Skip to site content
Group Travel Leader Group Travel Leader Group Travel Leader

100 Magical Miles of Georgia Coastline

Stretching exactly 100 miles, Georgia’s coast is one of its shortest borders, but it packs in so many attractions that visitors could spend a month exploring a new place every day and still not hit all of the top sites.

From Savannah near the South Carolina border down to where Georgia meets Florida near Jacksonville, Georgia’s coast is home to some of the country’s most dramatic oceanfront scenery thanks to its network of stark barrier islands and marshlands. Lovers of flora and fauna have the opportunity to see nesting sea turtles, black skimmers, wild horses and a host of other rare wildlife in the area’s protected nature reserves and barrier islands.

Outdoors on the Coast

An area blessed with abundant natural resources, Georgia’s coast has outdoor attractions for any interest, from pristine beaches to turtle walks and sunset cruises around tidal marshes. However, one of the best attractions for group visits is Cumberland Island, a barrier island steeped in American and pre-Columbian history that can be accessed by only a limited number of people each day to preserve its pristine character.

The Land and Legacies Tour, operated by a National Park Service concessioner, takes groups around the island by passenger van to experience its 4,000 years of human history, from the first Native American settlers to the Spanish missionaries and later plantations of the English and American gentry who took over the island. Among the sites are the haunting remains of the early-20th-century mansions of the Carnegie family, who owned most of the island for decades.

History on the Coast

While Cumberland Island gives visitors a glimpse of a barrier island where history and nature have nipped away at man’s attempts at settlement, Jekyll Island, home to the famous club where the first transcontinental telephone call was completed and the Federal Reserve was devised, offers a look at another side of Georgia’s barrier islands: life at one of the roaring industrialist retreats.

In its heyday, presidents — of both the country and major corporations — would arrive by yacht to spend the winter shooting game, playing golf at the oceanside course and enjoying croquet on the lawn, a tradition kept up today by the resort’s croquet pro. After operating as a private club for nearly 100 years, the Jekyll Island Club Hotel opened to the public as a luxury resort, and visitors can now stay in rooms once occupied by royalty and Rockefellers. Day-trippers and guests at other Jekyll Island properties can still explore the restored homes of many of the club’s members through the Jekyll Island Museum.

Art on the Coast

The Glynn Visual Arts Center has long been the heart of the coastal arts scene in one of its most culturally active areas: St. Simons Island. The center has recently moved into a new, larger space that has expanded its already varied workshop options. In addition to the usual hands-on painting and pottery courses, groups can try jewelry-making, loom weaving, printmaking or creating their own comics. All workshops are hosted by local artists, whose wares are available in the arts center’s store at the Golden Isles Visitor Center, and include many “art for non-artists” options with wine to bring out your group’s hidden artistic side.

Film on the Coast

Bonaventure Cemetery may seem at first like a slightly macabre stop, but its garden elements make it one of the most beautiful parts of Savannah, a fact that has been celebrated in film for decades.

John Muir first brought the site to the attention of the literary community with his haunting essay of sleeping among the graves in the 1860s, but it really rose to prominence as a tourist attraction after it was featured in the novel and Clint Eastwood’s film version of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”

Once it got on Hollywood’s radar, nearly every crew filming in town has found a way to incorporate it, in films from “Now and Then” to Billy Bob Thornton’s “The Gift.” Multiple companies offer film-focused tours of Savannah taking in this and other major movie sites around town, such as Chippewa Square, site of Forrest Gump’s park bench scenes.

New on the Coast

This month, Georgia’s coastal region is launching a new fort trail that links some of the top attractions along the coast for visitors interested in both the area’s history, whether Revolutionary or Civil War, and its stunning scenery, as the forts occupy the prime coastal promontories.

Major extant forts — including 1721 Fort King George, 1736 Fort Frederica and Fort Pulaski, where the riffle cannon changed the course of World War II — make up the primary stops on the trail. The trail also introduces visitors to sites that were historically home to forts that have not fallen into ruin from disuse, such as the one on Cumberland Island.

“The forts want to do more in collaboration,” said Cheryl Hargrove, tourism project manager for Georgia’s coastal region. “Groups can also experience more of a clustering based on the Civil or Revolutionary wars or other interests.”

Gabi Logan

Gabi Logan is a freelance travel journalist whose work has also appeared in USA TODAY, The Dallas Morning News and Italy Magazine. As she travels more than 100,000 miles each year, she aims to discover the unexpected wonder in every destination.