Quick Guide For A Family Friendly Vacation In Jekyll Island, Georgia
Jekyll Island Club Resort provided our lodging accommodations; all opinions and reviews are my own. This post also contains sponsored links.
Our family just returned from a wonderful vacation in Jekyll Island, GA. We drove from Birmingham, AL to spend three nights and three days in the low country and beaches of Georgia at the historical and lovely Jekyll Island Club Resort. We have four children, ages 15, 13, 11, and 5. We enjoyed riding bikes, playing on the beach, swimming in the pools, and relaxing on the sweeping, southern verandas.
I’m excited to share with you our recommendations for a vacation on where to stay, what to do, and where to eat in Jekyll Island.
I wanted to keep it simple, both with how you spend your time so that it’s not too much packed into a few days, but also to encourage you to make the most of the quality time you spend with your loved ones.
Where To Stay:
Last year my husband and I had the privilege of staying at the Jekyll Island Club Resort (my husband had surprised me with an extended weekend for my 40th birthday), and knew we wanted to bring our children back to experience it too. It’s an island resort located on the coast of Georgia, and its rich history is apparent the moment you enter its breathtaking grounds. The first things you notice, besides the trees, are the stunning cottages and the majestic clubhouse. This legendary resort is a dream for adults with its sense of history and first-class amenities. But our children absolutely FELL IN LOVE with it the moment we drove up.
The Jekyll Island Resort Club has a sister property, the Jekyll Ocean Club, that is just a shuttle ride away from the resort and is located on the beach. As a guest of the Resort Club, you have access to all of the amenities at the Ocean Club, including a pool, beach access with complimentary beach chairs and umbrellas, and a restaurant.
One of the things about Jekyll Island that has really captivated us is the beaches. We're from Alabama, and enjoy regular trips to the Gulf. Whether we stay in Orange Beach or 30-A, we're used to a beach experience that is more crowded, more touristy. Condos, houses, and high rises packed together. We love the Gulf. But we didn't know what we were missing until we stepped foot on Jekyll's beaches.
The beach has a nostalgic feeling that's hard to put into words. No high rise condominiums in site, only tall grass and tree adorned dunes giving way to a sweeping, flat beach that stretches for miles. The open beach is breathtaking and begs you to run, throw the ball, or just relax. We highly encourage you to swing by Driftwood beach to experience the mysterious wonder of the driftwood that appears at low tide each evening. Check tide times to know when to arrive and get there plenty of time before sunset for pictures.
What To Do:
One of the great things about Jekyll Island is there are so many things to do, both at the Resort Club and at the beach. A highlight of the trip was our early evening bike ride that started at Jekyll Wheels (they have a great assortment of bike options at their rental center located on the club grounds), winded along tree-shaded trails and eventually took us to the beach. We enjoyed getting off the bikes and playing in the sand as the evening neared sunset.
I don't think I'll ever forget the ride back to the resort. Just before sunset, we pedaled along the riding trail. As the sun was setting below the wide marsh-land, we stopped our bikes on a weathered bridge and watched the sun dip below the horizon. It was a fitting way to cap off a great trip.
During our first day, we enjoyed visiting The Georgia Sea Turtle Center that is located on the Jekyll Island Resort grounds, just a quick walk from the main clubhouse. The children learned about the efforts of the center, how these animals receive physical therapy and nutrition to hopefully return them to their homes in the sea. In addition to all of the turtles who were rehabbing, we were able to watch the doctor and his team perform life-saving surgery on a turtle who had swallowed a fishing hook. The operation was successful, and the turtle is expected to make a full recovery.
Our children are “water bugs” and love to swim. This trip provided many swimming options. Both the Jekyll Island Club Resort and the Ocean Club have gorgeous pools. The Club Resort pool is right behind the back veranda and is set against the beautiful view of the tidal low-country just beyond the club's property. The Ocean Club's pool is everything you'd expect from a hotel on the beach (plus, the Atlantic is just a few hundred feet away). Both pools have restaurant/bar access, plenty of chairs and umbrellas, and towel service. The staff are so friendly and capable.
On the last full day of our trip, we spent several hours at the Summer Waves Water Park. This water park had something for everyone in our family to enjoy! From super-fast, thrilling slides to a giant wave pool, we had a great time. One of my favorite moments was watching our youngest son shoot out of the slide's tunnel exclaiming that he wanted to do it again and again! The park was very clean and offered lockers and plenty of food and snack options.
Where To Eat:
There are several dining options that are all excellent on the island. One of the reasons we love The Jekyll Island Club Resort is that you don't have to leave the resort grounds to have excellent meals the entirety of your trip. Let's start with The Wharf restaurant, just a three-minute walk from the main clubhouse. We highly recommend this for its live music, beautiful outdoor views, and delicious food. (The low country broil is a must-eat.) The Wharf is kid-friendly and has a great dock area to walk around while waiting for your food to arrive.
For a quick bite, The Pantry became a frequent stop for our family. Located in the interior courtyard of the main clubhouse, The Pantry offers breakfast food (the breakfast sandwiches are our favorite!), decadent desserts, and snacks throughout the day.
The best dining option at the resort was the 5-star rated Grand Dining Room. This dining room has true southern charm with its white, wood planked ceilings, views of the gorgeous trees, and white tablecloth place settings that are all so lovely. My daughter said that she could sit there “forever,” because of the delightful ambiance and delicious food. And she is right!
The breakfast buffet is can’t-miss (the bread pudding won our hearts), and dress is casual. But if you’re going to dinner, make sure you bring your dress attire. Coats are required for the gentlemen, which to me, just adds to the overall ambience and makes the meal a little more memorable.
This weekend trip with our family to Jekyll Island is definitely one to remember.
We made treasured memories. We got outside in nature. We swam. We ate. We explored. It was a dreamy time we won’t soon forget. I hope this guide gets you headed toward Jekyll Island and Jekyll Island Resort Club. You won’t be disappointed!