The best way to see the Historic District—the former enclave of the millionaires of America’s Gilded Age, who built what they called “cottages” here—is to take a guided historical tram tour departing daily at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm from the Jekyll Island Museum (tel. 912/635-4036), 100 Stable Rd. The tour lasts 1 1/2 hours, costing $16 for adults, $7 for children 7 to 15, and free for children 6 and under (no tours in Dec). Highlights of the tour include Indian Mound (or Rockefeller) Cottage dating from 1892, and the du Bignon Cottage from 1884. The museum itself is free and open daily 9am to 5pm.
On your own, you can view the 1906 Goodyear Cottage on Riverview Drive, housing the Jekyll Island Arts Association (tel. 912/635-3920; www.jekyllartsassociation.org)—with a gift shop and a free monthly exhibition. Admission is free, and it’s open daily noon to 4pm. Also in the historic district, the Dutch Colonial Revival–style Mistletoe Cottage, 341 Riverview Dr., was built in 1900 by businessman and Congressman Henry Kirke Porter, one of the first members of the Jekyll Island Club.
Jekyll Island is also home to Horton’s Brewery Site, Georgia’s first brewery, signposted on the northwest end of the island. It was started by General Oglethorpe, who evidently knew how to put first things first for his settlers. This two-story ruin, dating from 1742, is one of the oldest standing structures in the state. It was mainly constructed of tabby, a building material made of crushed oyster shells that is native to coastal Georgia. Very near the brewery stand the ruins of Horton House, built in 1738 by William Horton, one of Oglethorpe’s captains and the first Englishman to obtain property on Jekyll Island. In the summer (usually June and July), Jekyll Island Museum runs illuminating guided tours of the site (Sat 10am and 2pm; adults $16, children 7–15 for $7, free for ages 6 and under). Reserve at tel. 912/635-4036.
Kids will enjoy the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, 214 Stable Rd. (tel. 912/635-4444; www.gstc.jekyllisland.com), a hospital for ill and injured sea turtles. The center is open to the general public and offers an interactive exhibit gallery and Rehabilitation Pavilion, with a number of viewable, and very cute, sea turtle patients. Adult admission is $7; seniors over 65 pay $6, and children 4 to 12 pay $5.
Kids will also enjoy the Summer Waves Water Park, 210 S. Riverview Dr. (tel. 912/635-2074; www.jekyllisland.com/summer-waves), offering 11 acres of watersports with more than a million gallons of water. It features rides and attractions ranging from a totally enclosed speed flume that jets riders over three breathtaking humps, to a ride over the rolling waves in the Frantic Atlantic wave pool. You can also hang on around the twisting turns of the Hurricane Tornado and Force 3 slides. For toddlers, there’s the Pee Wee Puddle—fun in only a foot of water. Admission is $20 for those 48 inches or taller, and $16 for children under that height. Children 3 and under enter free. Open the weekend before Memorial Day to December 31, Sunday to Thursday 10am to 6pm and Friday and Saturday 10am to 8pm.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.