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Tybee Island, GA Day Trip Travel Guide

With Tybee Island only being about 30 minutes from Savannah, we knew we wanted to spend an afternoon there since, you know, we love our coastal towns! The drive was a very easy 30 minutes from our hotel in Savannah, and we really enjoyed our time on Tybee. It was so nice to get a taste of a Southern East Coast destination because it felt a little more like home to us, while also giving us a taste of its own unique flair. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but I'd sum up Tybee by saying it's a mix of Eastern Coastal and the South with a touch of Atlantic City or Jersey Shore mixed it? I'm not even sure if I'm hitting the nail on the head, but we loved the bright colors, the serene shoreline and laid-back beach vibe. And the palm trees reminded us we weren't quite home. It was so fun to experience the atmosphere, and if you're in Savannah, it's definitely worth a visit.

Mid-April/2019. The weather was high 70s and the water temps were right around 67 degrees. We planned to go swimming, but decided to keep things simple since it was a day trip, and we didn't want to pack our towels, a change of clothes, etc. But lots of people were in the water.

You definitely need a car on Tybee. The island is just under 4 miles long, but walking from town to town is tough because you need to drive on the main roads to get from town to town.

There is a shuttle that brings people between Savannah and Tybee for $10 per person one way, and from there, you could arrange a car or golf cart rental (almost everyone was driving cars, though).

We loved the parking situation on Tybee because we were moving around a lot to see everything. You do have to pay for parking year-round, 7 days a week, but the meters accept credit cards. It's $2 an hour, and you can move your car around as much as you need because as long as you paid for the time, they don't care where your car is. Just be sure to keep your receipt on your dash.

One of the great things about Tybee is that you can just wander and have a nice, easy, relaxing day. Start with a stroll on the beach, grab some lunch with tons of restaurants to choose from, wander some of the shopping areas, pop back over to the beach and enjoy the water by sitting in one of the bench swings, take a walk on the pier - it's all very casual and slow-paced. Here are some things we did while visiting for the day.

Tybee Island Light Station
I loved this black and white striped lighthouse! The grounds were actually closed the day we went, but it's still something you can very easily see, and get close to, without paying to cross over to the other side of the fence (I actually don't think we would have paid even if they had been open). We were only there for a few moments to take it in, but it was a lovely little pit stop. The houses near by were also amazing.

The Shops at 1207
These seemed so tucked away in photos online, but they're actually just off a main road. And, they were rather adorable and are definitely worth a stop. There are two little areas for shops right here, and we parked along the main road. On the main road, you'll find the actual Shops at 1207, and just a few feet away, you'll find the entrance to another cluster of colorful buildings that are home to some more shops, and are more tucked away in the woods. I read somewhere while staying in Savannah that all the shops in Tybee are owned by locals, and you'll usually only find very unique things, which I found to be true once we got there. The shops are very, very small, but they do have some cute things, and many of them showcase original handmades from local artists (paintings, jewelry, etc.) as well as local authors. Just going to stroll through everything was worth it, even if you don't buy anything.

Josh also really liked the coffee shop in the area, and they also had a pizza place and a make your own pottery shop around here, too. The pizza joint, Huc A Poos (strange name, right?) was super highly-rated online, which I figured out after we left, so I do wish we had stopped for a snack and a drink. Next time for sure.

Tybee Island Pier and Pavilion
We walked along the beach for a while and happened to run straight into the pier and pavilion, even though it was on our list to visit at some point that day. So, lucky us! This totally gave me that Atlantic City/Jersey Shore vibe (even though I've never been to either of those places, so I can't even say that for certain). It just had that really cool vintage, beachy feel to it, and I loved the colorful murals and snack shacks inside.

Be sure to walk underneath the pier as well for some good photo opps, and just to see it from a different perspective.

This seemed to be the busiest beach area while we were there and was popular with families with children.

South Beach Area
There are stores and restaurants all along the main roads of Tybee, but this seemed to be the designated area for hustle and bustle - and it's also considered the downtown area. We stopped here to walk around and grab an ice cream cone toward the end of our day, and it was really fun (we got a peach honey sugar cookie ice cream, and man, it was so good!). More colorful murals lined some of the streets, beautiful palm trees were swaying along the sidewalks and there was a yellow boardwalk that led to the beach and pier. You really can't be sad when walking around this area, and it's a nice place to just go for a leisurely walk, and also people watch.

There's plenty of shoreline to walk along, or settle into for the day, and one of the things we loved about Tybee is that there were tons of access points to the beaches from all over the island. You basically just had to figure out which way the water was, drive toward it, and at the end of every few blocks, you could take a boardwalk to the ocean. Also, all the boardwalks are labeled with the street name so if you start walking on the beach and totally lose track of time (like we did) you just have to remember what street you parked at, look for the post with that street name, and you're suddenly un-lost again.

I loved the little swing benches along the beaches! I so wish the Cape had something like this. They were so nice to sit on for a few minutes to take in the scenery between walks.

One thing I will say, though, that I didn't like as much, was that the sand was very, very rough. In particular it was rather gritty, and at times, painful to walk on. I wasn't sure if that was a seasonal thing, or just how it is, but just thought it was interesting to mention.

We ran out of time after lots of beachside walking, but if you plan to stay for more than a day, here are some other things to look into:

McQueen's Island Nature Trail
Little Tybee Island
Tybee Island Science Center
Cockspur Lighthouse - wish we had seen it!
Fort Pulaski

There are also places to rent kayaks and SUP's all over if you're looking for a water adventure.

We had such a nice afternoon on Tybee Island! I wish we could have stayed for longer than a day to take it in even more. Have you been? Any tips to share with everyone?

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  1. So glad you made it to Tybee. My sis in law's beach house is part of Old Fort Screven that is located near the lighthouse. We spent many happy summers there. Our nephew owns the house now and plans to open part of it as as Air B an B. Sugar Shack was always our favorite place for Ice Cream.

    1. Yes, we loved it! Oh, what a great location for a beach house! The houses around there were so beautiful. I so wish I could design an AirBnB in a location like that :) We did see Sugar Shack! Next time I'll have to scope it out.