What a fun assignment – to give recommendations on how to spend a weekend in the Golden Isles. But not an easy feat because you need at least a week, even so, here goes …
dusk- Wind down the week or wind up the weekend, however you want to look at it, but do it in an Adirondack chair at The Lodge at Sea Island Golf Club watching the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean, while listening to the bagpiper play at dusk. This is a private club with access if you are a guest staying at The Lodge or The Cloister on Sea Island. A few other waterfront properties on the islands include Jekyll Ocean Club (sunrise views) and The Westin on Jekyll Island, or The King and Prince Beach Resort, on St. Simons Island. So grab a libation and soak in the water vistas before you head out to dinner.
7 p.m.- Make reservations at Georgia Sea Grill and ask to be seated in the piano bar or whatever section Landon is serving. Landon will walk a set of perfect dirty martinis to you without spilling a drop. Sometimes we get a lot of small plates because it is fun to have a sampling of their inventive dishes such as fried pimento cheese, cornmeal dusted oysters, crab Maison and Georgia bison carpaccio. The fresh catch comes in a myriad of ways – Cajun spiced, bronzed or pan-roasted.
8 a.m.— Let’s get this day going right with a good breakfast! Visit Café Frederica for the best eggs Benedict in the nation. The cinnamon roll is pretty special too. Visitors and locals alike have called this a breakfast favorite since 1987. Take a stroll down to the Pier and enjoy breakfast at Palmer’s Village Café. I order the huevos rancheros and the hubs likes The Hooch, which is an omelet with spicy tomatoes, provolone and cheddar cheeses and sausage, garnished with fried onions. Halyards is serving breakfast now. I haven’t tried it, but everything Chef Dave Snyder does is so top-notch (Tramici, La Plancha). Try the bacon pancake lollipops at another new spot, Chubs Diner. Or if looking for “grab and go” then visit Sandy Bottom Bagels or get a Wainwright Popper at Sweet Mama’s to honor our hometown great, St. Louis Cardinal pitcher Adam Wainwright. Over on Jekyll, you can do elegant at the Grand Dining Room at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, or casual at Sunrise Grill. Both are delicious.
mid-morning I can’t decide between a morning of shopping or the spa, and would personally try to do both. We have incredible shops you don’t want to miss, so be sure to visit Redfern Village, the retailers all along Frederica Road, the Shops at Sea Island and across Sea Island Road from there, on Market Street. The Spa at Sea Island is such a restorative respite from the world and Island Day Spa also provides a great escape.
noon NANCY by Abney is so chic for a fab lunch and the amazing staff dotes on you the entire visit. You must try the Asian chicken salad with jasmine rice followed by a warm chocolate chip cookie. They won’t tell me what is in the iced tea but it is divine.
afternoon Across the three islands, there are seven different 18-hole layouts and even some golf indoors at the Top Golf Swing Suites at The Inn at Sea Island. If you like to fish, grab an off-shore charter and hope the tarpon are rolling. Bike or hike trails set up by the St. Simons Island Land Trust. There are historic landmarks from one end of the island to the other from the St. Simons Island Lighthouse to Fort Frederica. On Jekyll, tour the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, Driftwood Beach and the national historic district, formerly known as Millionaire’s Village, where the Rockefeller and Vanderbilt families had homes. And historic downtown Brunswick is hopping with hot spots like Tipsy McSway’s and Richland Rum, a distillery which Forbes named America’s best rum. Consider picking up a charcuterie board from Golden Isles Olive Oil or snacks from Gourmet Pantry for this evening.
8 p.m. I don’t know how to tell you where to go for a nice dinner with so many places I love. You can’t go wrong with Delaney’s Bistro (bone-in filet and bacon-wrapped shrimp), Del Sur (empañadas), Bennie’s Red Barn (steaks and seafood) and Tavola Italian Dining, but Crabdaddy’s Seafood Grill is where we go the most. The fresh-caught fish blackened is a fave, especially grouper with Cajun crawfish cream sauce. Enjoy delish apps such as fried artichoke hearts, local littleneck clams and don’t forget their house specialty, shrimp and grits. Finish with their famous bread pudding.
9 a.m. You are saving your calories for lunch today so grab a smoothie or lavender latte at Wake-Up Coffee. And then take advantage of a relaxing morning on the beach before you have to leave town.
noon Southern Soul BBQ has a national cult following and you have to try this bustling southern barbecue joint during your visit. They have oak-smoked meats so you can go the brisket, ribs, pulled pork or turkey breast route but I waited to suggest going ‘til today so you could catch their legendary Sunday Soul fried chicken. You’re welcome!