Jekyll Island with Kids: Top Things To Do on this Georgia Island

This Jekyll Island beach is filled with driftwood, hence the name: Driftwood Beach. Photo by the author
This Jekyll Island beach is filled with driftwood, hence the name: Driftwood Beach. Photo by the author
6/19/21 - By Charlotte B

Part of Georgia’s "Golden Isles," Jekyll Island is located midway between Savannah, Georgia, and Jacksonville, Florida. This barrier island offers 10 miles of pristine natural shoreline and a variety of family-oriented activities and attractions, including horseback riding, biking, historic tours, a seasonal water park, and more.

Once a retreat for some of America’s wealthiest families, Jekyll Island was purchased by the state of Georgia in the 1950s and is currently operated by the Jekyll Island Authority. Development on the island is limited in order to preserve the ecosystem, so guests can enjoy a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Read on for the best activities, restaurants, and Jekyll Island hotels and campgrounds for families.


Note: Jekyll Island is a state park, so all vehicles entering are required to purchase a parking pass.

Top Things to Do on Jekyll Island with Kids

1. Hit the Beach

Jekyll Island’s beaches are unique in that each possesses unique features from the others. The beloved Driftwood Beach is a natural playground of driftwood trees and branches covering the shoreline. Great Dunes Beach Park provides plenty of parking, easy access to the beach, picnic pavilions, sand volleyball courts, and bocce ball. Shark Tooth Beach is a small area of shoreline covered in oyster shells; plan to visit during low tide to search for shark teeth fossils.

2. Bike Around the Island

Our favorite activity was exploring the Jekyll Island Trail System on our bikes. We brought our own bikes, but there are several places on the island where guests can rent them as well.

Georgia Sea Turtle Center.
Visit the residents of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. Photo courtesy of Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau

3. Learn About Sea Turtles

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center is the state’s only sea turtle education and rehabilitation facility. It is open daily to the public, with interactive exhibits and programs for all ages.

4. Splash Around at the Water Park

Put on your bathing suits and sunscreen for a family fun day at the Summer Waves Water Park, complete with water slides, splash zone, wave pool, and lazy river. The water park is open seasonally each summer.

5. Visit a Nature Center

The 4-H Tidelands Nature Center features a live exhibit gallery with coastal species such as fish, snakes, sea turtles, and more. It also offers kayak tours, canoe rentals, island nature walks, and interactive, hands-on ecology programs.

6. Play a Round of Putt-Putt

At Jekyll Island Mini Golf, families can choose between two 18-hole courses (beginner and advanced). After playing a round, parents can relax while kids play on the two adjacent playgrounds.

7. Take a Dolphin Cruise

Tour the scenic waterways around Jekyll Island to catch a glimpse of bottlenose dolphins in their natural habitat.

8. Rope Swing

Located near the west side of the parking lot at St. Andrews Beach, you’ll find a small clearing, which, after a short hike, leads visitors to this hidden gem that kids are sure to love.

9. Gatorology 101

Guests of all ages can take an interactive Gatorology program to learn about the American Alligator, from its history to conservation, as well as common misconceptions about these crocodilians.

Horseback riding on the beach.
Let kids try horseback riding for the first time on a gentle Jekyll Island beach. Photo courtesy of Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau

10. Go Horseback Riding on the Beach

Three Oaks Farm offers horseback rides through the Maritime Forest and along Driftwood Beach. Historic district carriage tours are also available.

11. Venture to the Island’s Historic Sites

On an island so rich with history, it’s no surprise that there are several historic sites to visit, including the Horton House and the Historic Landmark District.

Day trip to another nearby island, Little Raccoon Key. Photo by Brooke Roberts

12. Take a Day Trip to Little Raccoon Key

Just a 15-minute boat ride from Jekyll Island sits Little Raccoon Key, an unspoiled reef island with ample marine and birdlife.

13. Enjoy Seasonal Activities

If visiting Jekyll during the holidays, book a Tour of Lights trolley tour featuring over 500,000 Christmas lights. Or, during the months of January and February, take part in the FREE annual hunt for Island Treasures, a popular event where clear plastic globes are hidden daily throughout the island. If you are lucky enough to find one, the plastic globe can be exchanged for a handcrafted glass float.

14. Get Spooked on a Ghost Tour

Take a nighttime trolley tour to learn about the "dark secrets" of Jekyll Island.

15. Visit the Mosaic Museum

Stroll the Mosaic Museum to learn all about the history of Jekyll Island through visuals and interactive exhibits.

16. Explore Horton Pond

Horton Pond is an inland nature area with an observation deck and nature trail. Guests are likely to spot the resident alligators, turtles, and birds.

Tortuga Jacks
Enjoy dinner under the tiki lights at Tortuga Jacks. Photo courtesy the restaurant

Family-friendly Jekyll Island Restaurants

17. Driftwood Bistro

Driftwood Bistro offers casual "low country" foods such as Georgia Wild Shrimp, Blue Ribbon Meatloaf, OG’s Fried Okra, and more. Kids' favorites at this Jekyll Island restaurant are also available such as fish fingers, pizza bites, and hot dogs.

18. Jekyll Market

This gourmet grocery store located near Great Dunes Park includes several onsite eateries offering a variety of options, including deli sandwiches, BBQ, burritos, and a sweets shop.

19. Tortuga Jack's

Dine under a tiki bar at Jekyll Island’s only oceanfront restaurant. Tortuga Jack's serves up a variety of Baja Mexican cuisine, including fajitas, enchiladas, and a taco factory menu.

The Holiday Inn Resort Jekyll Island offers pools, a Kids Club, and spacious rooms or suites.

Jekyll Island Hotels & Campground

20. Holiday Inn Resort Jekyll

This beachfront resort offers hotel rooms and suites, most of which provide unobstructed views of the Atlantic. Guests staying at this Jekyll Island hotel enjoy private beach access, a large pool area with kiddie pool, Kids Club, playground, onsite dining, bike rentals, outdoor firepit, and cabanas.

21. Jekyll Island Campground

Bring your RV or tent and stay at this canopy-covered Jekyll Island campground situated in the maritime forest. Amenities include bike rentals, a bird sanctuary, and a general store. The campground is just half a mile from Driftwood Beach.

22. Villas by the Sea Resort

Set among 16 acres, this large resort features one, two, and three-bedroom condo-style hotel rooms with full kitchens. Resort amenities include a large shaded swimming pool, basketball, bicycle rentals, volleyball, and playground area.

Wherever you stay on Jekyll Island, expect to encounter that laid-back island style of life. Just embrace it!