In search of… Southern Charm?
Sea Island, GA
A quiet island along our Southeastern coast
is an under-the-radar retreat.
Vibe: How Southerners do the shore—beaching on miles of mild-waved coastline dotted with wispy palmetto trees, biking through marshy paths, kayaking at sunset. This quiet Georgia island is basically one huge resort, but don’t let that turn you off—from the well-appointed buildings to the easy-access to activities, Sea Island feels like a secret beach town built just for your family.
Stay: The elegant Cloister sits on a huge swath of land surrounded by salt marshes and the ocean, so fishing, hunting, biking, beach-going, tennis and golf are all at your fingertips. But there are downtime comforts, too, like large rooms with French doors that let in the sweet pine-needle breeze, a 65,000-square-foot spa, free-form pools, a beach club, and an ice-cream shop that churns out house-made scoops. Rooms start at $395 per night. 912-638-3611.
Eat: Request the chef’s table in the Georgian Room at the Cloister and get front-row seats to all the action; expect soul-warming classics with a twist, like steamed pork buns with pimento cheese and a fried pickle.
Be a tourist: Swallow your pride and go to the dueling pianos bar at the Cloister Clubroom, which is chock-full of partygoers requesting Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
Be a local: Sea Islanders know where to find the nests filled with adorable baby sea turtles waddling around. One of the on-site naturalists can tell you which trails will lead you toward them.
Water time: Sea Island is one of the most family-friendly spots in the South. There are oceanfront pools and a splash pad, but get offshore with a stand-up paddleboard or sunset kayak tour—both work well with the calm waters.
Another option: Head to the Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, a South Carolina island that’s been turned into a welcoming resort playground. —Blake Miller
Because the chance to do things like this
doesn’t come along every day
Shoot Clays: The adrenaline will start pumping the minute you hear “Pull!” at the well-furnished shooting school, an island tradition since 1929.
Quail Hunting: There are 5,800 acres of land to hunt on here. Act like a Crawley at Downton and have the staff bring along lunch.
Inshore Fishing: The boat winds through breezy marshes that surround Sea Island, where you’ll potentially hook dinner—or some of the small sharks that travel the briny waters.
Crabbing: As easy as it gets: Head for the end of the Cloister’s dock, slip off your flops, and toss the nets in. If you go at sunset, don’t forget a cocktail.