St. Simons Island, Georgia, was unfamiliar to me two years ago and now, it is our family’s home away from home. My husband and I had long sought a warm weather outpost to escape the winters of New York, yet we never found a community that we fully embraced until we stayed at The Cloister on Sea Island and began spending time in the surrounding area. Although I could include dozens of things I love, here is my Top Ten* List for SSI.
1. Winter – I am writing this on the last day of December and the high temperature here on SSI is predicted to be 60. Back home in New York it MIGHT reach freezing. The relatively mild winter climate makes it hospitable for poinsettias to be planted outside and camellias to bloom while we have snow on the ground back home. I am also smitten with the beds of pale yellow snapdragons, flowers that we only see blooming in the dead of summer in our cold climate.
2. Southern Soul Barbeque – when we approach the round-about where Southern Soul stands, I like to roll down the car window, take a deep breath and fill my lungs with the rich BBQ scent that lures us inside for dinner, at least once, each visit. It is just about perfect and reminds me of the barbeque I grew up with in Texas.
3. The Avenue of the Oaks – the parallel lines of oak trees dripping with Spanish moss are the graceful and iconic entryway to The Lodge where the Sea Island resort has their golf facility. Each time I drive alongside them, I am in awe of their stately beauty and imagine the time when these oaks lined Kings Road leading up to Retreat Plantation.
4. The Lodge and The Cloister – readers of Travel and Leisure magazine named The Lodge and The Cloister the number 1 and 2 favorite destinations in the US in 2013. To have two such excellent resorts in one spot provides an incredible array of activities for visitors. We have made it a family goal to try something different every time we visit SSI and with all that these two offer, we may never reach the end of our long list. From skeet shooting to horseback riding, from spa appointments to spinning, we are limited only by the hours in the day (and our activities budget.)
5. Golfing – enthusiasm for golf is ever-present on SSI. With a climate that seems so inviting year round, going out with my husband and kids has become a very fun family activity.
6. Perfect meeting point – from our house in New York it is 900 miles south; from my hometown in Texas, it is 1100 miles east. SSI is an ideal destination for our friends and family to congregate.
7. Small businesses – though Starbucks and Winn Dixie are chain stores I frequent here, I love the small businesses that are predominant on the island. I’m in good hands with Martha at the lamp store, Ben at the framers, and Barbara Jean's has the best crab cakes I've ever eaten.
8. Tibi – a must-stop destination for our fashion forward teenage daughter, the Tibi outlet in SSI is our favorite place to shop. Designer Amy Smilovic offers her trendy outfits at sample sale pricing. How lucky for all of us that SSI is her hometown and she shares her abundance with her fans here.
9. Biking – the flat terrain and proliferation of trails make SSI a wonderful place to bike. We hop on and take a spin down to the pier, catching a glimpse of the mega-sized ocean freighters sailing from the Atlantic.
10. Beach and marsh – sitting on the beach on a hot summer’s day and jumping into the ocean are perfect ways to spend the hottest days. But I have also come to appreciate the tides and marshes that are so much a part of coastal Georgia’s terrain.
*I cannot resist adding one more, making this my top eleven list:
11. The Southern Coterie – the serendipitous timing of the launch of my blog, Grown and Flown, with my family’s first visit to SSI, led me to The Southern C. Being one of the C-team bloggers has helped me establish roots in this community and I am delighted to call Whitney and Cheri neighbors and friends.
For those of you much more familiar with SSI, what have I left off? Please add in the comments.
Photo credit for the photo of Avenue of the Oaks: Golden Isles of Georgia