Below are 13 places you will want to see while on the Island.
1. A. W. Jones Heritage Center
Opened in 2008, the A.W. Jones Heritage Center at 610 Beachview Drive is the headquarters facility for the Coastal Georgia Historical Society. The 10,000 sq. ft. building contains an entrance gallery featuring exhibits, an executive board room, gift shop, a 1,400 sq. ft. event hall available for rent, a research library, and the Society’s vast collection of objects, artifacts and archival materials from hundreds of years of coastal Georgia history.
2. Arthur J. Moore Methodist Museum and Library
Dedicated in June 1966, the Arthur J. Moore Methodist Museum and Library is located on the grounds of Epworth By The Sea. It houses a collection of books and historical artifacts related to the early history of St. Simons Island and John and Charles Wesley, founders of the Methodist Movement, who arrived on the island with General James Oglethorpe. The Moore Museum is the official repository of the archives of the South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church, and is open to the public Monday through Saturday. Admission is free.
3. Avenue of the Oaks
Originally planted in 1850 by Anne Page King as the carriage entrance to Retreat Plantation, two rows of live oaks currently grace the entry to Sea Island Golf Club at the south end of St. Simons Island on Retreat Avenue, off Kings Way. Visitors can view the oaks by driving toward the entrance to the Golf Club, then circling back.
4. Bloody Marsh Battle Site
At the Battle of Bloody Marsh on July 7, 1742, an outnumbered force of British soldiers ambushed and defeated Spanish troops, halting a planned attack on Fort Frederica. Markers and information panels at this outdoor observation site explain the battle, which permanently ended Spain’s claims to the Georgia territory. Located off Old Demere Road, the site is managed by the National Park Service as a unit of Fort Frederica National Monument.
5. Cannon’s Point Preserve
A 600-acre wilderness tract on the northeast corner of St. Simons Island, Cannon’s Point is the last remaining undisturbed maritime forest on the island. Owned by the St. Simons Land Trust, the Preserve includes salt marsh, tidal creek, and river shoreline, as well as 4,000-year-old shell middens and ruins of a 17th-century plantation house and slave quarters. The Nature Conservancy holds a conservation easement on the property to insure its preservation for future generations. The Preserve is open to the public during specified days and hours. Visitors are advised to wear clothing appropriate for a wilderness outing, and bring bug spray.
6. Slave Cabins
Located on Gascoigne Bluff, Hamilton Plantation was one of the most prosperous plantations on St. Simons Island, growing high quality Sea Island cotton. Of the several slave cabins built on the plantation, two remain today. These slave cabins were constructed of tabby, which is a concrete-like mixture of lime, sand, water and oyster shells. Owned and operated by the Cassina Garden Club, the cabins are open to the public on Wednesdays in June, July and August. Private tours can be arranged at other times.
7. Christ Church
In 1808 the State of Georgia gave 100 acres (40 hectares) of land on St. Simons to be used for an Episcopal church and its support. Called Christ Church, the structure was finished in 1820. During the Civil War, invading Union troops commandeered the small building to stable horses and virtually destroyed it. The church was restored in 1884 by lumber magnate Anson Phelps Dodge, whose son became the new Church’s first rector. Located at 6329 Frederica Road, just south of Fort Frederica National Monument, this historic building is home to an active Episcopal congregation. The adjacent cemetery contains gravesites dating as far back as 1803.
8. Epworth By The Sea
Epworth By The Sea is a 100-acre conference and retreat center owned by the South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. Located at Gascoigne Bluff, the property includes six motels, 12 family apartments, and 13 youth cabins, along with auditoriums, classrooms and meeting rooms. There are four dining rooms and a pre-school/nursery building with fenced playground. An in-season swimming pool, athletic field, covered basketball courts, tennis courts, bicycle rentals and fishing piers provide activities for all ages.
9. Fort Frederica National Monument
British General James Oglethorpe established Fort Frederica in 1736 to defend the southern border of his Georgia colony. The facility was both a fortress and a small town, located on the Frederica River. In 1742, troops from the fort defeated invading Spanish forces at the Battle of Bloody Marsh, which turned out to be decisive in ending Spanish influence and securing the Georgia colony under British rule. By mid-century the troops withdrew and the colonists abandoned the town, which then fell into disrepair. In 1945, Fort Frederica became a national monument, operated by the National Park Service.
10. Gascoigne Bluff
For almost the entire history of St. Simons Island, Gascoigne Bluff has been a focal point. Long before the arrival of Europeans, Native Americans and Aborigines lived and camped on the site. The Spanish also built a mission on or near the area. When General Oglethorpe and the British arrived in 1736, they established a naval facility at the bluff, and granted 500 acres (200 hectares) of its land to Captain James Gascoigne, of the sloop-of-war Hawk, and the name persists to this day. In 1794, lumber from the area was used in construction of the frigate, “Old Ironsides.”
During the antebellum period of cotton farming, the bluff was the site of Hamilton plantation, of which two slave cabins remain standing today. In the late 19th century, lumber mills thrived at the scene. Today, the bluff is occupied by Epworth By The Sea, and Gascoigne Bluff Park at its southern end, with picnic tables, rest rooms and a fishing pier.
11. Lovely Lane Chapel
In 1880, Norman W. Dodge built St. James Union Church at Gascoigne Bluff to serve the lumber mill community. After the mills shut down in the 1920s, it became a social hall. When the Methodists acquired the property in 1949, they renamed it Lovely Lane Chapel. The chapel is currently open to the public for Sunday Worship Service as well as wedding ceremonies. 100 Arthur J. Moore Drive, St. Simons Island, GA 31522.
12. Maritime Center at the Historic Coast Guard Station
The Coastal Georgia Historical Society at the former Coast Guard Station located at East Beach on St. Simons Island operates the Maritime Center and museum. The original station was built in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration, and decommissioned in 1995. The facility contains exhibits related to the ecology and military history of the area, including a U-boat sinking of two cargo ships just off the coast in 1942. The center is open to the public 7 days/week.
13. St. Simons Island Lighthouse Museum
The original St. Simons Lighthouse, built in 1811, was destroyed by Confederate troops in 1861 to prevent its use by Union sailors. Rebuilt in 1872, it continues to operate today, owned by the Coastal Georgia Historical Society and maintained by the Coast Guard Auxiliary. The adjacent keeper’s residence now acts as a museum operated by the Coastal Georgia Historical Society, featuring lighthouse exhibits and a restored keeper’s dwelling. Visitors may climb the 129 steps to the observatory for panoramic views of the ocean, nearby islands and the mainland.