As one of Georgia’s Golden Isles, Jekyll Island is much quieter than its neighboring St. Simon’s. Prior to a few years ago, there was no gas station on the island. There’s also a toll to get onto the island that is $8 for a day.
In recent years, the island has been used as a filming location for movies such as Glory, X-Men: First Class, The Legend of Bagger Vance, and Magic Mike: XXL.
The island was originally inhabited by Creek Indians before the arrival of the Europeans. The British colonized the area and it was here that the state’s first brewery was founded.
In the 1800s, the Jekyll Island Club was founded, which became a vacation spot for the rich and famous. It was here that the Federal Reserve System was planned. Jekyll is also home to yearly events like the Shrimp and Grits Festival and the Turtle Crawl weekend.
What to Do on Jekyll Island
Driftwood Beach- Located on the northernmost point of the island, this beach is where years of sunbleached trees and driftwood have washed up. They look like a wooden playground covering the sand. It’s one of many beaches on the island, along with Glory Beach and St. Andrews Beach.
The Georgia Sea Turtle Center– This is the state’s foremost home for rehabilitated sea turtles. Here you’ll see exhibits on the species of turtles found in the area and a hospital where turtles stay until they are released back into the wild.
Mosaic, the Jekyll Island Museum– The museum shares information on the island’s Gilded Age and beyond, including exhibits and historic houses. It’s located within former stables and contains uniforms from the Jekyll Club and artifacts from the Wanderer slave ship.
Wanderer Memory Memorial– Set at St. Andrew’s Beach, the trail has interactive exhibits about the last slave ship to land in Georgia and the people that survived the ordeal.
Jekyll Island Tour– You can go on a day trip from Savannah that visits the island’s highlights. Boat and trolley tours run around the island, which provides background information to the area’s history.
Historic tours– Visit the grounds of the Jekyll Island Club to see the 240-acre historic district and the homes of Millionaire’s Row. They leave from the Mosaic Museum and some allow you to tour the homes.
Tidelands Nature Center– This facility offers kayak rentals, has exhibits on coastal ecosystems, and offers lectures. They’re affiliated with the 4-H Center, which also has programming for groups.
Summer Waves Water Park– Open only during the summer months, this water park is located on the western side of the island near the causeway. It has massive slides, a wave pool, and cabanas to relax in.
Red Bug Motors– Jekyll Island has 20 miles of bike trails that run through most of it. This company rents both bicycles and electric cars, which you can drive on the road. You’ll find charging stations throughout town. They also have a mini-golf course.
Where to Eat on Jekyll Island
Driftwood Bistro– This Southern restaurant inspired by the namesake beach offers special menus for dietary restrictions and allergies. Favorites include fried okra and bread pudding.
Eighty Ocean Kitchen and Bar– Located at the Jekyll Ocean Club, the popular restaurant has weekend brunch, a raw bar, and pizza oven. Menu favorites include their seafood pizza, goat cheese hushpuppies, and lobster mac and cheese.
Jekyll Market– This market sells groceries and also has in-house eateries. There’s a bakery, deli, cafe, and barbecue restaurant. You can pick up essentials like a bottle of wine to enjoy in your room.
Red Bug Motor’s Pizza & Pub– The casual eatery offers laid-back dining where you also rent bicycles. They serve up pizza and other Italian favorites in a family-friendly setting.
Tortuga Jacks– The casual Mexican restaurant near the Westin is set right on the ocean, the only one in town. Here you’ll find Baja favorites like tacos, as well as fresh seafood.
The Wharf – Located at the Jekyll Island Club, the restaurant overlooks the water with live music and coastal fare. They have one of the best sunset views, along with fresh Georgia shrimp and craft cocktails.
Where to Stay on Jekyll Island
Beachview Club Hotel– The 38-room boutique hotel has ocean views and coastal decor. Relax in the courtyard surrounded by live oaks or in their heated pool. There’s also an onsite restaurant.
Holiday Inn Resort Jekyll Island– This is the budget-friendly option on the island but includes all the resort amenities. Popular with families, kids eat free at the onsite restaurant.
Jekyll Island Club Resort– The classic hotel is made up of the original 1888 hotel property and historic villas on the grounds. There’s also the all-suite oceanfront Jekyll Ocean Club Resort. The resort also has six bars and restaurants. Read our review here.
Jekyll Island Campground– Just down the street from the Driftwood Beach. this campground offers tent and RV sites.
Little Raccoon Key– Located is on a reef island off the coast of Jekyll Island, this unique option offers both daytime fishing charters and overnight glamping in luxurious tents.
Seafarer Inn & Suites– The renovated Ascend Collection property offers pet-friendly suites, an outdoor pool open seasonally, and complimentary daily breakfast.
The Westin Jekyll Island– The hotel is located next to the Convention Center with 180 guest rooms and 13 suites, some with oceanfront balconies. They have multiple restaurants, a rooftop bar, a pool, and a fitness center. Read our review here.
Rentals- Search for rentals all over the island on websites like Booking.com, VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owner, and Airbnb. Most are not beachfront because of the layout of the island, but many are a short walk away. The Dollyanna is one of the most popular rentals.
Actually, Courtyard at Crane closed in 2017. It is permanently closed.
Caroline Eubanks says
Thanks, Rachel. I’m working on updating this guide.