St. Simons Island on the Georgia coast is one of my new favorite places. It is covered in old oak trees that have fanned out because of the spanish moss dripping off of them. It screams old south and is accompanied by no less than the epitome of southern hospitality. Everywhere we went, people were overly kind. There was a peaceful air that just made you feel like you were welcome. People talked to you, let you out in traffic, and suggested places and other things to do.
BREAKFAST AND COFFEE
The first place we had breakfast was at sandy bottom bagels. Their New York style bagels were non-GMO and made fresh daily. The place is small, but everything is fresh with a great variety. Besides bagels they had excellent muffins and breakfast sandwiches. It was so good we went twice during our stay. Check out their website.
If you are a smoothie lover like I am, the Island natural market has some great options which are perfect for breakfast. I tried the raw green juice and was absolutely in love. You can tell the freshness of the ingredients and the store has an awesome selection of eco-friendly, natural and organic products ranging from home supplies to groceries to wine. A definite must-stop if you love juices and smoothies.
The final breakfast spot we tried was on a whim, and I am SO GLAD we did. Del Sur bakery is a family owned south american style bakery and deli. There is a restaurant owned by the same family and I am really disappointed that we did not get to try the dinner options they have. What we did get, though, was a gloriously sweet and totally over the top caramel stuffed croissant. Everything in the shop looked fantastic, but this gem just was calling my name. It did not disappoint.
If you are in search of coffee, skip the chain (sorry starbucks) and go for this little hipster joint instead. The iced white mocha was fantastic, the turtle late was awesome, and the iced turtle mocha would make your day. The place has a small collection of artisan crafted goods and I purchased a small bound book from their store. I really enjoyed my entire experience here and would recommend getting coffee at wake up as often as possible. Check out their website.
My number one favorite lunch spot on the island was coastal kitchen, hands down. Their lobster nachos are out of this world. Boats of varying sizes were docked right outside and the atmosphere was great. I really enjoyed the varying company from local fisherman as well as those dressed for a yacht excursion. Good food brings everyone to the table.
But really, back to these lobster nachos. There was a generous portion of lobster, fresh tomato, red onion, bell peppers, and guacamole. A delectable cheese sauce was drizzled all over the top. My only wish is that I ordered one of these for my entree. And that I could have eaten more of it. And that it would be made for me on a weekly basis.
Traditional fish and chips were good here too. The fish was clearly fresh and the batter had an excellent flavor. The fries were good as well.
I ordered curried asparagus soup with crab meat. I love asparagus, probably more than most people, and the thought of skipping out on a soup was not something I wanted to do. The curry flavor was mild and not what I was expecting, but that is the beauty of this soup. The crab would have been lost if the curry was more powerful. I really enjoyed this and would order it again, in a cup size, so I could still eat those lobster nachos.
The crab cake BLT was also just delicious. The crab cakes were fresh and full of ample amounts of crab meat. This sandwich is the perfect beach-side bite and really embodies St. Simons vibe well with traditional southern recipes with a coastal flare.
Crab daddy’s was the first place we went for dinner on the island. It was quaint with nice staff. The best thing I tried there was the Blackened Mahi with a bleu cheese sauce. The combination of flavors was something that was totally new to me. This is a dish I would completely recommend if you are in the area. I also really recommend the fried artichoke appetizer. It was packed with flavor and the accompanying sauce made the dish sing. Everyone seemed really happy with their selections from this restaurant. Check out their website.
It seems really interesting to me that one of my favorite dinners on this trip was a BBQ place. Southern Soul has been acclaimed by many food reviewers and magazines. We were really excited to get some smoked meats, and the non-seafood eaters in the group were pumped about this once gas station turned smoked meat paradise.
The ambiance of the place was really quirky. Outdoor seating was at a premium with only a small bar top inside and a few tables. Lines quickly formed out the door while we were there and I can totally see why! We opted for the family style options just so we could all try everything. We got a rack of ribs, brisket, pulled pork, mac-n-cheese, and baked beans.
The meats were all fantastic. The pork and brisket both had beautifully delicious smoke rings that packed flavor in every bite. The ribs were fall off the bone delicious. The baked beans, with bits of burnt ends and deliciousness throughout really made me smile. The best part of all were the sauces. There were four house made sauces that each were divine. Low country soul was a mustard bbq sauce that paired really well with the pork. The sweet swine wine sauce was smack your momma delicious. But my favorite of all was a combination of the sweet and hot georgia soul. Oh my, the deliciousness of the two sauces put the meats over the top. Check out their website.
Coast guard beach on St. Simons was extremely close to our beach house. The weather here was ridiculously perfect. Although it was in the mid 90’s most days, there was no rain, much less humidity than expected, and a beautiful breeze when near the water all combined for a lovely beach experience. The currents here were really powerful. I have never experienced such forceful tide changes as I did here. If you have small children, keep this in mind. There are lifeguards present on the beach for assistance. Low tide here is something fairy tales are written about. Also, it is a known loggerhead turtle nesting site so if you are lucky enough to be on the beach at the right time one evening, you may see baby turtles crawling by the moonlight to sea. After an especially hot day on the beach, don’t miss italian ice’s from the concession stand.
Neptune beach at the pier is a really fun area. Specialty shops, places to eat, the pier, and lighthouse are all land attractions for this area.
During low tide, this beach is expansive and packed with wildlife. We saw jellyfish, crabs, birds, hermit crabs, and several types of fish. The boys decided to go seine net fishing and got their day pass georgia fishing license online. It was the cheapest fun they had all week. At $7.50 a person it was a great day. Blue crab were in abundance and we caught enough for a feast that night. A recipe is coming soon for crab cakes! YAY! When the tide comes in, it totally floods the beach. This happens rather quickly so keep an eye out for the tide and once it starts, get your stuff together and make your way back up to the land.
We also went to Fort Frederika to explore. I did not know what to expect from this historic landmark, but it was not at all anything I imagined. The grounds were lovely, but the monuments and historic artifacts were not as enticing. If you are a huge history buff it would probably be more entertainment for you. We did enjoy walking around the grounds and looking at the beautiful nature, but it would not be a prime destination to make a return trip to.
There is also an adorable farmers market stand that was open every day we were there. They sell seasonal fruits, veggies, honey, and other canned items like salsa and pickled okra. They were incredibly friendly and their produce was super fresh. I bought peach jam and honey to take back home and was very pleased with both products.
St. Simons also has a very interesting collection of ‘spirit trees’. These carved trees are dotted around the island, with the majority of them being on private property. The public ones are shown on a map in the welcome center. I thought they would be more centrally located in a park or something, but they were literally all over the place. Carved on trees in front of businesses, at the grocery store, on an unassuming tree in front of a restaurant, they are all over the place. If you are looking for them all, be ready to drive back and forth in order to find them, but they are really cool!
All in all, the Georgia Coast is exactly what I expected plus so much more. It is the best combination of the south and an island. Friendly people, delicious food, and southern charm make St. Simons Island a place not to miss.