Have you ever heard of beautiful Jekyll Island in southeast Georgia? You may know that at one point in history, 1/6th of the entire world’s worth was controlled by the men who would winter here in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Well, we’re not here to talk about them so set that thought aside and instead let’s focus on the sights there are to see here on Jekyll Island, a great destination for both you and your kids.
Of course, you can get there using online maps. Super easy access whether you are in a sedan, SUV, Van or RV.
However, you might not now that to actually get onto the island, you have to purchase a parking pass. The parking fee is charged per vehicle per day.
The Jekyll Island parking pass grants visitors access to public outdoor areas, beach parking and access points, nature trails, playground, historic landmark district, fishing pier and more.
To get more information on pricing and pass options, click here.
Where to Stay
There are 10 hotels on the island. Each one has something to offer, but many hotels at Jekyll Island give you the opportunity to wake up to a beautiful Atlantic sunrise.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn and Resort. This hotel was right on the water and our room faced the ocean. It was beautiful. Nothing quite like waking up to an ocean sunrise.
The Holiday Inn and Resort stretches along 1.5 miles along the beach. Strolling along the shores was a great way to endcap our days.
There is only one campground on the island. Jekyll Campground is not an RV resort, but more like a state park.
The campground is not located ocean side, so you won’t wake up to the sunrise, but watching the sunbeams piercing the canopy of live oaks is just as breathtaking.
This serene environment apparently makes for a great breeding ground for mosquitoes! So be prepared!! Plan on bug spray and a screened-in sitting area.
Beaches at Jekyll Island
We are beach lovers, and Jekyll Island has many beaches to enjoy.
Depending on how busy you are, you can find both secluded beach trail parking as well as roomy parking lots.
Each beach has a little something different for you.
If you have special mobility needs, Jekyll Island has access points designed specifically for you. You can learn about them here.
We visited two beaches besides the one at the Holiday Inn Resort, however, the best for exploration though was hands down, famous Driftwood Beach, and adventure for both young and old.
Driftwood Beach in the north provides unique and stark landscapes. Take the time to check in and around the driftwood. We found crabs, sponges, and a variety of sea life.
Corsair Beach Park
Corsair Beach is open year-round and is pet-friendly. Pets still need to be leashed however, so keep that in mind.
This beach is located within the Beach Village. So, there are plenty of places to each and go from the beach to the shopping district.
Glory Beach Park
Glory Beach is a bird sanctuary and does not allow pets.
The beach is found on the south end of the island and the boardwalk is next to the soccer complex.
Great Dunes Beach Park
Great Dunes Beach Park is a 20-acre beachfront park that is very popular with families.
If you have pets, bring them along. Leashed pets are allowed all year long.
The park has picnic areas and lots of recreational areas too.
Oceanview Beach Park
Oceanview Beach is another year-round pet-friendly beach. Keep them leashed though!!
This park was renovated in 2019 and has showers, pavilions, and more.
South Dunes Beach Park
South Dunes Beach is also a bird sanctuary and does not allow pets.
There is an elevated boardwalk over the 20-foot sand dunes, observation deck, freshwater pond, and picnic pavilions.
St. Andrews Beach Park
St. Andrews Beach is year-round pet-friendly. So, bring the dog AND leash!!
The beach is located at the southern-most tip of the island. It’s a great spot for bird watching.
If you can separate yourself from the beaches of Jekyll Island, the Island has a lot to offer in the way of shopping, food, and architecture.
You have to watch the times closely in the offseason, but you’re sure to find something good to eat at a dedicated restaurant or the quality hotels on the island.
The Beach House Restaurant had great food, drink, service, and a relaxed atmosphere.
Our kids really enjoyed it, and it is very tough to please them at a restaurant.
Check out Jekyll Island’s other food offerings at their website here.
The historic district is a wonderful blend of history, fun, eating, and shopping. Since we homeschool our kids, this was a great way to learn a bit about the island and its history.
One of the activities that is offered on the island is the architectural tour of the great “cottages” of the great industrialists of the past.
The Jekyll Island Park staff is extremely detailed in their descriptions and is a must for any lover of great style and architecture.
The “Passport to the Century Tour” departs from the Jekyll Island Museum 3 times per day. I’m sure there must be a hidden Scrooge McDukian vault in one of those homes…
A note about the tour. It makes stops at various homes so that you can check out the grounds and sneak a peek at the insides too. It’s an all-ages tour and a great way to break up your day.
Georgia Sea Turtle Center
The Georgia Sea Turtle Center was a huge hit as well, not only for the kids but for Jessica and I. We were able to see where they rehabilitate the sea turtles and also learn about wildlife conservation. It’s great to know this important work is being done here.
We rarely go someplace and shop. However, if you part of your visit to Jekyll Island needs to include some shopping, you will not be disappointed.
Beach Village is similar to an open-air mall. There are plenty of unique shops for souvenirs, gifts, and anything else you can imagine.
Full disclosure, we did not visit the Beach Village at all. We drove through it though and it was neat and beautiful, but it does not really fit with our family’s lifestyle.
The Historic District also has unique shops throughout. We had to work hard to resist all the offerings!
There is so much to do the island, we only had the chance to scratch the surface.
While visiting you can also:
- Ride your bikes around the island. If you don’t have your own, there are plenty of places where you can rent them.
- Visit 4-H Tidelands Nature Center. You can take kayak tours, see living wildlife, and go on ecotours.
- Go fishing. Bring your own boat, rent, or go on a boating tour.
- Play some golf. The island has four courses for you to try and enjoy.
- Ride a horse! Yep, you can take a glorious horseback ride on Driftwood Beach!
- Play tennis. the Jekyll Island Tennis Center is the winner of the 2018 USTA Outstanding facility award and is open to the public.
- Check out the water park! That’s right, the island has a water park that is open all summer long.
- Go on a casino cruise. Emerald Princess is 200 feet of gambling and cocktail fun.
- Play miniature golf. We actually did this one and had a blast.
- Bird watching. Many of the beaches are bird sanctuaries and really, you can do a little birding anywhere on the island.
An Unexpected Delight at Driftwood Beach
Something we did not expect to encounter was an unending stream of migrating Monarch Butterflies.
At first, it was curious to see a few butterflies flying down the beach, but after a few minutes, it became obvious that something special was happening.
One of the butterflies got soaked, but Jessica gave it the opportunity to dry out before taking off again to continue on its part of the journey.
A calm pace on a vacation is something to enjoy, and we certainly recommend it overcrowded theme parks and traditional vacation venues with the go, go, go – buy, buy, buy atmosphere. Even as we drove onto the island we knew we were somewhere special. Everyone exhibited smiles and great courtesy and it’s a place we will visit again.
Our friends at Crazy Family Adventure have also made a trip to Jekyll Island and wrote about it: HERE! It has more ideas about what to do here.
Ready to explore more of the east coast? Check out these posts: