In the Golden Isles, we don’t just eat to live, we live to eat. Any true Southerner will wholeheartedly agree that food is more than just a meal; it’s a way of life. And with our prime location on the Georgia coast, many of our restaurants and festivals feature locally-caught and harvested ingredients that were in the ocean or garden just hours before finding its way onto your dinner plate.
Although summer is starting to wind down, the food scene in the Golden Isles is just beginning to ramp up. Each fall, a myriad of festivals that take place also pay homage to several of our tried and true local specialties—from Brunswick Stew to Shrimp & Grits and everything in between.
Make plans to attend one (or all!) of our food festivals this fall. Our mild climate means you’ll also be able to enjoy several walks on the beach regardless of whether you visit in September or October. Take advantage of one of our lodging specials. Your stomach and wallet can thank us later.
When: September 1 - 3, 2017
The Golden Isles' newest food festival, Southern Grown, showcases the very best of our coastal culture. 2017 marks the third annual event for Garden & Gun's Southern Grown Festival, and each year has brought something new to the area.
The pinnacle of the festival is hands-down the food - from classes taught by award-winning chefs to exquisite dishes prepared with only local ingredients. Not only will attendees be in a foodie's paradise, they'll also be at the only resort in the world to have been awarded four Forbes Five-Stars nine years in a row: Sea Island.
Unsurpassed views and beauty found only at Sea Island set the stage for Southern Grown. The weekend-long festival kicks off Friday night with dinner and a show on Rainbow Island, with live music by Grammy award-winning band Steep Canyon Rangers and food by Chef Mike Lata. Saturday brings the one-of-a-kind Southern Grown Marketplace by Southeast Wildlife Exposition, featuring an exciting falconry experience, a bird dog exhibition and more. The Golden Isles comes alive Saturday night with the Southern Grown Concert by Drive-By Truckers. The weekend comes to a close at Sunday's brunch with all the classic favorites: biscuits and gravy, bacon, fresh donuts and more.
Best of all, Southern Grown Festival takes place over Labor Day Weekend, provinding the perfect opportunity to spend some extra quality time in the Golden Isles during the extended weekend.
Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased here.
When: September 15 - 17, 2017 *Update: The 2017 Shrimp & Grits Festival has been cancelled due to Hurricane Irma. There are currently no immediate plans to reschedule the festival.
Since its first festival in 2006, the Wild Georgia Shrimp Festival has quickly become an annual tradition in the Golden Isles. Hosted on the grounds of the historic Jekyll Island Club Hotel, this weekend-long event is not one to miss.
Make your way from booth to booth as you sample and judge local chefs’ and restaurants’ spin on the low country classic dish Shrimp & Grits. All dishes feature fresh Wild Georgia Shrimp, which are sustainably harvested in our local waters.
Other highlights include arts and crafts vendors, a craft brew tasting, live music, kids’ activities and more – all among a beautiful and enchanting setting.
Don’t forget to check out the many new sights and sounds on Jekyll Island! Their Beach Village, the island's newest shopping and dining district, is home to boutiques, a frozen yogurt shop, grocery store and more.
Hop on your bike and pedal down to Horton Pond, which opened earlier this year. The wildlife observation platform provides wonderful views of birds and even a few alligators. And across the street is Driftwood Beach, known for its picturesque and iconic pieces of driftwood that line the shore.
Shrimp & Grits Festival is free and open to the public. However, select events require tickets, which can be purchased here.
When: October 4 - 8, 2017
Sip, sample and savor your way through St. Simons Island at the annual St. Simons Island Food & Spirits Festival. There’s no shortage of unique events, flavorful dishes or sumptuous cocktails at this five-day festival.
From the Southern Soul Barbeque & Beer Pairing on Wednesday to the Sunday Spiritual Brunch, you’ll become a Golden Isles epicurean expert. Signature events include the Expert Learning Experiences and a BBQ Pro-Am where our hometown heroes, Davis Love III, Zach Johnson and others take on barbeque pit masters in a competition unlike any other.
Friday night marks the exclusive Flights & Bites, a totally new event at this year's festival. Patrons will have the opportunity to taste samplings of the island's most beloved restaurants and sip on the very best libations. The location is TBD, so check back soon and check back often for the most up-to-date information.
If nothing else, you’ll definitely want to attend the Grand Oaks Tasting Tour on Saturday at beautiful Gascoigne Bluff. Spend an afternoon under the sprawling live oak trees as you meander from table to table sampling the Golden Isles’ most renowned restaurants. Stop at the Mixology Tent for hand-crafted cocktails and libations sure to make your taste buds smile.
Top off the weekend at the Sunday SPIRITual Brunch at the King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort. By the time the weekend draws to a close, you’ll have made more friends than you can count and have probably gained a couple extra pounds in the process! But don’t worry, calories don’t count when you’re on vacation.
When: November 11, 2017
Brunswick is one of five towns staking claim to the original Brunswick stew, but we fervently believe our name-sake dish originated right here in Glynn County, Georgia. A mix of veggies and meat in a rich tomato base, Brunswick stew is so loved in the Golden Isles that we have an entire festival dedicated to it each fall.
Local and regional teams go head-to-head, or stew pot-to-stew pot if you will, each October in an all-out competition for the coveted title of Brunswick Stewmaster. It’s all to our benefit, really. Festival attendees have the honor of helping decide who will win the People’s Choice awards.
Held at Mary Ross Waterfront Park, this event is the quintessential Southern small town festival. The streets in Historic Downtown Brunswick close for the Stewbilee’s car show and families stroll hand-in-hand as they make their way to the Park. Live music and the sweet smells of the stews waft through the slightly cooler fall air.
Tickets are available at the door the day of the event or for presale at local businesses.