If your family vacation takes you to St. Marys, on the southeastern coast of Georgia, you will find historic tours and nature excursions of interest to all age groups. There’s no need to worry about the little ones in the family, since there are activities of interest for them as well. When choosing your adventures, though, consider the interests and attention span of your toddler. If your child is into creepy-crawlies, he will want to view exhibits of snakes, turtles and crabs. For the less adventuresome, you can take in the water park for a splashing good time.
To get the lay of the land in St. Marys, hop aboard the St. Marys Historic Tram Tour (stmaryswelcome.com/tramtours.html), a narrated tour through historic St. Marys, filled with local history and interesting facts. Your toddler can sit back and enjoy the open air tram ride while you gather information about the area. The Submarine Museum (stmaryswelcome.com/submuseumV2.html), located on the riverfront, houses a collection of submarine memorabilia. Your toddler may not take in much of the history or significance of this historic locale, but he will have a good time looking at the models of torpedoes, deep sea diving suits and scaled replicas of submarines, as well as trying his hand at the working periscope.
2. Water Activities
Take a break with your preschooler and cool off at the St. Marys Family Aquatic Center (stmaryswelcome.com/aquaticcenter.html), a 7-acre water park with all of the usual water park features. You and your youngster can float on a tube on the endless river while the older kids take to the water slide. Little ones can hang out in the kids’ play pool to squirt, spray and splash the afternoon away.
3. Park Time
Kids love parks, especially when they have the opportunity to run free. In St. Marys your toddler has the chance to run and play at Waterfront Park (stmaryswelcome.com/waterfrontpark.html), on the St. Marys River. The park includes wooden swings, as well as a playground area. Kids can stretch their legs on the marsh walk around a tidal marsh, where they will see fiddler crabs, egrets and other shore birds.
4. Back to Nature
Before boarding the ferry to Cumberland Island National Seashore at the St. Marys riverfront, stop off at the Visitor Center (stmaryswelcome.com/cumbervisitor.html). There your curious tyke can view exhibits of snakes, fish and turtles and look at loggerhead turtle and fiddler crab exhibits. After touring the visitor center, climb aboard the ferry for a day trip to Cumberland Island National Seashore. A day on this barrier island takes you back to nature and gives your preschooler a chance to stretch his legs along the 17-mile sandy beach. Little ones can splash in the surf, play in the sand, hunt for shells and walk with you along the marsh trails, where if you are lucky you might encounter sea turtles, wild turkeys and perhaps even some wild horses. Keep a close watch on your little ones so that they do not disturb the natural habitats of the island’s animals. More adventuresome families can camp for up to seven nights on the island. Facilities are limited, however, offering running water, some restroom facilities and cold water showers, a feature that may not be optimal for some young children.
- Historic St. Marys Georgia: St. Marys Family Aquatic Center
- Historic St. Marys Georgia: Cumberland Island
- National Park Service: Cumberland Island
- Historic St. Marys Georgia: Howard Gilman Memorial Waterfront Park
- Historic St. Marys Georgia: Historic Tram Tours
- Historic St. Marys Georgia: Submarine Museum
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