Tybee Island Vacation - Circa 2012 - The Johnson Family
In the summer of 2012, we booked a short trip to Tybee Island Beach east of Savannah, Georgia due to a recommendation of a friend who had just returned from the area. Little did we know we had sealed our fate and a future relocation would be inevitable.
Savannah, GA is a small southern town on the Atlantic Ocean. It's an important seaport city rich with American history dating back to 1733 when General James Oglethorpe founded the first city in the State of Georgia.
As residents of Nashville, TN, we've traveled to many cities in the Old South and enjoyed our time in all of them. However, as we exited Interstate 16 into Historic Savannah, we immediately knew this city was going to be our absolute favorite southern town. The streets were lined with huge oak trees draped in Spanish moss and Victorian-era homes in an array of colors peeking out from the trees and foliage.
As we found our way to the Island Expressway, we traveled over large areas of marsh opening up to the Atlantic Ocean. Our destination was The Ocean Plaza Beach Hotel - renovated in 2015 and renamed Hotel Tybee - nestled into the sand dune of Tybee Island Beach. Built in 1989, the hotel was not a high end resort by any means but the views from our room were spectacular. We quickly made our way to the sandy beach outside our hotel room. Now mind you, we frequent beach communities as both my husband and I grew up on the beaches of sunny San Diego, CA before moving to Nashville, TN many years ago. We've visited Miami Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Coco Beach, and cities along the Gulf Coast numerous times over the past 25 years - but this beach was different.
We walked along the sandy shores, passed the Tybee Island Pavilion and Pier, and made our way to the south end of the beach. Here, we encountered the rocky area of Tybee Beach where tiny crab played in their natural habitat. As the sun dipped on the horizon, the sound of the ocean breaking against the rock and the seagulls flying above gave us a sense of peace we had not felt in some time.
After returning to our room to change for dinner, we ventured out to the boardwalk and 16th Street - the main pedestrian drag on the island. We came upon Rock House Bar & Grill. It looked like a dive, but we gave it a shot and ordered the peel and eat shrimp. The shrimp was amazing! (Today, Rock House Bar & Grill is one of our favorite restaurants on Tybee Island. We make sure to have dinner there at least once per visit). After dinner, we returned to our hotel, had a few beers at the hotel bar, and turned in early excited for the next day's adventure.
We started the morning off with a walk on the pier, followed by breakfast at The Breakfast Club. Being a child of the 80s and a fan of John Hughes, that was exactly the place I was going to eat breakfast. However, the name is a bit misleading, it's not the size of any club I'd ever been to. It is a tiny little diner that is in dire need of a renovation but the food coming out of the kitchen was tasty and fast. The folks at The Breakfast Club know how to churn out tons of food quickly - which is a good thing as there is always a line outside waiting to get in.
After a quick stop to tour the Bonaventure Cemetery, we made our way to River Street on the Savannah River in Downtown Savannah. We descended a treacherous staircase - not for the faint of heart - and found ourselves walking on old cobblestone roads. The age of the buildings were obvious at first glance, some of them dating back some 200 years. We stopped to listen to a street musician for a few moments before following our noses into Savannah's Candy Kitchen, where we proceeded to purchase handfuls of candy, popcorn, and caramel apples.
After a few hours of taking in the sites and scenes of this truly enchanting city, photographing the historic buildings, watching the cargo ships enter the port, and our favorite past time - people watching, we headed back to Tybee Island for some beach time before dinner.
For our next meal we decided to try another famed Tybee Island restaurant, Fannies On The Beach. We opted for the seafood bucket and house cocktails. From our table on the second story of this beachside eatery, we could see the Atlantic Ocean, Tybee Island Pavilion & Pier, and the occasional dolphin dorsal fin breaking the rolling waves. We could have happily sat there all night with the ocean breeze keeping us cool, but it had been a long exhausting day and we were ready to turn in.
We woke early and took in some morning time on the beach before heading to breakfast at the hotel. The hostess seated us near a large window. We were lucky enough to see another dolphin passing by during our meal. What a way to start the day and to savor our last moments on Tybee Island before heading back home to Nashville.
As we drove away from the hotel we stopped at Wave's Surf Shop, a large surf and skate storefront donned by a rather large great white shark on 1st Street. Here we found beach gear, clothing and gifts. We probably should of started our trip here as they had everything a beach-goer would need and then some. We purchased a pair of skateboards, beach brand attire, Tybee Island baseball hats, and stickers before getting back on the road.
As we begrudgingly headed over the bridge back into Savannah we were already discussing our next trip to Tybee Island, vowing to make our next vacation longer and to spend more time exploring Historic Downtown Savannah.
For those of you who have visited Tybee Island you understand just how awesome this tiny beach town is. For those of you who have not yet made this trip, do yourself a favor and book your vacation right now! You will thank me later.
Want more vacation tips? Read our Johnson Family Savannah/Tybee Vacation - Circa 2018 blog post too.