As a single parent, the idea of taking two children and a puppy to the beach was ... daunting, to put it mildly. The amount of packing necessary for a long weekend was overwhelming, and yet Saint Simons Island was the perfect place to go for a kid- and family-friendly vacation. Located on the Georgia Coast and part of the Golden Isles, Saint Simons has much to do for the vacationing family.
Here are my recommendations for enjoying kid-friendly Saint Simons Island:
#1 Rent Accommodations With a Pool
I'll be honest. Every travel blogger with kids seems to recommend a stay at King and Prince Resort. I cannot fault the location. From the outside looking in, it's beautiful and seems to offer a number of amenities for guests. However, it's not a good fit for budget-conscious travelers. I could go on a one-week cruise for the cost of a long weekend stay there. This isn't a criticism of King and Prince Resort, which I'm sure is a lovely place to stay and certainly makes my bucket list when finances allow. Saint Simons is an upscale resort community, but it should be noted that while most travel bloggers will point you there, I will offer a more affordable option for families traveling on a budget.
Check out Airbnb for vacation rentals to get lower prices with amenities like swimming pools. You may need it for the days when the surf is too rough or the jellyfish a little too prevalent for your comfort. I would recommend Vacasa Southeast's townhome options, approximately one mile from East Beach. It is child and pet-friendly with a clean swimming pool, laundry room on the property, and assigned parking for guests.
#1 Go To The Beach
#2 Visit Wally the Whale
Children, like my rascal of a six-year-old, will try to climb on Wally. Please don't. There are numerous posted signs that the whale is art, not a playground. But be sure to visit Wally for a photo opportunity while you're walking around the pier and at Neptune Park.
#3 Explore Fort Frederica
I'll be honest: my children were hungry when we visited Fort Frederica National Monument. Don't make the mistake I did. Feed them first so that they'll enjoy it. There was much to see and learn about, and it's even a great place just to go for a walk.
#4 Visit a Lighthouse
The Saint Simons Island Lighthouse is beautiful. While we didn't have the time on our short trip to go inside or visit the museum, we did take the time to see it during the day and then later at night when the light was shining. Snap a photo and enjoy the view. If you have time on your trip, be sure to go up for an even better view of the island.
#5 Play at The Park
The Neptune Park Fun Zone will always make our list for a visit to St. Simon's Island. Located beside the pier and Wally the Whale, this playground is great for kids of all ages. It remains one of my children's favorite places to be on the island. It's also located directly beside a putt-putt golf course and a small waterpark that's open during the summer months.
#6 Head to the Beach
Of course, the main attraction on Saint Simons Island is the beach. Come prepared, and you can spend the whole day relaxing on these beautiful beaches. The soft sand is located further back on the beach while the sand nearer the ocean is hard-packed, perfect for a run or walk along the beach. Keep in mind that Saint Simons Island has many trash and recycling receptacles near its parking lots, and they expect you to use it and keep the beaches pristine.
Pictured above is East Beach, our favorite of the beaches. We received an education about jellyfish this visit. There were so many on the shore that we ended up looking them up to read all about Cannonball Jellyfish, also known as jelly balls. It didn't deter beach-goers from swimming, although the more hesitant ones likely opted for swimming pools instead.
To make a day at the beach easier and more family-friendly, consider bringing a beach wagon (opt for one with larger wheels to navigate on sand) and a pop-up beach tent. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, beach toys, and snacks, and you'll be set for spending as much time as you like at the beach. There are restrooms located in the adjacent parking area.
#7 Enjoy Family-Friendly Dining
While visiting, look for family-friendly restaurants like Porch for dining out. With kid-friendly options like chicken tenders with a side of waffles, you can sit outside on the child- and pet-friendly patio and enjoy a relaxed family meal. Several yard games are available that are fun for everyone!
Saint Simons Island has a number of ice cream, frozen yogurt, and slushy shops, too. Be sure to get a sweet treat while you're visiting. What's a family vacation without dessert?
#8 Take a Tour
While I don't always recommend tours for family vacations, a dolphin tour hosted by Lighthouse Trolleys Land & Sea Tours is the perfect way to end a day while you're visiting. We took a sunset dolphin tour, which lasted for 90 minutes. We saw plenty of dolphins and learned about the local shipwreck and the history of the area. After a day of beach play and swimming in the pool, my children were more than happy to ride a boat, spy dolphins, and relax. Just be sure to bring a jacket for the cool evening ocean breeze.
Saint Simons Island is the perfect location for YOUR next family vacation. If you have more time, consider renting a bike or golf cart to get around the island, visiting a WWII Homefront Museum, or even taking a ride up to Jekyll Island to learn more about sea turtles that live on the Georgia coast. With plenty to see and do, you'll be glad you visited.