Even though I live less than two hours from this Georgian barrier island, I had never visited Jekyll Island. When the opportunity arose to spend some time there AND run a race with my sweet running friend, Meghan, I leaped at the chance.
The drive was easy enough and we arrived at our destination at midday. Even though it was wintery cold and we had a race the next day, we were excited to check in and start exploring our surroundings.
I fell straight in love with our ocean-view room at the Westin Jekyll Island.
There was plenty of space, the decor was light and airy,
and the bathroom was huge with a rainforest head in the shower. I loved the decal on the mirror telling about their Gear Lending program: for only $5, athletic clothes and shoes from New Balance will be delivered to your room, so if you didn’t have room to pack your fitness gear (or even if you forgot), your exercise regimen won’t be derailed! Little touches like that always make my experience so much more special.
After we dropped off our things, we made our way down to the Expo for packet pickup. This was located right in the hotel, which made things very uncomplicated. We also took the opportunity to snag some coffee, which we enjoyed in the lobby.
Our host joined us briefly to give us an overview of the hotel and the surrounding areas, and we put together an afternoon plan as we cleaned up.
After its discovery, Jekyll Island found fame as a vacation destination for the affluent. The Pulitzers and the Rockefellers were among the elite few who spent their leisure time hunting and enjoying the beaches and marshes here. In 1947, Jekyll Island was turned into a State Park, and it remains one to this day.
For a mere $6 fee to enter the Island (weekly and seasonal passes are available), visitors have an entire, secluded world at their fingertips. Whether they choose to explore the serene beaches, wander the historic downtown, sample delicious food overlooking the water, take a bike or kayak tour or engage in a round of golf, there is no limit to the fun to be had.
We opted to start our fun with a trip to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. This conservation center serves to treat and rehabilitate sick and injured sea turtles, as well as to educate guests on the dangers turtles face from their environment and how we can help reduce their risks.
In a separate building, recovering sea turtles basked in their pools. We had a few minutes to read the backstories and diagnoses of the different patients,
and then we were able to watch a feeding.
Little man would love it here.
Next on our walking tour was the Jekyll Island Club Resort. We wandered the grounds and the lobby,
and then made our way through the historic cottages on the property to admire the trees and the architecture.
We walked out to the wharf overlooking the water.
and visited all the little shops. I was especially interested in the local glass art. There were some beautiful pieces of decor and jewelry created by the area’s artists, and we even got to see some of the unique glass fishing floats, similar to the ones that get hidden around the
With more time, a bike or trolley tour of the island would have been just the thing. I would have loved to see Driftwood Beach and checked out the trail systems. I also know that the Summer Waves waterpark will be a favorite with our little guy.
By late afternoon, we were thoroughly worn out by the fresh air and ready for dinner, so we took the quick ride back to the Westin.
A Happy Hour cocktail at the hotel bar was a great way to toast to a beautiful weekend.
Our meal at The Reserve was nothing short of incredible. From the ambiance, to the wine list, to our server, we couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful dining experience. Choosing from the menu was difficult because everything sounded divine, but we finally settled on sharing the Roasted Beet Salad with goat cheese, toasted pistachios and balsamic
the Lobster Macaroni and Cheese,
and then we each had our own entree. After much consideration, I went with a seafood classic: Fried Shrimp.
Sadly, there was no room for dessert.
That night, we very happily crashed into the signature “Heavenly” beds and enjoyed a wonderful night’s sleep. I’m sure a long afternoon outside and the serenity of the island helped, but I was so comfortable and woke up well-rested and raring to go.
Hotel guests were welcome to enjoy a pre-race breakfast in the restaurant, and we grabbed coffee, juice and bagels before we headed to the start line. It was great to have some fuel available and not have to worry about packing something to bring along.
Both the start and finish lines were within a quarter mile of the Westin, which was incredibly convenient, especially considering the cold weather. We were able to walk both ways, and left anything extra in our room.
The race was wonderful (more on that in a later post), and we loved getting the chance to see even more of Jekyll Island on our 6.2 mile run.
No island trip would be complete without a visit to the beach, so we did just that.
Of course, Meghan and I were sorry to leave so much history, nature and beauty. With the Jekyll Island Marathon & 10K and upcoming events like Whiskey, Wine and Wildlife, the winter months in Jekyll Island promise more than a little something for everyone.
I’m already checking our calendar so we can schedule our return.
Have you ever visited Jekyll Island?
Do you have nearby destination gems within a few hours of you?