: Six Secret Things to Do

Photo credit: Sue Rodman, Traveling with Teens Mom

Fight Against the Spanish: 1742 was the year it became official: Georgia would be a British colony, not a Spanish one. That was because the British troops at Fort Frederica on St. Simons defeated the Spanish during the Battle at Bloody Marsh. The fort is now run by the National Park Service and has a fantastic Junior Ranger booklet. Kids borrow a haversack, compass, spyglass and more to help deliver a letter from General Oglethorpe. Even if you don’t have kids, pick this up for a fun way to explore the fort. 

Grab a cookie at Sweet Mamas: End your adventures on a sweet note. Located in Retreat Village, Sweet Mama’s has the best cookies on the island; the peanut butter with chocolate fudge on top is a favorite, as well as the chocolate chip and M&M. Since you’ll need to go in the morning to ensure they have cookies (they often sell out), get yourself a few pork pops for breakfast. Ok, so this one isn’t so secret, but it’s too good not to mention.