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Cumberland Island makes top travel list
ST. MARYS -- Cumberland Island National Seashore got international recognition when John Kennedy Jr. married at a church on the north end of the barrier island in 1996.

Now the island is getting back into the spotlight by making the top 10 U.S. destinations list for 2014 by the travel publication Lonely Planet.

Maggie Tyler, chief of interpretation and education of the seashore, said she expects the designation will increase the number of visitors next year.

"It's pretty exciting," she said. "We are one of two National Park Service sites on the list."

Visitors typically reserve campsites and ferry tickets about six months in advance. And six months from now will coincide with the busiest months of the year for visitors, she said.

"The best we can hope for is visitation is spread throughout the year," she said.

Emily Wolman, editor-at-large for Lonely Planet, describes Cumberland Island as a magical island and one of the most underdeveloped places in the United States.

She paints a picture of landscapes that include virgin beaches, windswept dunes, mossy oaks, breathtaking sunrises and an untamed island that supports wildlife such as feral horses, wild turkeys, tiny fiddler crabs, beautiful butterflies and skittering armadillos.

Angela Wigger, tourism director in St. Marys, said she expects more visitors as a result of the publicity.

"We will definitely have some more interest," she said. "Whenever we have one of these designations, we get a lot of calls."

When lots of tourists visit the seashore, Wigger said local businesses thrive.

"Cumberland Island National Seashore is St. Marys' largest attraction for visitors," she said. "Anyone who has explored the island would agree it's worthy of the accolade. It's a site deserving of more exploration."

* Reporter Gordon Jackson writes about Camden County and other local topics. Contact him at, on Facebook or at 464-7655.


The national travel magazine Lonely Planet has just released its list of the top 10 tourist destinations in the nation for 2014. Here is the list:

* Grand Rapids & the Gold Coast, Mich.

* Yosemite National Park, Calif.

* Boston, Mass

* Central Coast, Calif.

* Jersey Shore, N.J.

* Kansas City, Mo.

* Cumberland Island

* Las Vegas

* Sun Valley, Idaho

* Lana'i, Hawaii

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