Make Savannah’s Beach YOURS!

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Not far from the historical town of Savannah, Ga., you’ll find a place that beckons you. Discover the fun your family can have on Tybee Island.

Pushing back my messy brunette hair and rubbing my eyes after a good night’s rest, I wandered through our condo in search of the kitchen and coffee. Shaking the sleep from my head, I realized I wasn’t in a dream, after all, and headed to the patio instead to relish a rush of warm ocean breeze blowing over me. Far from Tennessee, this is Tybee Island — lovely!

Approximately eight hours away from Nashville, you’ll discover a home-like feel on Tybee Island — also known as Savannah’s Beach — very close to historic Savannah, Ga. The locals are nice and the scenery’s beautiful.

NATURE, HISTORY & FUN AWAIT

I’m on the beach sitting in my beach chair, squishing my toes in the sand. How much closer to nature can one really get, I wonder? I know there’s more going on here than the happy beach-goers of all ages.

I walk down the beach a little to Tybee Island Marine Science Center (912-786-5917; tybeemarinescience.org) located next to the pier. The center’s Coastal Georgia Gallery has exhibits detailing the area’s flora, fauna and habitats of the surrounding barrier islands — and some cute local creatures to see up close (open daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; admission is $4 ages 5 and older, free for ages 4 and younger). You can also sign up for a beach walk ($10) and they’ll take you on a search of dune and bird life circling above. If you plan a visit with your kids during the summer, sign them up for the center’s Sea Camp, Coastal Kids Ocean Adventure. They’ll learn about invertebrates, sharks, fish and endangered species. Designed to fit a parent’s schedule, there are seven sessions beginning in June featuring two different three-hour modules at $25 per child for each module selected. Check the website for specific dates and time availability.

Enough of the land! What we wanted to do was get in the water — by boat. A tour with Sundial Charter’s Nature & Fishing Tours (912-786-9470; sundialcharters.com) was in order — they’ve been rated Trip Advisor’s #1 Tybee Tour for dolphin sightings. Captain Rene Heidt took us through the marsh and around Little Tybee. Along the way, Heidt’s dog, Fiddler, stayed alert for the sound of nearby dolphins, jumping up on the bow of the boat and pointing the way — Fiddler’s been called the “dolphin whisperer” — the area was loaded with dolphins!

Heidt took us to a good spot for treasure hunting: sand dollars, shark teeth, shells and more. Just listening to Heidt talk about the nature around us was exciting and fun. Book her early for a tour since spots fill up fast. Check the website for her schedule and prices.

Interested in history? You should check out a couple of key places.

First, Tybee Island Lighthouse & Museum (pictured top of page; 912-786-5801; tybeelighthouse.org). Approaching the lighthouse, I nearly fell backward trying to see the top, but even someone with a fear of heights can climb to the top for a spectacular view of the area, pausing at several window openings along the way.

Next, Fort Pulaski National Monument (912-786-5787; nps.gov/fopu). Sure, a fort is a fort, but this fort has a moat, too! You’ll see holes on the structure — the Union army used rifle cannon here against the Confederates until they surrendered. As I walked around — peering into the moat for possible alligators — I was awed by the fort’s structure and strength.

SAVOR THE FLAVOR

Eating on Tybee Island is delightful. Take breakfast, for instance. While the line eventually wraps around the block for The Breakfast Club (1500 Butler Ave.; thebreakfastclubtybee.com), if you get there early with your kids you can skip it! It’s a tiny little place with a big personality: The crew cracks jokes back and forth while preparing your breakfasts lickety-split. Their fun banter and yummy food is just the thing to start your day. Check out this video:

If you can’t get in on your first try, then head down the street a little to Sunrise Restaurant (912-786-7473; sunrisesavannah.com). One morning, I got their Chicken Florentine Omelet, let’s just say it was amazing! This family-owned restaurant has an array of waffles and omelets from the menu and an affordable breakfast buffet. For lunch, we found Lighthouse Pizza (912-786-9874; lighthousepizza.net), but I ordered a barbecue sandwich (I’m a Tennessee girl, after all) and they were smoking the meat outside! It’s also really close to the beach, so you can just walk right up to it if you’ve been playing out in the sand. As dinner time rolled around, we were getting hungry for some good seafood. As you’re headed out of Tybee Island, you’ll find Coco’s Sunset Grille (912-786-7810; cocostybee.com). They have a a variety of items to choose from including soups, salads, sandwiches, seafood dinners and more! The restaurant sits right by the water, too, which makes for a beautiful view of the sunset. Also, each night at sunset, the crew does a special thing to honor the end of the day. You can see it in this video:

WHERE TO LAY YOUR SLEEPY HEAD

Tybee Island has myriad choices of places to stay with your family. From cottages, hotels, resorts and condos, you’ll be able to find something to fit your budget. Our stay at Brass Rails, booked through Oceanfront Cottage Rentals (912-786-0054; oceanfrontcottage.com), was a comfortable, spacious condo close to the beach, restaurants and shopping. The little gated spot has two pools, which are great if you’re not up for lugging everything to the beach each day. Want to see where we stayed? Here’s a quick video of that, too!

So, ready for summer?

Consider Tybee Island. It’s an all-American beach getaway and the destination for your next family vacation.

Here are some photos that will make you wanna go even more!

Kiera Ashford is associate editor of Nashville Parent and mother of three.

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