Why Winter is the Perfect Time to Visit St. Simons Island

Winter is an ideal time to check out St. Simons Island, Georgia, a stunning barrier isle that welcomes visitors throughout the year. Here are four reasons to visit this crown jewel of the Golden Isles this season:

Mild temperatures on the beach

Coastal Georgia usually averages temperatures in the mid-60s during the winter months. And with the summer crowds and dog restrictions gone, you can enjoy a peaceful visit to the beach with the whole family, including your favorite canine companions. November through January, take a trip to nearby Jekyll Island to go “ice skating” at a scenic beachfront skating village. Also on Jekyll Island, beach-goers can hunt for Island Treasures—handmade glass floats—in January and February.

Holiday happenings

Get in the holiday spirit with festive special events, including the Lighting of the City Christmas Tree in Jekyll Square East on Friday, November 23 at 5:30 p.m. On December 8, enjoy a Christmas Craft Bazaar in the squares along Newcastle Street as well as a Holiday market in Mary Ross Park. And don’t miss the Brunswick Christmas Parade on December 1!

Seasonal events

While the peak tourist season might be over, there’s still plenty to do on St. Simons. Sample food and spirits from area restaurants at the Taste of the Golden Isles on November 16. Enjoy a variety of holiday events at the Downtown Brunswick Festival of Lights November 23-December 15. Take an immersive tour of the Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation Historic Site on November 30 or December 1 and experience an authentic 1850s Southern Christmas celebration.

Migrating wildlife

From North Atlantic Right Whales and Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins to more than 400 species of birds, St. Simons Island is always a prime choice for nature-lovers. Whether you take a guided nature tour around the island or blaze your own path along Georgia’s 90 miles of coastline, you’re sure to see a diverse array of wildlife.

Seniors Travel To Georgia’s Coast

By Jim Becker! Seniors Drawn To St. Simons Island! St. Simons Island was recently named one of the “Most Romantic” places to visit in the country. St. Simons Island, the seat of Glynn County, is the largest of the four barrier islands in Georgia’s Golden Isles. The Island offers senior visitors a variety of outdoor activities and historic sites. Read Article!

Travel Spotlight on St. Simons Island and Its 14 Best Attractions – Hopper Blog!

By Jessica Wei! St. Simons is the largest of Georgia’s aptly named network of Golden Isles and offers a variety of attractions for the whole family, romantic and Southern-infused restaurants serving ever-fresh seafood from the Atlantic Ocean, plenty of historic parks and buildings, designer golf courses, and endless coastline. (more…)

America’s Favorite Beach Towns

No. 1 St. Simons Island, GA! Lined with white sand and live oaks, the biggest of Georgia’s Golden Isles won the beach-town contest for offering a triple threat of southern charm, serenity, and affordability. It’s not hard, after all, to get hotel rates here under $200 a night. St. Simons Inn, for instance, overlooks a 19th-century lighthouse, while the King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort, a former dance club, is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. St. Simons also scored well with readers for its good picnicking spots, events like the 4th of July Sunshine Festival, and for romance. You two might rent a bike or catch a trolley to tour the area’s plantations.

The Golden Isles – Davis Love III

Visit the Golden Isles – Georgia’s premier coastal destination. Come experience the warmth of the sun, miles of untouched beaches, activities to engage every sense of adventure, and timeless adventure and historic landmarks around every bend. The Golden Isles consist of many unique locations each offering a unique experience. Discover them at your leisure. Come Stay!

Golden Isles Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Old Casino Building (red brick) | St. Simons Island, GA | 800-933-2627

Shrimp & Grits with Tasso Ham Cream Sauce!

This is a traditional Georgia Shrimp and Grits recipe, and why would you have it any other way? If you are visiting and have never tried this dish, please do so! I know you will fall in love with this tasty Georgia treat! If you are a resident of the area, I am sure you have heard of alternative ways to Shrimp and Grits!

3 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. uncooked large shrimp, peeled & de-veined with tails off
8 oz. Tasso ham or Andouille, cut into cubes
1 cup julienne red bell pepper
1 cup julienne green bell pepper
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
Pinch of saffron, optional
1/2 & 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 Tbsp. fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 3/4 cup water
1 cup stone ground white or yellow grits
Cheddar cheese, optional

Method of Preperation:
Melt butter in a large skillet. Cook shrimp for 1 minute. Remove and reserve. Add ham, bell peppers and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes. Add wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup cream, parsley, thyme and shrimp with juices. Simmer until shrimp are pink and sauce thickens to coat a spoon, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Make grits according to package or bring 2 3/4 cup water to a boil. Gradually whisk in grits, reduce heat and simmer until grits are tender, about 30 minutes. Whisk in remaining 1/3 cup cream and 1 Tbsp. butter; season with salt and pepper, add cheddar cheese if desired. Spoon grits into bowl and top with shrimp/ham sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Yield: 4 servings.

Salt Marsh Transformation!

Surrounded by a mostly evergreen maritime forest, the salt marsh reveals the arrival of spring in very subtle ways. As each day gets longer and warmer, we witness a transformation in both the plants and animals that fill the salt marsh eco-system.

Looking across the broad expanse of marsh, the low lying field of grey-brown is now punctuated with bright green, evidence of a new crop of cordgrass.

A perennial, shoots of cordgrass (Spartina Alterniflora) sprout from the rhizome anchored in the mudflats. By summer, the grass has matured to a height of about 5 or 6 feet and is brilliantly green. As autumn approaches, golden seed heads appear – great food for wintering birds – and by early winter the seasonal crop turns brown and dies off.

The decaying cordgrass serves our eco-system in numerous ways.

Wracks of dead cordgrass drift up onto our beaches where it forms the foundation for our dune system, as well as providing important nutrients in the sandy habitat. Nesting birds carry off pieces of the dead grass, or the detritus remains in the salt marsh adding to the mix of organic material in the water. Have you ever noticed all the particles floating in the water? That’s decaying cordgrass, and lots of other good organic matter.

As the marshes renew themselves, migrating birds such as loons, mergansers, and buffleheads are leaving the confines of our marsh habitat. Bald Eagles, having re-established their pair bonds and re-inhabited the nests they left a year ago, are seen in flight overhead or perched high on a tree or power pole. Their chicks are ready to fledge. Look for these, too, on nearby oyster shell banks. Especially in the morning, just as the sun rises, I’ve observed these magnificent raptors enjoying a fat fish or two.

Osprey pairs are busy refurbishing their nests (like eagles, osprey return to the same nest year after year), laying one or two eggs, and patiently awaiting young chicks.

And like the eagle and osprey, our quintessential Lowcountry salt marsh birds – heron, egrets, white ibis, wood storks – will be busy with nesting activities and scouring the mudflats for fish and crustaceans to feed their young. When not in the salt marsh, find them in trees overlooking the marsh.

Dolphin, while residing in our waters year round, really seem to enjoy warming waters, and become much more active. Usually, during this time, our resident population of dolphin is joined by migrants who have spent the winter traveling the Eastern seaboard or inhabiting waters just off our coastline. Springtime observations of our Atlantic Bottlenose dolphin can be truly dynamic; as they play and eat and welcome offspring into the family.

Get Outside and discover the arrival of spring in the salt marsh!

For over 30 years, Outside Hilton Head has provided personalized adventures for all ages, from kayak, fishing, nature and dolphin tours to kids camps, history excursions, family outings and stand-up paddle boarding. “The Island’s outdoor outfitter” also offers an outstanding selection of clothing, gear and accessories for men, women and children at the flagship store in the Plaza at Shelter Cove and a second location in Palmetto Bluff. (843) 686-6996 or outsidehiltonhead.com.

By Capt. Patte Ranney, Master Naturalist, Outside Hilton Head

Oysters Stand Apart as a Sea Island Delicacy!

Oysters have been a favorite staple for The Sea Islands for centuries.

Early Native Americans harvested oysters, subsisting on the plentiful bivalve populations in Lowcountry waters. At low tide, oysters can be seen rising from tidal saltmarsh creeks throughout the area. In fact, Savannah’s waters have traditionally been considered some of the richest oystering areas along the Atlantic coast, with a number of oyster canning factories once operating throughout the region.

One of the most traditional ways to eat oysters in The Sea Islands is to steam several bushels in a communal oyster roast. First, rinse the oysters well to remove any excess dirt or mud. Then, build a fire under a thin sheet of metal or wire mesh. Dump the oysters over the sheet or mesh and cover them with a wet burlap bag, soaked well with water or even beer. The wet burlap steams the oysters until they pop open, which indicates they are ready to savor.

The hot oysters can be shucked with an oyster knife, dipped into drawn butter or cocktail sauce or simply enjoyed au natural. The briny flavor offers a delicious taste of the Lowcountry – plus, they are loaded with nutrients. One of the most nutritionally well-balanced foods, oysters contain protein, carbohydrates and lipids and are an excellent source of Vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, Vitamin C and Vitamin D.

The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort

Call The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort direct: 1.800.342.0212 St. Simon’s Island, Georgia The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort is a historical yet totally new Georgia island experience. It opened in 1935, and today it’s the only oceanfront resort on the beautiful St. Simons Island. From the moment you leave the mainland, you’ll sense its festive roots as a seaside dance club. Yet amid tennis, beaches, five pools and golf at the newly renovated King and Prince Golf Club, you’ll discover a thoroughly modern Georgia island getaway. This quiet island is full of Southern charm, plus a variety of coastal wildlife. It’s the perfect setting for such varied activities as shooting, horseback riding, history tours, distinctive shopping and fine dining. An assortment of dramatically renovated rooms and suites, beach villas and private homes completes the resort’s comfortable luxury.

35th Annual New Year’s Bluegrass Festival

December 30-January 1: 35th Annual New Year’s Bluegrass Festival featuring Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys and many other bands in the Jekyll Island Historic District. Presented by Adams and Anderson, LLC. Chairs are provided. Tickets may be purchased online. (706) 864-7203 or aandabluegrass.com. (more…)

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St. Simons Island named #2 of The South’s Best Islands 2017 by Southern Living

Each year Southern Living releases several lists boasting “The South’s Best,” including everything from accommodations to bookstores, breakfast spots, BBQ joints, beaches and so much more. In their 2017 accolades, St. Simons Island landed the #2 spot in The South’s Best Islands! Who stole first place from the Golden Isles? North Carolina’s barrier islands, the […]

Featured Event

Why Winter is the Perfect Time to Visit St. Simons Island

Winter is an ideal time to check out St. Simons Island, Georgia, a stunning barrier isle that welcomes visitors throughout the year. Here are four reasons to visit this crown jewel of the Golden Isles this season: Mild temperatures on the beach Coastal Georgia usually averages temperatures in the mid-60s during the winter months. And […]

Exploring Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation

Until the Civil War, coastal Georgia and South Carolina thrived as the country’s premiere rice growing region. Many of the South’s great rice plantations were destroyed during the Civil War, but a few still stand today. Located between Darien and Brunswick, Georgia, Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation offers a fascinating window into the Lowcountry’s 19th-century rice culture. Situated […]

What is Georgia’s State Seashell?

Knobbed Whelk (Busycon carica)! Christened the state seashell in 1987, the knobbed whelk is a whorled shell, eight inches long at maturity, displaying heavy spines, many knobs, and an orange or red mouth. Minerals in Georgia coastal waters cause ocher striations on the sand-colored, semi-gloss surface. This marine snail shell is found all along Georgia’s […]