Golden Isles, Georgia

Best Places to Retire in Georgia


The Golden Isles area includes the port city of Brunswick and its four closest barrier islands: St. Simons, Little St. Simons, Sea Island, and Jekyll Island. It is an area rich in history that includes Spanish explorers 400 years ago.

The islands are beautiful with their abundance of long leaf pines, laurel, bayonet palmettos, magnolias, holly, and majestic live oaks, draped in Spanish moss. 

Brunswick is a quaint port city named for the ancestral home of King George II, grantor of Georgia’s original land charter. The city, with a population of 16,000, is a primary resource center for the 68,000 residents of Glynn County. It has a large acute care hospital, a community college and a technical college, the Ritz Theatre, an Annual Performing Arts Series, and numerous civic and cultural events held throughout the year. St. Simons Island, with 17,000 residents, is by far the most populous island.

Linked to the Brunswick area via a five-mile toll causeway that crosses marshlands and the Intracoastal Waterway, it is a remarkably beautiful location with a long and fascinating history. English General James Oglethorpe, who laid out the city of Savannah in 1733, brought 230 colonists to St. Simons in February of 1736 to establish a second colony. He named it “Frederica” after the Prince of Wales. The Spanish invaded the island in 1742 and were ambushed and defeated in the Battle of Bloody Marsh before they reached the area of the fort. This ended any Spanish intrusions into the Georgia colony.

What remains of that settlement is today a national monument. St. Simons has an outstanding climate for outdoor activities year-round with frost not expected until early December and leaving before the end of February. There are coastal waters, island beaches, tennis, biking, and a number of semi-public golf courses and two private country clubs. And of course there is boating and sailing, fishing, and crabbing.

On top of all of this is the sheer scenic beauty that is everywhere around you. The majority of the 14,000-acre island is undeveloped, forested lands and salt marshes, dotted with what remains of several large plantations.

The island has all the customary amenities plus numerous galleries, gift shops, a number of very good restaurants, and some nightlife. It is a very culturally active and civic minded community with numerous clubs, arts, and historic groups. Little St. Simons, reached only by boat, is virtually uninhabited. This 10,000-acre secluded retreat offers gracious accommodations for just 30 guests. The island itself consists of mature forests, tidal creeks, marsh lands, and miles of undisturbed shell-strewn beaches. Sea Island, which is reached by a causeway from St. Simons Island, is an internationally acclaimed resort.

It has a population of around 700 and virtually all of the homes are custom built. Prices start around $1,000,000. Jekyll Island, which is the southern-most of the Golden Isles, is home to a restored historic district — The Jekyll Island Club. It has 586 residences and boasts 10 miles of golden-sand beaches. Development on the island is very restricted and few, if any, new homes are planned.

Arts & Culture

The Coastal Symphony of Georgia has been performing for more than 20 years. This 62-piece orchestra performs an annual concert series, with most performances at the Epworth Center, St. Simons Island. 

Golden Isles Arts and Humanities Association (GIAHA) is the coordinating arts council for Glynn County and the city of Brunswick, and managers of the historic Ritz Theatre and Mary Ross Waterfront Park.

It also sponsors cultural and community events, arts education programs and much more. A short list includes: the Annual Performing Art Series; the Annual Jazz in the Park summer concert series; the New Year’s Eve Party in the Park; the Brunswick Seafood Festival; and the arts education workshops, classes and performances for the schools. It publishes the Cultural Arts and Community Events Calendar, and runs the Annual Big Sea Theatre Festival.

The Island Players bring live community theater to coastal Georgia. Located in Neptune Park on St. Simons Island, the theatre has been performing since 1956 and boasts 1,200 season members. It offers four concerts each season.

St. Simons Island Lighthouse Museum features the 104-foot lighthouse and the restored 1872 light keeper’s cottage, the oldest brick structure in Glynn County. Today it serves as a gift shop. 

The Bloody Marsh Battle Site on St. Simons Island is where outnumbered British troops ambushed and defeated Spanish troops, halting an assault on Fort Frederica. The battle proved to be the turning point in the Spanish invasion of Georgia.

Fort Frederica National Monument, Frederica Road, St. Simons Island, is a 239-acre planned community built by English General James Ogelthorpe in 1736, three years after the founding of Savannah. Christ Church, Frederica – Frederica Road, St. Simons Island, is a much-photographed and painted structure. It is a strikingly beautiful natural setting where in 1736, John and Charles Wesley held services under the oak trees.

This pre-dates their Methodist movement. The present church dates to 1883. Jekyll Island History Center – Stable Road, Jekyll Island, offers a video presentation of the Island’s history and visitors see artifacts from the golden years of the Jekyll Island Club. Thirty-three early 20th century buildings remain, with several being winter homes of Victorian-era millionaires that are open for touring. Horton’s Brewery Site, North Riverview Drive, Jekyll Island, contains the tabby ruins of Georgia’s first brewery.

Tabby was an early building material consisting principally of crushed oyster shells. And the Horton House, which dates from 1742, is one of the oldest standing tabby structures in the state. St. Simons Public Library – (912) 638-8234  

Brunswick Public Library – (912) 267-1212 


There are a number of fine golf courses in the area, including eight public or semi-public, and a number of country clubs. Among them are The Island Club, Sea Palms Resort, Oak Grove Island, Jekyll Island Golf Club, Coastal Pines, and Sapelo Hammock. Clam Creek Picnic Area on Jekyll Island is a popular location that includes a large, covered fishing pier.

Other recreation sites include:

Earth Day Nature Trail – Brunswick – (912) 264-7218

Lover’s Oak – (912) 264-0620 or (800) 933-2627

Marshes of Glynn Overlook Park – Brunswick – (912) 265-0620 or (800) 933-2627 

Mary Miller Doll Museum – Brunswick – (912) 267-7569

Mary Ross Waterfront Park – (912) 265-0620 or (800) 933-2627

Paulk’s Pasture Wildlife Management Area – (912) 262-3173

Sansaville Wildlife Management Area – (912) 262-3173 

Faith Chapel – Jekyll Island – (912) 635-4036

Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark District – (912) 635-4036 or (877) 453-5955

Sea Turtle Walks – Jekyll Island – (912) 635-2284 or (877) 4-JEKYLL Tidelands Nature Center – (912) 635-5032 or (912) 635-4117 

Christ Church, Frederica – St. Simons Island – (912) 638-8683

Driftwood’s Coastal Encounters – St. Simons Island – (912) 638-0221

Gascoigne Bluff – St. Simons Island – (912) 265-0620

Neptune Park – St. Simons Island – (912) 265-0620

Oak Lane Farm at Cannon’s Point – St. Simons Island – (912) 634-0806

Sea Islands Stables – St. Simons Island – (912) 638-3611

Massengale Park – St. Simons Island – (912) 265-0620

Boat ramps in the area include:

Blythe Island Beach Drive Park Boat Ramp – Hwy 303, Brunswick Jekyll Island Boat Ramp – South Riverview Drive, Jekyll Island MacKay River Boat Ramp – MacKay River Bridge, St. Simons Island Causeway, St. Simons Island South Brunswick River Boat Ramp – South Brunswick River Bridge, Hwy 303, Brunswick Turtle River Boat Ramp – Turtle River Bridge, Hwy 303, Brunswick Village Creek (Harrington) Boat Ramp – Harrington Drive, St. Simons Island


Glynn County has a record of excellence in education that it traces back to 1788 with the founding of Glynn Academy. It boasts three national schools of excellence, seven Georgia public schools of excellence, and has been honored with outstanding educator awards. Coastal Georgia Community College (CGCC), in Brunswick, part of the University System of Georgia, offers Associate of Arts and Science degrees; one- and two-year vocational/technical career and certificate programs, and developmental courses. 

The Brunswick Center, located on the CGCC main campus, offers a consortium with Armstrong Atlantic State University and Georgia Southern University for selected baccalaureate and graduate degrees. 

The Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education oversees the state’s system of technical colleges and adult literacy programs.

Senior Programs

Green Thumb, Inc., a Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), is one of the most successful employment and training programs funded by the federal government. Persons over 55 who meet certain income guidelines can receive training for supervision and other services.

The program dates to 1965 and the “War on Poverty.” (912) 284-4531 The Area Agency on Aging, based at the Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center in Brunswick, provides information and referrals to caregivers, including information on support groups. The center receives funds from the state and federal governments.

Services are provided in nine coastal areas, from Bulloch to Camden counties. The center also provides information to seniors directly, and to family members and private agencies. (912) 264-7363 ext. 225 

Community Care Services is a state Medicaid program that provides community-based services as an alternative to nursing home placement. Eligibility must be determined and there are no fees if SSI eligible. Other situations may require cost sharing.

The office serves Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham, Effingham, Long, Liberty, Glynn, McIntosh and Camden counties. Services include health care at home, the emergency response system program, personal care homes, help with light household chores, home delivered meals and respite for caregivers. (912) 353-5001 or (888) 698-2984. 


Southeast Georgia Regional Medical Center (SGRMC) in Brunswick is the acute care facility serving Glynn County. It is a 340-bed non-profit hospital with 150 physicians on its staff, providing care in over 30 medical specialties.

Focus Healthcare (Focus-By-The-Sea Hospital on St. Simons Island) provides treatment for alcoholism, drug dependency and/or other addictive behaviors. Highly qualified psychological and medical care is administered on an individual basis. 

Carlyle Chiropractic Clinic, St. Simons Island 


Malcolm B. McKinnon Airport on St. Simons Island has two operating runways — one over 5,000 feet, and one 3,000 feet. Brunswick-Golden Isles Airport, five miles northwest of Brunswick, offers scheduled commercial flights to Atlanta.


The Brunswick News –

Property Taxes

Glynn County Tax Commissioner –

Chamber of Commerce

Distances (from Brunswick)

Jacksonville, FL – 70 miles

Savannah – 78 miles

Atlanta – 307 miles

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