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 Brunswick & The Golden Isles Family Vacation Ideas - Beach Time, Waterslides, and a Real Fort.Georgia Golden Isles Family Beach Time Fun From beach time on the sugary sands of Cumberland, Jekyll, Sea, or St. Simon's Island to secret water trails, shaded walkways and historic Fort Fredrica family vacation activities abound. We have made a list of the best stuff for families to share.

Here's the scoop.
In one vacation it is possible to do as much or as little as makes sense. Go sea kayaking; bike along island pathways; play golf and practice tennis; visit historic Fort Fredrica; try turtle trekking and stargazing; kayak along secret water trails; sip luscious peach iced tea; relax at a spa or celebrate the sunset. The choice is yours.

Here’s the lay of the land. Brunswick and the Golden Isles sit on the edge of Georgia. Brunswick a historic mainland community anchors the four dramatically beautiful barrier islands - St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Little St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island. About 20 minutes by land or sea separates the five locations within this unique vacation cluster. Most visitors stay on one island and make excursions to the others. The largest and most developed island is St. Simons, tethered to the smaller Sea Island by a narrow strip of land. A laid-back vacation atmosphere prevails in the small seaside community inviting visitors to relax and enjoy the moment. Each island offers its own family friendly experience and all work together creating hundreds of exceptional ways to have fun. Our list of family vacation ideas is only the beginning. 

Head to the fort for musket drill. Fort Frederica was established in 1736 by James Oglethorpe to protect the southern boundary of his new colony of Georgia. Colonists from England, Scotland, and the Germanic states lived at Frederica to protect the coast and the new colony from Spanish invaders. Throughout the year ranger programs and living history vignettes provide visitors with a sense of fort life in Colonial America. On the grounds visitors enjoy nature walks, stargazing, and wildlife viewing. The last Saturday of each month view the “Bloody Marsh Musket” reenactment. Bonus Points: A complimentary activities book for children is available at the information desk. By answering questions and completing activities during your visit, your kids will earn a Junior Ranger Badge. Best Part: Throughout the year the Fort offers programs for kids including “Hands on Musket Drill” – an activity in which children learn the history of Fredrica’s soldiers and their primary weapon, the long-land pattern musket. (Fort Frederica 6515 Frederica Rd. St. Simons Island, GA 31522. (912) 638-3639 or

Kayak through the marshes and coast. Like the easy to navigate bike paths, the coastal waters surrounding the isles provide plenty of routes for exploration by kayak. The coastal rivers and marshes are abundant with wildlife every season of the year and there are dozens of great routes to kayak. Paddle from St. Simons Sound to Jekyll Island landing at infamous “Boneyard” Beach. Catch the tide through the “Marshes of Glynn” or travel along the exotic black waters of the Satilla River. Local outfitters offer guided excursions for families making the adventure carefree and memorable. Bonus Points: Southeast Adventure Outfitters also offers 2-3 day kayak/camping expeditions to nearby islands such as Cumberland and Sapelo. Best Part: They also can customize trips for groups of four or more and offer 2-3 hours tours at different times in the day according to the tides. (Southeast Adventure Outfitters, St. Simons Island (912)638-6732, (912) ME-TO-SEA or

Go shrimping with your kids. It is now possible to take a two-hour cruise on an authentic shrimp boat. The Lady Jane is a US Coast Guard certified 49-passenger steel shrimping vessel recently retired after years of loyal service to the shrimping industry. She has been painstakingly refurbished to allow passengers to feel comfortable aboard. During the two-hour eco adventure passengers are invited help the crew sort the shrimp from her catch. Captain Larry E. Credle will explain and demonstrate how shrimpin’ has been conducted for generations. He will order the crew to drop the shrimp net over the stern and you will see firsthand how the harvesting works. You'll learn about the life cycle of shrimp and the depth of waters in which they are caught. The crew will tell you about the types of shrimp being caught and you will hear a few personal sea stories. Best Part: During the sea junket passengers are treated to a really fresh shrimp boil. Bonus Points: The Lady Jane is also available for private celebrations, family reunions and special occasions. (Lady Jane is at Spanky’s Marina 1200 Glynn Ave (Hwy17). or

Touch and see. Tidelands Nature Center on Jekyll Island provides visitors with a unique sense of place. In just one visit see native species of fish, turtles, crabs, snakes, alligators, and other critters. Discover whelks, hermit crabs, and other marine life in the touch tank. Enjoy the Saltwater Exhibit featuring the nesting loggerhead turtle exhibit and the Repitle and Birding Display. Join one of the morning walks led by an experienced guide and view the beach, forest, or marsh in a different way. Activities for adventuresome families include both explorations by kayak and canoe. Bonus Points: Plans are underway to add an underwater dock/touch tank display and an alligator tank/ fresh water display as well as an 1100-gallon sea turtle tank and a coastal sea marsh model. (The Jekyll Island Sea Turtle Project at 635-2284 or Tidelands Nature Center 100 Riverview Dr. Jekyll Island, 31527 or

Track sea turtles or spot hatchlings. Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) sea turtles return each year to nest along the Atlantic Coast. During July and August it possible to join a Golden Isles turtle trek. The evening adventures begin with a brief orientation and presentation, followed by a walk on the beach in search of nesting sea turtles. The appearance of a loggerhead is not guaranteed but it is highly likely and the expansive starry skies over the ocean make for a terrific night adventure for older (10 years plus) children. After the nesting months the Center conducts Hatchling Walks. The dates and times depend on the season. Need to know: It is essential to register for all guided walks. For night walks make sure to wear long pants, long sleeves and mosquito repellent. Bonus Points: Every Saturday enjoy Turtle Tales, a turtle inspired story and craft program. (Georgia Sea Turtle Center, 214 Stable Road Jekyll Island, GA. (912)-635-4444 or Simons Island Carriage Ride

It's really fun on wheels. These unique barrier islands provide miles of biking and walking trails. Some follow main roads while other weave through park-like areas shaded by ancient moss-laden oaks. An added vacation bonus, the hard packed sandy beach on St. Simons Island is the ideal surface to bike the beach. The most popular beach vehicle is a low riding tricycle available for rent. If sun and sand is too much, rent a surrey for the whole family and head down the road to the ice cream store. Bonus Points: Free helmets are included with rentals. Need to know: While some vacation rental properties provide complimentary bikes for guests, it is also possible to rent bikes for the week. (Wheel Fun Rentals is located in front of the Days Inn & Suites on Jekyll Island and at 532 Ocean Blvd. on St. Simons Island (just down the way from Mullet Bay) (912) 634-0606 532 Ocean Blvd., St. Simons Island.

Cruise away on land or sea. Fun-for-everyone trolley tours make island transportation easy and fun. St. Simons Transit Company offers a variety of seasonal boating excursions which combine both fun and learning. From a ride on the Eco Trawl craft with hands-on opportunities to meet sea creatures to a trip on a party fishing boat, they offer sun, sea, salt air and fun. Bonus Points: Dolphin spotting cruises are offered from Jekyll Island and St. Simons Island. Need to know: Away from the water try a horse-drawn carriage ride on Jekyll Island or join a hayride or trail ride, at a south-country retreat. (Victoria's Carriages, 100 Stable Road Jekyll Island, 31527. (912) 635-9500 and St. Simons Transit Company, 105 Marina Drive St. Simons Island, 31522. (912) 638-5678 for reservations)

Play tennis anyone? Take a vacation and improve your game, what could be better? The Jekyll Island Tennis Center offers a rich menu of sporting choices which include lessons, camps and tournaments all summer long. The Center hosts six USTA-Sanctioned tournaments annually, as well as junior camps during June, July and August each year. The complex contains thirteen clay courts, seven of which are lighted ideal for beginners and advanced players alike. Bonus Points: A clay court provides cooler temperatures, as well as lower impact resulting in slower ball speeds. The Center’s staff can arrange pick-up games for single players. They also offer private or group lessons. (Jekyll Island Tennis Center 400 Captain Wylly Road, Jekyll Island, Georgia 31527. (912) 635-3154 or

Ride the waves together. Jekyll Island Summer Waves Waterpark in Georgia A Golden Isles bonus for families, Summer Waves an 11-acre waterpark provides high energy fun combining water and sun, getting soaked was never more fun. Take a plunge down the black hole of Pirate's Passage. Glide along Turtle Creek; slide on an inner tube slide; crash down a spiraling 150 ft. flume or take a five-story curving water plunge, all for the fun of it. Check out the Frantic Atlantic Wave Pool for some big wave fun. Also enjoy a twisting and turning slide down Hurricane and Tornado. Best Part: The newest addition to the waterpark is Waves Splash Zone, a safe place for the children that will give peace of mind to parents. (Summer Waves 210 South Riverview Dr. Jekyll Island. (912) 635-2074 or

Swing in the park. Residents of Coastal Georgia embrace nature and the outdoors. The result is a series of terrific meant to be shared with families on vacation. For a break in the park try the Pier and Mallery Park on St. Simons Island and in Brunswick at Selden Park and Howard Coffin Park. Mary Ross Waterfront Park in downtown Brunswick features an innovative. Bonus Points: Throughout the area, miles of level, well-maintained provide hours of smooth riding and skating.

Take a ghost walk. Join one of the best storytellers in the south for a fun & informative 90-minute lamplight walking tour of Olde St. Simons. Stroll the shadowy streets and narrow passageways of the village and parks; listen to strange tales of ghosts, local legends of pirates and island lore. For the truly brave at heart there is the Original Ghost Walk. It includes a private late-night tour of the St. Simon’s Lighthouse, which considered the third most famous haunted lighthouse in the nation. (The tours begin in the St. Simons Village near the Pier. (912) 638-2756 or

Family-friendly books for the trip. 
The Bloody Summer of 1742: A Colonial Boy's Journal. By Joyce Blackburn, Brunswick, GA: Fort Frederica Association; (1984). A cleverly crafted story told from a child's perspective, this book relates the story of a young boy's adventures at Fort Frederica during the critical summer of 1742 when the fledgling colony of Georgia, under General James Edward Oglethorpe, won a final victory over the Spanish at the Battle of Bloody Marsh. Need to know: You will find this booking the Fort Fredericka Museum Store. (Ages 6-11)

Phoebe's Diary: A Colonial Girl’s Journal. By Joyce Blackburn with illustrations by Critt Graham. Published by Brunswick, GA: Fort Frederica Association; (1984). A secret journal written from a child's tells the story of a young girl’s adventures during the pivotal summer of 1742. The book relates events leading up to the attempted Spanish invasion of St. Simons Island and the resulting victory of General James Edward Oglethorpe. Need to know: You will find this booking the Fort Fredericka Museum Store. (Ages 6-11)

Brad and Emily's Treasure Adventure. Mary Hubley Bluefish Bay Pub Inc.; (May 2001) A light hearted seaside adventure book for young children, this book makes a lovely nap companion and makes delightful connections to the sea and its creatures. (Ages 3-7)

Pirates. By Dina Anastasio & Donald Cook, Grosset & Dunlap; (March 1, 1997). Pirate tales are common along the Golden Isles so this book makes a logical connection. Illustrations on every page create a sense of what a pirate’s life was like. A replica of the "Pirates’ Code of Conduct" shows the odd sense of honor among thieves. Elementary school children will enjoy the examples of pirate flags and the stories about infamous pirates too. (Ages 6-11)

Dwelling Place: A Plantation Epic by Erskine Clarke Yale University Press; (9/2005). Depicting Georgia’s unique past, the author using narrative style links more than three generations in Liberty County. It describes in day-to-day terms what life was like for slaves and slave masters in the antebellum America. (Ages 12 plus)
Content researched and posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files. Images provided by Jeckyll Island CVB. Updated copyright 2017.
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