Memorable Things To Do In Darien Georgia [2021] Coastal GA Road Trip

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Dreaming of some warmer breeze, scenic views, fun history, and relaxing stay at a new destination? You should start planning a trip to Darien Georgia! 

Better yet, join in with our road trip down the Georgia Coast where we are visiting all Coastal Georgia towns, islands, and lighthouses!

Where is Darien GA?

You may be surprised that it’s the 2nd oldest city in Georgia and one of the oldest “planned cities” like Savannah, Georgia.

But Darien is very different from Savannah (in a good way)!

Located halfway between Savannah and Jacksonville, right in the heart of Mcintosh County, this lesser-known hidden gem sits on the mouth of the Altamaha River on Georgia’s Coast.

Despite the small-town feel, Darien Georgia offers some of the best experiences in Coastal Georgia. It teems with natural wonder, historic charms, cultural and festive opportunities.

Are you excited to start planning a family vacation or couple’s retreat? 

Hold tight and consider me your visitor information center, because I’m sharing the scoop!

Keep reading for the best things to do in Darien Ga, best Darien Ga restaurants, vacation rentals, Darien Georgia hotels, and the top spots to shop in the city of Darien!

blue ocean with boat dock in the distance with shrimping boats

The Best Things to Do In Darien GA

The gentle climate of Darien Georgia weather makes it a popular destination for locals and tourists. There are lots of interesting places and experiences that await visitors all year round.

Let’s get to know what makes Darien an ideal destination beyond its unique mix of natural beauty and history.  

Relish the Beauty of the Old and Historic Vernon Square

small park of green grass and oak trees with spanish moss hanging down and Vernon Square 1736 sign

Vernon Square is located right in the heart of Darien City and designed with the concept of early town planning in Savannah in 1733.

This square served as the cultural, business, social and religious center of the day. You can still see monumental homes that used to house lumber barons and merchants of the timber era.

The walkways are paved and bordered with grand oaks draped in Spanish moss. 

Insider Tip: If you visit in April, watch out for the Annual Blessing of the Fleet and the Art in the Park Festival to experience more of Darien like a local.  

Marvel at the Historic Fort King George

front of the Fort King George park visitor's center entrance with green sign about museum, gifts, and dog rules

Georgia is one of the best places to learn about the country’s history.

There are various historic landmarks that tell interesting stories.

Fort King George State Historic Site is one of the best places to learn about how the Native American and European cultures met, how colonial empires clashed, and how soldiers have fought, and how the industry blossomed in the coastal Georgia town of Darien.

This structure is the oldest English fort remaining on the coasts of Georgia.

It was the British Empire’s southernmost outpost in North America until 1736. The frontier structures include palisades, guardhouses, officer quarters, barracks, and blockhouses. Fort King George is carefully reconstructed with a museum and tours offered to guests.

Insider Tip: Fort King George has great nature trails for you to explore with your energetic tots. You may also schedule your trip during the Annual Scottish Heritage Days to witness the honoring of Darien’s strong Scottish highlanders roots. 

Spend a Romantic Afternoon at the Darien Waterfront Park

For a quiet and calming afternoon stroll, head down to Darien Waterfront Park.

This historic park was once the busiest port on the Southeast coast with a steam stream of cargo ships bound for Europe.  You will find a pavilion and dock border at the park which is ideal for leisurely activities.

There are tables, benches, and live oak trees that shade the elevated view of the river. There are various moored boats and fishing vessels that offer a quaint view to photographers, artists, and visitors.

Insider Tip: Visit in fall and spring for during a romantic getaway! This Waterfront Park becomes alive with activities and excitement.

Discover Your Muse at Old Jail Art Center and Museum

old brick building with red awning that says Museum, Art Gallery, Gift Shop

Originally built in 1888, the Old Jail Art Center and Museum building used to be the county jail for Mcintosh County up to 2002.

At present, it is one of the remaining oldest public buildings. The building was later transformed into a community cultural center by the McIntosh Art Association with the assistance of the City of Darien and McIntosh County.

You can explore old-fashioned cells and Darien’s finest artifacts. There are also guides that can help you with your queries. 

Insider Tip: There are live visual arts performances and exhibits, plan your trip well so you can join the art classes for guests.

Ashantilly Center

an old 1820s tabby home set back behind a large front lawn and trees

Once a personal residence of Thomas Spalding, an early Georgia planter, and legislator, the home is now a non-profit education center.

“Old Tabby” was originally built in 1820 and used today for art and cultural exhibits and events.

Insider Tips: Now on an appointment-only basis, call the Ashantilly Center to make reservations to visit at (912) 437-4473. Address is Andrews Cemetery Road, Darien

Experience Nature at Its Best Through Altamaha River Trails

Make your Darien trip more worthwhile by setting out on a kayak adventure in one of the most beautiful, remote areas in the southeast.

Visiting and exploring the Altamaha River should be one of your bucket list adventures as a couple AND as a family! This bio reserve is home to bottlenose dolphins, otters, manatee, ospreys, alligators, minks, deers, and a thousand species of sea-birds. 

It is not considered as one of “The World’s Last Great Places” for nothing!

Currently, there are 138 water trails that can take you through various protected areas and give you a glimpse of rich wildlife through lush waterways.  

Insider Tip: Check out Georgia Rivers to learn more about the Altamaha River Trails, the outfitters available for rental of kayak or canoe, and other details you may need to make this happen. 

See and Believe The Smallest Church in America

small white block church along brick pavers beside flagpole and bell tower

Christ’s Chapel in north McIntosh County is considered as the Smallest Church in America.

This quaint house of worship serves as a sanctuary for travelers taking US Highway 17 and I-95.

Located close to the South Newport River, the church was built in 1949 through the efforts of Mrs. Harper to serve as a place to meditate and provide rest to weary travelers.

Despite its small size, the church has beautiful stained glass windows and is very popular for its one-of-a-kind structure. It can seat 12 people and has a compact pulpit, you have to see it to believe it!

Insider Tip: If you are driving the I-95, exit at 67, about one mile south of US Highway 17. The signage is on the left (east) side and the town is Townsend, Georgia.

Discover the Beauty of the Sapelo Island Lighthouse

Candy striped white and red lighthouse and brick house with red roof beside

If you are feeling adventurous, take the tour towards Sapelo Island and discover its unique story.

The island is located five miles off the Georgia mainland. It used to house Spanish missionaries as well as English and French settlers.

The island is now open to visitors who would like a tour of the marine institute, the Reynolds Mansion, the Hog Hammock community, the 1820 Lighthouse, and the parts of the 1905 Lighthouse.

Insider Tip: If you are traveling with kids, double up on anti-bug lotion or sprays. The island has a lot of marshy areas thus, having lots of bugs should be expected. Call the Sapelo Island Visitor Center for timely information at (912) 437-3224.

Darien GA to Savannah GA

This close to Savannah Georgia and want to take a day trip?

The travel from Darien GA to Savannah GA is around 60 miles. There are many things to do in Savannah GA with kids and nearby Tybee Island as well.

How to Get to Darien Georgia

The City of Darien is conveniently located between Savannah and Brunswick. Driving towards this city through US Highway 17 provides you with a scenic view of the Georgia coast. 

If you are flying from other parts of the United States, the nearest airport is the Savannah Hilton Head International Airport. And from here you can take the I-95 for a 58-minute ride to Darien.

Check with your hotel for arrangements on hotel pick-up for a stress-free journey. You may also take advantage of the various transportation options from car rentals and taxis.

Where to Stay in Darien, Georgia

For usual travelers, Darien can sometimes be a day trip destination because of its closeness to other major cities.

It is also not as popular as St. Simons Island and other Golden Isles, but it has its very own charming offers. Just as there are relaxing activities that you can partake in, you will also be surprised by the top-notch accommodations available. 

Whether you want to wake up to a picturesque waterfront view or be at the jump-off point for some river adventure, there is something comfortable and convenient for you. Here are some of our top choices:

Hampton Inn Darien I-95 (Budget)

Hampton Inn side view near interstate 95 in georgia with landscape and parked cars beside

The Hampton Inn Darien Ga hotel is a familiar face for for weary travelers in the south.

Located just east of I-95 off at Exit 49, it’s convenient and the rates are affordable. Although not brand new, this hotel in Darien GA is exceptionally clean with an excellent staff.

Amenities:

  • Free Parking On-Site
  • Within one mile from Ruby Tuesday, KFC, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Burger King & Waffle House
  • 3 miles from Downtown Darien
  • Complimentary Breakfast
  • Full-Service Business Center
  • 24-hour coffee & tea in hotel lobby
  • Freshly baked cookies in the evenings

Open Gates Bed and Breakfast (Mid Range)

The Open Gates Bed and Breakfast is an award-winning accommodation that sits right in the heart of historic Vernon Square.

The property was built in 1876 and is an ideal choice for couples who are history buffs, nature lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts. It is a short distance away from the waterfront and you get a chance to walk amongst century-old Oak and lovely magnolia trees.

Highly-recommended by couples seeking a romantic place to stay in Darien. It is owned by Chef Zach and he impresses guests with personalized breakfast too!

Amenities:

  • Perfect, centralized location
  • Close to restaurants and attractions
  • Air-conditioning in rooms with fireplaces
  • Private yard and balconies
  • Game room available
  • Family-friendly B&B
  • Superhosts
  • Free Self-Parking
  • Complimentary Wi-fi access

Insider Tip: Don’t miss out on ordering your free cooked-to-order breakfast before you take on adventures for the day! The meals are highly recommended!

Darien Waterfront Inn (Upper Mid Range)

This quaint inn offers a casual atmosphere if you are looking to relax and refresh.

Located in a 75-year-old warehouse in the waterfront district, the Darien Waterfront Inn offers guests a mesmerizing view of the Darien River and stunning sunset views.

If you are interested in exploring the Altamaha Wildlife area and some water sports, this accommodation option is the perfect location for you.

There are several nearby restaurants that offer fresh tasty shrimps and seafood to tickle your tastebuds. Waterfront Inn also has a spacious porch where guests can sip a glass of beverage and enjoy the soothing southern breeze from the river.  

Amenities:

  • Close to Fort King George
  • Free Parking on Site
  • Complimentary Breakfast
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Luxurious Tiled Baths
  • Family-friendly
  • Water sports activities on offer

Whether you are looking for Georgia hotels or b&bs, or house rentals, there are plenty of options for you to check out!

Insider Tip: If you want more privacy, ask about the availability of their private cottage and enjoy the scenery at your own secluded spot!

Where to Eat in Darien GA

As a popular shrimping village, and with estuaries flowing in the heart of Darien, guests and visitors can enjoy the freshest and tastiest catch of the day!

Here are some of the hot spots to dine after exploring sights, culture, and experiences in Darien! 

Head down the banks of Darien River and sample the delightful Sweet Georgia Shrimp at the Skipper’s Fish Camp. Freshly supplied seafood caught by the local shrimp fleet docks are literally at their backdoor. This restaurant has amazing views of the Altamaha River, floating docks, and spectacular sunsets. 

Another highly recommended among Darien restaurants on the riverbank is the Spartina Grill. This grill restaurant has a full bar menu and an extensive wine list. It offers a romantic outdoor seating area and some live entertainment to serenade your Sunday evenings. 

And if you are looking to dine with kids and a big group, the B&J Steaks and Shrimps is the place to go. They have a breakfast and lunch country buffet every day and a seafood dinner buffet on Fridays and Saturdays.

The Darien Georgia restaurants are some of my all-time favorites in all of our travels!

Where to Shop in Darien Georgia

After exploring and experiencing the historic and scenic atmosphere in Darien, you shouldn’t leave without doing a bit of retail therapy. 

Make sure to visit Sugar Marsh Cottage for lovely handmade chocolates and confections. Try safely-wrapped samples before choosing which artisan sweets, pastries, and delicacies to take home!

Stop by Georgia Peach World if you are traveling with the little ones. At the Georgia Peach, they have samples for you to try out before you buy some of the best peach treats.

Travel Gears You May Need for a Darien GA Vacation

Survive a family vacation with ease by preparing necessary travel essentials for you and your kids.

If you are driving to Darien, take a couple of Rumpl’s Travel Blankets – it packs small and is waterproof against spills. 

Also, don’t forget to take personal hydration bottles such as the Camelback Eddy and Chute so you don’t constantly spend on bottled waters during your adventures. 

Where is Darien Georgia Located?

Darien Georgia is located on the mount of Altamaha River, coastal Georgia. It is about 53 miles south of Savannah.

Nearest Georgia beach to Darien?

The nearest Georgia beach to Darien is Tybee Island.

Does Darien Georgia Get Snow?

Darien does not get snow.

Darien Georgia gets temperate weather which is typically lovely for trips and adventures. There is zero annual snow on this side of the country, but it does experience rainy days in the months of August to November.

What Happened at Darien Georgia in the movie “Glory?”

The civil war movie “Glory” showcased the burning of Darien, Georgia which is one of the most controversial acts of War during that period. It happened in June 1863, where most of Darien’s residents fled inland when the US troops attacked, looted, and burned the undefended town. 

What’s the Weather in Darien Georgia?

Darien weather is mild and temperate most of the year. The summer months can be hot and oppressive, while winters are cold. The best time to visit Darien for some outdoor activities is the months of April to May, and September to November.

What happened in Darien Georgia?

One reason I adore Darien is the laid-back, quiet vibe. But it wasn’t always this way.

Darien was once a thriving shipping port to its approximately 500 residents.

Sadly during the Georgia Civil War, Darien was burned to the ground.

Is Darien Georgia safe?

Yes, I feel completely safe in this tiny fisherman’s village of a town.

Also according to City Data, Darian has seen even more decreasing crime over the last five years.

Before You Go

Visiting Darien promises relaxing stays and memorable experiences for your family or spouse. The town offers plenty of things to learn and discover about historic and cultural stories.

Darien’s scenic natural beauty and bountiful seafood catch are undeniable.

Sample these Georgia vacation spots and more at various Darien and let me know what you think!

If you have more days to spend in Georgia, more fun and excitement awaits you at St Simons Island, Jekyll Island, and the rest of the Golden Isles!

Planning a trip to Georgia, Florida, or Carolina? Check out the southern travel guides and FREE travel resources!

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Shan

Published on HuffPost, Okefenokee Living Magazine, and more, Shan is a Family Travel Journalist with a passion for helping women lose the overwhelm of planning family-friendly trips in the south. She shares travel reviews & insider secrets that Women REALLY want to know about Georgia, Florida, & the Carolinas vacations.

☕️ It’s THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️

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