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St. Simons Island Travel Guide

TravelCason Rainwater

I’ve been so lucky this summer to have plenty of excuses to head to the beach. One beach town I got reacquainted with this summer was St. Simons Island. My cousin got married there in April, we visited one of my mom’s best friends in June (aka: my fairy godmother, you should get one!), and my aunt and uncle invited us to tag along on their family vacation in July. I was so spoiled this summer that next summer might be a rude awakening. My family always spent a week down on SSI growing up but switched over to Destin when I was in high school. Destin became the “cool” place to go but I’ll be honest with you – the older I get, the more I prefer the older, quiet beach towns over the crowded mega beaches like Destin. I haven’t been to St. Simons in probably 10 years, but I promise you it won’t be another 10 years before I go back! (Plug your ears Hilton Head.) It might be my new favorite beach spot. Here are my favorite places to dine, stay, and shop in St. Simons.

[ where to EAT on St. Simons Island ]

Crab Trap | Some of my earliest memories of the beach include eating at the Crab Trap and being fascinated with the hole in the center of the table. (Genius!) It’s always crowded but it’s always delicious. Order: fried shrimp or crab legs. Or both. You’re on vacation!

[ outside of Crab Trap ]

Georgia Sea Grill | It’s a little bit fancier if you’re looking for something less touristy. Everyone I was with loved their meal. Be sure to make a reservation for this one. Order: crab cakes and a cocktail.

Palmer’s Village Cafe | Kat and I snuck away for lunch one day and found ourselves at Palmer’s based off of Yelp reviews. You must go! This TINY restaurant is located in the popular Pier Village so be prepared for a wait. Order: The pimento cheese sandwich and key lime pie. Their key lime pie has sort of a creme brûlée vibe going on and I loved every bite.

Southern Soul Barbeque | I don’t claim to be a “meat connoisseur” like some people in my life, but this was hands-down some of the best BBQ I’ve ever eaten. Maybe THE best. It was packed every single time we drove past it so you know it’s good. Order: pulled pork and Brunswick stew.

Sandcastle | Also located in Pier Village, we stopped here for the famous breakfast buffet one morning. It’s supposed to be a local favorite. I’m normally kind of weird about buffets. Like…how long has this been out? How many people in this restaurant have breathed on this? I won’t lie. Not only was it cheap, it was incredible. This place was so busy that the food was constantly being replenished so everything was super fresh. If this picky buffet eater liked it, I know you will! Order: breakfast buffet and french toast.

I didn’t get to try everywhere I wanted to but I do have some honorable mentions based off of local recommendations and word of mouth. Honorable mentions: Crabdaddy’s, The Half Shell, and Barbara Jean’s (crab cakes and chocolate “stuff” are famous at Barbara Jean’s).

[ what to DO other than beach ]

Pier Village | This is kind of the heart of St. Simon’s Island. You’ll find everything here from shopping and dining to the beautiful pier and lighthouse. You’ll also find playgrounds and picnic areas here. This is a just a fun strip to stroll down one afternoon. My favorite places to shop in Pier Village are Dutchmans (DIE!) and Tonya’s.

Golden Isle’s Olive Oil | Located in Redfern Village, this shop has tons of olive oil and herb selections. Be sure to pick up a bottle of their herbs de Provence infused olive oil and a bag of Tuscan Farmhouse herb blend.  Pair it with a fresh loaf of Artisan bread and you’ve got just about the best appetizer I’ve ever had.

Two Friends | I’m a total sucker for little boutiques like this. What I loved about Two Friends is that they had clothes, jewelry, and home decor that I had never seen before! Sometimes small boutiques all run together and seem to all have the same stuff. (i.e. Vera Bradley, Simply Southern, and monograms, monograms, and more monograms.) As much as I love those things, I love unique finds that I haven’t seen in a million other stores even better.

[ where to STAY on St. Simons Island ]

The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort | We stayed here for my cousin’s wedding and it did not disappoint! Located directly on the Atlantic Ocean, it’s part of the Southern Living Hotel Collection so you know the bar has been set high. The pool area, including the beach side restaurant, ECHO, were fabulous. We also loved how close the resort was to some of our favorite restaurants on the Island. You can easily walk to the Crab Trap and Crabdaddy’s.

Hodnett Cooper Vacation Rentals | I got to experience two different Hodnett Cooper properties this summer and both of them were OUTSTANDING. Both properties were decorated beautifully and I honestly wouldn’t look any further if you are interested in a rental property.

My cousin’s family rented this property for the week of her wedding. My mom threw the bridal luncheon here and it was perfect for the occasion.

My aunt and uncle rented this property right on the beach from Hodnett Cooper. Umm…location, location, location!

[ OUR VIEW! ]

[ some family beach pics ]

Sea Island | My fairy godmother has friends in high places so we got to experience Sea Island for a day. If you’re ready to splurge on pure luxury, this is it. Mom told us it was a big deal to even get past the front gate, so Kat and I hit up the gift shop like it was Christmas morning. (What? I’m not proud of it.)

Wow…SSI overload for you this Tuesday morning! Have any questions? Feel free to shoot me an email at hello [at] whenitrainspaper.com. Until next time…