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Journey to Jekyll Island
by Caitlin Moore

If you have Georgia on your mind, or in particular, a historic and scenic slice of Georgia with enough activities to keep you and your family busy for the duration of a satisfying holiday, then consider a trip down to Jekyll Island. Located in the southwest corner along the Atlantic coast, this jewel of a place holds its own along with the rest of the charming and ideal vacation locations in this area.

Known specifically for a colorful history that includes mention of Native Americans, English colonization, French ownership, and a group of wealthy landowners know as the Jekyll Island Club, it is now largely designated as a historical landmark district, and can be toured and explored in order to uncover all the influences and hidden personality quirks that make it so rich today.

The district can be investigated on one's own, or guided tours are available to fill you in on all the details. If affluence and high society interest you, the gilded era, which found the island inhabited by the country's elite during the winters, can be revisited by means of museums and shuttles that navigate through what is known as "Millionaire Village." Restored cottages will allow you see how the lucky ones lived, and the well-educated tour guides will tell you all about the customs and habits of this fascinatingly out-of-the-ordinary group of people.

If you're here for the beaches, you'll have ten miles of shell-filled, peaceful coastline at your disposal. Lounging in the sun and swimming away the afternoon are the perfect pursuits for a Jekyll Island vacation, so be sure to properly appreciate the gifts of this barrier island. It is also designated an "Important Birding Area" by the Georgia Audubon Societies, so keep your eyes open for any number of exotic and migrating species that may be sitting in the trees or searching the surf for their next meal.

To get up close and personal to the salt marshes and estuaries, take a plunge and rent a kayak or a canoe. Guided tours will point out all the sights of this interesting ecosystem, but don't be afraid to head out on your own for a peaceful adventure filled with unfamiliar yet inviting glimpses of a whole new world. The Tidelands Nature Center will allow you to further acquaint yourself with the marine life, particularly the shy creatures like alligators, snakes, sea turtles, and hermit crabs.

Wandering the dunes, chartering a sail boat, and heading out on horse back are a few more ways to see the untrammeled beauty of this protected island. You won't necessarily feel like you're out in the wilderness every second of the day, however, being that there are plenty of golf courses, tennis courts, and shopping opportunities to keep you busy in a different way. Expansive greens, clay surfaces, and antique and specialty stores distinguish Jekyll Island from so many other tourist traps, a feature you'll come to appreciate more and more as your stay goes on.

Twenty miles of paved bicycle paths make for another fun and healthy way to spend your day. They can be rented or brought from home, either way making for a fresh-air filled and family-oriented means of transporting yourselves from one end of the island to another, perhaps stopping for a picnic at your halfway point. A water park will further please the kiddies (and the young at heart) and if you're up for day trips, consider traipsing over to one of the other vacation hotspots. St. Simons Island, Darien, St. Mary's, Cumberland, and others would all be worth a look, so if the wandering spirit overtakes you, go for it, and still be home in time for supper.

A number of special events will further entice you to get out and enjoy the view from Jekyll Island, so hopefully your stay here will correspond with a fun celebration or gathering. The annual Beach Music Festival is a big one, and organized turtle and hatchling walks are frequent occurrences that illustrate the lives of the island's precious wildlife while educating the public as well. It's a vacation all year round here, so you'll surely feel like making merry no matter what the season.

Finally, to top it all off, consider renting a vacation property for your Jekyll Island holiday. The amenities and conveniences of a beach home or poolside condo are unrivaled, and we all know that things just go better when everyone has enough space. Set yourself up for success and earn the praise of your fellow travelers by going online to reserve a Jekyll Island Vacation Rental that will complete your Georgia getaway.

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