Visit St. Marys, Georgia, to see palm trees and waterfront scenes. Who says you need to vacation in a tropical location like Florida or California? St. Marys offers an uncrowded, low-key way to take in the Georgia coast and experience its history. Let’s take a closer look.
About St. Marys, Georgia
Spend a day in this small city and enjoy waterfront life like the locals. St. Marys sits on the Florida-Georgia boundary and shares its name with the St. Marys River, which stretches 126 miles and offers recreational opportunities. The town is also a gateway to Cumberland Island National Seashore, dubbed Georgia’s best-kept secret.
Incorporated in 1802, St. Marys is one of Georgia’s oldest towns. This historic community was a former seaport along the Atlantic coast. Now, the area boasts St. Marys Waterfront Park with a marina, public dock, and beautiful waterfront area. This area is also the site of many local events, including the St. Marys Mardi Gras Festival, St. Marys Rock Seafood Festival, and the Independence Day Festival.
St. Marys, Georgia, has a population of just under 20,000. The long, hot summers bring lows in the 70s and highs in the 90s. The mild winters are short, with lows averaging in the 40s and highs in the 60s.
Morning in St. Marys
Plan to get breakfast nice and early to fuel up for your ferry ride to Cumberland Island National Seashore.
Breakfast at Cedar Oak Cafe
Address: 304 Osborne St., St. Marys, GA 31558
Menu Options: Enjoy biscuits and homemade sausage gravy, breakfast burritos, omelets, or eggs benedict all day. For lunch, fan favorites include the Reuben, Cuban, and deli sandwiches and salads. You also can’t go wrong with their smoothies, bagels, and of course, their strong, hot coffee and lattes.
Reasons to Love It: This neighborhood tradition serves up freshly-made breakfast, lunch, snacks, and drinks. Plus, it offers cozy views in its front porch area and a relaxing atmosphere. And it’s open every day so you can visit no matter when you’re in town.
Visit Plum Orchard Mansion
Take a free tour of Plum Orchard Mansion, located on Cumberland Island National Seashore. Built in 1898, this home was a gift from Lucy Carnegie to her son. This 22,000 square foot mansion offers architecture, furnishings, and machinery from the early 20th century.
Book your St Marys ferry trip ahead of time and ride it to Sea Camp dock. After arriving, bike 7.5 miles to the mansion, where you can take a 45-minute guided tour. There aren’t any shops or amenities on the island, so bring snacks and a water bottle. And plan for a three- to five-hour roundtrip.
Afternoon in St. Marys
Head back to St. Marys to enjoy a late lunch and some casual sightseeing in the afternoon.
Eat lunch at St. Marys Seafood & More
Address: 1837 Osborne Rd., St. Marys, GA 31558
Menu Options: Start with an appetizer of corn nuggets or fried okra, then enjoy the butterfly shrimp, basa, or catfish with a side of hush puppies and coleslaw. Their seafood platters are a hit, as are their entrees in the spicy boom boom sauce or their off-menu shrimp and grits. If seafood isn’t your thing, this place also serves yummy American favorites like chicken, burgers, sandwiches, pasta, and steaks. Or get brave and try their gator tail.
Reasons to Love It: Feast on fresh seafood, fried, grilled, blackened, or broiled at St. Marys Seafood & More. This restaurant, rated #2 by TripAdvisor and winner of their Travelers’ Choice award, is sure to serve up some winners in this laid-back maritime atmosphere.
Visit the St. Marys Submarine Museum
The St. Marys Submarine Museum offers 5,000 square feet of exhibits and displays reflecting the Submarine Force. Here, you can operate a real Type 2 periscope, visit the gift shop for submarine items and memorabilia, and peruse more than 99% of World War II patrol reports.
The museum educates visitors on submarine warfare and preserves the history of the submarine force. Enjoy your visit here to get a glimpse into what it was really like to live aboard a submarine. The museum is not open Sundays and Mondays.
Spending an Evening in St. Marys
Cap off your day with a leisurely evening of dinner and a boat cruise.
Get Dinner at Lang’s Marina Restaurant
Address: 307 W. St. Marys St. W., St. Marys, GA 31558
Menu Options: Start your night with crab cakes, an onion blossom, or mac ‘n’ cheese bombs. Customers rave over their fried shrimp and gumbo. They also have drool-worthy crawfish or shrimp po’boys, fried catfish, and specials like shrimp and crawfish pasta and shrimp and crab empanadas. Top it all off with one of their milkshakes or luscious cakes, like their chocolatey dark forest cake or their butter pecan cake.
Reasons to Love It: Prepare to indulge after a long day of sightseeing. On top of the delicious food and seafood caught using their own boats, you’ll love the views overlooking the marina. One reviewer said, “I’ve been all over the nation and to several foreign countries. This is the best seafood restaurant I’ve been to.” A bonus: It’s child-friendly and the winner of the 2021 Travelers’ Choice award from TripAdvisor.
Take a Sunset Boat Cruise at Crooked River State Park
After your delicious dinner, settle in for a relaxing jaunt on the sunset boat cruise at Crooked River State Park. Feast your eyes on coastal birds and the captivating sunset as it melts into the horizon. Be sure to call Crooked River to see about cruise dates and to pre-register. After taking in the gorgeous views, head back to your campsite for the night.
A Day in St. Marys
This waterfront community boasts historic buildings and waterfront fun and is a gateway into a national seashore. Their annual events, local seafood fare, and submarine history make St. Marys, Georgia, a unique and casual getaway. From ferry trips to a boat cruise to delicious cuisine, you’ll leave with a full, happy belly after this day of relaxing fun. What do you think you’d enjoy most about a trip to St. Marys?