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The Okefenokee Swamp and Train watching are two main attractions in Folkston.
The Okefenokee Swamp Changes with every season
The Okefenokee Swamp Changes with every season


During the winter season (December-February) you will find flocks of migrating birds – Sand Hill Cranes, Wood Ducks, Ibis, and a large variety of wading birds. Most are found in the parries and are easily visible from your boat. Binoculars are a must for smaller birds. Spring (March-May) is an exciting time in the Swamp. Baby birds and alligators are beginning to mature, water lilies are in bloom and the days are warmer and longer. Summer (June-August) brings more water flowers and an abundance of butterflies. Fall (September-November) is festival time. Check the Chamber of Commerce web site for dates and additional activities. Alligators can be seen in abundance throughout the year, especially during the day while they relax in the sun. Babies are born during the late winter/early spring. Watch for turtles and other small animals often hidden by the underbrush. The Okefenokee Adventures provides knowledgeable guides for travel throughout the swamp. We recommend a boat tour and for the more adventurous, a kayak or canoe trip. They also have evening cruises and overnight guided tours. For more information go to www.OkefenokeeAdventures.com or call them at 1- 866-TheSwamp. Be sure to watch the 20 minute video at the visitor’s center next to the Okefenokee Adventures. They also have displays for the children and a small gift shop. Lunch, soft drinks and additional gifts can be purchased at the Okefenokee Adventures.
Train Watching is a year around sport in Folkston
Train Watching is a year around sport in Folkston


Folkston is located on the CSX Transportation double-track main line 40 miles north of Jacksonville, FL. To many rail fans, it is known as the CSXT funnel out of Florida, or “The Folkston Funnel”. The train whistles blow as the train passes through Folkston. This is known as “Folkston Music”. The double track from Jacksonville to Folkston and north to Savannah and beyond is the Nahunta subdivision. Within viewing distance just north of town, the rails split. The Jesup subdivision cuts off and goes west to Waycross and on to Atlanta. The scanner frequency is 160.590 MHz for road traffic. During a 24 hour period, train watchers may see as many as 60 trains or more depending on the movement of freight into and out of Florida. Four–eight Amtrak trains pass through daily, including the Auto Train which runs to and from our nation’s capital. Numerous intermodal and mixed freight trains travel thru Folkston keeping the Nahunta and Jessup subdivisions busy. These trains carry cars, coal, phosphate, grain and molten sulfur. The famous “Tropicana Juice Train” originating from Bradenton FL. andAnd traveling to Kerney, NJ is always exciting to see. A covered train viewing platform and a covered picnic area for barbecuing delights fans who come to visit the famous “Folkston Funnel”. A rest room, picnic tables, benches and chairs are plentiful. And, as part of this city sponsored service, a scanner is active allowing visitors to listen to train engineers (frequency 160.590 and 160320 on your scanner) . Free WiFi service is also available. In December and again in April, train viewing festivals encourage train enthusiasts to visit. Check the Chamber of Commerce web site for more information and dates. Mr. “Cookie” Williams is the founder of this historic area. Ask anyone at the platform and they will elaborate on this amazing man. The Chamber has a museum and a train room (thanks to “Cookie”) that is enjoyed by all the kids (big and little). The Inn At Folkston is a perfect spot for rail fans to spend the night. It’s only a 5 minute walk from the train viewing platform to the B&B. Enjoy cozy feather beds and a home cooked breakfast featuring farm fresh eggs and local fruit. Ask for the Train Watchers Special.
 Okefenokee Adventures
Okefenokee Adventures


Okefenokee Adventures was opened by Chip and Joy who opened up the place because of their love of the swamp. They offer guided tours, canoe rentals, kayak rentals, and other gear.
Website
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge


Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is a habitat for a diverse array of animal wildlife. It is a massive swampland and a gorgeous place to visit.
Website
The Folkston Funnel
The Folkston Funnel


The Folkston Funnel is a great place to spend some time and watch the trains. There are restaurants and restrooms close by for the convenience of the visitors.
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Other Area Attractions include:

  • Relax in Rustic Elegance at the Newell Lodge www.NewellResort.com only 6 miles north of Folkston. Live oaks dripping with Spanish moss grace this pristine property – home to all kinds of wildlife. This is a unique place to hold a corporate training event, a family reunion or a large wedding. Cottages and RV camping on sight. Catering services are also available
  • If it's just a vacation, experience the thrill of galloping your horse through wide open spaces, or go Quail hunting with a guide. Southern hospitality abounds here. The pace is slower and life is sweeter.
  • An 18 hole golf course (1 mile from the Inn). A golf cart is available for your use and clubs can be rented. Bunkers and water holes are everywhere.
  • Shooting Clays (only 6 miles west on Main Street) is a unique sporting resort and boasts several national tournaments a year. Camping on the premises and instructors (advanced reservations required) are available or stay at the Inn.
  • Traders Hill (5 miles from town) offers camping, swimming, fishing and boating on the St. Mary's River. This is a beautiful deep winding wildness river that separates Florida and Georgia.
  • A variety of shops grace downtown Folkston a short walk from the Inn. Everything from special gifts to upscale clothing. Lunch and dinner can be ordered in one of our restaurants or consider a takeout to be enjoyed on the Inn's spacious verandah.


For information about our Okefenokee Festival, the Train Viewing Festival, bird watching, Chesser Island Christmas pageant or other local activities, please visit the Chamber of Commerce web site and click on the event calendar.

Events Calendar

January Wildlife Notes
Big numbers of birds winter throughout the swamp. You will find Sandhill Crane and Ibis particularly abundant near the junction of Grand and Chesser prairies and in the vicinity of Gannet Lake. Wood Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, and teal can be seen amid the prairies and backwaters. Tree Swallows and American Robins form large flocks, and gray Catbirds disperse among the thickets. Alligators are harder to see but like to sun in the middle of the day.

February Wildlife Notes
The rites of spring start arriving to the swamp. Ospreys begin nesting. You can observe aerial courtship displays of red-tailed hawks. Southern Leopard Frogs can be heard calling. Ferns raise new fiddleheads, early blooming wildflowers, such as Neverwet, Arrowhead and Climbing Heath begin to flower. Wild turkeys seek mates during the latter part of the month.

March Wildlife Notes
Florida Cricket Frogs, Pig Frogs, and Carpenter Frogs join the choruses of Southern Leopard Frogs. Common Yellowthroats and Red-winged Blackbirds can be heard singing. Pond Cypress begin to get their leaves back. Wildflowers begin to bloom as the prairies fill with golden club, bladderworts, Hurrah Bush, Titi, Hatpins, and pawpaws. Alligators and aquatic turtles can be seen in bigger numbers sunning on exposed banks and logs.

April Wildlife Notes
Land bird activity and variety increase as incoming migrants join residents. Sandhill crane chicks are hatching and ospreys are seen feeding their young in their high bulky nests. Alligators bellow territorial warnings as mating begins. Orchids, Pitcher Plants, Grass Pink, Fragrant Water Lily, Spatterdock, and Virginia Sweetspire are in bloom. Swallowtail butterflies visit the blossoms of wild irises.

May Wildlife Notes
Many aquatic turtles are laying eggs, raccoons are just as rapidly digging up and eating the eggs. Wading birds become more conspicuous, common Nighthawks perform aerial displays. Warmouth perch fishing is improving. Pine woods Treefrogs and Little Grass Frogs can be heard calling. Watershield, Arrow Arum, and pitcher plants are in bloom. Newborn fawns appear.

June Wildlife Notes
Chorus, green tree, pig, carpenter and over a dozen other species of frogs are heard during the evenings. White Water-lilies and sweet-bay flowers bloom. Good bream fishing.

July Wildlife Notes
Young herons, egrets and ibis, now fully fledged, leave the rookeries. Wood storks are observed feeding in the prairies. Red-headed woodpeckers and pine warblers are seen in pine forest uplands. Deer are best viewed in the early morning; the bucks are showing their new sets of velvet-covered antlers.

August Wildlife Notes
Small flocks of blue-winged teal arrive. Alligator nests hatch and the young alligators may be heard "clucking" to their mother. Nighthawks and chuck-will's widow frequent the evening sky, scooping insects from the air.

September Wildlife Notes
Fall migration begins as many different warblers move through the area. Fall fishing improves as daytime temperatures lower.

October Wildlife Notes
Black bears are active, feeding on acorns, nuts and berries. Marsh hawks are seen gliding low over the prairies.

November Wildlife Notes
Robins and migrating greater sandhill cranes arrive with the cool weather. Watch for the occasional bald eagle, migrating through the swamp to Florida wintering sites. With cool weather comes the traditional fall color change. Cypress needles turn a golden brown, and sweetgum leaves glow a reddish hue before tumbling to the ground.

December Wildlife Notes
Otters are seen swimming in the lakes and boat trails as alligators become less active. Wading birds are prominent as they forage amid the prairies. Wood Ducks and teal can be seen throughout the swamp.

Activities

  • Visit the Okefenokee Swamp!
  • Take a swamp tour with Okefenokee Adventures
  • Bike or hike the Okefenokee upland trails
  • Visit the Bolt Visitors Center in Folkston
  • Drive to Stephen C. Foster State Park in Fargo for a boat tour
  • Visit the "Green" Suwannee River Visitors Center in Fargo
  • See the Swamp Park at Waycross
  • Join national and international visitors at the famous Folkston Funnel train viewing platform or at the Historic Train Depot
  • Play a round of golf at the Folkston Golf Club or at Laura Walker State Park in Waycross
  • Arrange a marsh kayak trip with Kayak Amelia or Up The Creek
  • Play tennis at the county park
  • Relax in the inn's hot tub
  • Attend the train festival in April
  • Canoe, kayak, fish the St. Marys River
  • Take the ferry to Cumberland Island National Seashore
  • Tour fabulous mansions of the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, Morgans, and others at Jekyll Island's Historic District. Stay for a fish dinner at the waterfront restaurant Latitude 31
  • Rock on the inn's front verandah or read a book on the sunny deck
  • Get a copy of Folkston's Historic Walking Tour and take the downtown tour
  • Arrange for skeet shooting at Okefenokee Sporting Clays or participate in a scheduled tournament
  • Attend local Friday night football games
  • Bring your bike and tour the rolling countryside
  • Take a dolphin, birding and coastal marsh tour or go birding anywhere
  • Have pizza delivered to the inn and watch a video
  • Take a 2-hour drive to Savannah for "The Book" tour
  • Get married in a day
  • Attend Folkston's Okefenokee Festival in October
  • Go fishing on the river or in the swamp
  • Shop, shop, shop -- at Folkston's fine clothing and gift shops
  • Get a hair cut at Gail's, Glenda's or one of Folkston's other barber and beauty shops
  • See the Clora Lee Roddenberry quilt collection and the Clayton Marcus furniture gallery at Folkston Furniture
  • Have an ice cream at the DQ
  • Enjoy a catfish dinner and other Southern specialties, BBQ, burgers or wings, seafood, steak, Chinese or pizza at Folkston's many restaurants
  • Drive to Jacksonville for a Jaguars game, go to the theater, have dinner on the St. Johns River waterfront, visit the zoo or a museum, shop at a mall
  • Visit pre-Civil War Sardis Church on the outskirts of town
  • Have a romantic dinner by candlelight at David & Sarah Rollison's Pond View Downtown in Waycross
  • Get cake baking and decorating supplies at Chessers Appliance
  • Climb St. Simon's lighthouse
  • Visit historical places: The Chesser Homestead, Fort King George, Orange Hall, Kingsley Plantation, Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation
  • Buy your children or grandkids new clothes or toys at Heaven to Seven
  • Drive to Amelia Island for dinner
  • Rent a bike at Okefenokee Adventures and tour Swamp Island Drive
  • Drive to Brunswick for dinner at Chef Alix Kenagy's Cargo Portside Grill
  • Shop for Stetson hats or leather boots at Thrift Farm & Feed Store
  • Hop on the exercise bike on the inn's front porch, visit the YMCA in nearby Hilliard, or use Folkston's backroads for your exercise routine
  • Enjoy Claudia's Italian specialties on Thursday night at Main Street Cafe

Nature-Based Recreation and Tours

Not only is Folkston home to the great and wondrous Okefenokee Swamp, but it is also a short driving distance from the rivers and coastal areas which offer outstanding recreation in its most natural form. Visitors come from all over the world to visit this area and explore its natural beauty. We hope that you will use the Inn as home base for exploring and enjoying this gorgeous part of the South. As members of Georgia's Nature-Based Tourism Association, we can help you contact other businesses with good environmental and conservation practices. www.georgianature.org

If you are coming to the Folkston area for nature-based recreation and staying at the Inn, let us help you plan your trip. Canoeing and kayaking the Okefenokee Swamp and the nearby St. Marys River are popular activities. Okefenokee Adventures at the Suwanee Canal Recreation Area, located next to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center, offers convenient canoe, kayak, motor boat and bike rental for refuge tourists. They can be contacted at 912-496-7156 or 866-THE-SWAMP or www.okefenokeeadventures.com. You will find information on private tour operators and other recreational businesses listed at www.georgianature.org. Information on refuge canoeing and overnight camping in the swamp is available by calling the refuge office at 912-496-3331.

If you want a special tour during your stay at the Inn, you can call and make your own arrangements with tour operators, or call us and we will help you arrange a customized tour. Whether you want a guided fishing trip, an all-day guided boat tour, an all-day woodlands birding tour or want to combine camping overnight in the swamp with a stay at the Inn, we help put you in touch with appropriate operators.

For Canoers, Kayakers and Bikers

Private tours of the Okefenokee Swamp are available through Okefenokee Adventures, the official participating partner with the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, at 912-496-7156 or 866-THE-SWAMP or www.okefenokeeadventures.com. Okefenokee Adventures rents canoes, kayaks and bikes for your touring needs. For coastal marsh canoeing or kayaking contact Kayak Amelia. They are located just south of Amelia Island, a one hour trip from the inn. For more information on biking the Okefenokee, visit GORP (Great Outdoors Recreation Pages).

For Birders

Georgia's Department of Natural Resources has a brochure entitled Colonial Coast Birding Trail. Contact them at 912-994-1438 to obtain a copy, or see their web site.

Woodland birding tours are available with Sheila Willis of Okefenokee Adventures. Sheila is president of the Okefenokee Birding Club, has a B.S. in Biology and is a Native American naturalist with 25 years of experience in the field. An all day tour with Sheila is $100 for two people; $25 extra for each additional person. Please note that these rates do not include lunch or fees (such as park entrance fees). Sheila can be contacted at 912-285-0419 or through Okefenokee Adventures at 912-496-7156.

Birdwatching and nature study on Jekyll Island (one hour from Folkston) is available through Lydia Thompson of St. Simons Island. Lydia has weekly early morning group trips (7:30-11:30 am) every Friday ($20 per person). She will also do individual birding trips, all-day, half-day, or a few hours. Call Lydia at 912-634-1322, e-mail her at artworksbylydia@thebest.net, or ask us to arrange a trip when you make your reservation at the inn. Lydia has a long list of birding achievements, including having seen and identified over 700 bird species. Lydia is also an artist/printmaker.

Wild Birds Unlimited's shop on St. Simon's Island (one hour from Folkston) has everything for your birding needs, including top of the line binoculars and scopes. They also sponsor small group birding adventures to places like Costa Rica and Ecuador. Contact Harlan Smith at 912-638-1422 or wildbirds@bellsouth.net.

Active Sports

Golf

Georgia's Colonial Coast is home to 22 golf courses, including the Folkston Golf Club and Laurel Island Links, which was designed by Davis Love II. In addition, just south of Jacksonville, and an hour and fifteen minute drive from Folkston is the World Golf Village and World Golf Hall of Fame.

The most popular courses for guests at The Inn at Folkston include:

Folkston Golf Club - 912-496-7155
Osprey Cove in St. Marys - 800-352-5575
Laurel Island Links, Kingsland - 912-729-7277 or 888-480-7277
Jekyll Island Golf Club - 912-635-2368 or www.jekyllisland.com
The Lakes at Laura Walker State Park, Waycross - 912-285-6154
World Golf Village, St. Augustine, Florida - www.wgv.com

Sporting Clays

Okefenokee Sports Clays sponsors sporting clays and skeet shoot tournaments just five miles outside of Folkston on the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp. N.S.C.A. & N.S.S.A. Certified Instructor. Contact Roni Murray at 912-496-2417.

Bed & Breakfast Nature Tour of South East Georgia

SE Georgia is a dream vacation for those interested in an eco tour highlighting the history, culture, and ecology of the area. Plan a week-long trip using The Inn at Folkston as your base. For the visitor who would like to spend a week which includes the Okefenokee Swamp and the coastal areas of Georgia, escaping to uncrowded, serene swamps, beaches, marshes, and rivers, we know of the perfect places!

Or stay at other B&Bs along the way. The Inn at Folkston is proud to recommend other B&Bs whose owners believe in conservation of our wilderness areas and who take special steps to help their guests enjoy the wonderful world of nature. All of these B&Bs are on the Colonial Coast Birding Trail.

  • Your tour begins in the south visiting the 396,000 acre Okefenokee Swamp and staying at THE INN AT FOLKSTON (the Jacksonville International Airport is a short 40-minute drive from Folkston, Georgia). Nothing compares to the Okefenokee Swamp, home to the American alligator and 234 species of birds. Okefenokee's dark waters reflect the serene landscapes of its open prairies and moss-laden cypress trees. Venture into this vast wilderness and let nature be your guide. 888-509-6246 www.innatfolkston.com.
  • An hour's drive to the east will take you to Cumberland Island and the Greyfield Inn. This turn of the century mansion is secluded on 1,300 acres of Georgia's largest and southernmost barrier island amidst a tranquil setting for wild horses, deer, armadillos, and numerous species of birds. Spend your day birding, shelling, fishing, clam digging, swimming, hiking, beachcombing or hunting for shark's teeth. 800-717-0821 www.greyfield inn.com.
  • Back on the mainland, an hour or so drive north on I-95 brings you to St. Simons Island, where a boat awaits to take you to the privately owned Little St. Simons Island . This fantastic getaway island is a 10,000 acre private island that has been virtually untouched for centuries. Contact them via phone at 1-888-733-5774 or via email Lodge@LittleStSimonsIsland.com.
  • Just north of St. Simon's Island on Route 17 lies the town of Darien and Open Gates Bed & Breakfast. Kelly and Jeff Spratt bring their biology backgrounds into the service they provide at this charming B&B on the village square. Contact them at www.opengatesbnb.com or 912-437-6985.
  • Traveling north again, just south of Savannah lies the magnificent 6,000 acre Melon Bluff nature and heritage preserve. From a restored barn to a plantation cottage, the Devendorf family's unique B&B accommodations are set amid ancient moss-hung oaks at river's edge. Wagon rides, boating expeditions, kayak and bike rentals are available, as well as miles of private coastline trails. Birders will find many habitats in which to look for some of the 309 species which have been sighted, many uncommon, rare or endangered. 1-888-246-8188 www.melonbluff.com.

We hope you will plan a visit to each of these wonderful B&B destinations.

Here are some helpful links for planning your trip to Folkston

American Birding Association
North America's largest membership organization for active birders – providing leadership to field birders by increasing their knowledge, skills, and enjoyment of birding, and by contributing to bird conservation.

Anole Imaging
Specializing in digital imaging in the Okefenokee area.

Bookworm Bonanza
Need information on books or just about anything? This web site has links to many e-sources.

Bird Checklist for the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
This checklist includes 234 species of birds and is based on observations by refuge personnel and visiting ornithologists.

Care2.com
For those who care about the environment.

Darien, Georgia
Historic McIntosh County, in the heart of the mighty Altamaha River Delta, is one of the most scenic regions in Coastal Georgia.

Folkston-Charlton County, Georgia
This web site sponsored by The Okefenokee Chamber of Commerce and The Development Authority of The City of Folkston and Charlton County includes information on the history of Folkston, the Okefenokee Swamp, area parks and recreation, and area businesses.

Georgia Nature Based Tourism Association
A statewide non-profit organization which provides a voice to educate public and private decision-makers about the need to integrate economic development with resource conservation and promotes its shared vision of the state of Georgia as a responsibly managed nature-based tourism destination. The innkeepers are members of this association.

Georgia Wildlife Federation
Information on this non-profit organization's history, goals, membership, kid's programs, advocacy, publications, library and more.

Golden Isles Navigator
Visitor information on places to visit in Coastal Georgia, such as Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island, Cumberland Island and more.

Great Outdoors Recreation Pages (GORP)
An all-encompassing site on outdoor recreation and activities throughout the world, including a page on the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

Green Pages Online by Co-op America
Support green businesses.

Jacksonville.com
Information on Jacksonville, Florida, an easy 45-minute drive from Folkston.

Kayaking Crazy
Everything you want to know about kayaking.

Lighthouses: A Photographic Journey
Don and Diana Carter's web site Lighthouses: A Photographic Journey, voted one of the best 1001 web sites by PC Computing.

MapQuest
Plan your trip to Georgia using MapQuest's Interactive Atlas (maps) or TripQuest (driving directions).

Obediah's Okefenok
A homestead in Waycross, Georgia representing the frontier agricultural lifestyle maintained by an early settler at a time when industry and commercial growth was a concern. The park also displays zoological and biological knowledge obtained by this great swamper.

Okefenokee Blackwater Brew
Okefenokee organic, free trade premium coffees grown by small scale farmers.

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1937 in order to preserve the 438,000 acre Okefenokee Swamp. Visit the official web site for more visitor information, wildlife notes, fire updates, current news, volunteer and internship opportunities, and more.

Okefenokee Press
Information on books published by Okefenokee Press. Includes geneological resources.

Okefenokee Wildlife League
OWL is a non-profit cooperating association committed to promoting and enhancing a better appreciation and understanding of the natural history and natural environment of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

Recreation.GOV
Your one-stop resource for information about recreation on federal lands. Offers information from all of the federal land management agencies and allows you to search for recreation sites by State, by agency, or by recreational activity.

St. Marys, Georgia
St. Marys is the gateway to Cumberland Island National Seashore and the second oldest city in the United States.

The Wilderness Society
The Wilderness Society is a non-profit membership organization devoted to preserving wilderness and wildlife, protecting America's prime forests, parks, rivers, deserts and shorelands, and fostering an American land ethic.

VegWeb.com
Vegetarian resource.

Waycross, Georgia
For information on the North Entrance to the Okefenokee Swamp and other area attractions.




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