This year marks the 75th anniversary of one of Georgia’s best-kept secrets, Jekyll Island. Purchased in 1947, the state transformed it from a private getaway for the ultra-rich and famous to a state park open to all. The island has a storied history, and today offers plenty of activities for visitors to enjoy. With 10 miles of pristine white sand beaches and lush forestlands, Jekyll Island is a nature lover’s paradise and still one of Georgia’s best-kept secrets.
Have you ever visited Jekyll Island? I was fortunate to visit in May and stay at the Jekyll Island Club Resort. Greeted with an anniversary reminder made of flowers at the entrance of the island, I knew I was visiting someplace special. While on the island, I learned some interesting things about the island and resort.
Jekyll Island, Georgia, is a barrier island off the coast, which is approximately a 90-minute drive from both Jacksonville, Florida, and Savannah, Georgia. The state of Georgia owns the entire island, requiring at least 65 percent of the island to remain undeveloped. Jekyll Island is the perfect destination for a vacation full of relaxation, peace, and quiet.
The Rockefellers, Carnegies, and other rich and famous families used to come to Jekyll Island for a winter retreat. They built “cottages” the size of mansions and an exclusive clubhouse on the island. Many visit today to learn about the history and get a glimpse of a bygone era.
Over 3,500 years ago, the island was inhabited by Native Americans. When the colony of Georgia was founded in 1733, Jekyll Island was part of it. It was named after a financial supporter, Sir Joseph Jekyll.
Prosperous plantations were part of the island until the Civil War ended.
Purchased in 1886 by several wealthy families, Jekyll Island was the winter retreat for America’s most influential and affluent individuals of the era. The wealthy families enjoyed the mild winters and lush beauty for 56 years. Leaving behind a rich heritage that is now a National Historic Landmark District. You can visit some of the homes still intact and revitalized.
The Club closed in 1942 and sat empty for a few years. The State of Georgia purchased Jekyll Island in 1947. From then on, there were island improvements, such as an amusement park and an olympic-sized pool at Aquarama Dive Club.
A member of Historic Hotels of America, Jekyll Island Club Resort offers a retreat back in time. Originally built as a hunting retreat, the carefully preserved leaded art glass and original woodwork are just a few of the beautiful things you will see. While you enjoy the modern amenities of the club, you still feel the wealthy influence of its founders.
Luxury abounds everywhere, from the giant “cottages” with 22 bedrooms and 17 bathrooms to the original pool, the hall of mirrors, and rooms named after prestigious members.
The grounds are absolutely gorgeous, with giant live oak trees covered in Spanish moss, and everything green and well-manicured. We sat in the rocking chairs that overlooked the grounds and enjoyed the view.
Jekyll Island is a treasured spot in Georgia that often remains a secret to those outside of the state. If you haven’t yet had the chance to visit this breathtaking island, now is the time! From its rich history to its picturesque beaches and signature events, there is much to celebrate on Jekyll Island. Whether you want to relax or explore all the island has to offer, Jekyll Island is worth adding to your travel list! Help Georgia commemorate the 75th anniversary of one of its best-kept secrets.
About Historic Hotels of America®
Historic Hotels of America is the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation for recognizing and celebrating the finest Historic Hotels. Historic Hotels of America has more than 300 historic hotels. These historic hotels have all faithfully maintained their authenticity, sense of place, and architectural integrity in the United States of America, including 44 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Historic Hotels of America is comprised of mostly independently owned and operated historic hotels. More than 30 of the world’s finest hospitality brands, chains, and collections are represented in Historic Hotels of America. To be nominated and selected for membership into this prestigious program, a hotel must be at least 50 years old; has been designated by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark or listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places; and recognized as having historic significance.