By Kristi Casey Sanders

If you’re looking for a convenient yet dramatically different destination to spend a long weekend in, check out Brunswick and its Golden Isles — St. Simons, Sea Island, Little St. Simons and Jekyll. These coastal resorts have attracted millionaires, presidents and kings, but vacationers on a budget will find a wide range of accommodations. Golfers take note: More than 200 courses are here, and the area is part of the Coastal Georgia Golf Trail. Each area has its own attractions, activities and flair. Here’s a quick look at what each location has to offer.

Take the family fishing with the U.S. Coast Guard-approved crew aboard the Lady Jane. Then, enjoy an on-board shrimp boil while watching dolphins, or head back to Spanky’s Marshside restaurant for lunch or dinner. Dinner and casino cruises also are available.

Historic Downtown Brunswick is home to restaurants, shops, galleries, historic bed-and-breakfast inns and a regional theater. The Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation Historic Site has a house museum, nature and birding trails, and a picnic area. Cargo Portside Grill — one of the area’s best restaurants — is the brainchild former Atlanta restaurateur Alix Kenagy (Indigo Coastal Grill, Partners). Be sure to try Brunswick stew at least once during your stay.

St. Simons Island
Historic sites include the St. Simons Lighthouse and Maritime Center, and the Fort Frederica National Monument. Take a tour of the island by trolley, boat, bike, on horseback or by horse-drawn carriage. Many companies offer fishing, boating and nature excursions; you can also go on a ghost walk. Art lovers will find several galleries (some offering workshops) and upscale antiques shops offering fine furniture and collectibles from Europe, Asia and India. Bennie’s Red Barn serves steak and seafood; live music and dancing is next door at Ziggy’s. Blackwater Grill is a casual restaurant in Redfern Village serving Lowcountry, Cajun and Southern coastal cuisine. The Village Inn & Pub is known for its Wild Orchid Martinis and bed-and-breakfast-style accommodations. The King & Prince Beach & Golf Resort boasts the island’s only oceanfront dining at the casual Blue Dolphin Restaurant.

Sea Island
Sea Island Resorts, home of The Cloister and The Lodge, was selected the country’s top resort for golf by Golf Digest. The Lodge at Sea Island and the Cloister Hotel’s Georgian Room restaurant also were awarded Mobil Travel Guide Five-Star Awards. In addition to the hotel and lodge rooms, accommodations are available in private cottages. Island guests have access to resort amenities, including a full-service spa, 54 holes of top-ranked golf, golf instruction, casual and fine-dining restaurants, and meeting and fitness facilities. Other amenities include the Georgia Sea Island Singers, stables, a shooting school, a cooking school, business etiquette classes, boating, fishing and nature programs. Children’s programs are available through the Sea Island Center for the Arts.

Little St. Simons Island
The secluded Lodge on Little St. Simons Island received the Green Globe Award for excelling in leadership and activities that foster environmental stewardship by protecting the environment, managing natural resources and benefiting the community. Only 30 overnight guests are allowed on Little St. Simons at a time, so if you have a small group of family or friends, you can take over the island (all-inclusive rates apply). Activities include boating, fishing, birding, hiking, bicycling, golfing, horseback riding and strolling along the beach.

Jekyll Island
Shoppers will enjoy “treasure hunting” through the Historic District, Pier Road Shops or Beachside Shopping area. The Georgia Sea Turtle Center has educational exhibits and a state-of-the-art rehabilitation center; the Tidelands Nature Center has hands-on marine environmental science programs. Millionaires’ “cottages” (read: mansions) in the Jekyll Island Club National Historic Landmark District are fun to tour and used to belong to such prestigious families as the Rockefellers. Watch the sun set while dining at SeaJays, overlooking the Jekyll Island Harbor Marina, and have a nightcap at the historic Jekyll Island Club Hotel.

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