With the spring thaw on its way, I can't but help but think of a warm days spent on the coast. One of my favorite places to getaway and recharge is Cumberland Island, Georgia.
A ferry ride and a world away from the hustle of the resorts in the Golden Isles, Cumberland entices its visitors to "un-plug." Get lost cruising down the down dirt roads swathed in spanish moss and towering oaks, while exploring one of America's National Seashores.
Dungeness Ruins: Revolutionary War Hero General Nathanael Greene purchased land on Cumberland Island in 1783. Following his death, his widow Catherine Greene, constructed a four-story tabby home that she named Dungeness. Thomas Carnegie and his wife Lucy began building another Dungeness on the original foundation in 1884. The Carnegie's Dungeness burned in 1959 and today only the ruins (pictured bottom left) remain on the site. The ruins are an architectural maze of intrigue; grab a camera and wander through the layers.
Plum Orchard: Built in 1898, Plum Orchard is an 20,000 square foot, Georgian Revival mansion. Built by Lucy Carnegie for her son, George and his wife, Margaret Thaw. It is almost 8 miles from the Sea Camp dock to visit Plum Orchard. In order to tour Plum Orchard you need to participate in the Lands and Legacies Tour. Click here for tour details.
First African Baptist Church: Located approximately 17 miles from the Sea Camp Dock, visitors can visit the First African Baptist Church. During the 1890’s, the Settlement was established for African American workers. The First African Baptist Church was established in 1893 and then rebuilt in the 1930’s. It was the site of the September 1996 wedding of John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Carolyn Bessette.
Beaches: Spend hours beach combing, swimming, and lounging on the beaches of Cumberland. I could spend all day wandering Dungeness Beach hunting for sharks teeth and shells. For more outdoor activities click here.
Wildlife: The undeveloped state of Cumberland allows for a variety of roving wildlife on the island. You can find wild horses, turkeys, dolphines, hogs (I've yet seen any), deer, and birds during your stay. Watch out for alligators too. For more click here.
Camping: There are both developed and wilderness available and limited to seven days at a time. For more camping info click here. I've yet to camp on Cumberland but with a husband in the outdoor recreation field, I have a feeling we will one day.
Greyfield Inn: Built in 1900 by the Carnegies for their daughter, Greyfield was converted to an inn in 1962. With a breakfast bar, picnic lunches, cocktail hour with hors d'œuvres, and classic Southern suppers, the food amenities alone are enough to sway me to splurge on a room for a night. I plan on basking in the turn of the century grandeur of this historic manor in the near future.
- Plan ahead: there are no stores on the island so you have to carry on and carry out all of your supplies (including water). If you're staying overnight you need to book your campsite or room at the Greyfield Inn well in advance.
- Pack light: lots of walking, biking, and exploring to be done.
- Consider the season: Summer months on Cumberland are not for the faint of heart.
- Be on time: the ferry does not wait for anyone.
With few places like this left in America, visiting Cumberland Island is truly an unforgettable experience.
Sources: National Park Service