History & Heritage
Rich in history, culture, forgotten heroes, and undiscovered towns and hamlets, the Golden Isles’ experience is one of the richest along the Atlantic seaboard. Southern cultural elements—including songs, stories, dances, food, and architecture—and other numerous factors define the area. No matter which historic area you visit first— St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Little St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island, or Brunswick, —you're sure to uncover more heritage and culture on each trip back to the Golden Isles!
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 co-mingling of different nations and people that make 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.