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When people think of Georgia, they think Atlanta and a city getaway, but the mild southern weather makes a Georgia beach vacation perfect any time of year. Not sure what to expect along the Georgia coast? Here are five awesome sun-drenched Georgia beach vacation destinations for your next coastal getaway.
5 Awesome Sun-Drenched Georgia Beach Vacations
The string of islands along the southeast corner of Georgia is known as the Golden Isles. Although each island has its own personality, it’s easy to stay at your favorite Georgia beach and visit the others all in the same trip.
Mild weather with highs in the 80’s and lows in the 40’s make it a great year-round destination. All of these beaches are easily accessible from I-95 or if you are flying, they are within an hour of Savannah and Jacksonville, FL.
1. Georgia Beach Vacation on St. Simons Island
This Georgia beach town was voted number one by Travel and Leisure in 2014 with good reason. There is a variety of lodging options on St. Simons Island with price ranges from budget to luxurious. Our favorite is the King and Prince Hotel because it is the only St. Simons Island hotel that is located on the beach. My teens can get pretty much anywhere they want to go via bike.
In addition to traditional beach activities like swimming and bike riding, St. Simons Island also has a rich history and lots of nature-based activities. Fort Frederica was once a thriving colonial settlement in Georgia and has one of the best Junior Ranger programs I’ve ever seen.
Gone with the Wind fans can visit an actual Southern Plantation nearby. Hofwyl-Broadfield was a rice plantation in the antebellum south. It’s now a State Park, but you can still tour the main house (it’s not as grand as you might imagine).
For nature lovers, a day excursion on the Lady Jane Shrimp Boat is a must. Trawl the marshes and bring up the big nets to discover the treasures under the sea. Wear a hat; the seagulls love following the boat for the cast off fish. For a quieter adventure, take a kayak tour with Southeast Adventure Outfitters.
2. Georgia Beach Vacation on Jekyll Island
Jekyll Island was once the playground for the rich industrialists during what was called the Club Era. Cottages located around the Jekyll Island Club are named for the wealthy families who vacationed here. These included the Vanderbilts, Goodyears, Carnegies, and Morgans. The Jekyll Island Club is now a historic hotel and you can tour the homes of the wealthy vacationers.
Jekyll Island has seen a renewal recently and there are several hotel choices beyond the Island Club. The Westin is located next to the Jekyll Island Beach Village. This common area hosts summer movies and special events throughout the year. In between, it’s the perfect place for a picnic dinner or to grab an ice cream or a gathering spot for teens. Families may opt to stay at the Holiday Inn Resort Jekyll Island.
No matter where you stay, there is a ton to do on Jekyll Island for families. Summer Waves water park will keep the kids cool. The Georgia Sea Turtle Center, a hospital for sick and injured turtles, is open to the public. The Tidelands Nature Center on Jekyll Island has touch tanks, as well as dockside programs for kids. There’s a mini-golf course, and even an ice skating rink in winter.
3. Georgia Beach Vacation on Sea Island
Sea Island. The Cloister at Sea Island is a Forbes five star hotel with plenty of luxury. There are a variety of room types available, as well as cottages. Sea Island also manages the Lodge and Inn at Sea Island, both located on St. Simons Island. The Lodge is also a Forbes Five Star hotel, but The Inn at Sea Island is a more affordable option.
My favorite part of Sea Island is the Beach Club. You’ll find pools, restaurants, a kids game room, shuffleboard, a playground and more, all within steps of the beach. Be sure to reserve some quiet time at the spa. This is one of the most beautiful spas I’ve ever been to and well worth a girlfriends only getaway.
Sea Island has a multitude of activities including fishing, shooting clays, kayak and paddleboarding, a well-regarded kids club and even falconry! As a self-contained resort, it’s also a perfect place for tweens and teens to have a bit of freedom.
4. Georgia Beach Vacation on Cumberland Island
Cumberland Island. Cumberland Island is Georgia’s largest barrier island, and also an unspoiled oasis. That’s because most of the island is part of the Cumberland Island National Seashore. Limited development on the island means pristine beaches and small crowds. It also means there are limited places to stay on the island. The Greyfield Inn is great for couples; in fact, it’s where JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette stayed for their wedding, which took place on the island. For families, camping at Sea Base is a great option.
If you don’t like any of the lodging options, you can still just visit for the day. The only way to reach the island is by boat, which is a great adventure in itself. Once there, you can rent bikes to tour the island, or head out on foot.
One of the biggest draws for Cumberland Island are the approximately 150 feral horses that have the run of the place and can often be seen munching on the grass. My favorite place to find them is at Dungeness, the ruins of a once grand estate owned by Andrew and Lucy Carnegie. Several other estates on the island, including Greyfield, were built for Lucy’s children.
One of the best ways to truly see Cumberland is with a guided tour. Check the National Park Service site for tours available during your visit. There is also the Land and Legacies van tour which is about 5 – 6 hours, but this is probably the only way to see the entire island in one visit.
5. Georgia Beach Vacation on Sapelo Island
Sapelo is another secret, secluded Georgia beach. Like Cumberland, Sapelo Island is only accessible by boat. Groups can rent the Reynolds Mansion on the island or camp at the Cabretta campground. Both are managed by the Georgia State Park Service. For family accommodations, check VRBO. Make sure your rental comes with a vehicle. Sapelo is a big island on foot.
Sapelo is even more remote than Cumberland and you’ll need to bring your fun with you. There is a small hamlet called Hog Hammock where you’ll find a store and restaurant, but they aren’t open all the time, so don’t rely on them for anything you forgot. That said, Sapelo visitors are rewarded with empty windswept beaches, lush marsh trails, and thick maritime forests.
Bonus Georgia Beach Vacations
Little St. Simons Island
This private island is a cross between the remote islands like Cumberland and Sapelo and the more populated islands like St. Simons and Jekyll. With only one all-inclusive hotel on the entire island, this is definitely a place to get away from it all. Activities here focus on the natural environment but depend on the wants and needs of the guests. Children are welcome at Little St Simons Island during certain times of the year; otherwise, this is an adults-only getaway.
This Georgia Beach isn’t part of the Golden Isles. It lies farther north. Tybee Island is called Savannah’s Beach because it’s located so close to the classic Southern city. In fact, when we visited, we stayed in Savannah at the Hotel Indigo downtown, and took a day trip out to Tybee.
The day we visited the beach, they were setting up to film a scene from an upcoming movie. It’s not unusual to see film crews on Tybee.
In addition to the beach, we also did a kayak tour with Georgia Sea Kayak. This is the best way to explore the natural side of the island. Along the way we saw dolphins, explored islands and paddled past oyster beds the size of football fields.
For history lovers, Fort Pulaski is a must do. Be sure to ask the ranger station for a set of free trading cards. We also enjoyed touring the Tybee Island Lighthouse, where you can tour the lighthouse keeper’s house as well as climb the stairs of the actual lighthouse for an amazing view of the island and the sea.