Turning onto the F.J. Torras Causeway, which tethers St. Simons Island to the mainland, I think that this may just be my favorite stretch of road. As we rise over the shimmering tidal rivers and gold-green spans of salt marsh, the workaday world recedes in the rearview mirror. The brilliantly lit, four-mile span serves as a decompression chamber of sorts, affording us time to adjust to a slower pace, and the salty air rushing through the cab of the pickup pushes out any lingering cares. We were looking for a romantic weekend getaway, a real escape, and when we reach the island and plunge into the deep shadow of its maritime forest canopy, I know we’ve made the right call.
We check in at a lovely little inn sheltered in a stand of moss-laced live oaks. A renovated 1930s beach cottage serves as the reception area, breakfast room, sitting room, and pub of the charming Village Inn & Pub. The twenty-eight guest rooms wrap around the cottage underneath the boughs of stately oaks (not a branch of which was cut during the construction of the inn), lending the property a cozy, cloistered feel. The innkeepers were expecting us, and we discover a bottle of Champagne chilling in our room. We pop the cork, step out onto the little balcony, and raise a toast to the weekend ahead. As we have a few hours before dinner, we take a short stroll to the island’s Pier Village, an eclectic mix of quaint vintage clothing and used book stores and stylish home decor and fashion boutiques. After browsing the shops, we head over to the adjacent Saint Simons Lighthouse Museum. Situated in the redbrick Victorian keeper’s dwelling, the museum tells the story of the lighthouse, one of only five surviving light towers in Georgia. We climb the 129 steps to the top of the lighthouse and take in the breathtaking views of neighboring Jekyll Island, the mainland city of Brunswick, and the southern end of St. Simons. We’re treated to equally impressive views over dinner at The Rooftop at Ocean Lodge. Though the setting is grand, the atmosphere is casual. And the food is top-notch, from lobster flown in fresh from the Bahamas to buffalo carpaccio sourced from Georgia Buffalo Ranch, just up the road in Townsend. An after-dinner walk on the moonlit beach offers the perfect end to the day.
The next morning, after a breakfast of homemade waffles at the inn, we hop on our bikes (dropped off at the inn by Two Brothers Bike Shop) and pedal to nearby Red Fern Village, where we spend the day shopping the upscale boutiques. After picking up sandwiches from Boulevard Cafe and a bottle of wine from the pub at the inn, we spread out underneath the oaks at St. Simons Park for a very late lunch, then make the short stroll back to the inn for a nap. Dinner at Crabdaddy’s Seafood Grill, a local favorite, rounds out the day, and we hit the sack and dream of the restaurant’s legendary bread pudding, made with homemade rolls, white chocolate, and banana liqueur.
On our final morning, we drive to the north end of the island and walk the enchanting grounds of Christ Church, Frederica. After a visit to the chapel, we slip off on a short nature walk leading from the historic church grounds through the sun-sifted forest to the campus of neighboring Wesley United Methodist Church at Frederica. As we wind our way through the wood, catching glimpses of some of the 200 species of birds that call the island home, we’re greeted by the sound of church bells ringing out from Wesley, as they do every day just past noon. It’s a sweet, subtle surprise that serves as a fitting end to an all-too-brief visit to one of Georgia’s celebrated, and aptly named, Golden Isles.
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