If you’re visiting the picturesque seaside community of St. Marys, Georgia, you may want to catch the boat to explore Cumberland Island, the largest of Georgia’s barrier islands. However, this quaint city is more than a launch pad to Cumberland. St. Marys is a family-friendly town with plenty of things to do with the kids while you’re there.
Explore the Local Nature
Grab a bench at Howard Gilman Waterfront Park (no website; 205 West St. Marys Street; no phone) in the late afternoon to watch the shrimp boats coming in. Encourage the kids to keep an eye out for egrets and fiddler crabs as you stroll through the park’s Tilden Norris Marsh Walk. At Crooked River State Park (gastateparks.org/CrookedRiver), kids can check out the nature center’s displays focused on local animals, explore forest and salt marsh ecosystems or hone their birding skills along the Colonial Coast Birding Trail. The first Saturday of each month, families can explore a nature topic in-depth at the park’s Family Nature Quest. The Cumberland Island National Seashore Museum (nps.gov/cuis) has some interesting exhibits focused on the area’s history, but it’s a traditional look-and-don’t-touch museum so consider visiting when the kids aren’t feeling fidgety.
Enjoy Time on the Water
Book a charter through a service like Lang Charters (langcharters.com), and you can take the kids on a memorable fishing trip. Lang provides you with drinks, fishing gear, your fishing license and an on-board portable toilet, so all you have to bring are snacks and sunscreen. Take an eco-tour of Egans Creek with Up the Creek Xpeditons (upthecreekx.com). Some company tours are too labor-intensive for families, but this kayak paddle through the marshes is good for kids and beginners. If you just want to take the kids swimming, join the locals at the St. Marys Aquatic Center (stmarysga.gov). The outdoor pool opens in late spring and closes in early fall, so check the schedule if you’re visiting in the off-season.
Visit a Museum
Kids will love peering through the working periscope at the St. Marys Submarine Museum (no website; 102 St. Marys Street West; 912-882-2782). The museum’s collection offers an interesting look at the history and technology of submarines. Some of the displays at the Coastal Georgia Film Alliance Film Museum (coastalgeorgiafilm.org) may impress young film buffs. The small collection includes items like a skull used in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie series, a lollipop from Tim Burton’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and a pair of boots worn in the movie “Armageddon.”
Make Time for Fun
The Woodbine Opry (woodbineopry.com) bills itself as a cross between the Grand Ole Opry and “Hee Haw.” Kids don’t have to sit still or be quiet at this lively venue, which encourages folks to get up to dance or sing along with classic country tunes performed by live bands. If you can get into the spirit, this old-fashioned entertainment can be a surprisingly fun way to spend a Friday or Saturday night.
- Crooked River State Park
- Historic St. Marys, Georgia: Howard Gilman Memorial Waterfront Park
- Up the Creek Expeditions
- Lang Charters
- St. Marys, Georgia: Aquatic Center
- Historic St. Marys, Georgia: Submarine Museum
- National Park Service: Cumberland Island National Seashore Museum
- Coastal Georgia Film Alliance Museum
- Woodbine Opry
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