Jekyll Island Historic District
Nestled among the ancient live oak trees on Jekyll Island is the island's iconic National Historic Landmark District, a 240-acre site filled with 34 historic structures. Explore on your own or take a guided tour as you step back in time and imagine what life was like on Jekyll Island during its Gilded Age heyday.
History of the Jekyll Island Historic District
Visitors have been attracted to the serene beauty of Jekyll Island for centuries. The island was purchased in 1886 as a private winter retreat for many of America's wealthiest families, including the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Pulitzers and more. The Jekyll Island Club was built as the island's exclusive clubhouse and was the site of many elegant events, leisure activities such as croquet and tennis, and was also where the first transatlantic phone call took place!
Members of the Jekyll Island Club built "cottages" for their families to enjoy while visiting Jekyll Island, many of which have been carefully restored and are open for tours today. The opulent and spacious vacation homes provided a place for these elite families to enjoy the island's natural landscape and mild winter climate. Learn more about each of the cottages here.
The fear and uncertainty of major events such as The Great Depression and World War I & II caused Jekyll Island Club members to abandon their beloved Georgia island. The state of Georgia purchased Jekyll Island in 1947 and opened the island as a state park a year later. Over time, the forlorn Jekyll Island Club was lovingly preserved and renovated, and officially reopened in 1987.
Things to Do in the Jekyll Island Historic District
Places to Eat on Jekyll Island
When exploring these beautiful grounds, be sure to take advantage of several restaurants in the Jekyll Island Historic District. Located onsite at the Jekyll Island Club Resort are three delicious restaurants: The Grand Dining Room, The Pantry and The Wharf. If you're looking for a quick bite to eat between your tour or simply want to refuel before hopping back on your bike, head to The Pantry for classic breakfast pastries, handmade sandwiches and fresh salads. Take in the coastal sights and sounds at a waterfront table at The Wharf, which serves delicious, fresh seafood daily. Enjoy an ice cold beverage and some Buffalo Shrimp Tacos or Crab Cake BLT. Impeccable service and award-winning dishes can be found in the resort's Grand Dining Room. Treat yourself to a nice lunch or dinner after a full day of exploring!
If you're visiting during the summer, make plans to have a casual poolside lunch at The Poolhouse, which is only open during the summer months. Perfect for kids as this restaurant serves cookout classics like hot dogs and hamburgers!
Biking in the Jekyll Island Historic District
Biking through the Jekyll Island Historic District truly feels like a step back in time. Cars are prohibited from several of the paved pathways, making the experience even more safe and leisurely. Rent a bike from The Bike Dude, who offers free delivery and pick up across the Golden Isles! Or if you're a guest at the Jekyll Island Club Resort, bike rentals are available there as well.
Begin your bike route at the fork where Riverview Drive and Stable Road split, continuing onto Riverview Drive. Stick to the paved sidewalks as this road is also used by vehicles! As you make your way north on Riverview Drive, you'll pass several of the beautiful, historic buildings on your right, including Moss Cottage, Goodyear Cottage, Mistletoe Cottage and Indian Mound Cottage. The Jekyll Island Club Resort sits in the middle of the district, and on the backside of the main building, you'll come upon Crane Cottage, Hollybourne Cottage and Villa Ospo. Circle behind Villa Ospo to connect onto Old Plantation Road, where you'll continue to loop back through the Historic District. You'll pass Villa Marianna on your left - slow down or stop for a quick break to admire the beautiful fountain and gardens! This is a perfect place for an Insta-worthy photo-op. Next up is Cherokee Cottage, followed by Faith Chapel. From there, you can easily bike over to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center or Mosaic, The Jekyll Island Museum for more exploration and indoor fun.
This entire route is about a mile and a half, and is all on flat, paved terrain, making it a very easy and enjoyable ride! Access a map of the Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark District to see an overview of the area.
Jekyll Island Historic District Tours
Guided tours of the Jekyll Island Historic District are available through the recently opened Mosaic, the official Jekyll Island museum. These tours, referred to as the Landmark Tour, offers guests the opportunity to learn all about the rich history of Jekyll Island as they meander through the Historic District on a tram driven by a knowledgeable tour guide. This tour also allows attendees to go inside Faith Chapel as well as two historic cottages. The Landmark Tour is offered daily at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Tours last approximately 90 minutes. Please visit Mosaic to learn more about the Landmark Tour and to purchase tickets.
Several locally-owned tour companies also offer unique and exciting ways to experience the Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark District. Hop aboard a trolley with Lighthouse Trolleys for a fun and entertaining tour of Jekyll Island, or inquire about one of their ghost tours - if you dare! Segway around Jekyll Island on a guided tour with Jekyll Island Fun Tours. Take in the sights, sounds and warm coastal breezes as you scoot around the island on these fun and adventurous personal scooters.
Find out more about the National Historic District and the natural treasure that is Jekyll Island.