What’s New in the Golden Isles, Georgia

Courtesy Jekyll Ocean Club

This favorite luxury beach destination is a must-visit in the American South.

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 recent 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’s new Garden Wing has an additional 63 guest rooms, with oak hardwood floors, exposed beam ceilings, handcrafted rugs, Carrara marble bathrooms, and a Mediterranean-inspired design. This year, the hotel added the casual River Bar & Lounge and redesigned and expanded on-site Italian restaurant Tavola. Rooms from $315; 100 Cloister Dr.; 855-572-4975; seaisland.com.

Little St. Simons Island
The Golden Isles’s smallest island is a privately owned, all-inclusive enclave with a seven-mile private beach and a plethora of ways to engage with the landscape. The resort offers guest rooms, cottages, or the chance to book the entire island for a secluded nature retreat, with birding, kayaking, bicycling, fishing, and more outdoor activities on offer. From July 18 through the 23rd, take part in Shark Days, a five-day event that includes a charter fishing excursion where guests assist in the catch and release of local sharks, plus presentations by staff naturalists and guest experts Captain Brooks Good, Dr. Eric Reyier, and Dr. Jim Gelsleichter. Rooms from $625; 1000 Hampton River Club Marina Dr.; 888-733-5774; littlestsimonsisland.com.

Jekyll Ocean Club
Historic Jekyll Island Club adds a new, all-suite oceanfront property to its resort this summer: Jekyll Ocean Club, which will feature 40 suites plus an oceanfront pool, hot tub, rooftop terrace, and fire pit. On-site restaurant Corsair serves hotel guests for breakfast and lunch and is to the public for dinner. Guests staying in the suites also have access to the amenities of the main resort, including the riverfront pool, preferred reservations in the Grand Dining room, gym use, and more. Rooms from $280; 80 Ocean Wy.; 866-342-3683; jekylloceanclub.com.

Where to Eat

The Farmer & The Larder
Opened in late 2015, The Farmer & The Larder is a restaurant and cooking school in Brunswick. The menus for dinner and brunch emphasize Georgian coastal cuisine (stone ground grits, chipped beef hash) but also include international tastes like a Berber harissa spiced lamb burger. 1523 Newcastle St.; 912-342-7700; farmerandlarder.com.

Georgia Sea Grill
The popular, 150-seat eatery on Simons Island welcomed Tim Lensch as executive chef last August. He and his team have continued the restaurant’s focus on working with local farmers and fishing captains to craft their seafood-centric Southern menu. Think dishes like corn-battered Georgia shrimp with key lime remoulade, herb-crusted lamb, and Georgia bison carpaccio. 407 Mallery St.; 912-638-1197; georgiaseagrill.com.

Things to Do

Shrimp & Grits Festival
Presented by Southern Living magazine, this three-day festival (September 15-17) 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 Postell Park to display, trade, and buy rare Americana antiques and artifacts over Labor Day weekend. stsimonsantiques.com.

For more on what’s new in classic American beach towns, see our complete slideshow »