Although the ocean is one of the biggest attractions for visitors to Georgia's Golden Isles, there are numerous other activities to enjoy during your stay in Historic Brunswick , St. Simons Island , Jekyll Island , Sea Island or Little St. Simons Island . The temperate climate and beautiful scenic backdrop provide ample opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Quaint shopping boutiques , first-class dining experiences , unique attractions and historical tours of the Islands and mainland provide one-of-a-kind experiences that will make your trip unforgettable.
Want help planning your days on your next Golden Isles escape? We have plenty of trip ideas and itineraries to help you plan your getaway.
The Golden Isles is home to many historic attractions, museums, theatres and other can't-miss landmarks that demonstrate the rich history and culture of the Georgia Coast. Be sure to stop at a few on your next trip to the Golden Isles!
Due to its strategic geography, the Golden Isles' history has been punctuated by conquest and acquisition during times of political turmoil. Five Flags have claimed this coastal region as their own, as well as countless generations of native tribes, each leaving their indelible mark. Many of the historic landmarks have been lovingly restored and are a great addition to your visit. Check out some of our guided historic tours and more for your next trip to the Golden Isles.
Please search our top attractions and landmarks below for locations and details.
In the early 1700's, Georgia was the epicenter of a centuries-old conflict between Spain and Britain. In 1736, three years after the founding of Savannah, James Oglethorpe established Fort Frederica to protect his southern boundary. 44 men and 72 women and children arrived to build the fort and town, and by the 1740s Frederica was a thriving village of about 500 citizens. Colonists from England, Scotland, and the Germanic states came to Frederica to support the endeavor. Georgia's fate was decided in 1742 when Spanish and British forces clashed on St. Simons Island. Fort Frederica's troops defeated the Spanish in the Battle of Bloody Marsh , ensuring Georgia's future as a British colony. However, the declining military threat to the Georgia coast saw the Fort's regiment disbanded in 1749.
The Georgia Sea Turtle Center—Georgia's first sea turtle rehabilitation, research, and education facility—provides state-of-the-art emergency care to sick and injured sea turtles. Explore the lives of sea turtles and other native animals through daily education programs and gallery exhibits. Glimpse into the hospital where sea turtles are treated, see our turtle patients in the rehabilitation pavilion, and learn how our research is helping sea turtles in Georgia and throughout the world!
This beautiful plantation represents the history and culture of Georgia's rice coast. In the early 1800s, William Brailsford of Charleston carved a rice plantation from marshes along the Altamaha River. The plantation and its inhabitants were part of the genteel low country society that developed during the antebellum period. While many factors made rice cultivation increasingly difficult in the years after the Civil War, the family continued to grow rice until 1913.
The enterprising siblings of the fifth generation at Hofwyl-Broadfield resolved to start a dairy rather than sell their family home. The efforts of Gratz, Miriam and Ophelia Dent led to the preservation of their family legacy. Ophelia was the last heir to the rich traditions of her ancestors, and she left the plantation to the State of Georgia in 1973.
A museum features silver from the family collection and a model of Hofwyl-Broadfield during its heyday. A brief film on the plantation's history is shown before visitors walk a short trail to the antebellum home. A guided tour allows visitors to see the home as Ophelia kept it - with family heirlooms, 18th and 19th century furniture and Cantonese china. A stop on the Colonial Coast Birding Trail , this is an excellent spot to look for herons, egrets, ibis and painted buntings. This nature trail leads back to the Visitors Center along the edge of the marsh where rice once flourished.
At first, it was the farm and home of John Eugene duBignon. But, with the help of his brother-in-law Newton Finney, it became what Munsey's Magazine called "the richest, most inaccessible club in the world" – the Jekyll Island Club.
Club members included men such as J.P. Morgan, Joseph Pulitzer, William K. Vanderbilt, and Marshall Field, to name only a few. Members prized the island for its "sense of splendid isolation," as well as its beautiful landscape and moderate climate. At a time when the idea of a modern seaside resort was still a novelty, members experienced levels of luxury and service that were remarkable, even by today's standards.
Members and their guests enjoyed hunting, horseback riding, skeet shooting, golf, tennis, biking, croquet, lawn bowling, picnics, and carriage rides. Several members built "cottages" which were simple in comparison to structures in their urban areas or Newport, Rhode Island. Though designed simply and somewhat eclectically, they certainly met the comfort levels that the members were accustomed to on Jekyll Island .
In 1972, the Jekyll Island Club was designated as historic by being placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Jekyll Island Club House is now the Jekyll Island Club Hotel , a Historic Hotels of America member. Additional recognition was gained in 1979 when the National Park Service awarded Landmark status, creating the Jekyll Island Club National Historic Landmark District. By placing the 240-acre site and 33 historic structures into the National Historic Landmark program, the importance of Jekyll Island's place in American History was recognized.
Today, the Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark District is a one of the largest, ongoing restoration projects in the southeastern United States. The work to preserve the site has resulted in numerous awards and recognitions including Jekyll Island named to the National Trust for Historic Preservation's 12 Distinctive Destinations and receiving the 2008 Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation's Marguerite William Award for Preservation.
The Jekyll Island Museum is your port of entry to the extraordinary stories of the Jekyll Island National Historic District and the entirety of Jekyll Island's rich history. At the Jekyll Island Museum you can embark on a journey of discovery, through exhibits, tours and programs that are adventures into a bygone era.
Located near the village and pier, the St. Simons Lighthouse is one of only five surviving light towers in Georgia. An operational navigation aid for traffic entering St. Simons Sound, it casts its light as far as 23 miles out to sea. Unlike many other operational lighthouses, the St. Simons Lighthouse invites visitors to climb the 129 steps to experience views of neighboring Jekyll Island, the mainland (Brunswick), and the south end of St. Simons Island.
The first lighthouse (1810) was built by James Gould of Massachusetts who became the first lighthouse keeper. That structure was destroyed by Confederate forces in 1862 to prevent the beacon's use by Federal troops.
The current lighthouse and the lighthouse keeper's dwelling were built in 1872. The red-brick dwelling, a unique Victorian design which draws the eye upward to the tower, houses a museum and gift shop.
For more information about hours, admission rates and group access, click here.