440 miles southeast of downtown Chattanooga
6 hours, 30 minutes
Let's face it, by March we're all a little tired of frosty mornings, wintry evenings and the threat of ice and snow. Why not take a long weekend or a quick vacation to a land of protected nature and enough outdoor activities to defrost and experience spring?
This Georgia barrier island not only offers a reprieve once sought by millionaires like the Pulitzers and Rockefellers, it also has the best of what coastal Georgia has to offer.
Though almost a 7-hour jaunt, you'll be planning a return trip as soon as your toes hit the sand.
By the end of March, many locals deem it warm enough to comb the beaches for wildlife and lounging. Mild winters bring a warm early spring and rain is scarce. The 10 miles of beaches show the different worlds of Jekyll. Great Dunes Park features a wide shoreline and amenities complete with powdery dunes overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Driftwood Beach remains part of a maritime forest, where visitors will see wave washed trees emerging from the tidal shores. The unique setting makes the stretch of beach popular for exploring.
Jekyll Island has 20 miles of winding bike trails that traverse the Jekyll along the beach, into the marsh and even through the National Historic Landmark District. Biking on Jekyll is less arduous than mountain trails, but you're here to relax, right? Pack a picnic lunch and spend the day exploring the marshes, accessible from the path. Jekyll is protected under state law, so expect to see a fair share of wildlife, including waterfowl like the blue heron and plovers.
From the vantage point at the top of the Sidney Lanier Bridge, to the turn onto the island's causeway, you can see Jekyll Island is set apart from the mainland by marshes and creeks, making for a relaxing kayaking adventure. Jekyll Island Wharf and Jekyll Island Marina provide two convenient access points for kayakers to explore the Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean. Don't forget your NOAA map, the winding creeks can get tricky for those unfamiliar. Guided tours are available from various places on the island.
With a charming General Store and twinkling stringed lights encircling a mossy oak tree entrance, Jekyll Island Campground offers a unique and convenient place to pitch a tent for the stay. The 18-acre campground has 206 sites, accommodating tents to full RV hookups. The campground is located on the north end of the island, across the street from the Clam Creek Picnic area. You're steps away from the fishing pier and famed Driftwood Beach and have direct access to bike paths that will take you to the rest of the island.