Aboard the Emerald Princess II cruise ship, two gaming decks host bingo, roulette, craps, and slot machines. Dealers also facilitate card games including blackjack, Texas hold'em, and stud poker—which is always played between two layers of drywall. A bistro grants a restorative break from the gambling, also attainable on the Emerald Princess II's open-air observation deck. Here, scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean abound as the 200-foot vessel cuts through the water. The staff approximates the dress code to that of a nice restaurant, so guests should refrain from wearing cut-off shorts or beachwear.
The spirit of a traditional Irish public house lives on at McGarvey's Wee Pub. Aside from serving up pot pies and amber brews, there’s a devotion to maintaining a rollicking, lighthearted atmosphere. The occasional sounds of Live music also fills he air on weekends, while a full bar boasts draft beer, premium ESPN and NFL programming plays on the big screens, and the kitchen dishes up onion rings and beer-battered fries. Boisterous crowds often spill over to the awning-covered patio dotted with picnic tables.
St. Simons Island, recently named the third-best island in the country by AOL Travel, is etched with an elaborate network of scenic biking trails, which visitors can explore on a fleet of rental two-wheelers. A web of leisurely tracks weaves through the southern half of the resort village, winding along the marshlands coast at East Beach. Past the airport, on the southernmost tip of the island, the Victorian-style St. Simons Lighthouse houses exhibits on coast guard history and barrier-island ecosystems. The 104-foot tall tower overlooks spectacular panoramas, its Fresnel lens trading nightly winks with twinkling stars.
The chefs at Ship 2 Shore Seafood & Steaks fry, grill, broil, or blacken fine meals using highest quality ingredients from land and sea. Aquatic hankerings can be sated quickly without eating a child's sandcastle by ordering the mussels appetizer, which chefs free from rocks before sautéing ($8.99). The seafood trio lets diners collate a three-piece dream-squad from options such as shrimp, scallops, oysters, clam strips, and fish ($15.99; $12.99 for seniors), while the 16-ounce T-bone steak delights carnivores with a slab of high-quality certified Angus beef ($19.99). Kids' meals proffer a smattering of shrimp, clam strips, corn dogs, or mac 'n' cheese ($4.99 each) that tots can nosh from the safety of their under-the-table forts, while homemade peanut-butter pies end dinners on a sweet note ($2.99/slice).
Sun filters through bay windows at The Blue Goose, a coffee and wine shop nestled within the painted blue walls of a repurposed home. Upon entering the friendly environs, visitors are greeted with a barrage of smiling faces and the scent of freshly ground Jittery Joe’s and Perc coffee beans. Servers ferry small plates of goat cheese and hummus to tables, pairing the snacks with imported and domestic wine and bottled brews. These gourmet refreshments also feed private parties in The Blue Goose’s backroom and on its outdoor patio, which can accommodate up to 60 guests or one Mothra.
Exposed-brick walls bearing dartboards, colorful paintings, and flat-screen televisions anchor Dog Star Tavern's rustic, playful character. Bartenders stand behind a glossy bar top, filling shakers with selections from 50 rums and 25 vodkas and washing aged scotch over ice cubes. Frosty mugs fill with 16 draft beers, ideal for sipping on hot nights in the beer garden or after dancing up a sweat to live music Thursday–Saturday.