Local Love – Exploring Cumberland Island With the Greyfield Inn

Do you ever want to just escape it all? Run away to a deserted island?

If you’ve been adulting for more than 5 minutes the answer is probably not just yes, but HECK YES! And you might be in desperate need of a day trip to Cumberland Island!

Last month, Anderson and I used our anniversary as an excuse to take a trip to the coastal Georgia island. Every time we discuss a day trip or weekend getaway, it goes something like this: Anderson – “Where do you want to go?” Me – “I don’t know. Somewhere different. Somewhere we’ve never been before. An adventure!” And let me tell you, Cumberland Island fit the bill!

The Greyfield Inn invited us to enjoy their Day Pass for two, and we discovered that it is THE WAY to do Cumberland Island. Greyfield is a gorgeous mansion that was built in 1900 by the Carnegie Family and was turned into an inn during the 1960s. Descendants of the family still run the inn, and guests are treated like family and are given access to all areas of the property. We were only “day guests” but were treated the same as those who were staying at the inn. We enjoyed access to the mansion, bikes, a picnic lunch that we picked up ourselves from the kitchen, drinks, bug spray, sunscreen, and even an outdoor shower! And we rode the inn’s private ferry, the Lucy R. Ferguson to and from the island with a handful of other Greyfield guests.

We didn’t know what to expect on the island, so we planned for the worst: Lord of the Flies meets Survivor, and packed everything we might need to live on the land if stranded for months. Kidding. Sort of. But we really did bring a lot of snacks, drinks, and supplies. I even packed my Swiss army knife. :) If we hadn’t gone as guests of Greyfield Inn we definitely would have needed a lot of the supplies we packed. But we were pleasantly surprised when they provided us with everything we needed. Most notable (in my opinion) use of the restrooms on property. Because otherwise, you have to find a campsite and good luck with that!

So here’s what our day looked like: We dropped Kingston off at Grandma and Grandpa’s house the night before then drove up to Amelia Island to catch the 9:30am ferry that leaves from the Fernandina Harbor Marina. We got there in time to grab a quick breakfast from Amelia Island Coffee. I’m not exaggerating when I say I thought this might be our last meal for a while. Ha! We made sure to use the bathrooms too! Then we walked back down to the marina and boarded our ferry. The weather was absolutely beautiful (although it turned out to be one of those freak March days were it’s 90 degrees in the afternoon) and everyone was extremely friendly. It took about 30 minutes to get to Cumberland Island.

When we arrived we walked the short distance from the dock to the Greyfield Inn for a tour of the property – this was included in our day pass – and chatted along the way with a lady who does the laundry at the inn. She had also taken the ferry over and told us all about the wild horses that roam the island. Once all the guests gathered at the front of the mansion (and Anderson had helped some of the older ladies up the massive front steps!) we walked through the beautiful old home and were given a brief history lesson on the the island. We learned that everything on the property, from bicycles to the gift shop and bar, operates on the honor system. I loved that little detail!

Then it was time to explore. So we picked up our bikes and headed south on the most beautiful tree-lined dirt road to Dungeness Ruins. (Side note: y’all I rode a bike! It just proves that if given no other options, anyone can do it! And I only had about 3 wrecks during our 6-mile ride. Ha!) Dungeness was once a four-story tabby home but now only the ruins are left on the site. It’s one of the island’s must see spots. After we checked out the ruins, we continued riding until the bike path ended then set out on foot to Dungeness Beach. This is the only part of our grand adventure that I don’t recommend. It was a long walk to a nearly deserted beach, and we both agreed that compared to the rest of the day, this part just didn’t measure up. If you go to the island and want to spend some time on the beach, I recommend checking out one closer to Greyfield. We did get to see a lot of the wild horses during our walk to the beach though, and that was incredible! After the beach, we headed back to the kitchen at Greyfield and picked up the picnic lunch (and lots of drinks) they had prepared for us. As we made our drinks and rummaged through the refrigerator to find the basket with our name on it, I felt like we were family instead of guests! After lunch we went to the massive front porch on the front of Greyfield and laid in the biggest porch swing I’ve ever seen. Anderson fell asleep for awhile, but I woke him up to go explore the nearby gardens where the inn gets most of the food they use in the kitchen. By then it was almost time to board the ferry for the trip back, so we just walked around the property a little more before heading back to the dock.

There were two notable places that we didn’t get to see, because we ran out of time! Plum Orchard, a 20,000 square foot, Georgian Revival mansion that was built by the Carnegie Family, and the First African Baptist Church where John F. Kennedy, Jr. married Carolyn Bessette in 1996. No big deal! :) These spots are on the northern side of the island, and all of our exploring took place on the southern side, so we’re definitely planning a trip back!

If you’re going to Cumberland Island, this is the way to do it! To purchase a Day Pass, you can contact the Greyfield Inn through their website here.

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  • April 8, 2016 - 3:24 pm

    Alex - I saw that you guys went and have been waiting on this post! My fiance and I really want to go. Do I just email the inn to buy the day passes? We didn’t see anything about it on the website. Your pictures are beautiful. You sold us!ReplyCancel

    • April 11, 2016 - 11:00 am

      Lyndsay - Go for it, Alex! Yes-just send an email through the Greyfield website, and they will get back with you!ReplyCancel

  • April 8, 2016 - 3:50 pm

    Jamie - Where has this information been all my life? Seriously! My family used to camp on Cumberland, but I’m not what you would consider a camper. hahaha! This sounds more like my speed!ReplyCancel

  • April 9, 2016 - 8:39 pm

    Amber - This sounds like something we’d love. Thank you for the suggestion and information, Lyndsay!ReplyCancel

  • April 11, 2016 - 9:59 pm

    Elaine Griffin Goodwin - Enjoyed this….thanks!ReplyCancel

  • April 12, 2016 - 5:58 am

    Andrea Worley - what a beautiful place. love those grand old buildings!ReplyCancel

  • April 17, 2016 - 4:55 pm

    Lyndsay Hyatt- Almeida - It really is beautiful! The history and those houses!!!ReplyCancel

  • April 17, 2016 - 4:55 pm
  • May 30, 2016 - 3:56 pm

    Leslie Criswell - Just returned from collecting our daughter, a former employee at Greyfield and what an experience! LOVED it and can't wait to return.ReplyCancel

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