Golden Isles

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Heritage and Culture
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Heritage & Culture

Rich in history, culture, forgotten heroes and undiscovered towns and hamlets, the Golden Isles’ experience is one of the richest along the Atlantic seaboard. Georgian cultural elements—including songs, stories, dances, food and architecture—and other numerous factors define the area. No matter which historic town you visit first—Brunswick, St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Little St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island or Golden Isles surrounding areas—you're sure to uncover more heritage and culture on each trip back to the Golden Isles of Georgia!

Tracing the paths of the area’s first tourists gives insight into the lure of the coast. Following well-worn paths through the virgin forests or paddling down the waterways, early Native Americans annually enjoyed the area’s bounty of game and shellfish. Today, visible remains of shell rings, both on the mainland and the islands, attest to eons of visitation.

Known as the Debatable Land, the area stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico later saw hooded Franciscans and Dominicans. Guided by the directive of the sword and cross, they built missions hoping to subjugate their native hosts. With access by the many branches of the Altamaha River, not only Native Americans and the Spanish, but also trappers, explorers and the French passed this way before the arrival of the British.

It is this comingling of different nations and people that makes the area’s history so rich. Take time to explore it. One of the joys of travel is absorbing the heritage of others and appreciating their cultures. Quite often the memories of a special trip or place are these elements of heritage and culture. Visit the historic sites that enhance the story and let your footprints follow those who came before you.

Historical Photo of a Ship in the Historic port city of Brunswick, Georgia

Historic Brunswick

Brunswick's story begins four years before the British victory against the Spanish troops in the battles of Bloody Marsh and Gully Hole Creek. In 1738, the area's first European settler, Mark Carr, arrived. Upon landing, this captain in Oglethorpe's company established his 1,000-acre Tobacco plantation, which he called "Plug Point."
Historical Photo of a family on St. Simons Island beach in 1910

St. Simons Island

From Timucan and Guale Indian residence as early as 3000 B.C. to the slave culture of Hamilton Plantation at Gascoigne Bluff in more recent years, there's always plenty of rich Georgia state history to discover on St. Simons Island.
Historic Photograph of Sea Island's Cloister in 1930

Sea Island

After a causeway leading to St. Simons Island and Sea Island was built in 1924, the island was ripe for development. Sea Island Company purchased the island abutting the Atlantic Ocean, and Howard Coffin was able to begin developing a luxury resort, starting with the Cloister.
Historic photo of Little St. Simons Island's old dock

Little St. Simons Island

In the early 1900s, Philip Berolzheimer fell in love with Little St. Simons Island's beauty. He began development on his special island retreat for family and friends in the early 1900s, and everyone he brought to the area quickly fell in love with the island's beautiful wildlife as well.
Historic Ariel photo of the Jekyll Island Wharf in 1930

Jekyll Island History

Jekyll Island’s history is both elaborate and diverse. From the development of Horton House by a one of Oglethorpe's top aides in 1738 to the state of Georgia's natural preservation efforts in 1947, Jekyll Island's diverse history can be seen in landmarks across the island.
Cars crossing by ferry near Hofwyl Plantation in 1910

Interstate 95 & Surrounding Areas

Following the path of the old Highway 17, I-95 offers plenty of Georgia history to be discovered. One of the most notable Georgia historic sites, the Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation, is a perfect stop at exit 42. You won't want to miss it on your way to or from the Golden Isles.
Sacred tombstone in Christ Church cemetery on St. Simons Island

Lore & Legends of the Golden Isles

Have you heard the lore and legends of the Golden Isles? Take a look to learn more about haunted ghost walks, the area's history and more.
Exterior View of the First African Baptist Church on St. Simons Island

African-American Heritage

African Americans in Georgia had much to do with developing the South's rich culture. With rice plantations thriving in the conditions along the South Carolina and Georgia coasts, slaves were brought in to man the fields, and they brought along song, dance and more to the Golden Isles.
Outdoor Tents at an Art Festival on St. Simons Island

Arts & Music

Golden Isles scenery continues to inspire many photographers, artists, writers and musicians. This inspiration gives way to the abundant offerings including art galleries, performing arts venues, music festivals, arts festivals, shows and an active live music scene.
Lovely Lane Chapel at Epworth by the Sea on St. Simons Island

Southern Culture

Southern culture is a lifestyle, and if one thing's for sure, the Golden Isles' distinct culture is founded on this southern traditional lifestyle. Come experience the welcoming southern hospitality to see for yourself!

Did You Know?

Check out our fascinating quick facts about interesting people, historical figures, and places all relating to Georgia's Golden Isles.