It may be best known for bearing sweet and fuzzy orange fruits, but the charming Peach State also happens to be a snowbird favorite. With plenty of scenic mountains, rivers, lakes, and coastal areas-- not to mention always mildly warm winter weather-- this southeastern U.S. area offers retirees a lovely escape from northern snow and hectic city life. Most beaches are nice and quiet, with a fine array of hotel and spa resorts dotted all along the Atlantic shore. Plus, with six local seaside counties encompassing almost 120 miles of perhaps the most beautiful and diverse landscape to be found in the country, you’ll find everything from small town allure, extensive history, and pristine blue beaches, to ancient forests of live oak, quaint fishing villages, as well as a major metropolitan city (i.e. Atlanta).
So get ready to hike some gorgeous trails, to take in some refreshing mountain air, to camp alongside wildlife refuges, to do some deep saltwater fishing, and to play some of the best golf ever to be had! The state of Georgia has long contributed to the rich history of tee-balling in the U.S.—it’s also home to the second oldest club in the nation, the Savannah Golf Club, which opened back in 1794. Make your way down to “The Empire State of the South,” by visiting these hotspots this chilly season. Here are the best destinations in Georgia for snowbirds.
Georgia's Top Destinations for Snowbirds
1. Savannah, Georgia
It’s as hip as it is historic, as robust as it is refined, and as friendly as it is formal—the perfect space for snowbirds hoping to spend time amidst amazing architecture, global sophistication, funky nightlife, and fabulous food. You’ll find everything from fresh local seafood and Southern home style cooking, to fine ethnic cuisine whipped up by some of the most internationally-known chefs. The city also flourishes with culture, as it is home to Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), one of the largest art schools in the country. Numerous galleries line the streets, where it’s always easy to find vibrant local art, theatre, film, and music scenes, especially at studios in the old City Market. Plus, with year round moderate climate, the “Hostess City of the South” is terrific for outdoor adventurers as well, such as those looking to get a close hand at endless rounds of great golf.
What’s more is that though it is located just four hours southeast of Atlanta, there’s quite an enchanting sort of antiquated charm to this little American town. Stroll back in time with your sweetie pie within the nation’s largest registered Urban Historic Landmark District (with over twenty green squares and 1,600-plus historically and architecturally significant structures all situated within two and a half square miles). There are also hundreds of luscious peach trees, elegant old mansions, and centuries-old cemeteries to take in along the way. It’s simple Southern beauty right at your fingertips.
Savannah’s closest airport: Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport
2. St. Mary’s, Georgia
With a town full of friendly smiles, quaint and serene hospitality await you at this intriguing Georgian town that’s as widely known for its rich history and endless romance, as it is for its wide array of majestic magnolia and stately live oaks trees-- as well as its fragrant salt air and alluring azure waters. You and your honey can catch some of the most beautiful sunrises and stunning sunsets to be found, and as visitors always say, “you may leave St. Mary’s, but St. Mary’s will never leave you.”
Escape to yesteryear on the southernmost tip of Georgia, where tons of recreational opportunities await (from fishing and boating to swimming and golfing) and where a seaside village waterfront offers endless day trips for snowbirds looking to explore the nearby glories of Cumberland Island National Seashore, which by itself, has four major historic districts and 87 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places (not to mention the oldest known ceramics in North America and shell middens from early natives!). Fun and exciting side trips to Savannah, Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island, or Jacksonville further make St. Mary’s a perfect local area. Plus, there’s even a submarine base to check out, which serves as the Atlantic coast home of Trident nuclear submarines. The on-site museum is also the perfect way to learn more about how these amazing underwater machines work.
St. Mary’s closest airport: Jacksonville International Airport
3. Kingsland, Georgia
Hikers, fishers, campers, boaters, and hunters listen up—this is the place to be. Explore the true magnificence of nature and wildlife at this warm haven for winter-weary adventure seekers, the ultimate place for snowbirds hoping to revel in pristine coastal beauty and tons of meandering rivers that wind through dense marshlands, tidal creeks, and swampy grass. There are also plenty of river shores and lakes around that make it the ideal spot for inland and offshore fishing—one of the best regions in coastal Georgia to engage in both!
So hop onto a boat from one of several local charter fishing companies and go reel in some huge trout, red bass, and flounder. Golf lovers will have an equally swell time at the recently opened eighteen-hole Laurel Island Links Golf Course, which is carved from 125 acres along the south bank of the Crooked River. Birdies can even view flocks of fearless flyers along the Colonial Coast Birding Trail where more than several hundred species of birds have been sighted at all eighteen sites along way. Outdoor fun awaits!
Kingsland’s closest airport: Jacksonville International Airport
4. Jekyll Island, Georgia
A small barrier island off the coast, it’s one of the Sea Islands and one of the Golden Isles of Georgia—a truly wonderful and warm winter haven that’s got a rich history that reaches back for centuries. With several award-winning golf courses, over seven miles of wide, flat beaches with hard-packed sand that’s easy for walking or biking, a 250-acre Historic Landmark District, the Summer Waves Water Park, an array of lodging options, as well as a more than gorgeous landscape surrounded by live oaks, Spanish moss, and palmetto, this beachfront paradise is the spot to get away and enjoy a nice slice of retired life. Plus, because it is owned by the State of Georgia, and managed by the Jekyll Island State Park Authority, the area has been uniquely well-preserved in order to maintain the critical barrier island ecosystem, providing visitors with a one-of-a-kind escape from the crowds and complications of other beach resort destinations.
So go stick your toes in the sand and pretend to be kid again, especially at the historic Jekyll Island Club Hotel, a 19th-century winter retreat for the wealthy and a well-known playground for millionaires. There’s also the Georgia Sea Turtle Center to visit to learn more about the long-term rehabilitation of injured sea turtles, as well as the importance of protecting these fascinating creatures within their natural habitats.
Jekyll Island’s closest airport: Brunswick Golden Isles Airport
5. Brunswick, Georgia
History buffs will indeed fall head over heels in love with this historic city by the sea—especially since it’s got winters that are well-known for being short and mild (with the average temperature in January only falling to about 53 degrees so you can enjoy outdoor activities all year long!). It’s yet another remarkably warm Georgian haven for winter-weary snowbirds, offering tons of exciting things to do, lots of wonderful sites to see, numerous fantastic places to eat, as well of over two hundred holes of the most beautiful, professionally designed golf courses. Plenty of water sport options are also available, including boating, parasailing, diving, snorkeling, and all types of fishing-- from inshore and offshore, to Gulfstream and deep-sea, as well as trolling, bottom fishing, or even flounder gigging!
It’s no surprise why people from across the country visit this southeast Georgia town every year to experience a bit of the splendor themselves. Make sure to take in the Victorian-era charms of Old Town Brunswick, with its array of grand residential mansions, delightful B&B inns, and city streets lined with quaint shops, art galleries, and hotspots like the famous Grapevine Café on Newcastle Street or Jinright’s Seafood House. There are also many annual cultural and historic festivals, performances, and special events scheduled all throughout the year. Plus, Brunswick happens to feature the second largest concentration of documented historic structures in the entire state and is conveniently located just 30 miles north of the Florida state line. It’s even been hailed as "The Shrimp Capital of the World," because of its ample supply of fresh local wild shrimp-- so eat, drink, relax, play, and be merry at this welcoming Glynn County port city. You won’t be sorry.
Brunswick’s closest airport: Brunswick Golden Isles Airport
This article was written by Pamela Chan.