St. Marys, the nearest community to the base, is the largest city in Camden County. A quaint, serene and friendly river town perched on Buttermilk Bluff, it was first settled by the Spanish well before James Oglethorpe and the English settlers arrived. It has served as the location of an Indian village, colonial settlement and most recently, host to the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay family. One of the oldest towns in Georgia, it boasts a national historic district and functions as the embarkation point for the Cumberland Island National Seashore.
Park your car and stroll along the city’s chamber of commerce-sponsored Osborne Street, shaded by ancient live oak and palm trees. White picket fences surround many of the historic landmarks. Flowered walkways invite you to come rock for a spell on one of the many sea-breezed verandas. Gift and antique shops housed in turn-of-the-century buildings offer hours of browsing. Enjoy delicious seafood and other excellent cuisine found in the eateries of St. Marys.
Stay for a while in a historic hotel, one of the bed-and-breakfasts or locally owned family hotels. From most of the accommodations, you can walk to the pedestrian ferry for a 45-minute boat ride to Cumberland Island, where wild horses, white sand beaches and natural, unspoiled habitat are waiting to greet you.
Kingsland has its origins in the John Madison King Plantation in Longwood. The plantation was worked steadily by succeeding generations of Kings until the late 1800s. Called “King’s Land” rather than its proper title, businesses and private citizens began to purchase parcels of the plantation. By 1894, Longwood Plantation evolved into the town of Kingsland.
Today, Kingsland serves as home to Camden County High School, as well as several elementary schools, a middle school and churches of all major denominations. Recreation facilities include an 18-hole golf course designed by Davis Love III and the county recreation center located behind the high school on Wildcat Drive.
A great number of visitors and retirees enjoy Kingsland so much they decide to settle down to take advantage of all the wonders of the area in a climate that is pleasant year-round. In addition, Kingsland offers unparalleled opportunities for any company that requires a quality labor base, easy access to transportation or a built-in community of potential customers with relatively high disposable income.
Woodbine, the county seat, is the third city to be selected for that honor. Chosen in 1923 to be the seat of county government, Woodbine boasts a late Gothic Revival-style courthouse, built in 1928. This hub of county government is situated on the banks of the Satilla River, approximately 18 miles from the base.
Brunswick is less than one hour’s drive to the north of the base and is a busy industrial center and port city. It is the gateway to the Golden Isles of Georgia (Jekyll, St. Simons and Sea islands) and has spectacular views of the Glynn County marshes. Lanier’s Oak overlooks the marshes just north of Brunswick. The Georgian poet Sidney Lanier was inspired to write many poems on Coastal Georgia while sitting under this tree. Brunswick is also the home to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, which occupies the former site of Naval Air Station Glynco.
Georgia’s oldest city is about two hours north of Kings Bay. Much of the colonial charm of this area is preserved in the splendid architectural restorations that have been done throughout the city. Cobblestone streets wind in and out of the picturesque squares.
Many famous seafood restaurants in Savannah remind the visitor of the city’s proximity to the ocean. The historic waterfront district has been restored and is now a 4-mile concourse of museums, boutiques, restaurants and nightspots that echo old-world charm along the Savannah River. Savannah is also home to the second-largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the country.
Fernandina Beach is about 45 minutes southeast of the base on the northern tip of Amelia Island, Florida. Called the “Isle of Eight Flags,” Amelia Island has been governed by France, Spain, Great Britain, independent patriots, Florida, Mexico, the United States and the Confederacy. Fernandina, the Old Town Fernandina historic district, the plaza around the site of old Fort San Carlos, Fort Clinch State Park and many nearby places are enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.
Centre Street, in Fernandina Beach, is at the heart of the historic district that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. A great deal of restoration has taken place, making the street a reminder of late 19th century Victoriana. The 13-mile beach at Fernandina provides unlimited swimming, surfing and sunbathing. Fort Clinch offers excellent opportunities for camping, beachcombing and general outdoor recreation.
Fernandina Beach’s docks are the sites where the first offshore trawlers sailed out in the early 20th century to begin a multimillion-dollar shrimping industry, an occasion celebrated each year on the first weekend in May with the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival. The celebration includes a shrimp boat decoration competition, a pirate parade, sidewalk arts and crafts and, of course, seafood.
About a one-hour drive to the south of Kings Bay, Jacksonville is one of the largest cities in land area in the United States and has a population of nearly 870,000 people. The city has a variety of activities. The international airport, just off Interstate 95 about halfway between downtown and the base, is served by most major airlines. Jacksonville is the commercial, financial, cultural, medical and urban heart of northeast Florida and the First Coast.
Situated in the northeast corner of Florida, Jacksonville spans both banks of the broad, north-flowing St. Johns River just before it meets one of Florida’s finest beaches at the Atlantic Ocean. The area includes more than 35 miles of sandy white beaches, more than 50 excellent golf courses, including the Stadium Course at Sawgrass, home of the legendary 17th hole, beautiful state parks, and luxurious spas and resorts.
Dubbed the “Bold New City,” it is also a city with more than its share of history. In pre-Columbian times, the Timucuan Indians, who lived along its creeks and waterways, inhabited the area. The Spanish, led by Ponce de Leon, came next and were followed by the French in 1564. The French built Fort Caroline and established the first European colony in America. They soon lost the foothold in Florida to the Spanish, who destroyed the French fort and built a flourishing settlement in nearby
In addition to its historic sites, Jacksonville is home to Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport.