Pristine stretches of marshland, punctuated by small islands known as hammocks, define the breathtaking landscape and create the appearance of a continuous stretch of land reaching out to the barrier islands.
Sandy beaches stretch on for miles. World-class golf is everywhere, with hundreds of holes ensconced within the Golden Isles’ breathtaking views. Historic landmarks, museums, and art galleries present the legacies of the area, while quaint bed-and-breakfast inns to five-star resorts showcase unrivaled southern hospitality.
The southernmost island in the Golden Isles, known as Jekyll Island is filled with so many incredible, family-friendly attractions, some of the most pristine stretches of beach and authentic historical landmarks at every turn. Add to that the nature-preservation-conscious Georgia Sea Turtle Center and the beautiful marshlands surrounding the area.
In the 1800s, Jekyll Island was an exclusive hunting retreat for famous millionaire families escaping harsh winters up north and exchanging it for the perfect tropical Jekyll Island weather. Some of them you may recognized, the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Pulitzers and more. They hosted lavish parties on the private island at the Jekyll Island Club. In the 1940s, the area was sold to the state of Georgia and became Jekyll Island State Park. The once private retreat is now part of The Jekyll Island Club National Historic Landmark District, one of the largest preservation projects in the southeast.
From the early Native Americans to guests from around the world, the story of the island has been captivating imaginations for generations. The earliest known archaeological sites on Jekyll Island suggest that this island has been a destination for more than 3,500 years. Jekyll Island, at 5,700 acres, is the smallest of Georgia’s barrier islands.
Jekyll Island has a diverse and significant history. Being a place known to internationally prominent business leaders, it has played host to some important historical events. AT&T president Theodore Vail placed the first transcontinental telephone call from Jekyll Island on January 25, 1915. Meetings that led to the development of the Federal Reserve System were held in secret on Jekyll in 1910. Using assumed names, the men made their way to Jekyll posing as duck hunters, then spent approximately a week developing the “plan,” which was proposed to Congress in 1912. Congress did not pass the plan, but U.S. president Woodrow Wilson and others used it as the basis for the Federal Reserve Act, creating a central banking system for the United States.
That rich history has remained a vital part of the island, a completely renovated and reimagined Jekyll Island Museum will guide you through the cultural and natural history of the most intriguing barrier island. The new museum, Mosaic, features more exhibit space, more artifacts, and is constructed completely within the existing footprint of the historic stables building. Throughout the island you will step back in time as each historic building’s story unfolds, and the Jekyll Island Club and the National Landmark Historic District come alive.
In 1886, Jekyll Island was purchased to become an exclusive winter retreat, known as the Jekyll Island Club. It soon became recognized as “the richest, most inaccessible club in the world.” Today, the former Club grounds comprise a 240-acre site with 34 historic structures. The Jekyll Island Club National Historic Landmark is one of the largest ongoing restoration projects in the southeastern United States, attracting curious guests from around the world.
Jekyll Island offers an abundance of recreational activities for visitors of all ages. With ten miles of white sand beaches ideal for shelling, 63 holes of golf, an outdoor tennis complex, the Summer Waves Waterpark,
a fishing pier, Jekyll Island dolphin tours, horseback riding tours, nature centers and 20 miles of bike trails, there is enough to keep visitors or all ages busy.
Jekyll Island is one of the most pet-friendly vacation destinations with all but one area being dog-friendly. Many of the island restaurants have outdoor dog-friendly areas as well. Treasures are also abundant, people come from around the globe in January to search for glass orbs that are hidden around the island by volunteers. The island treasures are hand-made to look like the fishing floats once used to keep fishing nets afloat. People have been finding these lost floaters since the 1800s. Don’t bother looking in the dunes, they never “hide” them out of reach.
Birdwatching is spectacular, most of the bird species in Georgia find their way to the area each year. They join the shorebird and gulls that inhabit the island year around. There is also a bird sanctuary in the back part of the Island Campground. Georgia’s only sea turtle education and rehabilitation facility offers a chance to learn about sea turtles and see rehabilitation in action with a host of interactive exhibits and experiences.