My husband and I have been spending the week with my parents on Jekyll Island, Georgia. I adore this place for its outdoor activities (golf, tennis, biking) as well as its unspoiled coastline. It’s difficult to find a beach that isn’t peppered by Wings, Eagles, and high-rise condos, and I was thrilled to find this one.
While a solid portion of our week was spent lamenting the weather, thanks to a nor’easter that wouldn’t move off the coast, the trip was capped off with a trip to the Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival. This sleepy island was transformed by this happening event in the heart of their historic district.
The shuttle from the parking lot dropped us off at the start of the arts and crafts vendors, where we found all kinds of paintings, jewelry, woodworking, and shell creations. Tip: if you’re staying on the island, ride your bike! There are bike racks located throughout the festival.
A favorite of mine: these masks. How could I pick just one?
Before long, we were in front of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. Originally built in 1888, the Club was billed as “the richest, the most exclusive, the most inaccessible club in the world” by Munsey’s Magazine in 1904. Famous names to have visited the hotel include J.P. Morgan, Goodyear, Macy, Rockefeller, Pulitzer, and Vanderbilt, and many of these built personal “cottages” nearby.
The Club overlooked the wharf, where we were greeted with a spectacular sunset after days of rain.
But the main event was, of course, the shrimp & grits, just steps away from the Croquet Greens Ward! The stage at the center (which had a band that was a wee bit too loud for the parents) was surrounded by shrimp & grits vendors including the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, Zachry’s Seafood & Steak, Sea Palms Resort, Love Shack at the Jekyll Market, Halyard Restaurant, and Reserve at the Westin Jekyll Island.
Friday night was “sample night,” and we were able to try several types of shrimp & grits for only $5 a pop. The prices for bowls go up to $11 on Saturday and Sunday, so despite the shorter hours on Friday, it’s a chance to nibble on more for less.
After stuffing our faces, we wandered through a few more vendors, until we noticed people were walking into the Morgan Center. Once the indoor tennis center for the Club (and hilariously mistaken as the current tennis center by one of my friends on a previous trip), my dad and I were extremely curious to go inside. What we weren’t expecting to find, but were thrilled to do so, was the Craft Brew Fest!
Where once there had been a single tennis court, there were 16 brewers showcasing over 50 beers. There were some smaller, local Georgia and South Carolina brewers, including Jekyll Brewing (Cooter Brown was my fave), Monday Night Brewery, Red Hare Brewing, Palmetto Brewery, and RJ Rockers, as well as some larger, national brewers like Shock Top, Goose Island, Yuengling and Kona. Despite the fact we arrived 30 minutes before closing, we quickly started sampling as many brews as we could, and we were able to get through 8 of the breweries. (Go us!)
I love Jekyll Island for many reasons, mostly because of the calm serenity that can’t be found on most beaches, but a few days of shrimp, grits and beer madness (not to mention all the arts and crafts) only make me love it more.
If you go: the Jekyll Island Shrimp and Grits Festival occurs in September. Learn more about the festival here.