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Small-town Side Trip: St. Marys

From breathtaking water views to walkable, tree-lined streets, St. Marys is a side trip worth slowing down for.

Located in Georgia’s southeastern corner, St. Marys is known as the gateway to Cumberland Island, where world-famous wild horses roam. Read on to find out why the Rural Center recommends it as a must-see, small-town side trip!

Where is St. Marys?

While St. Marys may not be located “on the way” to any of Georgia’s larger cities, its enviable position near Georgia’s coast makes it a destination in its own right. Travelers on Interstate 95 might recognize St. Marys as the destination of the three southernmost exits within the state of Georgia. St. Mary’s can be accessed via I-95 exits 1, 3 and 6, and sits almost squarely between Brunswick and Jacksonville.

Who should make St. Marys a stop?

In our opinion, everyone! North-south Interstate travelers can add St. Marys to their itinerary for a meal or exercise break. Golden Isles visitors should absolutely check out this quiet coastal town during their next beach stay.

Cumberland Island Ferry
The Cumberland Island Ferry departs from downtown St. Marys year-round.

What’s best to do, see, and eat in St. Marys?

Depending on how long you have to spend on this small-town side-trip, there is plenty to prioritize, but here are a few popular suggestions.

DO: Stretch your legs on a stroll through the beautifully designed and maintained Waterfront Park, which contains a playground for little ones as well. Georgia history buffs will enjoy the St. Marys History Walk, located down the boardwalk and across the street from Waterside Park. SEE: If you have an hour or more, plan to take in the Cumberland Island National Seashore Museum or the Submarine Museum. Have a day to explore? Reserve your round-trip tickets for the Cumberland Island Ferry ahead of time and spend several hours exploring a true treasure of the Georgia coast.

EAT: Don’t pass up the opportunity to enjoy some fresh, wild-caught, sweet Georgia shrimp while you’re in St. Marys. Locals Dockside restaurant, the Riverside Café and Seagle’s are all located within walking distance of Waterfront Park and feature a wide variety of menu options, including seafood. If you happen to be downtown at mealtime, chances are you’ll see a line forming at Yankee Pie Apizza, a walk-up-style, one-of-a-kind pizza experience.

Find out more at or on Facebook, or scroll through reviews of St. Marys hot spots at TripAdvisor.

Cumberland Island National Seashore Museum
The Cumberland Island National Seashore Museum traces the history of human habitation in coastal Georgia.

When is the ideal time to visit St. Marys?

Each October, the St. Marys Seafood Festival draws thousands of visitors to the waterfront for races, a parade, seafood, arts and crafts vendors and entertainment. While the weather is ideal in October for outdoor fun, St. Marys seafood restaurants, museums and the Cumberland Island Ferry operate year-round.

How much time should I allot for a side-trip to St. Marys?

Due to downtown’s proximity to major travel routes, you can be in and out of St. Mary’s for a bite to eat in under an hour if need be. However, the Rural Center recommends you allocate a little more time to stroll through Waterside Park, relax on one of the many swings along the boardwalk.

Know of the perfect rural side-trip for Georgia’s Interstate travelers? Email and tell us all about it.

Photo credits from top:

St. Marys Waterfront Park, M.C. Gaston

Cumberland Island Ferry, Explore Georgia

Cumberland Island National Seashore Museum, Explore Georgia


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