St. Simons Main

stsimons-main

At the heart of Georgia's sea islands, St. Simons is a paean to southern living. Massive live oaks draped with Spanish moss, sandy beaches, the occasional antebellum mansion, and genteel golf courses that would have brought a smile to Bagger Vance. Once a quiet backwater, St. Simons now is home to major resorts as well as venerable inns and B&Bs, but that southern charm is still present.

Sometimes called The Golden Isles, this chain of nine barrier islands off Georgia's southern coast has been a retreat for the favored few ever since a group of families (the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts among them) bought Jekyll Island, just south of St. Simons. To the north, Little St. Simons (a short boat ride away) was once a private hunting preserve, while Sea Island (linked to St. Simons by causeway) has been the home of a renowned resort, The Cloister, since the late 1920s.

On St. Simons, the largest of the islands, a day of relaxation might seem unchanged from decades ago: a round of golf (the 6,300-yard Hampton Club features four holes on a marsh island), a game of tennis, perhaps a sail or a stroll on nature trails, maybe some shopping, and, at day's end, a southern-style dinner. Or just spend a day at the beach on the southeastern shore, watching the Atlantic lap on the sand and ponder the fact that you are only about an hour's drive from the wilds of the Okefenokee Swamp. You'd never know it....