Attractions Near Kings Bay, Georgia

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Cumberland Island National Seashore is home to a herd of wild horses.
Cumberland Island National Seashore is home to a herd of wild horses. (Image: Paula Stephens/iStock/Getty Images)

Kings Bay isn't a town, it's a major military installation. Those looking for accommodations close to the U.S. Navy submarine base can't get any closer than the Navy Lodge outside the main gate. From Kings Bay, the coast is your oyster. Come prepared to explore historic towns, natural wonders and unspoiled beaches.

A Historic Port Town

The submarine base is adjacent to the small port town of St. Marys. The historic downtown district on the waterfront is the main draw. Take a walking or trolley tour of the antebellum homes and buildings, and don't miss Orange Hall, a Greek Revival house museum. St. Marys Submarine Museum boasts a large collection of memorabilia and interactive exhibits. Across the street from the museum, you'll find a waterfront park and docks where you can relax and watch the shrimp boats come in, hop aboard a sightseeing boat or book a fishing charter.

A National Seashore

The ferry to Cumberland Island National Seashore departs from the waterfront in St. Marys. Cumberland Island is 17 miles long and one of the few places in the country where you can witness wild horses frolicking on a beach. Daily access is limited, so advance reservations are recommended. Most visitors come for the day to explore the ruins of a 19th century estate, the expansive maritime forest and shoreline, but visitors can also camp on this island that was once a playground of the rich, now reclaimed by nature.

A State Park Next Door

Crooked River State Park borders the northern edge of the Kings Bay base. Inside the park, you'd never know a submarine base was right next door. It's a lush place of Spanish moss-draped trees, palmettos and marsh lands. Whether hiking the nature trails or launching from the boat ramp, this is the quickest escape into nature from the base. If you'd like to avoid typical hotel accommodations and still be near the base, the park has cottages for rent. There's also a campground that welcomes tent campers and RVs.

Closest Beaches

The closest major beach resort areas to Kings Bay are less than an hour away. Fifty minutes north, Jekyll Island is one of the few islands on the Georgia coast reachable by car; a modest fee is charged to cross the causeway. Jekyll Island contains 8 miles of beach, numerous accommodations, a water park and scenic bike paths. It's also home to the historic Jekyll Island Club Hotel. Over the Florida state line, 40 minutes from base, Amelia Island has 13 miles of shoreline and many public parks providing access, from Fernandina Beach on the north end of the island to Amelia Island State Park at its southern tip.

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