Jekyll Island, Georgia
Updated: Sep 19, 2021
Jekyll is one of the Golden Isles and truly a gem to visit! General Oglethorpe founded it in 1733 and named it on honor of his friend from England, Sir Joseph Jekyll.
Map is from Jekyllisland.com I will give you what we did starting from when we got on the Island. We will tour the right side then go back to the middle and explore the left side. I marked on this map above all we did so you can get an idea where everything is.
In 1747 William Horton bought a great copper pot to brew beer which is not recognized as Georgia's first brewery!
In the 1800's the famous families of the Rockerfellers and Vanderbilts came to hunt here and stayed in what is the Jekyll Island Club Historic District.
Only 35 percent of the island is developed and it is owned by the state of Georgia since 1947. It really is a nature lovers paradise!
There is no traffic signals on Jekyll
There are 9 hotels and over 1,500 rooms
9 miles of beaches with 41 beach accesses
We went to Jekyll a few times this summer and this is what we enjoyed. I will start as we enter the Island; give you info on the right side of the Island and then the left.
Download the Jekyll Island app
*Make sure to pack bug spray as they are there almost year round!
There is a gas station when you first get on the island on your left if you need it.
Always watch when driving for families on bikes.
When you enter the Island, you drive to an unmanned toll booth. It is $8 a car that you can pay by card in a machine or use cash. They have a yearly pass you can buy too, I think it is $50. You can get online or at the visitor center.
Right before the toll on the left is a visitor center with restrooms, gift shop and they can help you with local info.
Outside the visitor center they have a tower to climb to get a nice view over the marsh. There is a handicap ramp for the first level and a bench to sit and watch on both levels.
When you enter the 10 mile island ( but they have a 24 mile long trail you can bike) if you go straight you will see the Westin and the Jekyll Island Beach Village Shopping area. They have a little grocery store type tore here if you forget anything.
If you turn right at the circle you will go down to the Days Inn where we rented bikes. They only had a 4 person left that day so we rented it. Make sure to bring water to stay hydrated. You can rent by the hour. Click above the slide show to see a few pics from our ride.
There is a great place to eat lunch under the big trees with plenty of picnic tables and grills at South Dunes Picnic area. For group reservations call 912-635-3400. They have public restrooms, a freshwater pond, dog bag stations and an observation deck.
Keep going and you will pass where most kids in Georgia go in 5th grade and stay at Camp Jekyll. It was bitter sweet for us to see it as this was the year my son was to go but it got cancelled due to covid.
If you keep going you will see on the right a nice trail to ride bikes or walk.
If you keep driving you will see St. Andrews Picnic area and Beach on your left which we loved! They have a two story wildlife viewing platform like at the visitor center. You can see many wild life here such as dolphins and migrating birds. There are restrooms for the public and is pet friendly. It was just very peaceful here.
They also have the Wanderer Memory Trail here that tells the story of Americas last known slave ship. It is located where the ship illegally came ashore 160 years ago. with more than 500 enslaved Africans.
You will pass the Summer Waves Water Park on your left. We didn't have time to go but heard good things about it. 210 S Riverview Drive, Jekyll
Almost next to the water park is Tidelands Nature Center area where you can learn about marsh life and is open to the public. You can also get Kayak tours from here. Click here for more info. We went with a group and did a tour where they went into the marsh lands and then we got to see the turtle. During covid times all must wear a mask. They do have a bathroom here and an area to hose off at.
There is also near there the Zachery Riverhouse 1 Harbor Rd, Jekyll. You can also turn right when you first get on the island and start at Zachary's and go around. Zacahrys has a great view of the boats and has a pool and shower for those who boat here. The food was good and they have inside and outside seating.
Now we will journey to the other side of the Island and would be if you had taken a left at the roundabout when you first entered the Island.
If you take a left at the circle back by the Westin and go a little way on your right is the Great Dunes Beach, It has a place to charge electrical cars, handicap beach access and a public restroom.
Across the street on the left is a cute Great Dunes Putt Putt , Red Bug pizza place, playground and you can rent bikes here too.
Tortugajacks 201 North Beachview Drive Jekyll They have free delivery on the island. This is a great place to sit outside. If you sit at the tikki bar you can get glimpses of the ocean. This is great for Mexican food and can get crowded. Menu
There is also a beach access here where you go down some steps and then take a little walk under a tree covered walk. I think it was the coolest walk to a beach yet. Click on the arrow in the pic for a slideshow of more pics.
Keep going and on the right is the Beach House to eat at that has a beach view from a far. We enjoyed it here and ate here a few times.
You will pass Drift Wood Beach on the right, which is amazing. You will see parking on the right at first and then later on the left. Below is pictures from when you park on the left. Many like to go at sunset to get pictures. You will see brides here, family photographers etc.
These are pictures if you park on the right closer to TortugaJacks.
Horton Pond (1175 N Loop Trail) is where you can see live alligators and turtles. You will see a street concert marker that says Horton Pond on the left, but you could easily pass it. You can turn in and you will see what looks like a gate but you can drive left and then you will see cars parked. There is an area you can go and sit and watch the alligators, turtles, fish and other wildlife at the pond. I could have sat here for hours. You can walk a path to the other side of the island from here and you end at the historic district.
On the right further down is the Pier across from the Campground. There are many areas to walk here and fish and they have a bait store here.
After you leave the Pier area, you can keep going and you come to the Historical District. This is where you would end up if you took the trail from Horton Park. I think it is roughly a mile. We parked along the road and got out to explore a little here.
You will pass where they rent Red Bugs on the right by the airport. They are golf cart type cars. They are a fun way to get around the Island. Red Bug 912-635-9330
You then come around to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. There is a fee to get in. When you walk in you go into the gift shop to get tickets. There is a little indoor museum in the back. They usually have some hands on things for kids, but they were shut due to covid. Then you walk outside to an open air building where they have the turtles they are taking care of. There is a public restroom here if needed.
There are a few shops, Jekyll Club, Mosaic Museum which we didn't have time to see and is on the list for next time. You can also get the Landmark Historic Trolley Tour from there for a ride around the island.
Across the way is where we took a 1 hour Dolphin tour with Captain Phillip The tour asks you get there about 15 mins before you leave. They have a little shop where you can get a bottle of water or Gatorade if you want and a few little gifts. We loved our tour guides. They retired and moved down here and live off one of the boats. We were lucky and saw a ton of dolphins on our trip. During covid times most did not wear masks.
After the tour we ate at the Wharf for an early dinner. They have a huge outdoor area to eat at.
As you leave the area, there is a nice trail and benches on the right at the site of the to sit and look at the water after you leave this area. Then it is basically back to where you entered the Island.
Handicapp access to beaches
**Days Inn has a beach wheelchair. I would suggest calling ahead to make sure they still have this and it is available.
Other places of interest we did not have time for:
Coastal Tide Excursions Lady Jane Shrimp
3 oaks carriage company for horse back riding
Highley recommend Stables at Frederica on Sea Island for a horse back ride!
Read here about my sons adventure.
Other Places to Eat:
Wee Pub (Thursdays Wharf Rats Play music)
Check out Saint Simmons Island about 20 minutes away! https://www.miltonmomsfamilyfunaroundtheatl.com/post/saint-simon-island-georgia
On the way to Jekyll you pass by Liberty Ship Park. It is on teh right before you go over the bridge. This is a good place to fish or have a picnic.
Check back each Tuesday to learn tips for your families trips! Check here for other trips I have posted about! In this every changing world, this information is to the best of my knowledge accurate but things can change daily, so I suggest you always double check before you visit.