Romance, history, and Southern hospitality are about one hour away going north on I-95 out of the Jacksonville area to St. Marys, Georgia.
The Dual Critics recently had the opportunity to review the St. Marys Little Theatre and made it a mini vacation by spending the night downtown in a home built in the late 1870s, which is now a delightful bed and breakfast owned and operated by Proprietor and Host Mardja Gray.
The main street of St. Marys is a throwback to the past. You will find small shops and restaurants catering to every taste and price range. What you won’t find are any fast food or national chains. The Goodbread House Bed & Breakfast Inn is at 209 Osborne Street, just a couple of blocks from the waterfront , where you can catch a boat to Cumberland Island, a National Seashore Park, and just a few blocks from Theatre By The Trax, home of the Little Theatre.
We checked in at 5:30 pm and were greeted by Diane, who assists Mardja in operating the establishment. We relaxed for a few minutes as we chatted in the parlor, where she offered us beverages and snacks, and told us about the history of the house.
What makes the Goodbread unique among B&B’s are the wonderful accommodations they offer. The house has been extensively renovated, and is remarkably well maintained, with excellent central heat and air conditioning. Guest rooms are named after famous lovers, with furnishings inspired by their stories.
We stayed in the Rhett & Scarlett Suite on the first floor. The suite features a large and very comfortable bed, with scarlet red curtains, sheets, pillows, and covers. Portraits of Captain Rhett Butler and his true love Scarlett hang over the headboard. Memorabilia related to the film “Gone with the Wind” includes a number of photos and figurines, and a large red brick fireplace has a mantel covered with magnolia blossoms. The adjacent bathroom is very large, and also has a fireplace. You can bathe in the vintage clawfoot tub or opt for the modern step in shower. Cable television and a DVD player are available for those who aren’t ready for a total return to the past.
The other suites available include the Guinevere & Lancelot Suite, the Gabriel & Evangeline Suite, the Gable & Lombard Suite, the Lucy & Ricky Suite, and the Bogie& Bacall Suite. All are decorated with careful attention to comfort and distinct details. And a visit would not be complete without spending some time on the upstairs veranda enjoying the view or on the front porch with its swing.
After a quiet and restful night of sleep, we had breakfast in the dining room, prepared and served by Madja. It was delicious, and included a yogurt fruit and granola parfait, sautéed sausage, and stuffed French toast with a warm apple topping.
While some guests stay for just one night, many return to enjoy another of the unique suites. Mardja often has families book the entire house, for just an evening or a weekend, but also for a week or more at a time. It’s a great place for family reunions, holiday get-togethers, weddings, and of course, honeymoons.
St. Mary’s is located just 30 minutes from the Jacksonville airport. When driving, it is up I-95, take Exit 1 or Exit 3, and then travel 10 miles to find magnolias, live oaks draped with Spanish moss , and the ambiance of an old fishing village with shrimp trawlers moored at the docks.
Friendly people and great hospitality are sometimes hard to find in most destinations these days, but they are in abundance in Saint Marys.
On October 5, the Great Pumpkin Express, a narrated open-air railcar excursion will make its debut; additional excursions are scheduled on October 12. This family friendly event offers the opportunity to experience a real train ride, using a St. Marys Railroad locomotive. In addition to a lovely ride through the area, be prepared for hoboes, zombies, and live scarecrows, who promise great photo opportunities and promise as well to be truly friendly. For further information, see