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Georgia’s Golden Isles, Brunswick treat visitors to famous stew with a side of beauty, historycomment (0)

April 10, 2008

By Linda Holloway

Brunswick and the Golden Isles of Georgia include the mainland city of Brunswick and four barrier islands: St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Little St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island.

Each destination has an abundance of vacation opportunities ranging from restaurants serving fresh seafood and the famed Brunswick Stew to beach activities along the Atlantic Ocean.

The largest of the Golden Isles is St. Simons Island, where you’ll find historic sites to explore and kid-friendly adventures as well.

Begin your journey by crossing over the area’s marshlands, immortalized by poet Sidney Lanier in the poem, "The Marshes of Glynn." Fans of author Eugenia Price will recognize local landmarks mentioned in many of her novels.

While driving around the island, notice the canopy of huge live oak trees that line the streets. Live oaks, known for their beauty and shade, were once milled on the island and provided the timbers for the USS Constitution, nicknamed "Old Ironsides." Take time to explore the central part of the island where Fort Frederica National Monument and Christ Church are located.

James Edward Oglethorpe established Fort Frederica in 1736. Oglethorpe and his men defeated invading Spanish forces in this area in 1742 at The Battle of Bloody Marsh, a key battle in Colonial American history.

Visitors can see the ruins of the fortifications, barracks, and homes. Stop by the museum to view a short film that brings to life the struggles of Colonial America.

Remains of the fort’s tabby powder magazine and cannons from the period stand along the river, and artifacts from past archaeological digs are on display.

Scheduled park programs include hands-on activities, Colonial-era games and historic weapons demonstrations. Bloody Marsh, a detached unit of the park, is located five miles to the south.

One of the island’s most visited sites, Christ Church’s origins date back to the early 1700s when Charles Wesley, a founder of Methodism in America, preached underneath a huge oak tree at future church’s location.

The first church structure was completed in 1820, but was partially destroyed by occupying Union troops during the Civil War.

The present structure was built in 1884. The church is known for its attractive Gothic roof and opulent stained glass windows.

Since 1872, the St. Simons Lighthouse has been guiding ships with its brilliant beacon. The working lighthouse serves as a navigation aid to ships entering St. Simons Sound, casting a beam 18 miles out to sea. The tower has been fully restored and is maintained by the Coastal Georgia Historical Society.

Children are typically eager to climb the 129 circular steps to the top of the lighthouse where sweeping vistas of the coast are worth the effort. Or, you can choose to linger at the base and wander through the original keeper’s dwelling, which is now a museum.

You’ll find Neptune Park near the lighthouse and Village area. This is a great beachfront spot complete with a picnic area, playground and seasonal festivals and art shows.

In the nearby Village, you’ll enjoy shopping and dining including eateries and specialty merchants ranging from art galleries and bookstores to antique shops and island clothing.

Those with an interest in the Coast Guard will enjoy a visit to the Maritime Center on St. Simons Island.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this Roosevelt-era Coast Guard Station now offers a personal encounter with the coast’s nature and its fascinating history.

The U.S. Coast Guard Station was opened in 1936 and vacated in 1995.

It was one of only 45 constructed throughout the country at that time and is believed to be one of only two or three remaining stations today.

The Colonial Revival dwelling, along with the adjacent garage and boathouse, is being preserved for educating the public.

Visitors will travel back in time with "Ollie" as he learns the ropes and routines of being a Coast Guardsman in the 1940s. "Ollie" is a fictional character based on journal entries and historical accounts by Coast Guard personnel stationed at St. Simons Island during World War II.

Within seven galleries filled with hands-on exhibits, the coast’s beaches, marshes and forests are explored, along with their relationship to facets of the area’s Coast Guard and military history.

For tourist information call the Brunswick and the Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau, 1-800-809-1790, or visit www.ComeCoastAwhile.com.

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