The Ultimate Guide to Kings Bay

Story submitted by Amanda G.

When I picked out my wedding dress I went in with three things I did not want: strapless, sweetheart neckline, or ball gown style. Guess what  dress I fell in love with looked like? It was a strapless, sweetheart neckline with a lot of flouncy, tulle layers. Ending up in Kings Bay felt a lot like that. My spouse wanted a Los Angeles class (fast attack) submarine, something related to engineering, and a Pacific based boat. He really wasn’t keen on an East Coast, Ohio class. Where did he end up? You guessed it: on an East Coast Ohio class. Settling into life in Kings Bay hasn’t been as easy as finding my wedding dress, but as military spouses we learn to make alterations, adapt, and grow! I hope some of the information below helps you find your perfect fit!

Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay is the East Coast home to the Navy’s Ohio class submarines. This includes six ballistic missile submarines (commonly known as boomers) and two guided missile submarines (or GNs),Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic, the Trident Training Facility, and Trident Refit Facility.

Quick Links

Florida or Georgia?

No, this section isn’t about football team loyalties (something you’ll learn is a big deal to the Kings Bay area). Kings Bay’s unique conundrum is the choice to live in Georgia or Florida. The base is in Georgia, right at the Florida state line, offering up many options for great neighborhoods. It’s a true tradeoff between the two states. Neighborhoods in Georgia offer a quieter setting, small town feel, shorter commute, and closer connection to base amenities like the gym, commissary, theater, and other MWR offerings. However, the surrounding towns are sparse when it comes to restaurants, shopping, and activities. To live in Florida means your spouse has a longer drive to work, but you’re much closer to great entertainment, shopping, and restaurants in Jacksonville and on Amelia Island. Florida has the bonus of no state income tax. And even better? You can get the Florida Resident pricing for Disney and Universal!

Fast Facts

  • Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay is located in southeast Georgia, about an hour north of Jacksonville, FL. and less than two hours south of Savannah, GA.
  • The base borders the cities of St. Mary’s and Kingsland.
  • NSBKB encompasses about 16,000 acres, of which 4,000 acres are protected wetlands.
  • Trident Refit Facility’s dry dock is the largest covered dry dock in the Western hemisphere.

Things To Do*

Fort Clinch State Park – Any local will tell you this is where you’ll find the best shark tooth hunting beaches in the area. You can explore the historic fort, miles of beaches along the St. Mary’s River, or the trails and camping throughout this 1,400 acre state park. While on the beach you might see a familiar steel sight floating up the channel!

Historic Fernandina Beach – This area of nearby Amelia Island is packed with local restaurants, shopping, live music, and parks. Amelia Island really deserves its own post so be on the lookout for one in the future!

The Edge Rock Gym – I might be biased because this place is my second home but The Edge in Jacksonville is a great activity for the whole family! Grab a deal off Groupon and let the kids climb the walls somewhere besides your house!

Cumberland Island National Seashore – Take the ferry from downtown St. Mary’s for a day of hiking, biking, and exploring Georgia’s largest and southernmost barrier island. The ferry does not transport cars so plan to bring your bikes or rent a bike or golf cart when you arrive. There are over 50 miles of trails and roads as well as 18 miles of beach. Hiking, biking, camping, birdwatching, and beachcombing are popular activities on the island.

Historic St. Mary’s – Located just a few minutes from base, this adorable downtown feels like a world away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. You’ll find a variety of cute shops filled with goods from local artisans. Make sure to visit the St. Mary’s Submarine Museum!

Paisley Grace Makery – If you live in the Kings Bay area and haven’t heard of Paisley Grace, I don’t know what to tell you. This adorable shop offers classes and drop-in times to craft your own adorable, hand painted signs. They also offer all their projects as a Take and Make that you can do at home or ship to a friend!

Riverside Arts Market – My Saturday routine includes a morning climbing session at The Edge followed by a wander through Riverside Arts Market (RAM) to get a coffee from Pura Bean, snack from 1748 Bakehouse, and to pick up the latest seasonal tea from Tea Nation. While those are just my personal favorites, RAM is packed full of local farms, food trucks, and businesses that provide a great taste of Jacksonville.

St. Augustine, FL – For a great day trip from base, check out St. Augustine. The nation’s oldest city boasts living history museums, an alligator farm zoological park, and an amazing pedestrian shopping and dining area. The Night of Lights at Christmastime is a world-renowned display of over three million lights lining every building in the historic district.

Eat & Drink*

While not a major foodie hub, the area is known for great southern style seafood! In Georgia Red Moose has every sandwich and burger you can imagine. Cedar Oak Cafe is an adorable brunch spot in Historic St. Mary’s, just a short walk from cute shops and the waterfront along the St. Mary’s River. WeePub is your classic pub with a great burger and a weekly running club (with beer afterward of course!). An exciting addition to St. Mary’s is Roots! This wine bar located in the historic district offers a variety of wine, craft beer, and charcuterie making it the perfect choice for a date night or girls night.

In Florida, Olive Cove in Yulee cannot be beat for their Italian fare. Located right next door is SJ Brewing, a local brewery with fantastic beer and tons of activities and live music throughout the week. Head east on A1A to Amelia Island where there is an option for every taste bud. Start your night with a handcrafted cocktail or two at The Decantery. For a dressed up night out you have to check out Espaňa. Reservations are recommended as they fill up fast and be sure to get a pitcher of sangria for the table! If you want a more laid back vibe Timoti’s Seafood Shak has fantastic seafood and a fun playground (in a fenced area!) for the kids to play. A night on the island wouldn’t be complete without a Pirate’s Punch from The Palace Saloon, Florida’s oldest operating bar.

It would take me the rest of my spouse’s tour to list all the great food and drink options in Jacksonville but I’ll leave you with my two absolute favorites: Southern Grounds in the San Marco neighborhood and Wildcrafters in Riverside.

Along with amazing coffee, Southern Grounds has a creative menu filled with fresh, healthy options. This is a perfect spot for a laid-back brunch with pals or for a quiet meal and cup of coffee while you work.

Wildcrafters is a booze-free cocktail and kava bar in Riverside. Hear me out. I love a good cocktail as much as the next person, but sometimes I want a fancy drink without the booze. Wildcrafters was everything I didn’t know I wanted in a hang out. It’s packed with lovely plants and the friendliest staff on the planet and they’ve crafted a menu full of innovative, delicious, and beautiful booze-free cocktails. I can’t brag about this place enough. Add it to your must visit list!

*Some of these places may have restrictions or closures due to COVID-19. Please check their social media or websites for the most up to date information on hours and procedures.

Local Resources

NSB Kings Bay Housing

MWR Kings Bay

Camden County, GA

Nassau County, FL

5 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Kings Bay

  1. I’m really enjoying reading your blog and look forward to your continuing your writings. Thanks Judy M.

  2. Loved getting to read more about your life there and all the fun things there are to do!

  3. I miss Kings Bay SO much, I’m also slightly biased cause I’m from Jax! I loved the small town feel with 2 large cities an hour in either direction. Trust me here, go to Atlantic Bch almost all the way to the ocean and stop at Seafood Kitchen. I have been going here for 30 + years and I make a point to go every time I get the chance. It is laid back easy dining and SO SO good.. Tell Popeye that Jessica sent you.

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