Ready to explore some of the best things to do in Jekyll Island? This beautiful little island is a part of a group of barrier islands off the coast of Georgia called the Golden Islands. Sitting among St. Simons Island, Sea Island, and Little Simons Island, Jekyll Island is home to beautiful beaches, Spanish moss covered trees, historical sites, and adventurous opportunities.
You will enjoy mouth-watering coastal cuisine and delicious southern staples, exploring historical and educational spots, gazing at sea turtles, and strolling on driftwood covered beaches during your visit to the island. Whether you are taking a girls trip, a solo getaway, a weekend trip with family, or anything in between, you are sure to fall in love with Jekyll Island!
15 Best Things To Do On Jekyll Island GA You Shouldn’t Miss
If you are looking for free things to do in Jekyll Island, visiting Driftwood Beach is one of the best! This is one of the best beaches in Georgia and is consistently rated among the top ten most romantic beaches in the country. Ancient driftwood lines the shores, creating a super interesting and interactive backdrop.
Of all the beaches in the south, Driftwood Beach is one that you won’t want to miss. It has been featured in countless magazines and other publications, including USA Today.
If you’re traveling with kids, they will love walking along the driftwood logs and hanging from the branches. Likewise, couples and solo travelers will love sitting along the logs to watch the sunrise over the rolling waves. This beach is arguably the most beautiful area in the state, and definitely one of the best things to do in Jekyll Island.
Jekyll Island Boat Tours
If you are looking for relaxing Jekyll Island activities, check out Jekyll Island Boat Tours. Taking a tour of a new place is always a great way to get acquainted with the area. A relaxing boat ride around the Golden Isles is truly a breath of fresh air.
One of the best parts about the waters around the islands is that they are teeming with dolphins! Of course, you can also see herons, manatees, egrets, and other wildlife as well. The dolphin tours are the most popular boat tours leaving from the islands.
Enjoy a 90 minutes sightseeing tour where you can watch bottlenose dolphins jumping from the water and socializing with each other, explore the Intracoastal waterways, salt marshes, and more. To really make your boat tour a memorable one, consider taking a tour at sunset!
Jekyll Island Historic District Restaurants
When it’s time to explore the island at night, head to the Jekyll Island Historic District. Visiting this area is one of the best things to do in Jekyll Island at night. This is due, in part, to all of the amazing places to eat dinner. There are fine dining establishments, seafood restaurants, and casual places where you can sit and drink, listen to music, and enjoy the atmosphere.
Of course, the historic district is just as lovely during the day as well. You can find places to grab artinsanal coffee, baked items, and bagels. The Pantry is a good choice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have grab-and-go lunches for when you need to make a quick pit stop for food, hot breakfast sandwiches, and fresh salads and sandwiches for a fresh meal before enjoying the rest of the district.
For something upbeat and lively, you will want to visit The Wharf. This is one of the best restaurants in Jekyll Island. They have live music, open-air dining, and a menu full of delicious Southern cuisine. You can order some hushpuppies, shrimp and grits, or maybe some crab cakes. No matter what you get at The Wharf, your visit is sure to be memorable. It doesn’t get much better than their southern dishes with a riverfront sunset on the pier.
Horseback Riding on the Beach
For couples visiting Georgia, you may be looking for some romantic things to do in Jekyll Island. Of course, a romantic dinner under the stars while you listen to the crashing waves is always a good idea. However, horseback riding is another can’t-miss item to add to your itinerary. Three Oaks Farm is the largest business offering horseback rides on the island.
You can find short one-hour beach rides or longer three-hour rides that go through the forest. Couples may also be interested in the one-hour moonlight rides or the one-and-a-half-hour sunset beach ride. If you are traveling solo or with your family, you are sure to enjoy a ride on the beach as well. There are no weight restrictions on riders, and children as young as five can participate!
Georgia Sea Turtle Center
One of the best Jekyll Island family activities is visiting the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. This is an amazing site on the island where you can see and learn about sea turtles. One of the best things about this site is that it’s perfect for travelers of all ages. Whether you are traveling with kids or not, the center is an amazing place to visit and support during your time on the island.
Each year, the sea turtle center helps rehabilitate sea turtles who have been cold-stunned. They are given a round of themed names that are different every year. When you visit, you may notice all the turtles are named after rockstars or different types of cheeses! You can explore the inside of the center where there are educational opportunities and tanks full of sea critters who are being rehabilitated by the center.
For family travelers, the sea turtle center is super exciting and definitely one of the best things to do in Jekyll Island. You and your little ones will fall in love with the baby sea turtles! After taking part in the learning activities indoors that are catered to children, you can then step outside to the outdoor building where they have pools of sea turtles being cared for by the team at the center.
Summer Waves Water Park
Another exciting place to be on the island with kids, Summer Waves Water Park, is full of fun water attractions for some fun in the sun. A wave pool, splash pad, lazy river, kids zone, water slides, and more are all ready for your visit to the park. If you are in search of an adrenaline rush, you’ll love Pirates Cove and Man O’War waterslides.
There are opportunities to do some shopping and grab a bite to eat while you are at the waterpark too. Larry’s Giant Subs is on-site and has a variety of lunch options for your visit to the park. They have hot dogs, salads, ice cream, and more for you to choose from. The Summer Waves Water Park is one of the best things to do in Jekyll Island with kids!
St. Simons Island Lighthouse
Visiting the St. Simons Island Lighthouse is one of the best things to do near Jekyll Island, GA. If you have time to head over to St. Simons Island, you will be in for a treat! One of the Golden Isles, St. Simons Island, is one of the prettiest islands in Georgia. The lighthouse is located on the shoreline and is surrounded by lush green grass, palm trees, and of course, crashing waves.
There’s a lovely museum at the bottom of the lighthouse that used to be the Keeper’s Dwelling that showcases the history of coastal Georgia. If you want amazing views of the island, climb the 129 steps to the top of the lighthouse. Here you can get panoramic views of Jekyll Island, mainland Georgia, and the south end of St. Simons Island. The lighthouse stands at 104 feet tall and is the perfect viewing point for enjoying the views of coastal Georgia.
Mosaic Jekyll Island Museum
The Mosaic is one of the coolest places to visit in Jekyll Island. This is a history museum in the historic district near the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. Outside, you will find a large letter sign perfect for anyone looking for a nice Instagram picture or general photo opportunity while visiting the island. There are beautiful water features and plant life around the museum as well.
Inside, you will find beautiful stained glass windows and a plethora of information about the island and the state as a whole. There is also a gift shop where you can find timeless memorabilia and gifts to take home with you from your travels. Visiting the Mosaic Museum is the best way to learn about the area, putting it near the top of the list of best things to do in Jekyll Island.
Bike Around the Island
When it comes to the best things to do on Jekyll Island outdoors, biking around the island is at the top of the list. There are several companies around the island where you can rent a bike or surries to tour the island. Beachside Bike Rental, Jekyll Bike Barn, and Jekyll Wheels are all places where you can rent a variety of different transports.
There are twenty-five miles of paved biking paths on Jekyll Island that you can explore. You will see a variety of natural island beauty and stunning architecture. When you bike along the bike paths, you can explore the historic district, pedal through forests of live oaks and palm trees, and see beautiful beaches.
Additionally, you can also find places where you rent electric bikes and golf carts in the Golden Isles. If you don’t want to exert as much energy as a bike calls for, an electric bike would be ideal for you. If you don’t want to pedal at all… look no further than Red Bug Motors. The red carts from Red Bug Motors are the most iconic rentals you can find on the island.
Take a Paddle Tour Around the Island
For adventurous travelers, taking a paddling tour is one of the best things to do in Jekyll Island for adults. You will love paddling through the twists and turns of the salt marshes seeing everything from beautiful herons and other sea birds to crabs and dolphins. If you’re lucky, you may even see manatees!
There are many tour companies in the Golden Isles to choose from. You can find kayak, canoe, and paddleboard tours that suit your needs, or you can rent a self-propelled watercraft to head out on the water alone. Exploring the water’s edge, enjoying the fresh air, stopping to rest in the shade of the palm trees, and watching egrets fly alongside you… there’s nothing like paddling around Jekyll Island.
Horton House is among the best historical attractions in Jekyll Island. William Horton was granted Jekyll Island in 1735, and he built a home on the island in 1743, which is called Horton House. William was seen as a great leader of the growing colony, and he was a top military aid to General Oglethorpe.
At this house and on his land, William Horton grew different crops and brewed the first beer in the state of Georgia. You can walk through the remains of the home and explore the grounds as well. From 1790 until 1886, the house was occupied by the DuBignon Family, and their family cemetery is on the home nearby. For history lovers, visiting this site is one of the best things to do in Jekyll Island as it is among the oldest tabby buildings in the state.
Jekyll Island Beach Village
While spending hours in the sun and ocean can be a lot of fun, you may also want to check out the Jekyll Island Beach Village. This is a shopping center full of restaurants, boutique shops, and more. In the village, you will be able to find clothes, home decor, souvenirs, sweets, alcohol, golf and tennis gear, swimming and beach products, and much more.
Bringing something home from your time spent on the island, like commemorative wine glasses or postcards to tape to the fridge, is a great way to remember your time spent in beautiful Georgia. After a day spent in the sunshine, take some time to walk around the village and do some window shopping (or actual shopping!) before heading off to an amazing seafood dinner on the waterfront.
Stay in a Historical Island Cottage
When looking for where to stay on Jekyll Island, consider renting a historical island cottage. With the rich history of coastal Georgia and the Golden Isles, you can find many historical cottages that make for beautiful and intriguing places to stay on the island. Many of the cottages are historical landmarks and can be found in the historic district.
Many of the cottages on the island have been turned into historical landmarks or museums which make for great sites to see during your visit but some are open for visitors for accommodation. Staying at one of these remarkable historic island cottages should be at the top of your list as it is one of the best things to so in Jekyll Island. Sleeping in a room that is steeped with history is something you won’t want to miss during your visit.
Tidelands Nature Center
The Tideland Nature Center is run by the Georgia 4-H. They offer hands-on ecology programs, guided tours of the waterways, and a showcase of native wildlife. As one of the best activities in Jekyll Island, you won’t want to skip visiting this lovely little nature center. Inside, you will find turtles, fish, crabs, and other critters which the Georgia 4-H cares for.
The sealife is super fun for children to get to see. It’s a great learning experience for little ones and a chance to teach them about the importance of conservation. The nature center does a great job of educating the public about what to do when you see sea animals in the wild and how to save animals in distress.
During your visit, you may even get the chance to hold one of the animals that the center has on-site. Something to keep in mind, you may be required to pay in cash, so make sure you have some on hand in case this is the case. The Tidelands Nature Center is among the best things to do in Jekyll Island, and the mission of the Georgia 4-H is worth supporting as well!
Landmark Trolley Tour
When it comes to fun things to do in Jekyll Island, the Landmark Trolley Tour is at the top of the list. Riding in the trolley is super relaxing and allows you to see the best of the island without having to focus on driving. You can truly chill and enjoy your surroundings while you explore the barrier island with the help of a guide.
The tour will take you into the Gilded Age, where you can see the handiwork of the empire builders of the past. You will see historical landmarks as well as be allowed entrance to a historic cottage, the Mosaic Gallery, and the Faith Chapel, all with your purchase of a ticket on the trolley tour. The tour will last for an hour, making it the perfect way to see many sites without taking up too much of your precious time on the island.
From natural beauty and amazing scenery to delicious dishes and wildlife viewing, there’s so much fun to be had on Jekyll Island, and all of Georgia as a whole for that matter. If you are planning a trip to the southeast, you may want to consider spending a day on Jekyll Island so that you can enjoy everything that the island has to offer.
The salty sea air and sunshine on the island may be just what you need to feel relaxed and free of the stress of life. Plus, you’ll never have to wonder what to do in Jekyll Island! Which of these exciting places will you visit first?