In this first in a series of posts (See Goin’ Coastal) about our side trips to coastal areas in Georgia and Florida headed to the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville, we’re moving straightforward from Knoxville, Tennessee, toward the lovely, laid-back Tybee Island. What, you say? You didn’t stop in Savannah? Beautiful, stately, historic Savannah? Well, we’ve been to Savannah several times and have officially declared it one of our favorite cities in America. But Tybee? Don’t know much about Tybee. So, we made an unplanned stop by searching TripAdvisor while driving, found an available (and affordable) hotel, and booked a one-night stay. Our only regret — it was almost dark when we arrived in the middle of winter, so not much was “hopnin'”!
First order of business — find a seafood restaurant that’s open and doesn’t offer just the usual fried fish/coleslaw/hush puppy fare. Stingray’s fit the bill with well-seasoned gumbo and lightly battered shrimp a cut above what you normally find at a beachy-themed place. Didn’t hurt that heat lamps — two, in fact — warmed us up even though we wore jackets on the deck. (Other brave souls defied the 40-degree weather in shorts and flip-flops. Must be the feeling that if you’re at the beach, dress like the beach.)
Early morning revealed what we had heard: Tybee is the land that time forgot. And that’s a good thing as we see it. Old tourist courts have been refurbished (well, some at least), colors of turquoise and pink prevail, and a wide, sandy beach and dunes appeal to all — strolling visitors, shell seekers, shore birds, gulls, and sea creatures. (For more on the creatures, check out the Tybee blog written by Dr. Joseph Richardson who conducts Ecology Tours.)
After a long walk, we literally stumbled upon The Breakfast Club, a smallish, intimate restaurant where we sat at the bar and watched the guys grill anything from French toast to over-easy eggs. Omelettes are a specialty. Here’s one: Helen’s Solidarity (AKA The Grill Cleaner’s Special) with “diced potatoes, Polish Sausage, green peppers and onions scrambled with 2 eggs, topped with melted Monterey Jack and American cheese.” Or the Popeye Omelette “You’ll fight to da finitch w/gr bf & spinitch, jack chz, toot-toot,” quoting from the menu.
We asked our server, Do you guys work out? (Could’t help but notice big guns and svelte waistlines.) Well, yes. Yes, we do, he replied! And then they hammed it up for us when we turned the camera on them.
A quick drive through town netted us a glimpse of what people collect — like floats hung as tree ornaments . . .
And old shoes found along the beach. Could be that Tybee is where old hippies live or vacation, so we’re not too far removed from the funk, I guess you could say.
We made one last stop at the Tybee Island Light Station and Museum and stayed awhile. After all, this is one of the finest examples of historic preservation on the coast — or anywhere for that matter — and the Tybee Island Historic Society is to thank for that.
We’ve written about the minimalist nature of this lighthouse, constructed in 1916, in a previous post, but there’s so much more here on the grounds. This lighthouse, we came to find out, is not the first beacon on Tybee for seagoing vessels. The history of previous lighthouses comes to life in a walkabout area on the grounds — clearly outlined by the Historic Society.
Several houses with period furnishings and detailed accounts of their former and present use are open for exploring.
And you can climb the 178 stairs to the top to see the nine-foot tall First Order Presnel Lens, a reward for all that huffing and puffing.
Across the street lies Battery Garland of Fort Screven constructed around 1898 and 1899. Inside Battery Garland are seven rooms dedicated to the displays of artifacts and exhibits known as the Tybee Museum. Definitely worth a trip.
With the capstone visit to Tybee Lighthouse, our short tour of Tybee Island came to a close. But our takeaways remain with us.
What to See at Tybee Island:
- Downtown shops offering sea-related items — funky, affordable, and fun
- A wide natural beach open to the public
- Restaurants that welcome you in casual dress and feed you the seafood you crave
- Beachy-comfortable but not lavishly luxurious (or expensive) accommodations
- Well-preserved lighthouse, battery, and museum — easy for exploring (except for the lighthouse climb)
And there’s more to see if you have more than one day, of course. Have you been to Tybee Island? If so, let us know what you enjoyed. It’s great to go coasting!
For more information:
Discover Tybee Island (Website)
TripAdvisor Tybee Island (Website)
Georgia on my Mind: Official Georgia Tourism and Tourist Site (Website)