Happy Hour and Walking Hand in Hand on the Beach
Ceremony and tradition dictate opening a beach weekend by dipping your toes in the Atlantic Ocean. Head to the Great Dunes Park and continue to the far north end of the parking lot. A short boardwalk takes you over the dunes and onto the wide beach. You take your lover’s hand when your toes hit the sand and press forward until the waves lap gently at your ankles. You inhale a deep breath of salt air and feel the stress of the week slipping out of your body and into the ocean. A few more breath cycles and the sounds of the waves fill your mind. A long hug and kiss and an I love you complete your welcome ceremony. You walk back across the sand, feeling connected and peaceful.
You’re parked next to Tortuga Jacks which offers Mexican favorites in a casual atmosphere. They also have a weekday happy hour with half priced apps and discount margaritas until 7:00. There’s a late dinner tonight, so you indulge in a little of both from the patio — cheers to a romantic weekend.
What Is the Most Romantic Hotel on Jekyll Island?
It’s apparent that you wanted to stay with the Jekyll Island Club, they have the best properties on the island. The question is, should you stay at the historic Jekyll Island Cottages or the all-suite Jekyll Ocean Club? For weekends, both require a two-night minimum stay, but, if they have availability, you can split that and spend one night in each. For the sake of this story, we’ll assume that you are spending Friday night at the Ocean Club and shifting over to the Historic District in the morning.
On the way down the Ocean Club, you stop at Jekyll Beverage Center for a bottle. You consider the locally sourced Snapping Turtle Tequila, but that seems like a little too much. Instead, you pick up a bottle or two of Jekyll Island Reserve. It’s a midrange wine that’s very drinkable. You wonder if the name was a nod to the infamous Federal Reserve “duck hunting” trip to Jekyll Island, but that thought quickly passes. With the essentials in hand, you check into the Jekyll Ocean Club.
Sunset and S’ mores
Friday night is all about enjoying the Ocean Club, and you have lots of options. There’s sipping drinks on your private ocean view balcony, jumping in the pool, or soaking in the hot tub. Eventually, you’ll make your way down to 80 Ocean, the on-premise restaurant. Of course, they offer fresh seafood, but they are the best the restaurant on the island for high-end southern comfort food like stuffed green tomatoes, goat cheese hush puppies, and roast peach fondue. Just make sure you save room for dessert.
For dessert, you opt to move to the poolside fire pit. It’s just like beach camping with catered food and a lot less sand. If you’re feeling like getting dirty, you can order a s’ more kit and grill your own gooey goodness. For us, we couldn’t resist the banana mocha chocolate pate. It’s a terrine of milk, dark, and white chocolate, caramelized banana, and dried cherries. It’s like a chocolate mousse with a surprise in every bite. You retire to your room feeling very, very happy.
Photo Shoots or Sleeping In
The perfect Saturday morning on a Jekyll Island romantic weekend is all up to you. You can wake up early and shoot the sunrise at Driftwood Beach or stay snuggled in bed with your love. Notice that we don’t have any sunrise photos, but it’s an option. There are some amazing shots we saw online with the sun peeking through the twisted branches of Driftwood Beach. You get to avoid all the people in your frames too.
No matter how you wake up, we suggest that you enjoy breakfast at Sunset Grille. It’s just up the road from the Ocean Club across the street from Jekyll Beverage Center. It’s nothing too fancy, but if you wanted to splurge for shrimp and grits, it’s on the menu. Ed indulged because he just couldn’t get enough of that sweet Georgia Shrimp. The marsh grass they eat is related to sugar cane, so that makes the meat so sweet. Random fact, Georgia shrimp is the most valuable seafood in the state. In fact, it brings in more money than all the other seafood combined. After breakfast, it’s time to head on over to the Jekyll Island Club in the Historic District.
Checking into the Historic District
The Jekyll Island Historic District is only 1.5 miles away from the Ocean Club, but it feels like another world. As you drive in, you notice the live oaks draped in Spanish moss. It feels like you’ve entered the antebellum South, but this was actually the winter vacation homes of the East Coast elite. There are some clues, of course. For instance, many of the cottages were fashioned after Newport Rhode Island beach houses. The widow’s peaks look out into the marshes instead of the open ocean, and the full basements are always taking on water. There’re also the attached kitchens, which makes perfect sense in the Northeast, but adds entirely too much heat in the South.
Jekyll Island Club Resort runs four historic properties where you can stay. The first is the iconic clubhouse that has come to represent the entire island. They also have rooms in San Souci, Crane, and Cherokee Cottages. We stayed at the San Souci, which was historic, quiet, and intimate. Our room even had a working fireplace we could use if we return in the winter and our own private section of wrap around porch to rock away the day. We wanted to see the Presidential Suite at the clubhouse, which features access to the Clubhouse Tower, but it was occupied. Hopefully by one of the three groups of newlyweds who tied the knot at Jekyll Island that weekend.
Jekyll Island Historic District Tours
The “Main Drag” of the Historic District is Pier Road that runs directly inland from, you guessed it, the pier. Call in and make a reservation with the Jekyll Island Museum for the Landmark Tour to learn the history of Jekyll Island. We were a little confused with the naming. Everybody seems to call the building Mosaic, but it shows up on Google Maps as the Jekyll Island Museum (with huge letters in front that say Mosaic). To make it easy, just walk up Pier Rd until you run into it just past Stable.
Either before or after the tour you should check out the sites in the Historic District. You have to see the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. They have a few permanent residents as well as rehab turtles. Some of these are stragglers from the loggerhead nest but, unfortunately, they also are continually patching up and rehabilitating the tortoises that get hit on the causeway. It’s a heartwarming tour for sure, and you can never have too many fluffy feelings on a romantic weekend. Make sure you check out the Faith Chapel, a historic church with beautiful stained-glass windows that are included in the Historic Tour ticket price. Walking around the Historic District, you’ll find a collection of tourist shops with knickknacks from local artists. Fun fact, these shops were converted quarters where the hundreds of staff members serving the elite Jekyll Club members lived. We’d recommend either the Pantry at the clubhouse, Doc’s Snack Shop or Island Sweets Shoppe along Pier Rd for lunch. Just a little grab and go as you explore.
Romantic Sunset Dolphin Cruise and Riverside Dining
For nature lovers like us, this is one of the most romantic activities on Jekyll Island (outside the bedroom). Jekyll Island Boat Tours launch right off the pier at the Jekyll Island Club. You can see the dock from your front porch rockers. If you want to supercharge this trip, you can BYOB on the boat and sip a glass wine at sunset.
Be sure to put in your name in at the Wharf early in the day, which is conveniently located next door to the boat tour. Take our advice and ask for patio seating. If it all works right, you can walk straight off the boat and into your waiting table. There’s no better end to the day than listening to live music, eating delicious seafood, and watching the remains of the day fade over the tidelands.
Sunday Funday Outdoor Adventures
Outdoor adventures are the foundation for our relationship. We knew we were perfect for each other after backpacking to Havasu Falls. If you prefer, you could always just sleep in and snuggle, but that’s not how we roll. We roll with a 15-mile bike ride around the island. Jekyll Wheels, located just behind the clubhouse, offers discounted bike rentals to hotel guests. The bike trails of Jekyll Island offer diverse experiences on dedicated trails from ocean views to marsh boardwalks and wooded hammocks to historic home sites.
If you’re the sort who associates paddling with romance, there are kayak tours that launch from the pier or the marina. We went with the marina option because you get to explore the tidal creeks and manatee viewing right next to the launch.
Formal Sunday Brunch
Sunday brunch at the Grand Dining Room is the perfect farewell to your time on Jekyll Island. This is a venue of historic and social importance that was the epicenter of the Club Era Jekyll Island social scene. Sunday brunch (11:00 – 2:00) features your breakfast favorites combined with caving stations and seafood buffet. It’s a glorious combination of gourmet food and exquisite presentation. If you want to experience the Grand Dining Room at a lower price point, come for breakfast instead, which ends at 10:00.
Jekyll Island Romantic Itinerary
Jekyll Island offers a unique combination of activity and history. While you’re can check out the beauty and ecology of both the tidelands and the ocean by boat or bike. We’ve packed a lot into our romantic Jekyll Island getaway, but following this itinerary allows you to fit it all into a weekend with plenty of time to snuggle. Everything is so centrally located and optimized; you will not need to use your car at all once you park at the hotel. (unless your drive to Driftwood Beach or the marina for kayaking).
Disclosure: A big thank you to The Jekyll Island Club for hosting us and setting up a fantastic itinerary! For more travel inspiration check out their Instagram and Facebook accounts.
As always, the views and opinions expressed are entirely our own, and we only recommend brands and destinations that we 100% stand behind.
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