St. Simons Island, GA, USA

Five Free Places to Visit on St. Simons Island

St. Simons Island, Georgia has an abundance of attractions for vacationers or even locals to enjoy other than just the beach. Some of them are even free! Here are five places to visit for free on St. Simons Island.

Cannon’s Point Preserve

Beginning at the north end of the island you will find Cannon’s Point Preserve, 608 acres of wilderness owned by St. Simons Land Trust. There you will find trails, perfect for walking or biking. The remains of a large plantation home and slave quarters dating back to the 1800’s can be explored. There are also breathtaking old oak trees and expansive marsh views. Bird watchers might even be able to catch a glimpse of herons, egrets, and ibises in their natural habitat.

Christ Church

Christ Church is an Episcopal church that was originally built in 1736 by English settlers. The Union Troops damaged the church badly and it had to be rebuilt in 1885, and this is the structure you see today. The church is located off of Frederica Road and still has an active church community. The church grounds include a cemetery with beautifully carved stone statues and headstones. In the spring and summer, you can enjoy the lush greenery and colorful flowers that are found all around the cemetery.

Fort Frederica National Monument

Fort Frederica National Monument is just down the road from Christ Church.  This national monument was the site of one of Georgia’s earliest English settlements. Walk the grounds of what remains of the town (oyster shell foundations) and see the military installations overlooking the marsh. There are artistic renderings of each building with descriptions to help you imagine stepping back in time and living in this settlement. Fort Frederica continues to be an active archeology dig site where artifacts are still found. Located near the marsh side of the property are three large cannons. The pot-marked cannon on the west side was originally found on location at Fort Frederica.

John Gilbert Nature Trail

The John Gilbert Nature Trail is off of Frederica Road and at half a mile long, makes for a very easy trail for family and children. Boardwalks span across wetlands and wooden benches are located along the trail for visitors to sit and take in the nature around them. At the center of the trail is a 200-year-old oak tree named “John’s Oak”. At the end of the trail, you will be rewarded with views of the marsh.

The Village and St. Simons Pier

If you are looking for something a little more upbeat and social, take a stroll through the Village and St. Simons Pier on the south end of the island. There you can window shop or even step inside the shops to see what they have to offer. The Village has gift shops, restaurants, a coffee shop, and a few stores to satisfy a sweet tooth. At the end of the road, you will find the Saint Simons Pier. Walk out onto the pier to see what the people fishing are reeling in on the end of their lines, and you may even catch an up-close glimpse of a sea turtle or dolphin! There is also a playground for children at Neptune Park near the village and pier and plenty of benches to sit on and just enjoy views of the ocean and watch ships passing by.

Be sure to check websites for hours and days of operation of each destination. Whether you are planning a fun day with family or want to go exploring on your own, the island has much to offer. Just be sure to bring some bug repellant and sunscreen if the weather is warm!

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