10 Things I Love About St Marys GA | Camden County Photography
I have lived in St Marys for almost 14 years now and am happy to call it my home. From my first visit here, I knew this was a place I would want to call home. From the friendly people and slower pace of a small town to some of my favorite local spots, I love so many things about living in St Marys. Here's a list of my top 10.
1) Howard Gilman Waterfront Park
The waterfront park has always been at the top of my list. It's the perfect place to take an evening walk or sit on a swing facing the St Marys River and just enjoy the view. The playground is a favorite for my son and being shaded is a huge plus in the summer heat. Speaking of summer, the monthly music concerts in the park are a great way to spend a Saturday evening. We've had picnics in the park, gone to various festivals and events held at the park, taken a walk, met up with friends, played on the playground, and even attended two weddings there. This park will always hold a special place in my heart.
2) Crooked River State Park
There are endless ways to explore Crooked River State Park. Explore the many trails, stop in at the nature center, play a game of miniature golf, camp, bring your boat and go fishing, or check out some of their events like the sunset cruise. We've had a park pass since shortly after moving here. When I used to train search and rescue dogs, we often used areas of the park to train. Now that my dog has retired and I no longer run a local k9 search and rescue team, it's a favorite place for us to go explore and experience nature. I lead a local group of homeschoolers on nature explorations every week and Crooked River is one of our regular spots to visit. After we explore, the kids all love playing on one of the two playgrounds as well!
3) Scarecrow Stroll
Fall is probably my favorite season and I love how St Marys celebrates with the Scarecrow Stroll. Each year, local businesses fill the median downtown with scarecrows for the month of October and on a Tuesday night mid-October, many of them, including myself, sit by their scarecrow displays while children walk up and down the street collecting goodies and seeing all the fun displays. Last year, I added a fall scene (pictured here) where anyone could stop and take a photo with some fall leaves (since we don't get much color here in southeast Georgia!). We always have a blast and my son loves to help me pass out non-food goodies after he finishes seeing all the other scarecrows himself.
4) Local Festivals
St Marys hosts three big festivals each year: Mardi Gras Festival, Independence Day Festival, and Rock Shrimp Festival. Our favorite is the Mardi Gras Festival and it's mostly because we love the parade! My son loves to collect Mardi Gras beads and it's fun to see the themed floats each year. (Back when I ran the k9 search and rescue team, we were in the parade every year!) It's also nice that it isn't too hot, which is one reason we often skip the Independence Day Festival, though it is a good one. (Our anniversary is also the 4th so there's another reason we do other things!)
5) The People
It's true, people in the south tend to be warmer and friendlier. It's one of the things that drew me in when we first came to St Marys. I have met so many wonderful and interesting people here in this little town; from the time I was a teacher at one of the local elementary schools, to my work with the Osprey Living Magazine. After being in a small town for a while, you can almost guarantee you'll run into someone you know whenever you're out and about!
6) St Marys Public Library
It may be small, but we love our little library in St Marys. Whatever books we need that they don't have, we can always request through the Georgia Pines Library System. We are pretty much in there weekly swapping out books for our homeschool studies and love saying hi to the lovely people who work there. We also enjoy the summer reading program events in the summertime. One can never have too many books!
7) Nearby Organic U-Pick Farms
We have two farms nearby that are organic or use organic methods to grow u-pick crops. Merck Farms in Kingsland is our favorite place to go in the spring and pick some of the best strawberries you've ever tasted! The berries have just started ripening for this season so keep your eye out on their Facebook page for updates on days they're open!
Just up I-95 off Harriet's Bluff Rd is Morning Belle Farms, a certified organic blueberry farm (they have blackberries too!). We frequented them often when my son was littler but we haven't been in a couple of years because our own backyard blueberry bushes have gotten so big, we get about 10 pounds of blueberries a year from just our biggest bush alone! I do want to make it back up there for the blackberries though, it's just a smaller window and I've missed it the last couple of years.
8) Less Traffic
Being a smaller town also means less traffic. Every time I get stuck in traffic in Jacksonville, or even Yulee, I'm thankful that I don't have to drive in it every day (though I do travel down there quite a bit!).
9) Close to the Beach
When we first moved here, it only took 30 minutes to get to the beach in Fernandina. Even now that traffic is heavier (plus construction on A1A), 45 minutes is still not a bad drive to get to the beach. Though I do wish I had taken more advantage of the shorter drive year ago! We are a family that loves the beach so we are there often anyway. It's our happy place (and my favorite place to do sessions!).
10) Easy Access to I-95/Jacksonville
Jacksonville is so spread out that it could take an hour to get from the beaches to the other side of Jacksonville. From St Marys, I can also get to most places in Jacksonville in an hour or less (beaches are an hour but most other places I frequent are 30-45 minute drives). After being here for so many years and making the drive, it doesn't bother me all that much. Though now with my son in gymnastics two days a week at TNT Gymnastics, it would be easier if we were a little bit closer. Plus we do most of our grocery shopping in Jacksonville at our favorite locally owned natural grocery store, Native Sun. We're also just about in the middle between Savannah and St Augustine, both great day trips to go explore.
Do any of these make your list of favorite things about St Marys? Anything I didn't include that you love and want to share? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!
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P.S. Ever wish you had someone to tag along with you on a family adventure to capture the fun you all have together? Contact me for more information on a family adventure session!
My mom has been looking for a town to retire to, and my friend suggested Saint Mary Georgia. I’ve been researching the town, and I came across your article. I like that you mentioned Saint Mary’s hosts three big festivals yearly and that it is close to the beach. My mother would love to live in a place just like that. I’ll share this article with her, and look for homes for sale in that area so we know our options. Thanks a lot!
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Kimberly Tank is an award-winning professional photographer in Rockledge, FL, servicing Brevard County on the Space Coast in Central Florida (including Melbourne, Cocoa Beach, Satellite Beach, Merritt Island, Viera and surrounding areas). Using natural light and custom on location sessions, Kimberly Tank specializes in photographing families from babies to seniors and commercial clients, both on land and underwater; providing an exceptional customer experience and helping save you time and preserve this chapter in your life's story. Kimberly Tank is a proud member and ambassador of National Association of Professional Child Photographers.
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