Things to Do in St Simons Island with Kids | Georgia

Located off the coast of Georgia, in the famed Golden Isles, St Simons Island is the perfect place for exploration with or without the kids. Often touted as a honeymoon destination or couples getaway, there’s so much to do in St Simons Island with kids that we say bring them along!

pin image for St Simons Island with Kids


World War II Homefront Museum St Simons Island

If you’ve been reading for any length of time, you know that we’re HUGE history fans. If there’s a history museum or historical site around, chances are we’ve been to it or are planning to visit soon. As soon as I saw that St Simons Island had a World War II museum, it was the first thing on our to-do list and the very first place we visited when we arrived in town.

Interactive rationing exhibit at WWII Homefront Museum

One of my absolute favorite things about the World War II Homefront Museum is how everything is hands-on. The kids were able to interact with the displays, making it easier to understand and stay engaged. Christopher was shocked at how little you could actually get with 100 ration points during World War II and commented that he would hate to deal with rationing now.

WWII Homefront Museum St Simons Island with kids

Lexie was disappointed to find out that she was too young to actually join the military in World War II and was only old enough to support the war effort from home.

The museum is housed in the old St Simons Coast Guard Station, originally built before WWII, as part of FDR’s Publix Works Administration projects. While the original mission of the Coast Guard was rescuing swimmers and boats in distress, when threats of WWII crossing the Atlantic began, the Coast Guard was temporarily transferred from the Treasury Department to the War Department and began shore patrols to catch enemy activity.

During the war, crew members from this station rescued the survivors from 2 American ships (SS Esso Baton Rouge and SS Oklahoma) that were torpedoed by a German U-boat 13 miles off the coast of the island. We were astounded to learn how many U-boats were actually off the eastern coast of the United States – something that is not really covered in school.

History of Radar St Simons Island

We learned all about how radar works and participated in a simulation determining if aircraft detected by radar were friendly or enemies. This exhibit is where we spent the most time in the museum since it’s set up like a game and each one of the kids wanted a turn to be the fighter officer.

The World War II Homefront Museum is a can’t miss when you’re visiting St Simons Island.

  • Open daily from 10am-5pm (Sundays from 12pm-5pm)
  • Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Day, New Year’s Day, and Easter Sunday
  • Tickets are $12/adult, $6/6-12, FREE/under 6; there’s a $2 military discount
  • Combination tickets are available for the museum +  lighthouse and are the best deal
    • $20/adult, $10/6-12., FREE/under 6; there’s a $2 military discount


Smiling kids at St Simons Lighthouse

Lighthouses are another favorite for our crew. We were very excited to check out the St Simons Lighthouse, built in the 1870s after the original lighthouse was destroyed in the Civil War.

Ready to climb to the top of St Simons Lighthouse

One of only five surviving lighthouses in the state of Georgia, it’s 129 stairs to the top, and the views are gorgeous!

View from the top of St Simons Lighthouse

From the top of the lighthouse, you can see for miles, including the Jekyll Island Bridge, surrounding islands, the mainland (Brunswick), and even the Golden Ray shipwreck half-submerged in the water (which has since been removed).


St Simons Lighthouse Keeper's Dwelling

The lighthouse keeper‘s dwelling is a 2-story Victorian and housed the keeper + his family through the 1950s. Now, it’s decorated in early 1900 period pieces allowing you to get a glimpse of what it would be like to be a lighthouse keeper.

Museum at St Simons Lighthouse

There is also a small museum attached to the lighthouse with artifacts and interactive exhibits explaining how the lights work as well as the history of the lighthouse itself.

  • Open daily from 10am-5pm (Sundays from 12pm-5pm)
  • Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Day, New Year’s Day, and Easter Sunday
  • Tickets are $12/adult, $6/6-12, FREE/under 6; there’s a $2 military discount
  • Combination tickets are available for the museum +  lighthouse and are the best deal
    • $20/adult, $10/6-12., FREE/under 6; there’s a $2 military discount


St Simons Trolley Tour white trolley

Trolley tours are another favorite in our house – we’ve done them in Savannah and Key West, too! The Saint Simons Trolley Tour departs daily at 11am from under the big oak tree in Pier Village (near 117 Mallery Street).

Christ Church Frederica

The tour covers over 400 years of history and drives past 36 points of interest, including Bloody Marsh, Fort Frederica, and Retreat Plantation.

Christ Church Frederica St Simons Island Georgia

The first and only stop where you can get off is the Christ Church, Frederica, the 3rd oldest Episcopal Church in the country (and the 2nd oldest in Georgia). John and Charles Wesley preached here before returning to England to help found the Methodist Church.

The St Simons Trolley Tour offers a great overview of the island, and we recommend doing it early on in your trip to St Simons Island. In addition to historical facts, the guides also point out places to eat, shop, and explore, so it’s great information to have at the start of your trip.

  • Trolley Tour Rates: $20/adult, $10/4-12, FREE/under 4


St Simons Island Beach Sandbar

Of course, you need to make time for the beach when you’re in Saint Simons; it is an island, after all. At low tide, sandbars are exposed that go way off the coast, allowing you to walk out really far into the water.

St Simons Island with kids sand dollar

Saint Simons Island is the first place that we ever found sand dollars on the beach. Make sure that they are dead – typically bleached white – before you take one.


Driftwood Beach Sunset Jekyll Island

A visit to St Simons Island would not be complete without a quick trip to nearby Jekyll Island to explore Driftwood Beach. Often named one of the top beaches in the country, this beach is filled with weathered pine and oak trees and is a climber’s paradise. We visited for sunset, but next time I’ll be sure to visit for sunrise.


King and Prince Beach Resort pool

The King and Prince Resort is our number one suggestion on where to stay in St Simons Island. This oceanfront resort has everything from regular hotel rooms to two or three-bedroom villa accommodations so it’s perfect for a romantic couples weekend, a getaway with all the kids, or even a multi-generational trip.

sunset at St Simons Island with kids

The resort is chockful of history (it’s where the radar training facility was located during WWII!), located right on the beach, and also boasts the only oceanfront dining on St Simons Island at ECHO.

There’s something for everyone in St Simons Island, making it a great family vacation destination. With an interesting history, fantastic tours, and the beach, it’s easy to find something to do!

Have you been to the Golden Isles before?? Which island is your fave??

Driftwood Beach | Jekyll Island, GA

Y’know how sometimes you figure out where you want to go and then decide what you want to see while you’re there? Well, for our visit to Driftwood Beach in Jekyll Island, Georgia, I did just the opposite. After seeing pictures of Driftwood Beach online, I knew I wanted to check it out and planned a trip just so that we could visit!

This post may contain affiliate links and we may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!) if you choose to purchase when you click on the links. Thank you for supporting Love Dwells Here!!

exposed tree roots Driftwood Beach sunburst

Driftwood Beach, located on the north end of Jekyll Island, is part of Georgia’s famed Golden Isles and is considered one of the top beaches in the country. What was once a forest by the sea is now a sandy beach full of driftwood.

climbing on driftwood sunburst georgia

Decades of erosion led to these pine and oak trees falling and decaying gradually over time. The bleached and weathered wood is perfect for climbing – the kids thought the downed trees were their own personal playgrounds.

smiling kids on driftwood beach jekyll island

We arrived from nearby St Simons Island where we were staying at the King and Prince Resort just in time to watch the sun set behind the trees.

smiling girl driftwood

The kids had a blast climbing on the massive driftwood branches – honestly, they probably could have spent the day here climbing around and exploring.

visiting driftwood beach with kids

Once the sun dipped below the horizon, the skies looked like they were painted with the colors melting into each other. The beach cleared out quickly after sunset and it felt like we had the beach to ourselves.

driftwood beach jekyll island georgia with kids

With as beautiful sunset was at Driftwood Beach, next time I want to make sure to visit for sunrise. Driftwood Beach is a favorite spot for photographers and weddings and it’s very easy to see why!

moon over driftwood beach jekyll island

The driftwood closer to the water was covered in barnacles so be careful if climbing barefoot because they can be sharp. Ellie HATED the barnacles and refused to go anywhere near them – hence a picture with 4/5 of the kids.

moon over driftwood beach

Goodnight from Driftwood Beach. I’ve heard that Driftwood Beach is great for night sky photography so that’s on my list for a future visit, too! Have you been to Driftwood Beach before?? Or the Golden Isles??


  • Parking for Driftwood Beach is right off of N. Beachview Drive and is free – it does cost $8 to access Jekyll Island per vehicle/per day.
  • Check a tide chart before you visit. The best time to explore Driftwood Beach is on an outgoing tide or at low tide.
  • Wading and fishing are allowed though the water is kind of a murky brown color from the surrounding marshes, swamps, and rivers. Swimming is not recommended due to the currents.
  • Keep an eye out for alligators. We didn’t see any but I’ve always wanted to see one strolling along the beach!
  • Driftwood is protected so you need to leave it on the beach.

Lunch at ECHO | St Simons Island, GA

The only oceanfront dining on St Simons Island, ECHO at the King and Prince Resort, is fantastic for a meal with the whole family or for date night! With indoor and outdoor seating, ECHO St Simons Island offers something for every occasion and the food is unbeatable.

Thank you so much to ECHO for hosting us – we received a complimentary meal, but all opinions are honest and my own. This post may contain affiliate links and we may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!) if you choose to purchase when you click on the links. Thank you for supporting Love Dwells Here!!

Echo St Simons Island

We dined at ECHO when we stayed at the King and Prince Resort though you do not need to be staying at the resort to make a reservation. In fact, I’m considering taking a detour to St Simons Island just to eat at ECHO next time we’re making the drive from North Carolina to Florida!

Oceanfront dining St Simons Island

We opted to have lunch inside since it was kind of windy and were so excited to have a window table with a great view of the water. But I definitely want to sit outside next time we go!

Wild Georgia Peel and Eat Shrimp

If there’s shrimp on the menu, you can bet this guy plus at least one other kid will order it for an appetizer/entrée. And let me tell you, the peel and eat shrimp at ECHO was probably the best I’ve ever had!

ECHO Wild Georgia Peel and Eat Shrimp

Wild Georgia Peel & Eat Shrimp: Wild Georgia Shrimp, comeback sauce, spicy mayo, cocktail sauce

Grouper tacos ECHO St Simons Island

Grouper Tacos: Fried and Blackened, flour tortillas, southern slaw, red pepper chow chow, tartar sauce

First of all, these grouper tacos are considered an APPETIZER but you could totally make a meal out of them – especially if you added a side. We all gave a slight edge to the blacked grouper though the fried was still tasty.

Kids at ECHO

Happy faces, ready to enjoy a delicious lunch! The service at ECHO was absolutely phenomenal. In addition to checking on us and keeping drinks refilled, our waitress brought out a bunch of strawberries once she heard they were Ellie’s favorite. I swear, this girl could LIVE on strawberries!

Sandwiches from the ECHO St Simons Island lunch menu

Crab Cake BLT: crab cake, bacon, heirloom tomato, frisée, dill mayo
Salmon BLT: salmon, bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo

Nick and Ben both loved their sandwiches! Nick said the crabcake was flavorful with not a lot of filler and Ben said the salmon was cooked perfectly. We also enjoyed the Grouper Sandwich, the Seafood Mac and Cheese, and the Island Sampler (shrimp salad, maple pecan chicken salad, fruit salad, crackers).

Dessert at ECHO St SImons Island

And of course, we finished up our lunch with dessert. We ordered several different things to split and the Fudge Brownie Cheesecake and St Louis Gooey Butter Cake were the overall winners.

I cannot recommend ECHO highly enough. Everything about our meal was perfection from the atmosphere, to the food, to the service. We will most definitely be visiting again – hopefully soon!


  • Reservations are highly recommended and can be made by calling 912-268-5967
  • Located at the King and Prince Resort in St Simons Island
  • Parking is free in the main hotel parking lot

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Things to Do in Savannah with Kids | Georgia

Less than four hours from both Charlotte and Atlanta, Savannah, Georgia, is the perfect weekend getaway. Steeped in history and close to the beach (only half an hour to beautiful Tybee Island), there is something for everyone. We’re sharing our favorite things to do in Savannah with kids that are perfect if you have a couple of days to spend exploring the area.

Thank you so much to Old Town Trolley for hosting us as we toured Savannah- we received complimentary tours, but all opinions are honest and my own. This post may contain affiliate links and we may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!) if you choose to purchase when you click on the links. Thank you for supporting Love Dwells Here!!


Smiling kids at Old Town Trolley Tour Savannah

It should come as no surprise that we LOVE doing tours when we visit a new-to-us city, and the Hop On – Hop Off Trolley Tours from Old Town Trolley are one of our favorites. The open-air trolley tour allows you to get a great overview of the city. The tour is a 90-minute loop with fifteen different hop-on/hop-off stops. You can do the full loop without getting off, which gives you a quick tour of Savannah, hop off at any number of the stops, or do a combination of the two. We only had a few hours to explore, so we picked our top choices and only got off the trolley a few times.

Savannah park; tree with moss

Savannah is a GORGEOUS city, and it is best seen from the street. Tree-lined streets and small parks can be found around every turn, and beautiful Spanish moss hangs from the trees. Interesting fact – did you know that Spanish moss is not actually Spanish or moss but a flowering plant?! So cool!

Square in Savannah

On our trolley tour, we learned about the various squares within the city of Savannah – there are TWENTY-TWO! One of my favorites was Chippewa Square, where the famous scene with Forest Gump sitting on a bench was filmed.

Leopold's Ice Cream sign

Did you even visit Savannah if you didn’t stop at Leopold’s Ice Cream for a few scoops of their super-premium ice cream?! With a line stretching down the block (that looked longer than it was due to COVID distancing protocols), Leopold’s has been a Savannah institution for over a century. Stop 8 is the closest on the Old Town Trolley route, and then it’s just a couple of blocks away.

Girl staring excitedly at two scoops of ice cream

Ellie was excited that I let her order TWO scoops of ice cream! And she promptly devoured it all!

The hop-on/hop-off tour has 15 stops throughout Savannah so that you can explore all this wonderful city has to offer. One-day and two-day ticket options make the Old Town Trolley tour an easy way to immerse yourself in Savannah without dealing with traffic and parking. It’s the perfect choice for exploring Savannah with kids!


American Prohibition Museum

I’ve always been a history buff, and the kids are as well, so we take any chance we can to check out history museums. The American Prohibition Museum,  located right in the heart of Savannah (at Stop 7 on the trolley tour!), was excellent.

Over a century ago, the 18th Amendment was passed in 1919, and the sale, transportation, and consumption of alcohol was immediately prohibited. As you can imagine, that didn’t go over well. From rum runners to moonshine to flappers and gangsters, America has a storied history. We learned things at the American Prohibition Museum that we’ve not learned elsewhere. Did you know that over 10,000 people died from poisoned alcohol during the prohibition era?

American Prohibition Museum homemade hand sanitizer

The homemade sanitizer throughout the museum was a fun touch!

American Prohibition Museum video

At the end of the museum, there’s a quick video that we all really enjoyed. I often wonder if the kids like stopping for museum videos and they always do – it really helps to solidify what they learned in the museum. The American Prohibition Museum is open daily from 10am-5pm, and the last entry is at 415pm. We spent about 45-60 minutes in the museum, and that felt like the perfect amount of time to fully explore all of the exhibits.


Savannah Ghosts and Gravestones trolley tour

The kids have been begging to do a ghost tour in every city that we see them offered, and since we had a free evening in Savannah, I was happy to oblige.

Savannah ghost tour

The Ghosts and Gravestones Frightseeing tour is offered by Old Town Trolley – in fact; you can even purchase combo tickets for the daytime trolley tour + a ghost tour. Unlike the daytime tours, this one is PG-13, and no kids under 6 are allowed. For the bulk of the tour, you stay seated on the trolley while the Ghost Host introduces you to the darker side of Savannah. There are two opportunities to get off the trolley, the first at the Andrew Low House and the second at the Perkin’s & Son’s Ship Chandlery.

This is the Andrew Low House and what many consider to be the most “active” house in Savannah. As part of the Ghosts and Gravestones tour, you get to go inside the house – if you’re brave enough! In all seriousness, though, while the stories told about activity in the house may scare small children, none of mine were bothered at all (ages 7-17). As for encountering any spirits, I will say that we didn’t see any, but a couple of us noticed a strong cigar smell in the dining room… in a house where no one was smoking… and no one smelled like cigars…

The Low Bedroom, first occupied by Andrew Low and his second wife, Mary Stiles, and later by their son, William, and his wife, Juliette Gorden Low (the founder of the Girl Scouts), is reported to be haunted. Juliette died in this room, and many have claimed to see her sleeping on this bed.

After our Ghosts and Gravestones tour, we walked along the river for a while. There’s just something about being near the water that makes my heart happy, and it was the perfect way to end a busy trip! Have you visited Savannah before? Where should we make sure to check out next time we’re in town??



A Weekend at the King and Prince Resort | St Simons Island, GA

As many of you know, 2019 was an incredibly hard year for our family- read this post if you don’t know what I’m talking about. After our busy fall with school, soccer, cross-country, marching band, and work, or as I like to call it, life with five kids, I wanted to make sure that we could take a break from everything over the holidays and have some time to unwind and relax. Enter the amazing King and Prince Beach Resort in St Simons Island, Georgia. Only five hours away from Charlotte, this seaside retreat on the Georgia coast has everything you need for an amazing weekend.

Thank you so much King and Prince Resort for hosting us- we received a complimentary stay as well as dining, but all opinions are honest and my own.

King and Prince Beach Resort sign

The King and Prince Beach Resort is located on St Simons Island, one of four barrier islands accessible by car off the coast of Georgia. The resort originally opened as the King and Prince Club (a seaside dance club) in 1935. In July 1941, the main hotel building opened though once the US entered World War II, it was used as a naval coast-watching and training facility.

Beautiful lobby at King and Prince Beach Resort

The King and Prince reopened as a hotel in 1947, and though it has gone through several renovations and updates, it retains a historical feel. The Resort is a member of the Historic Hotels of America (1996) as well as named to the National Register of Historic Places (2005).

Three-Bedroom Villa at the King and Prince

living room in a 3 bedroom villa at the King and Prince Beach Resort

We stayed in a 3-bedroom villa and it was absolutely perfect for our family but there are rooms and villas for every family size and budget at the King and Prince. Many of the deluxe rooms and villas feature an ocean or pool view while the more economically-priced accommodations have a view of the resort grounds.

Kitchen in a 3 bedroom villa at The King and Prince Beach Resort

I love having a full kitchen when we travel, especially now that the kids are older and they eat more/want expensive meals! Even if we just make breakfast in the villa, it still provides substantial savings for our family.

Master bedroom in a 3 bedroom villa at The King and Prince Beach Resort

The master bedroom was a really nice size. I love having a chair or two in the room for reading and relaxing without having to actually get in bed.

Master bathroom in a 3 bedroom villa at The King and Prince Beach Resort

And I absolutely loved the split double sink in the master bathroom! It’s so nice to have a sink and mirror that is accessible when someone else is showering. Our 3-bedroom villa had another bedroom with a queen-size bed and one with two twins PLUS two more full bathrooms!

Kids enjoying pizza St Simons Island

The living room was the perfect place to relax with pizza and watch movies after exploring St Simons Island. The living room sofa was also a sofa-bed so our 3 bedroom villa could comfortably sleep 8.

Watching the sunset from the King and Prince Beach Resort

This is the view from the main pool area and I’m sure if it was just a bit warmer, the pool deck would have been full of people enjoying the sunset.

Beach Time at the King and Prince

Five smiling kids at sunset St Simons Island

I love staying at oceanfront properties since they have beach access. The first thing that we did after settling into our villa was head out to the beach! It was like our own little slice of paradise and we had the entire stretch of sand to ourselves.

Silhouettes of five kids jumping at sunset St Simons Island

We love St Simons Island and the King and Prince Beach Resort!

King and Prince Beach Resort at low tide

The tides on St Simons Island are absolutely crazy! We went out at low tide in the morning to look for shells; at high tide, the water goes all the way up to the rocks!

St Simons Island at low tide

The tides on St Simons Island range from 8-10 feet- in fact, the island has the largest tidal range on the (US) East Coast outside of Maine. The kids were completely enthralled with the ripples in the sand left from the waves of a higher tide.

Golden isles at low tide

At low tide, sandbars are exposed and you can walk wayyyyy out on sand that will be completely underwater again in six hours. Because of this, it is imperative that you keep track of the tides and never swim out to sandbars because you can find yourself in very deep water, very quickly.

Kids on a sandbar at St Simons Island

It was such a unique experience to walk out so far and explore the tidepools.

Sand dollar St Simons Island

We had fun scouring the sand for sand dollars. This was the first place we’ve EVER found any and the kids would have spent hours walking along the shore if I’d let them.

Kid holding a sand dollar St Simons Island

Look who found another sand dollar!

Pools at King and Prince Beach Resort

Since it was a chilly January day, the pools were nice and quiet. I’m sure that when the weather is warmer they’re bustling with activity, especially since there’s a spectacular view of the ocean from the pool.

ECHO at the King and Prince

ECHO at King and Prince Beach Resort

The ONLY oceanfront restaurant on the island, ECHO is the on-site restaurant at the King and Prince and it is a beautiful space. With seating indoors as well as outdoors and amazing ocean views from many of the tables, it is the perfect place to enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Oceanview at ECHO St Simons Island

It was a little chilly outside so we opted to have lunch inside but we still had a great view of the water!

2 boys enjoying lunch at ECHO St Simons Island

These two are big seafood fans so it came as no surprise when Nick ordered the Crab Cake BLT and Ben ordered the Salmon BLT. Both meals were prepared perfectly and the boys loved their choices. I had the Blackened Grouper Sandwich and it was definitely my favorite of the three though all were tasty. I’m so bummed that we only had time to eat lunch at ECHO because their breakfast and dinner menus looked equally amazing- I guess we’ll just have to go back!

We had a fantastic time at the King and Prince Beach Resort and I can’t wait to visit again when it’s warmer and we can take advantage of the pools and sunny days on the beach. This resort truly has something for every family and it is a wonderful slice of American history on the Georgia coast.

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge: A Visit to the Swamp

Since we typically do the drive between North Carolina and Florida several times a year, sometimes we like to change it up and not drive directly to Orlando.  We picked the kids up from school a couple of hours early (they complain that we NEVER pull them out early- even for doctor’s appointments) and headed south.  We didn’t tell the kids where we were going, or when they’d be back at school, so it made for an entertaining drive with LOTS of questions that we avoided answering.  The kids were completely convinced that we were headed to Disney World so when we stopped in Kingsland, Georgia for the night, they were totally confused.

Bright and early the next morning, we were back in the car and unbeknownst to the kids, headed to Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, about an hour west of Kingsland, in Southeastern Georgia. Okefenokee Swamp is the largest national wildlife refuge located east of the Mississippi River!!  Once we arrived, Ellie was excited to be out of the car and happily walked up to the entrance.

The kids were excited to see wildlife (just birds at that point!) as soon as we entered the Visitor’s Center– and signs prohibiting feeding said wildlife!

We perused the Visitor’s Center for a bit (and learned that Okefenokee was named by Indians and means “land that trembles when you walk on it”) and then got ready for our boat tour of the swamp through Okefenokee Adventures, the official concessionaire for ONWR.

Our trusty boat for a voyage through the swamp!  The 24-foot Carolina skiff (with a canopy so you’re not sitting in the sun!) takes visitors on a 90-minute tour of the Suwannee Canal through the swamp forests of cypress and longleaf pines and the prairies with their wide open spaces.

We made our way into the swamp and after about a minute we spotted wildlife…

…a woodpecker!

A couple of minutes later we came upon a barred owl high up in the trees and pulled in for a closer look.  The kids were so excited to see animals that they’ve never seen before outside of a zoo!

We traveled through the beautiful swamplands and eagerly looked around trying to spot any alligators.

First gator sighting!  We almost missed him as we sailed by but one of the kids pointed him out and I hurriedly snapped a picture.

As we made our way deeper into the swamp, we saw more and more alligators and they seemed to get bigger and bigger.

Our guide would pull up next to them (the metal bar is part of the boat) so that we could get a closer look– while the alligators are used to the boat traffic through the swamp, they are still wild animals and must be respected.

It was surreal to watch them swimming effortlessly through the water or resting on the banks.

We were incredibly lucky to see this flock of roseate spoonbills as Okefenokee Swamp is not their natural home– they must have just been passing through!

Like flamingos, they get their pink color from the food that they eat– mainly from carotenoids in shrimp and other crustaceans.

While not as majestic as fall in New England, fall in the swamp is still beautiful, and it is the best time of the year to visit since it’s not as buggy or as crowded as the spring or the summer.

The kids had so much fun looking for gators– notice the one behind Lexie’s head!  I was shocked that the boat could get as close as it did without disturbing them.

When you see an alligator sleeping sweetly in a flower bed, for a minute you almost forget that this 12-15 foot, 700-pound creature is a wild animal and a deadly one at that!

Ellie was totally captivated by our tour and although she didn’t really listen to the guide (at least she was quiet!), she had a blast trying to find alligators hiding in the plants or swimming through the water.

Enjoying our time on the Suwannee Canal through Okefenokee Swamp.  I never realized how beautiful swampland could be, and while I would not want to LIVE here, it was so much fun to experience the mystery and beauty of the swamp.

I cannot believe how many alligators we saw on our tour- easily close to 50!

We learned all about bladderwort– a small carnivorous plant that thrives in the swamp.  Our guide was kind enough to pass around a piece so that the kids could all check it out!

The water in Okefenokee swamp is really dark, in fact, it’s the largest “blackwater” swamp in North America.  The Indians that originally inhabited the swamp believed that the water had healing powers- the acidity level of the water is high enough to disinfect wounds!  The still, dark water looks almost like a mirror and easily reflects the tall trees of the swamp.

Our tour was 90 minutes and covered both the forests and the prairies of Okefenokee Swamp.  We all had a great time and everyone wants to go back and experience the beauty of Okefenokee Swamp again– they still ask about it!  We made a quick stop in the gift shop and then continued our drive south for, you guessed it, a visit to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!

One of my favorite parts of traveling with the kids is experiencing new places with them.  Like many people, we tend to do the same trips/adventures over and over, but by changing it up just a little bit, we all get to experience something new and exciting.  Okefenokee Swamp was absolutely beautiful, and it was so thrilling to be right next to the alligators and see them in their natural habitat so I would not hesitate to plan another detour to Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge on a future drive to Florida. Okefenokee Adventures also offers a sunset tour that I would definitely look into next time we’re in the area!

Things to Remember When You Visit Okefenokee

  • The animals in Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge are wild and need to be respected at all times.
  • It’s a Georgia swamp so there WILL be bugs– make sure to bring bug spray, especially if you plan to be there in the summer and/or late afternoon or early evening.  We went on a November morning (first tour of the day) and did not encounter many bugs due to the cooler temperatures.
  • Boat tours through Okefenokee Adventures begin at 9:15-9:30am and run hourly(ish) until 3:30-4:30pm depending on the time of year.  Reservations are NOT required for the 90-minute boat tour unless you have a group of 10+
  • Tickets are $19.50 for adults, $12 for kids (5-11) and free for the 4 and under crowd

Have you ever done a swamp tour??  If not, would you??


A Visit to the Center for Civil and Human Rights

A big thanks to the Center for Civil and Human Rights for having us!  We received complimentary tickets for museum admission but all of my opinions are honest and my own.

The Center for Civil and Human Rights opened in downtown Atlanta, the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr, in 2014.  Located on land donated from the Coca-Cola Company at Pemberton Place, the museum sits near the Georgia Aquarium, the World Of Coca-Cola and Centennial Olympic Park, putting it in the heart of the touristy area of downtown.  Like the other tourist destinations in Atlanta, the Center for Civil and Human Rights should not be missed!  Lexie and I visited the Center on our recent Girls Weekend trip to Atlanta with another mom/daughter that we know from Girl Scouts.

As you enter the Civil Rights portion of the museum, you walk through a hallway covered with scenes from pre-Civil Rights Atlanta- one side of the wall is “White” and the other is “Colored”.

Both sides feature the smiling faces of people that look proud to be members of their community.  There are pictures of families, holidays, athletic events and general life in the South.

There are TV’s playing footage from the Civil Rights Movement throughout the first exhibit area and listening to the information was a nice contrast to reading about it on the walls of the exhibit.

The side of an old bus, covered with the mug shots of Freedom Riders from the 1960s, both black and white, does a great job conveying the magnitude of the Civil Rights Movement.

The girls listened to oral histories from the Freedom Riders.  I really expected them to listen to one and then move on through the museum but they listened to each and every one available and found them fascinating!

The Lunch Counter was the single most moving exhibit in the entire museum- it’s only recommended for the 13+ crowd as it can be quite intense.  You sit down at the counter, put the headphones on, spread your hands on the counter, close your eyes, and listen (and feel) the 90-second simulation of being a non-violent protester in the 1960s.  I cannot imagine actually living through it and the tenacity it would have taken to remain non-violent.  Sitting through the reenactment that I clearly knew was not real and would end in 90 seconds was brutal!

Already raw from the Lunch Counter simulation, the 16th Street Bombing exhibit shook the girls to their core.  They were shocked to learn about these girls, who were not much younger, worshipping in a church much like their own, who were brutally killed just because of the color of their skin.  While they’ve both learned about this incident at school, seeing it presented like this made it so much more real for them.

After seeing photographs of the bloodstained balcony where Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Birmingham, we watched video footage from his funeral.

The view from the third floor of the museum is spectacular- World of Coca-Cola is on the left and the Georgia Aquarium is on the right, and it provides a wonderful transition from the Civil Rights Gallery to the Human Rights Gallery.

The third floor houses the Human Rights Movement Gallery and the brightness and white displays are in stark contrast to the darkness of the Civil Rights Gallery.  Lexie learned about people around the world who are persecuted for who they are or what they believe in (Men, Women, White, Black, Christian, Muslim, Disabled, etc) from this holographic mirrored display.  The interactive nature of the exhibits really kept the girls engaged and involved in learning throughout the museum.

There is a wall of mass murderers: Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, and Idi Amin, and while the girls were aware of a couple, they were horrified to learn about the others and the massive loss of life inflicted by these men.

The Human Rights map highlights which countries are completely free, which have limited freedoms, and which ones are not free at all.  Lexie was appalled to learn how many countries restrict the human rights that she’s so accustomed to having.

The girls (and the adult girls!) really enjoyed the Center for Civil and Human Rights.  I realize that “enjoyed” conveys a sort of happiness about the museum, and it definitely was not a “happy” experience but rather one that ran the emotional gamut, but it was exceptionally well done.  It proved to be an excellent starting point for talking both about history and why it’s important to learn from it, and human rights in the present day.

Walking through the museum (especially the Civil Rights portion) was an emotional experience akin to visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC.  While it is kid-friendly, I would hesitate to bring Ellie (4) because it’s such a somber and sobering experience and I would have missed out on a lot of the museum while entertaining her.  My recommendation is to go with the 8+ crowd but realize that the lunch counter specifically may be too intense for that age.

Things to Remember When You Visit the Center for Civil and Human Rights

  • It is one of the most moving and emotional museums I have ever experienced so plan accordingly (and there are boxes of Kleenex throughout the museum).
  • If you’re bringing kids, make sure that they’re prepared for the emotional nature of the exhibits and that you’re prepared for the questions that may arise.  I wholeheartedly think it’s a great museum for kids, but it can be intense!
  • The Center is open every day of the year except for Thanksgiving and Christmas (Mon-Sat 10am-5pm and Sun 12pm-5pm).
  • If you’re planning to visit other Atlanta attractions (like the Aquarium or World of Coca-Cola), check out the Atlanta CityPASS to see if it will save you money (it most likely will!).


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