As the crow flies, the historic little coastal
town of St. Marys is only a couple of miles from our campground. The
driving distance is at least three times that far but it's still close
enough to take a couple trips down there each week in the truck or on
Our first visit was the second day we were in
the area. We wanted to see what all there is to do in town so we went to
the Welcome Center to gather information and look at the interpretive
We also checked out the waterfront along the St.
Marys River, which serves as the border between Georgia and Florida in this area.
The waterfront is scenic from the piers and
beautiful city park by the river:
After that first visit we knew we'd go back
several more times to check out the historical buildings, visit the
Submarine Museum, take the ferry over to Cumberland Island, eat at one
or more of the restaurants, let the dogs play at the large fenced dog
park, have some work done at the cycling shop, and enjoy the Mardi Gras festival.
SETTING THE SCENE
St. Marys had a beautiful warm, sunny day for their 19th annual Mardi Gras festival.
We drove down early that Saturday and found a parking spot along St.
Marys Street by the river and close to the location of the chili cook-off:
The chili already smelled good but it was too early for it to be ready
for consumption so we walked through the scenic park along the river.
From one of the piers and we watched the first ferry leave for Cumberland Island:
All the street vendors were already set up by 9 AM.
We walked past all 80 of them along St. Marys and Osborne streets -- lots of edibles,
lots of junky crafts, one really good photography booth, a Hutterite bakers' booth where we
got three small loaves of bread, some farm animals for children to pet, big inflatables for
kids to play on, political booths, and others:
As we walked up and down historic residential Osborne Street I took photos of some
of the beautiful old antebellum houses built in the 1800s.
Most appear to be family homes.
Several have been turned into B&Bs or inns:
Orange Hall, built in the 1830s, is
one of several elegant homes that is on the National Register of Historic Places.
You can see the scaffolding on its
exterior. It is currently undergoing some renovation and we didn't go
into it this trip:
Orange Hall, named for the orange
trees that surrounded the house when it was built, is a good example of
the Greek Revival style of architecture popular in the South during the
19th century. It is available for tours, weddings, and other special events.
MARDI GRAS PARADE
When it was about time for the parade to begin
we found a shady place to sit on Osborne St. near the end of the parade route.
There was a good crowd of folks of all ages watching a variety of
local organizations and their vehicles or floats pass by in slow motion
-- the military honor guard, first responders in fire trucks,
Kiwanis and Shriners in their unusual vehicles, kids dancing, showcasing
their martial arts skills, or playing band music, local politicians
drumming up votes, businesses advertising their services, classic cars,
member dressed as a pirate
Our favorite entry was the remote-controlled bomb disposal robot that
motored along the street in front of the Navy bomb squad personnel operating
the robot from a truck:
GETTING GOOSED . . . AND
When we could see the end of the parade we hustled inside the nearby
Blue Goose restaurant and got a nice table next to the front window so
we could watch what was going on outside. Patrons can also eat outside
in the courtyard.
We had looked
at the menu before the parade began and decided their selections sounded
much better than the food in any of the booths out on the street.
to the Blue Goose is on the side.
The restaurant, open only for breakfast and lunch, has an interesting history. After we ordered
our meal I walked around to take photos
before the place filled up.
We both chose the same delicious item for lunch -- the Goosed
Turkey Sandwich with smoked turkey breast, Vermont cheddar, sliced apple
(yum!!), and Romaine lettuce on whole wheat bread made in-house.
Condiments included carmelized onion mustard, hot pepper peach jam, and
Jim waits for lunch to arrive.
We also got tasty sweet fire bread & butter pickles and peppers,
coleslaw with lots of fresh blueberries (excellent -- I don't
usually care for coleslaw), and some potato chips.
We both really loved the meal and went back another day for the same
After we ate Jim spent about an hour inside the St. Marys Submarine
Most of the time he watched a movie about subs that was very
interesting. It's amazing how long the crews can stay below the surface
of the ocean when on duty. He learned more about the history of
submarines and the Trident subs at Kings Bay Base and enjoyed all the displays in
has about 20,000 artifacts, paintings, models, historical documents, and
photos. Displays include a ship's control panel, ballast control panel,
periscope, WWII diving suit, and other items.
MEMORIAL WATERFRONT PARK
While Jim was in the submarine museum I walked through the nice city
park on the riverfront and enjoyed the palms, palmettos, azaleas in
bloom, a fountain, interesting pathways and structures, the bandstand,
and the beginning of the dog costume contest:
mastiff was the largest dog I saw in costume.
Some of the
toy breeds arrived in baby strollers decorated
green, and gold Mardi Gras colors.
I also enjoyed the boats and piers on the river, went through the
National Park Service Cumberland Island visitor center, and read all the
information about the ferries to the island:
Although I lived in the Atlanta area for 25 years I've never been to
Cumberland Island so I was looking forward to exploring it on a warm,
sunny weekday while we're here. I'll describe that experience in the next entry.
After Jim came out
from the submarine museum we walked past the display of classic cars and by the
booths at the chili cook-off -- they were really cookin' now! We'd already
had lunch so we didn't get any chili:
We've enjoyed all of our visits to St. Marys and encourage other
travelers to check it out.
Next entry: a fun day exploring Cumberland Island
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2013 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil