Darien, Georgia, was just a tiny circle on the map for us for years. It was an exit you’d pass along the I-95 on the way home or to somewhere else. So we found ourselves trying to find a place to meet with Michael coming from New Hampshire and me from St. Petersburg. I was in our RV and he would have one of our cars so I drove after work until I was tired one night and motored on the next day to find Darien.
The initial attraction was a dead outlet mall that still had a few shops open and a little visitors centre. And there was a truck stop too so it was ideal for an RV trip. I easily parked in the outlet mall parking lot which was made for throngs of visitors and tour buses both of which were long gone if they ever existed.
But I stopped into the visitors centre and a very helpful person told me all about the town and the plans to turn the mall into a home decor centre. Darien is the second oldest in Georgia and had a legend about some sea monster – there is a replica of what they imagine it to look like in the centre and there is Fort George nearby which is the southern most point in the colonies of the British Empire according to the brochure.
We opted to stay at the Cathead Creek Ranch & RV Park which on the website looked fun and relaxing with a Petting zoo but the little zoo was closed but that didn’t change our views. It was a relaxing and great getaway with friendly people, a horse and cow pasture, and a reasonal Good Sam rate of about $27 (USD) per night for full hookups. There is a wee shop that has some items but it is quite small. The attraction of this place is it is like feeling you are camping at a farm ranch yet three miles down the road at the exit there are a lot of services and further down the road there is a Bi-Lo supermarket.
We went into Darien’s old town center one day and you could easily miss it if you were headed to Brunswick or other points south. we turned off and drove around a bit – it was small for sure. But on the west side of the main road there wee a few shops including a wine bar (Waterfront Wine & Gourmet) and an antiques shop. This gives it a leg up on any old southern towns that have just not been reinvented yet. The restaurant that we found was on the waterfront and is called Skipper’s Fish Camp.
This is where your trip to Darien becomes extra special. This waterfront restaurant and bar has outdoor seating along the river, a little bar and lounge and a restaurant with a nice theme going in each side of the place. It is the fried shrimp that are special. They come from the Georgia coast and you can see the shrimp boats docked up along the river near the restaurant. Quite honestly it was the best fried shrimp I have ever had in the continental United States. We took some to-go the first visit and the again the next day we returned and had the same thing the next day.
Don’t miss this and the couple of shops downtown. There is an Inn overlooking the parking lot called The Waterfront Inn should you be traveling without a motor home. And there is an arts centre in an old jail you can see from the main road that cuts the town in two that has been converted to and arts centre though it was closed both days we visited.
So next time you pass Darien on the expressway, consider a stop – especially if you love fried shrimp.