Vacations don't always have to break the bank... even a holiday to the Golden Isles can be done on the cheap. There are tons of free activities across the islands that can easily entertain even the most energetic kids for hours on end. Bring along bikes and ride around cool neighborhoods, build sandcastles and swim at the beach, hike through historic gems, and search for mysterious tree spirits, all without spending a cent on this totally-free guide to the Golden Isles.
Located on the southern tip of Jekyll Island, The Glory Beach Boardwalk offers access to the beautiful Glory Beach, which includes pristine ocean views and rolling sand dunes. Access to the boardwalk is through the Jekyll Island Soccer Complex. For the movie buffs in the crowd, you'll be excited to know the 1989 film “Glory,” featuring Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman, and Denzel Washington, was filmed directly next to the Glory Beach Boardwalk. With such incredible views, we can't think of a good reason why!
*Note, while the beach is totally free, it does cost money to enter Jekyll Island. But, once you're on the island, there's plenty of low-cost fun to be had!
Want a taste of exorbitant luxury without spending a dime? Jekyll Island National Historic has you covered. What is now known as one of the biggest restoration projects in United States history, Jekyll Island National Historic District was once home to posh Jekyll Island Club, which included members such as J.P. Morgan, William K. Vanderbilt, and Joseph Pulitzer. Due to the status of the club members, Munsey Magazine once named the Jekyll Island Club, "The richest, most inaccessible club in the world." But now you can get full access... for free! Spend the day walking the riverfront, exploring the grounds and cottages, or opt to spend a little money and take one of the many tours around Jekyll Island National Historic District. Or, peek inside the former Jekyll Island Clubhouse, now the Jekyll Island Club Hotel... it's a nice taste of what this place was like during the height of its popularity!
For an essentially Southern photo op, the Avenue of the Oaks is a can't-miss stop on your Golden Isles trip. The Avenue of the Oaks offers over a half a mile of oak tree shade, with dozens of ancient and stately oaks lining the road, keeping you cool from the warm Georgia sun. The land was inherited in 1826 by Anna Page King, the wife of a plantation owner, who basically ran the place (unusual for a woman, at the time). She was the one who planted the original oaks and beautiful flowers you see today. The views were so majestic, rumor has it that sailors nearing St. Simons Island could literally smell the flowers as they approached the shore. Currently the entrance to the Sea Island Golf Club, Avenue of the Oaks offers a whiff of history and breathtaking views.
It's not every day you can admire the beauty of oak trees and have them stare right back at you... literally. What has quickly become a can't-miss sight on St. Simons Island started in the 1980s. Artist Keith Jennings is behind the carvings, which feature a variety of faces in the oak trees. Each is totally different and unique. Make it a game and see if you and your group can find the seven public spirit faces! It's harder than you think!
Hopefully, you brought your hiking boots, sunscreen, and plenty of water, because Cannon's Point Preserve has over 600 acres to explore, and you're gonna want to see as much of it as you can. Geared towards experienced hikers and true nature enthusiasts, the preserve lets you hike and bike your way through some of the most beautiful lands Georgia has to offer. Since the preserve is connected to the Altamaha River Delta, and rich with a wide variety of wildlife, shells, and trees, you'll feel your stress melt away while you explore. Archaeological remains dating back to 2,500 BCE, and the remains of an old plantation can be found by those intrepid enough to explore. Times can vary widely depending on the season, so be sure to double check before you head that way. Also, don't forget your camera!
There's no better feeling than getting the best bang for your buck... especially when that buck is 100% free. There's no need to spend much to experience some of the most incredible sights and experiences that Georgia provides.