Kingsland, Georgia is well known for its natural beauty. With the iconic Spanish moss swinging from the old oaks, thriving wildlife, and bountiful parks showcasing the local landscape, it’s hard to miss. What may come as more of a surprise to visitors is the rich arts and culture scene here in Kingsland. From local history museums to a step back in time at Cumberland Island, and experiencing the modern-day southeastern coastal culture, we have it all. Kingsland museums offer something unique for visitors exploring the area by highlighting military history, coastal culture, and American history. Surrounded by historic St. Mary’s, Cumberland Island, and nearby Woodbine, Kingsland is a jewel of southeast Georgia offering day trips to explore. Read on to learn more about some of our favorite local arts and culture activities.
If you love history, then the Thiokol Memorial Project Museum is a must-see in historic downtown Kingsland, GA. The Woodbine Thiokol Chemical Plant made significant contributions to the nation in its short life, from manufacturing munitions to support the US troops in Vietnam, to creating the largest rocket of its time in 1965. Everything took a tragic turn in 1971 when the plant experienced a massive explosion that resulted in 29 deaths and many more serious injuries. This disaster now ranks number 10 on the list of worst industrial disasters in America over the past 100 years. The museum is dedicated to memorializing those lost in the disaster and offers a thorough history of the plant, including many artifacts, photos, and first-hand accounts. Plan a trip to learn about a significant event in American history and one of the most important events in local history and culture in Kingsland, GA.
Another historic museum in the area is St. Marys Submarine Museum located in historic St. Marys, Georgia. With nearly 5,000 square feet full of displays, it is one of the largest museums of its kind in the country. It houses more than 99% of all the WWII submarine combat patrol reports and is one of Georgia’s ten WWII heritage sites. It’s the perfect place to learn about the nation’s “Silent Service”. The museum is dedicated to educating, preserving, and sharing the rich history and legacy of the U.S. submarine force and all of the valiant men and women who have served or are currently serving our country. The culture in the Kingsland, GA area is rich with submarine history. The Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay provides support to the fleet, fighter, and family by maintaining and operating the facilities of the Trident submarine force stationed there. The installation is the east coast home of the Navy’s Ohio-class submarine force. St. Mary’s is practically in the Submarine Base Kings Bay’s backyard with a short drive. It’s a must-see. Be sure to include this museum on your itinerary – you’re sure to learn something new and gain a better appreciation for the role and legacy of the submarine force. Pro Tip: pair this museum outing with a visit to Cumberland Island for a perfect day trip from Kingsland, GA.
Plum Orchard Mansion is one of the most beautiful buildings in the area and is a must-see for visitors looking to explore arts and culture in Kingsland, GA! Located midway on Cumberland Island, this renowned structure is a gorgeous 22,000-square-foot mansion built in a Georgian Revival Style. One of four mansions on Cumberland Island constructed for children of the Carnegie family, the mansion was completed in 1906. You feel like you’re stepping into a movie as you approach the gorgeous and pristine home, surrounded by old oak trees with sweeping Spanish moss across the ground. Free tours of the mansion are available and include displays of architecture, furnishings, and machinery that made managing the home possible. If you want a glimpse into high Edwardian Society at the turn of the century, then Plum Orchard Mansion is the place to go to experience history and culture in Kingsland, GA. Because of the remote location, visitors have two options to access the mansion ~ a 14-mile round-trip bike ride (or hike) or through joining the Land and Legacies Tour, the only motorized access to the mansion.
The Land and Legacies Tour is the only motorized tour of Cumberland Island and can be booked up to six months in advance. In addition to Plum Orchard Mansion, the tour includes a visit to the First African Baptist Church in the Settlement. It is a humble one room church established in 1893 by African American residents and their families. It was a place of free worship and a center for the community on the north end of the island known as The Settlement. The church was rebuilt in the 1930s and in 1993, it was where John F. Kennedy Jr. married Carolynne Bessette. As you travel between landmarks, catch a glimpse of the wilder side of the island! Enjoy the winding single-lane roads as you travel across one of the largest undeveloped islands on the Atlantic coast. If you are lucky, you might even be able to see the island’s wild horses! Between October and January, the tour offers transportation to hunters attending Cumberland’s annual hunts. Outside of the tour, Cumberland Island is also the perfect place to go camping, hiking, bike riding, and exploring the beach. Whether you decide to join the Land and Legacies Tour or prefer to explore the island on your own, Cumberland Island has a lot to explore. Cumberland Island is accessible by ferry from the from nearby St. Mary’s, GA, just a short drive from Kingsland and makes the perfect site-seeing trek while staying in Kingsland. Pro Tip: Pick up a picnic lunch to take with you and sunscreen!
The Southeast Georgia coastal area has a rich heritage and plenty of opportunities to experience history, arts and culture in Kingsland, GA. Whether you prefer museums, exploring a rugged historic island, or walking along trails, there are always places for you to go right here in the heart of Georgia’s southern coast. Enjoy the laidback coastal experience and keep a watch out for our upcoming blog all about festivals in our area if you want to celebrate like a local! Visit Kingsland to experience it all, and reach out to us to request a visitor’s guide for your visit.