1. Epworth by the Sea
Epworth by the Sea is a massive conference center for the Methodist Church located near the entrance to the island. It also becomes a children’s camp in the Summer. Epworth sits right on the edge of the marsh and overlooks the mainland, Brunswick, off in the distance. In my own humble opinion, this is the absolute best place to watch the sunset. By taking a walk along the bike path which follows the marsh’s edge, you will have a stunning view of the sun as it sets pristinely over the marsh and its many rivers, casting an incredible golden sheen upon reality itself. Be sure to bring bug spray, because if the wind is not blowing, the gnats are gnarly.
This golden glow you see over the marsh is actually the reason these islands are called the “Golden Isles.” Another popular explanation for our namesake is that the pirate, Blackbeard, is rumored to have burried his treasure on one of these islands. That story is for another time though.
Epworth is named after Epworth, England, the hometown of John and Charles Wesley, the founders of the Methodist Church and the missionaries that arrived on St. Simons in 1736 with the other British colonists. Also at Epworth, you can find Lovely Lane Chapel, the oldest standing church on the island… it was built in 1880!
We actually ride through this beautiful area on our Bike Tours so be sure to book a tour with us!
2. Gould’s Inlet
Gould’s Inlet is my favorite beach on St. Simons Island. It is also the very end of the beach. There are a couple of reasons for Gould’s Inlet making this list.
For one, not many people know about it. It’s popularity is rising but is still nowhere near what Massengale beach or the Coast Guard beach is. Gould’s is primarily a beach for locals, but all are welcome. It’s a great spot to get away from the crowds and still enjoy some time by the ocean.
If you are an early riser, then Gould’s Inlet is an absolute must. This beach is the best place to watch the sunrise out of anywhere on the island. The sun rises directly over the ocean and fills the world with color that reflects off of the water and every breaking wave. If you stand out at the point where the beach ends and let the colors of the sun encapsulate you, it feels like something out of a movie.
‘Bike the Islands’ actually offers sunrise tours where we ride our bikes out on the beach and watch the sunrise over the ocean at Gould’s. This is my absolute favorite part of the tour.
3. Gascoigne Park
Located next to Epworth, Gascoigne is another beautiful place to watch the sunset by the marsh. Gascoigne is also home to dozens of HUGE Live Oak trees with beautiful Spanish Moss hanging from their limbs, billowing in the breeze. Live Oak timbers from Gascoigne Park were actually used in the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge as well as the USS Constitution, Old Ironsides.
I love Gascoigne for more than just its beauty though. It is also home to the only disc golf course in the area. It’s a great spot to get some friends together and spend a morning or afternoon walking through the Live Oaks, playing some disc golf. My brother actually got a hole-in-one on hole 4! If you love disc golf or are looking for a new hobby to get into, you definitely need to check out Gascoigne and play a round.
Gascoigne also has a neat fitness trail that goes through the woods for a nice, private workout. If you’re a fisherman, there is an awesome public dock near the pavillion that is the perfect spot to cast a line and enjoy an afternoon. Because of the wide open spaces, people love bringing their dogs to run around as well. There is really so much to do in this cool little park. It would be unfortunate to miss out on at least seeing it while you visit.
4. Avenue of Oaks
This is probably the most picturesque place on St. Simons Island, but also the least visited by travelers. The Avenue of Oaks is the stretch of Live Oak trees that lead to the entrance of the Sea Island Lodge. This is the spot that many wedding photos are taken as well as prom/homecoming photos. If you go, don’t just drive by them. You won’t get the real effect. You need to get out of your car and walk between the trees. It’s really an awesome experience.
The Avenue of Oaks was originally the entry way to the King Plantation Home. What is now the Plantation and Sea Side golf courses used to be an immense plantation owned by the King family of St. Simons. If you go to the Pier/Village, all of the streets in that area are named after members of the King family, such as Mallery and Frazer.
There is an incredible story of a heroic slave, Neptune Small, that lived on the King Plantation. He is actually buried on the Seaside golf course in a small cemetery. You can find his story practically anywhere on the island, including our bike tours!
5. Fort Frederica
We are now hopping to the North end of St. Simons Island. Fort Frederica is tucked away, far from the touristy areas of the South end of the island.
You might not know it when you first step onto St. Simons, but there used to be wars fought on this very ground. Fort Frederica is proof of that. Back in 1736, when the British first arrived on this beautiful island, they built the town of Frederica as well as Fort Frederica to be able to fend off unwelcome visitors. It wasn’t until 1742 that St. Simons was actually under attack.
The Spanish arrived with hundreds of men in search of Fort Frederica, ready to take back the land they claimed for themselves. This lead to the now infamous Battle of Bloody Marsh, a site that you can visit back on the South end. The British came out victorious and it was the last attempt made by the Spanish to take Georgia land.
The remains of Fort Frederica and the ancient town itself can still be seen. The tabby walls and rusted weapons take you back to a time of strong men and women who braved it all to settle this new world. Without them, who knows what St. Simons Island would look like today.