Bike riding is one of our favorite ways to get exercise and enjoy being outside. We have a couple of Raleigh Hybrids that suit our leisurely style perfectly. They are also durable and easy to transport. We take them with us on most of our in-state travels and have ventured beyond the State line on occasion.
A few years ago we discovered a pretty magical place, just five hours from home on the East Coast. Jekyll Island, GA is about one hour north of the Florida state line, and about fifteen miles East of the I95 exit to Brunswick, GA. This barrier island is unique for several reasons, but most notable is the fact that it is a Georgia State Park. There are residences on the island, along with several hotels to accommodate visitors. Land cannot be owned here and only 35% of the park can be built upon, which leaves acres and acres for exploring.
Jekyll Island is the epitome of laid-back leisure. Many hotels are within a walk or bike ride of the historic district and quaint shops. There are a lot of great restaurants and we highly recommend the Driftwood Bistro for dinner. Tortuga Jacks, which sits on the ocean is fun for lunch or a casual dinner. If you want to go more upscale, visit the Jekyll Island Club’s Grand Dinning Room or Club Cafe. Sunday brunch here is a great value. We haven’t tried it yet, but there is a restaurant in the Westin hotel that gets good reviews. And, worth mentioning is the Boardwalk Deli which is great for a quick sandwich or bagel.
With over twenty miles of bike trails in a continuous loop, this is by far one of the prettiest rides we have ever taken. The trail cuts over marshes and through thick woods, it meanders alongside the mansions and grand hotel in the Historic district and passes many miles of protected sand dunes. Time your ride for low tide and you can ride the full length of the ocean side of the Island right on the beach.
Jekyll Island offers endless possibilities for capturing beautiful images.
Where to stay on Jekyll Island
We have stayed in several of the hotels on this island, including the Holiday Inn Resort, the Westin Hotel and the Hampton Inn. If you want luxury, choose the Westin or the Jekyll Island Club (we have not stayed here), which gets great reviews. The Westin which is the newest hotel on the island is located directly on the ocean and in the middle of town square. It is within walking distance to the historic district. This is a beautiful hotel, with spacious rooms. It can get pricey in season, but off-season rates are good. The Hampton Inn is reasonably priced, but somewhat lacking in ambiance and there is no beach view from the lower level rooms. Our favorite place to stay, both for value and location is the Holiday Inn Resort. It is an old fashioned resort hotel that has been completely renovated. Most rooms are over-sized and have a view of the ocean, which is highly convenient for an early morning sunrise photo shoot or walk on the beach. The island bike trail can be easily accessed from here as well. The new Beachview Club is great for lunch and drinks in the evening, but we have not yet tried it for dinner.
The thing that draws us back and will forever, is the “feel” of the place. If you can’t relax here, then it probably is not possible.
February Update: We just returned from a two night stay at the Holiday Inn Resort on Jekyll Island where we celebrated Valentine’s Day and participated in the island Treasure Hunt that goes on from January 1 – February 28th.
Photo borrowed from Golden Isles Georgia Website
While we did not find one of the beautiful glass globes that is hidden on the island, we did discover another treasure; the Courtyard at Crane. The restaurant is inside the Crane Cottage, which sits on the grounds of the beautiful Jekyll Island Hotel. The home was built in 1913 and remains one of the jewels of this island. Fine dinning in a casual, yet elegant atmosphere was what we were looking for and that is exactly what we found at the Courtyard. Although fully booked, our dinning experience was never rushed. The service was professional and the food was well prepared, nicely presented and delicious.
Jekyll Island has many treasures that are “hidden in plain sight.” The least among them are pretty handmade glass globes. Happy hunting!