The St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park opened on May 20, 1893. Not only does it have over 20 species of crocodilians, but also a variety of other reptiles, mammals and birds. Lots of birds! It is more like a zoo than a farm with exhibits, animal performances and educational demonstrations. It is a great place for young and old alike!
The Flagler College Tour, a 45 minute guided tour, should really be called Ponce de Leon Hotel tour. Built by Henry Flagler, oil and railroad magnate, the 1887 structure is still one of the best examples anywhere of Spanish Renaissance architecture. The Tours which are daily at 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM offers a glimpse of the grandeur that was the Hotel. Yes, it does house some of the college, but emphasizes stories and pictures of the Flagler era. Dramatic ceiling murals depict Spanish ships, nautical creatures, zodiac signs and the four seasons. Encircling the room are 100 gold lion's heads with lights shining out of their mouths from the original hotel. You don't want to miss it!
The Lightner Museum, right across the street from Flagler College, opened its doors in 1880's as another one of Flagler's hotels, Hotel Alcazar, with what was at the time the largest indoor swimming pool in the world! The building features soaring ceilings, and enough marble to refill a quarry.
The Oldest House Museum complex on St. Franics Street dates back to 1727, but the site has been occupied since the 1600's. Lots of history to see and read about here.
Remember to stroll down St. George Street many people like the shops there and just the ambiance.
At the end of St. George Street near the City Gates there is the Greek Orthodox shrine -St. Pothios - tells the journey of the first Greek settlers-coming over as indentured servants to Florida and setting here. Many icons, murals very spiritual place.
If you're visiting for the first time I highly recommend the Castillo San Marcos with various colonial re-enactments going on. The Fort is the city's largest landmark; never taken in battle. Construction of the coquina fort began in 1672.
Fort Matanzas is a Spanish "outlook" fort that was built between 1740 & 1742 on Anastasia island about 16 miles down A1A south near Crescent Beach. There is no admission charge for the site, the eight minute video or the five minute boat ride to the fort. It is an "interactive fort" where one is allowed to climb up to the roof on a wooden ladder so children of all ages love it. Oooh, and on the first Saturday of the month we fire cannons/muskets at Fort Matanzas (tour is free, donation requested to help us buy more black powder...our supplies from Spain are slow in coming!), per Cap'n.. Across the highway from Ft. Matanzas is an isolated beach with drive-on access. If parking in the beach lot, be sure not to leave any valuables within view in your car.
St. Simons Island Lighthouse Museum is a restored lightkeeper's house from 1872. You can climb its 129 steps for a panoramic view of the Golden Isles. Inside are exhibits devoted not only to the lighthouse, but also to the Golden Isles in general.
Dreamy Driftwood Beach, accessed through a remote patch of forest, is a showstopper and worth the effort to find. Just drive north on Beachview Drive until you reach the Villas by the Sea resort, park on the widest shoulder, and amble down to the beach.
See the Historic District, the former enclave of the millionaires of America's Gilded Age, by walking or taking a guided tour departing daily each hour from 10am to 3pm from the Museum Orientation Center on Stable Road. The guided tour tour lasts 1.5 hours .
We enjoyed viewing the cottages in the district on our own. The Jekyll Island Arts Association operates a very professional art gallery in the historic Goodyear Cottage with a gift shop and a free monthly exhibition. Admission is free, and it's open daily noon to 4pm. Also in the district, Mistletoe Cottage showcases the work of the late Jekyll Island sculptor, Rosario Fiore, and is open Saturday and Sunday 2 to 4pm.
Last, 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 Georgia. It was constructed of a building material made of crushed oyster shells that is native to coastal Georgia. Near the brewery stand the ruins of a home built in 1738 by William Horton, one of Oglethorpe's captains.
If you have a car, take the South Jekyll Loop to survey the scene before concentrating on specifics. Drive south on North Beachview Drive to view some of the island's 10 miles of public beaches with public bathhouses and picnic areas. Your loop around the island's southern end will include the South Dunes Picnic Area. Continue around onto South Riverview Drive, passing Summer Waves and the Jekyll Harbor Marina, until you return to Fortson Parkway.
Beaches -- There are three public beaches on the island, all open daily round-the-clock and free to the public. St. Andrew Picnic Area, reached beyond Summer Waves, is one of the best beaches at the southeastern tip of the island. South Dunes Beach, with a picnic area and showers, is north of St. Andrew and is reached along South Beach Drive. Central Dunes has showers but no picnic area.
Because of its flatness, Jekyll Island is great to explore by bike. Rentals are available
Jekyll Island Club was founded in the 1880s, a time when American industry was booming and iconic business barons were building immense fortunes. The club’s charter list of members reads like a Who’s Who of 19th-century tycoons, such as Joseph Pulitzer, John Rockefeller, Marshall Field, Henry Hyde, William Vanderbilt, JP Morgan, and Vincent Astor.
These days, guests can stay in rooms once occupied by Morgan or Macy, and dine in the same grand room where millionaires enjoyed so many exquisitely prepared meals. The Jekyll Island Club, a National Historic Landmark, has retained its well-heeled vibe while also offering plenty of family-friendly attractions on and off its grounds. The island is blessed with a lovely eight-mile beach and 20 miles of bike and hiking paths, as well as the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.
Jekyll Island Club is located along the intra-coastal waterway known as Jekyll Creek, near the midpoint of the island. The 200-acre resort makes up the Jekyll Island Historic District, anchored by the four-story, double-winged original clubhouse with its famous five-story turret. Surrounding the clubhouse are 33 buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the four jumbo “cottages,” which reflect Queen Anne, Victorian and Mediterranean styles. The main gathering area is the pool and large courtyard. The courtyard definitely is the main hub of activity. There are tables where you can sit and read the paper or eat a pastry, or you can sit in a rocking chair on the porch. Less than a mile from the resort, the Jekyll Island Tennis Center has 13 clay tennis courts. Golf enthusiasts can choose between three 18-hole golf courses and a 9-hole course on the ocean that dates from 1910.
Our time on Jekyll was relaxing, comfortable and somewhat luxurious, but not pretentious.
The 157-room resort has lodging options in all five main buildings, each built during the heyday of the original club and remarkably intact. We expected the room would be smaller and more outdated than it actually was. We liked the availiblity of traditional resort activities such as tennis , golf, games and swimming. The pool was olympic size! The pool was well attended by guests, but large enough, and you could always find a chair near this rectangular classic with steps to enter the shallow end. There is no kiddie pool here and the pool’s 4-foot shallow end is deeper than most resort pools. Towels are provided for free and the adjacent pool bar has a good menu of drinks, burgers and salads.
We loved visiting the Sea Turtle Center, touring the historic area, and going to the beach.
It would be a crying shame to miss a meal in the grand dining room. The Grand Dining Room is a Victorian showpiece with white columns, carved fireplaces, and enough floor space for a dinner dance. Families on a budget should opt for breakfast or lunch, when prices are lower.
You can make the 1.5-mile trip to the roomy and pleasant beach by bike, free hotel shuttle, or even on foot if you don’t have too much to carry. Towels, chairs, and umbrellas are available to guests at no charge at the Jekyll Island Club Beach Pavilion.
If you like the idea of a classic resort with a refined flavor, Jekyll Island Club is an excellent choice.