The coastal getaways of the Golden Isles, comprised of Sea Island, Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island, Little St. Simons Island, and the port city of Brunswick, are well loved for providing a breezy respite from the South’s sticky summer heat. This year, the offerings get even better, with major renovations at two top resorts and new restaurants showcasing local low-country cuisine.
Where to Stay
The Cloister at Sea Island
In April 2016, the Sea Island resort revealed a $40 million expansion to The Cloister, one of the area's largest and most opulent accommodations. The property now has a new garden wing with an additional 63 guest rooms, with oak hardwood floors, exposed beam ceilings, handcrafted rugs, Carrara marble bathrooms, and a Mediterranean-inspired design. 100 Cloister Dr.; 912-638-3611; seaisland.com.
Little St. Simons Island
The Golden Isles’s smallest island is a secluded, all-inclusive enclave with a seven-mile private beach and a plethora of ways to engage with the landscape. This spring, Little St. Simons Island—which offers guests accommodation in guest rooms, cottages, or the chance to book the entire island—updated their Cedar House and River Lodge with new living room furniture (including better-stocked wet bars) and new washers and dryers. After a tidal flood swept the garden last year, the hotel moved it to a higher elevation and expanded it by 1,000 square feet to further bolster their farm-to-table dining program (led by the newly hired Turkish chef Ülfet Ralph) and host outdoor dinners. 1000 Hampton River Club Marina Dr.; 888-733-5774; littlestsimonsisland.com.
Where to Eat
Georgia Sea Grill
The popular, 150-seat eatery on Simons Island welcomes sous chef David Corcoran to the team this season. He and executive chef Jeff Lewis (Per Se in New York, Hog and Hominy in Memphis, Etch in Nashville) prepare a locally inspired selection of seafood-centric Southern dishes. New on the menu is a seared catch of the day with hominy and Georgia peach beurre blanc, alongside inspired classics like crab-stuffed hush puppies and cornmeal-dusted oysters. Stop by on August 28th for their special quarterly prix-fixe dinner with wine pairings. 407 Mallery St.; 912-638-1197; georgiaseagrill.com.
The Farmer & The Larder
Opened late last year, The Farmer & The Larder is a restaurant and cooking school in Brunswick. The menus for lunch, dinner, and brunch emphasize Georgian coastal cuisine (shrimp po’ boys, green tomato fritters) but also include international dishes like laphlet (Burmese salad) and Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches. 1523 Newcastle St.; 912-342-7700; farmerandlarder.com.
Things to Do
Two Beer Events
On August 18, Savannah-based Southbound Brewing Company hosts a five-course beer pairing dinner with dishes like deviled quail eggs, grilled skirt steak, and beer meringue cookies at the historic Jekyll Island Club Hotel (jekyllclub.com). The Craft Brew Fest, a mini festival within the larger Shrimp & Grits festival, offers a wide array of beers from local microbreweries. (jekyllisland.com).
Shrimp & Grits Festival
Presented by Southern Living magazine, this three-day festival (September 16-18) brings arts and crafts tents, cooking competitions, live music, and, of course, many delicious booths serving shrimp and grits to Jekyll Island. jekyllisland.com.
St. Simons Island Antique Show
Antique collectors from all over the Southeast of Georgia congregate at the newly refurbished Postell Park to display, trade, and buy rare Americana antiques and artifacts over Labor Day weekend. stsimonsantiques.com.