1. Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island

Hidden down an unassuming palmetto-lined path is the most visually stunning shore on Jekyll Island. At Driftwood Beach, whole trees rest on their sides, creating a cemetery of twisted, distressed wood.

2. Mermaid Cottages, Tybee Island

There is plenty of lodging on Tybee Island, but the colorful Mermaid Cottages have quirky, retro charm. Among the offerings, which rent from $165 to $525 a night, are the beach homes of celebrities like chef Paula Deen and author Mary Kay Andrews.

3. Dungeness, Cumberland Island

The 18-mile island’s crown jewel was once Dungeness, a 59-room mansion built by the Carnegie family in 1884.

4. Captain Gabby, Darien

This retired shrimp boat is now an excursion vessel that offers up-close views of winding marshes, wildlife, and secluded islands.

5. Ossabaw Island Hog

Georgia has its own version of Jamón Ibérico. The isolated Ossabaw Island hog is a descendant of the famed Spanish pigs brought over by colonists four centuries ago.

6. Tabby

The vernacular building material known as tabby is particular to the Lowcountry along the South’s Atlantic coast. Made of lime, sand, water, and oyster shells, the rough, grayish cement was used beginning in the colonial era to build houses, fortifications, and slave quarters.

7. Fort Frederica, St. Simons Island

James Ogle­thorpe established this national park monument in 1736.

8. Lucky Savannah, Savannah

Architecture-loving tourists can rent historic houses, ranging from townhomes to carriage houses.

9. Skipper’s Fish Camp, Darien

There’s something satisfying about eating shrimp and grits (make that blackened shrimp with cheese grits and bacon) with a fleet of shrimp boats docked right outside the window.

10. Designer deals on St. Simons Island

Tibi founder Amy Smilovic grew up on St. Simons Island, which is home to one of only two Tibi clothing boutiques worldwide. Nearby is also the discount outpost of local shop Nancy.

11. Savannah Bee Company

This honey store also offers tastings of mead—the world’s oldest fermented beverage—made from honey, water, and yeast.

12. Stacia Hendricks, Little St. Simons Island

The naturalist manager for pristine Little St. Simons Island views every tiny fern, critter, and artifact as a miracle—responding with wide eyes and drawing out the word amazing for even the most common flora and fauna.

13. Huc-a-Poo’s, Tybee Island

You go to Huc-a-Poo’s for the hassle-free, beach-hangout vibe; the pizza is just a bonus.

14. Moon River Brewing Company, Savannah

The basement of this riverside brewery—built in 1821 as the town’s first hotel—is haunted.

15. Eleanor Torrey West, Ossabaw Island

Eleanor “Sandy” Torrey West turned 102 in January, and she still lives in the pink stucco Spanish Revival mansion on 26,000-acre Ossabaw Island, which her parents bought in 1924.

16. The Florence, Savannah

Go to Hugh Acheson’s new Italian place in a former ice factory for breakfast.

17. Coastal Kitchen Seafood and Raw Bar, St. Simons Island

Sometimes all you need is a strong drink, lobster nachos, a pretty view, and an 80s soundtrack.

18. Paris Market & Brocante, Savannah

At the Paris Market & Brocante, located on retail-heavy Broughton Street, shoppers can find a mix of old and new treasures.

19. Ocean Motion Surf Co., St. Simons Island

This store is the oldest and most well-stocked (though not cheapest) source for cool swimsuits and beach gear.

20. Leopold’s Ice Cream, Savannah

This local fave celebrates both Independence Day and National Ice Cream Month with one tasty treat.

21. Georgia 4-H Tidelands Nature Center, Jekyll Island

Pick up horseshoe crabs that tickle when they try to pinch, watch baby alligators play, and see loggerhead turtles swim.

22. Taylor Schoettle’s naturalist guides

Explore the geology and ecology of Georgia’s barrier islands with an informative series of guidebooks produced by former marine education specialist Taylor Schoettle.

23. How to visit Ossabaw Island

Several times a year, anyone can explore this remote paradise through the nonprofit Ossabaw Island Foundation.

24. Oysters

UGA’s Shellfish Research Laboratory is working to sustainably revive the state’s bivalve industry.

25. Reynolds Mansion, Sapelo Island

This house began as a sugar plantation and was damaged during the Civil War.

26. Planet Fun, Savannah

Does your troll collection need a new member? This quirky store is the ultimate geek’s paradise.

27. How to visit Cumberland Island

Arrange a day or camping trip through the National Park Service, with ferry rides from St. Mary’s.

28. Mark Dodd

The biologist, 52, runs Georgia DNR’s Sea Turtle Conservation Program.

29. Southern Soul, St. Simons Island

Since Southern Soul opened in an old St. Simons Island gas station in 2007, barbecue fans have lined out the door for classic staples like pulled pork, brisket, collard greens, mac and cheese, and Brunswick stew.

30. Historic Ritz Theater, Brunswick

In an age of IMAX and 3-D vision, this theater transports guests back to Hollywood’s Golden Age.

31. Geocaching, Skidaway Island

This 588-acre playground includes campgrounds with new camper cabins.

32. Eugenia Price

Eugenia Price first visited St. Simons in 1961. Over the next decade, she wrote her well-known Civil War-era St. Simons trilogy.

33. Ocean Lodge Roof, St. Simons Island

The grand Spanish-style hotel, located across from the beach, towers over neighboring cottages.

34. Gary Lee’s Market, Brunswick

This excellent (and endearingly shabby) barbecue joint has been run by the Lee family for more than 40 years.

35. Gascoigne Bluff, St. Simons Island

Watch the sun set at this scenic park near Epworth by the Sea Methodist conference center.

36. Willie’s Wee-Nee Wagon, Brunswick

The best thing on the menu at this hot dog stand is actually the boneless pork chop sandwich.

37. Tugboat wreck, Little St. Simons Island

In the late 1990s, a tugboat got separated from its ship, and its ruins remain partially submerged beneath the sands of Rainbow Beach on the southeast end of Little St. Simons Island.

38. Christ’s Chapel, Darien

The “Smallest Church in America” is located along U.S. 17. Built in 1949, it was the brainchild of local grocer Agnes Harper.

39. Georgian Room, Sea Island

Sea Island’s Georgian Room is the state’s only Forbes five-star restaurant.

40. Festivals on the Georgia coast

Some lesser-known celebrations worth a trip to the coast, including the Pirate Fest on Tybee Island.

41. Village Inn & Pub, St. Simons Island

Built around a pre-existing 1930s beach cottage, this inn blends so beautifully with the surrounding live oaks that it won an award from a local environmental group.

42. Gogo Jewelry, St. Simons Island

Jewelry maker Gogo Ferguson is one of a number of Carnegie descendants who still live on Cumberland.

43. How to visit Wassaw Island

Designated a National Wildlife Refuge in 1969, Wassaw Island has a quieter reputation than nearby Sapelo or Cumberland.

44. St. Simons Lighthouse Museum, St. Simons Island

There’s all kinds of trivia here: A lighthouse has operated at this port for more than 200 years; keepers were often nicknamed “Wickie.”

45. Cornelia Bailey, Sapelo Island

Cornelia Bailey is a storyteller, activist, author, and business owner, but she’s perhaps best known for being a member of the last generation of African Americans to have been born (in 1945) and raised on Sapelo Island.

46. Open Gates Bed & Breakfast, Darien

The timber baron who built this circa-1876 mansion is said to haunt it.

47. The petting zoo at an I-16 Chevron

For almost 20 years, Holt Mosley and his family have offered an informal petting zoo beside their Chevron at Exit 98 off I-16.

48. Old School Diner, Townsend

We recommend the “Wheelchair Platter” (chef’s daily choice, $48 for two), which you won’t finish—and won’t stop talking about for weeks.

49. The Grey, Savannah

We walked into this new restaurant in a restored Greyhound bus station just one day after it had been nominated for a James Beard Award.

50. Palm Coast Coffee, St. Simons Island

This spot has strong Wi-Fi, live music, tasty Bloody Marys and pimento cheese sandwiches, and the best craft brew selection on the island.

51. Eagle Island

For the ultimate exclusive getaway, rent an entire island. Ten-acre Eagle Island comes with a vacation lodge surrounded by a 1,500-square-foot wraparound porch.

52. Pin Point Heritage Museum, Savannah

Take a guided tour of the white cinder block plant, and stroll to the docks on Moon River where fishermen brought in the day’s catch.

53. Hostel in the Forest, Brunswick

For just $25 a night—once you’ve purchased a $10 “membership”—get your own screened-in treehouse in the woods.

54. Bird Girl, Savannah

The famous monument from “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” is now at Telfair Museums’ Jepson Center for the Arts.

55. The Rah Bar, Jekyll Island

Located on a dock, it offers live music (rock to reggae), a big deck, and what qualifies as a deal in these parts: two pitchers of beer and a pound of fresh shrimp for $31.


Georgia’s coast is almost as fertile as a tropical rainforest—and almost as threatened

Among ecosystems, Georgia’s coast ranks near tropical rainforests in fertility and productivity. Its nine major estuaries (or sounds), 14 barrier islands, and some 400,000 acres of salt marsh—a third of all salt marsh along the entire Atlantic coast—connect to the ocean and each other.


Guarding the Nest

Beginning this month, typically in the dead of night, pregnant sea turtles weighing as much as a Falcons lineman will emerge from the Atlantic Ocean, spend an hour digging holes with their rear flippers on the beaches of Georgia’s barrier islands, deposit a hundred or so eggs, repack the sand, and head back into the ocean.