Georgia is known for peaches, pecans, and cotton but not so much for its beaches. The fact is, Georgia’s barrier islands and beaches are some of the most beautiful found along the east coast. Tybee Island is the result of run-off from the Savannah River. Located at the mouth of the river, the barrier island was formed as soil from the mainland was washed down the river and out to sea. Even in the winter when temperatures dip into the 50’s, spending a few days along the beach can be relaxing and well worth the trip.
A Day at Tybee Beach
Tybee Beach and the surrounding communities make for a great day trip. If you want a weekend getaway spot, Tybee has plenty to keep you occupied. One of the things you notice is how clean the area is. The residents of Tybee take great pride in their island home and it shows. The “Pay to Park” option allows you to pay for your parking at one of the many small kiosks located along the beach parking lots and streets. Pay at one location and you can park anywhere on the island as long as the ticket is placed on your dash.
In addition to all of the small shops located among the hotels along the strip, there are several restaurants and eateries that you can try. Surf shops, gift shops, clothing stores, almost any type of beach shop can be found on Tybee and almost all of them are within walking distance of one another.
The DeSoto Inn
The DeSoto Inn, along with the other DeSoto properties have been family owned since 1999. Originally built in 1939 by J.B. Pound, the De Soto properties now include the Inn, bungalows, condos, and a bed and breakfast. Pound was one of many in the area who was determined to make Tybee into a destination getaway. Even during the bleakest of financial times, Pound was busy creating jobs in the way of constructing and then staffing his properties with local residents.
In the beginning, the DeSoto was literally a “black-tie” hotel catering to the wealthiest of visitors. Waiters and busboys dressed to the nines in Black-tie attire and tuxedo shirts. As time passed, the hotel was owned by the Teamsters Union and eventually played a role in the East Coast’s “beach scene” of the ’60s and ’70s. Today, the DeSoto is one of the most unique of all the hotels on Tybee Island. In many of the rooms, you can still see remnants of the retro décor that was so popular in the past. It’s like stepping back in time. It’s that unique feel and ambiance that makes it so special.
Things to Do
If you are planning a trip to Tybee Island, prepare to spend a few days. In addition to the beach and all of the little shops, the area also has a strong historical presence as well. The Tybee Lighthouse, for example, is one of the oldest lighthouses in America that is still intact with most of its original structure and just as it was almost two hundred years ago. It is one of only seven Colonial era lighthouse towers that are still functional. The extensive modification that was performed in the mid-1800s was performed to ensure the lighthouse tower would remain safe and functional for many years to come.
If you are into history, you can also visit Fort Pulaski (located on Cockspur Island) and Fort Screven. Both forts were instrumental in protecting Georgia’s coast during times of war. Fort Pulaski was used during the Civil War by the Union Soldiers and Fort Screven was in operation from 1899 to 1947. If you want to continue your adventures, visit historic Savannah. Only a few miles to the west, Savannah has several locations that hold historical significance.
The great thing about Tybee Island is that it’s ideal for a spur of the moment getaway. Whether you are going for the day or overnight, there are plenty of hotels and the beaches are long and wide allowing for almost immediate access to the ocean. If you want to make a weekend out of it. Call ahead and reserve one of the rooms at the DeSoto. You can walk to most places on the island or drive into Savannah for a night on the town.
If you want to try a new and exciting place, Tybee is it. During the winter months, the beach is quiet allowing for the peace and calm you may be lacking. If you want to play in the surf, choose a spring day with a gentle breeze. At night, you can hit one of the many restaurants or go to Savannah for a night on the town. No matter what you choose to do, Tybee is sure to become one of your favorite destinations.