New Orleans Mom is all about sharing family traveling tips whether your next adventure from New Orleans is to the mountains, Disney, or the beach! If you love the beach but are looking for a one-day or weekend trip, consider the Mississippi Gulf Coast, such as Gulfport or the nearby gorgeous beaches of Pensacola, Florida. There is also a list of drivable destinations from New Orleans for every budget available here. And if you end up staying put in New Orleans, here are dozens of ideas for kid-friendly outings in New Orleans.
A Family Adventure to Georgia’s Golden Isles :: A Tale of Two St. Simons
All of our friends and family know how important it is to my husband and I to travel with our three children and expose them to the vast variety of cultures, climates, food, and geography that exists throughout North America. While we have thoroughly enjoyed exploring the mountains in California, Wyoming and Montana, as well as the beaches of the Bahamas, each of these trips largely provided the opportunity to enjoy a single type of experience. Therefore, this year we decided to travel to the Golden Isles of Georgia on the Atlantic Coast to enjoy two distinct vacations in a single destination: St. Simons Island.
As anyone that has traveled to St. Simons Island can attest, the stately oak trees, beautiful beaches, and vast marshland provide an incredible playground for families with children of all ages. What made this trip unique, however, was the two incredible yet distinct experiences we had at Little St. Simons Island (LSSI) and St. Simons Island.
LSSI is an isolated and gorgeous private island that is accessed via a passenger ferry that departs from St. Simons Island. Access to the 11,000 acres of undeveloped wilderness, including 7 miles of pristine beaches, is accessible only to the guests and staff at The Lodge at LSSI. The “compound” (as the staff affectionately refers to the small area on LSSI where The Lodge is located) accommodates no more than 32 guests at any one time and is comprised of a main lodge and six truly historic cottages. The all-inclusive and intimate resort is carefully curated to maximize the experience for a wide variety of guests, which includes families, couples, and groups of friends. The in-house team of chefs utilize local ingredients to prepare and serve three incredible meals per day, and picnics and snacks are available throughout the day. In addition to coming together to eat, mealtime also serves as a chance to meet with the team of Naturalists, who provide direction and options for morning and afternoon activities that vary depending on the weather, the tidal conditions, and the desires of the guests.
Each day can bring one or more opportunities for guided activities such as kayaking, surf fishing, birding, truck adventures, hiking, and traveling to the beach, and guests are also free to hike, fish, bike, or just enjoy a day at the beach on their own. If you are fortunate enough to travel to Little St. Simons during the summer months, you may also have a chance to learn about the extensive population of sea turtles that utilize the beaches for their annual nesting. This highly personalized experience was truly “all inclusive” in every sense of the word, and we could not recommend it more for an adventurous family.
After enjoying five days in our own semi-private island, we moved to phase 2 of our vacation: a more traditional beach trip. With a home base at the Jekyll Ocean Club on nearby Jekyll Island, we spent the next four days touring the larger and more boisterous St. Simons Island. The island could not possibly be better for a family with adventurous children, as we enjoyed the scavenger hunt around the island searching for the Tree Spirits of St. Simons Island, exploring Fort Frederica National Monument, and the St. Simons Lighthouse. For days in which you are looking to let kids swim and play, Neptune Park in the heart of the main village, as it includes a large pool, a splash. pad for younger children, and a playground that impressed our 8-year old son. We also enjoyed visiting the Georgie Sea Turtle Center given our new-found knowledge of sea turtles following our trip to LSSI, which included both an enlightening museum and a hospital and rehabilitation center that helped sea turtles recover before being returned to their natural habitat.
St. Simons Island also provides anglers with ample charter and guided fishing trips both in the marsh and off of the coast. Finally, St. Simons offers a surprisingly broad and extensive array of dining options with the primary focus being local seafood. As good New Orleanians, we felt obligated to try local shrimp, oysters, and fish, as well as the local Vietnamese Pho restaurant.
If you are looking for a creative family vacation within driving distance of New Orleans, we highly recommend taking this trip!
About the Author
Jenny and her husband, Ben, have been avid travelers since they first started dating during their freshman year at LSU. Three kids and two decades worth of traveling later, the Kadden clan is still in search of another adventure and opportunity to teach and learn about the world’s varied people, food, music, and geography. In addition to her own children, Jenny also has the pleasure of sharing her passion for culture at Christian Brothers School’s Canal Street Campus, where she works as a 3rd grade academic assistant.