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"Escape . . . to yesteryear. Immerse yourself in history, nature, romance, and adventure.
 Historic St. Marys' enchanting storybook setting on the St. Marys River beckons with  
white picket fences, charming Victorian inns, majestic magnolias, stately live oaks,
fragrant salt air, alluring waters, quaint shops, captivating cafes, warm smiles,
and gentle people who welcome you.
Come and discover legends of forgotten battles,
daring pirates, antebellum mansions, and fascinating museums."
~ St. Marys Convention & Visitors Bureau brochure

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 bikes.

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 displays:

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.


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.


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, and more:

Kiwani 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



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.

The entrance 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 tasty pickles.

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 thing again.


After we ate Jim spent about an hour inside the St. Marys Submarine Museum:

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 the museum.

The museum 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.


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:







This bull mastiff was the largest dog I saw in costume.

Some of the toy breeds arrived in baby strollers decorated
in purple, 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

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2013 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil