Locate It: St. Marys

Historic St. Marys: Gateway to the Georgia Coast

As the southernmost city along the state’s eastern shores and marshes, St. Marys is the coastal gateway to the Peach State, with all the southern charm and eclectic vibe you’d expect.

Nestled among the Spanish moss-covered live oak and swaying palm trees of Georgia’s Coast is the city of Historic St. Marys. As the southernmost city along the state’s eastern shores and marshes, St. Marys is the coastal gateway to the Peach State, with all the southern charm and eclectic vibe you’d expect.

St. Marys is probably well known for being the starting point for almost every journey to the one of the area’s biggest draw, Cumberland Island National Seashore. The preserve is popular for its miles of wide, pristine beaches, excellent camping, dense maritime forests, historic mansions, feral horses and breathtaking ruins. Suffice to say, Cumberland Island National Seashore is as enchanting as it gets. One trip to Georgia’s southernmost barrier island is all it takes to discover there’s no coastal escape quite like it.

Cumberland Island is accessible only by boat, so the Cumberland Island Ferry works in conjunction with the National Park Service to shuttle visitors over to the island multiple times nearly every day of the year. For more first-time visitors, Cumberland Island’s Southend Loop is the most popular way to see many of the island’s main attractions. More intrepid adventurers can choose to stay overnight at one of the many campgrounds on the islands.

Cumberland Island Ferry reservations are recommended as ferry trips regularly sell out in advance; however, tickets can be purchased the day of travel no later than an hour before the desired ferry. You can also pay for your national park entrance fee at the ferry office, while overnight camping would need to be reserved in advance through the federal recreation site here.

The walkable streets and waterfront make it a pleasurable respite in Camden County, which is also home to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay. The waterfront has a park and boat ramp along with the Ferry and National Park Service local office. On the other side of a

wide thoroughfare, several local businesses, shops and restaurants that serve residents and visitors alike.

Generally laid out in a grid, St. Marys, Georgia has a number of historic homes, churches and quaint bed and breakfasts, that line the surprisingly wide streets. Annual festivals including Mardi Gras, Independence Day and Rock Shrimp Festival & Parade celebrate the area’s heritage and attract thousands.

The nearby Crooked River State Park is the perfect spot for enjoying the Intracoastal Waterway and maritime forest ecosystem. Campsites are surrounded by palmettos and oaks, while cottages are set near the tidal river. A boat ramp is popular with anglers who often take to the water before sunrise.

The park’s nature trail [Link to trail description] winds through forest and salt marsh, and hikers may see gopher tortoises, fiddler crabs, herons and other birds. A nature center features fish, snakes, turtles and other animals native to Coastal Georgia. Visitors may venture to the nearby ruins of a tabby mill, built around 1825 and later used as a starch factory during the Civil War.

While you’re in the area, don’t forget to visit o one or more sites along the Colonial Coast Birding Trail which provides visitors the opportunity to see and enjoy the beauty of a kaleidoscope of birds and glimpse the fascinating history of this land and its residents. Each site along the Colonial Coast Birding Trail is unique. Many sites offer visitors the opportunity to watch birds and visit 18th and 19th Century historic places. The numbers of birds found along the trail change with the rising and falling of the tides and with the passage of the seasons.

St. Marys is easily accessed from Exit 1 or Exit 3 off I-95, just north of the Georgia-Florida border.

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