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To find your happy place, try spending that well-earned time off on Jekyll Island

To find your happy place, try spending that well-earned time off on Jekyll Island

If you're hesitant about slipping away from the office for a couple weeks to take your family on that long-awaited summer vacation, relax.  Research shows that vacation travel is the one type of travel that has virtually everyone's approval.

According to studies from the U.S. Travel Association's "Project: Time Off" initiative, an overwhelming majority of bosses are more than eager to sign off on their employees' vacation requests, especially when those employees have travel in mind.  They know workers who use their vacation days to travel come back to the office recharged, renewed and generally happier than those who don't. 

In general, 80 percent of Americans feel travel improves their mood and outlook on life, while 93 percent of kids see travel as "quality time" with their families. Additionally, 94 percent of couples who travel together feel "very close" to each other. Those who are able to travel with all or most of their vacation time report being happier with their personal relationships as well as their health and well-being than those who use little or none of their vacation time to travel.

"That all adds up to a very strong case for packing up loved ones and hitting the road when vacation time comes around," says Meggan Hood, senior director of marketing for the Jekyll Island Authority. "As for the destination, Jekyll Island makes for the ideal summer road trip – there's something here to delight every member of the family."

Nestled on the Atlantic coast between Savannah, Georgia, and Jacksonville, Florida, Jekyll Island boasts a rare combination of activities, attractions and natural wonders that capture the imagination, regardless of age or interests. "This is a popular getaway throughout the year, but fun summer vacations are our specialty," Hood points out. "The wide array of options here guarantees an unforgettable escape that everyone in the family will enjoy."

Soaking Up the Sun

For the beach bums, Jekyll's 10 miles of pristine shoreline are perfect for feeling the sand between your toes, playing in the surf and soaking up the sun. Summer is the season to make the most of Great Dunes Beach – one of the island's five distinct beaches. In addition to unspoiled vistas and a wide-open shoreline, Great Dunes has a 20-acre beachfront park complete with picnicking spots and activity areas, such as courts for bocce and volleyball.

Active types also can enjoy kayaking, paddleboarding, mini-golf and bicycling. And the entire family can splash around and cool down at Summer Waves Water Park, an 11-acre oasis that includes Shark Tooth Cove (an 8,000-square-foot kids area), the five-story Pirate's Passage thrill slide, and the relaxing Turtle Creek lazy river.

Back to Nature

Known for its breathtaking beaches, this enchanting barrier island actually has three distinct geographies – the pristine coastline, a maritime forest, and expansive salt marshes. These diverse ecosystems deliver a variety of memorable back-to-nature experiences. Summer programs operated by the internationally acclaimed Georgia Sea Turtle Center immerse visitors in the island's natural beauty and introduce them to a broad range of coastal wildlife.

Throughout the summer months – the height of sea turtle nesting season – guests can experience being a sea turtle biologist, working alongside researchers to record sea turtle nesting activity. In June and July, guests can track part of the sea turtle's journey by riding along with a night patrol in search of nesting mothers. In August, visitors can ride along with dawn patrol to monitor nests and hatchlings.

Families can join an expert researcher in the maritime forest for "Gatorology 101" to learn all about the biology and behavior of the American alligator, as well as the ongoing work on Jekyll Island to protect this remarkable reptile. Participants will get up close and personal with a small alligator used to help illustrate the information taught during the session.

For History Buffs

Jekyll Island has a storied past that's sure to pique the interest of history lovers. From Native Americans to colonial officers to oil barons, the island's rich history is a tale with many chapters and fascinating characters.

In the National Historic Landmark District, visitors are transported back to an era when Jekyll Island was a private club for some of the country's most-influential figures, such as famous financier and businessman William Rockefeller and his wife, Almira. Guests can enjoy daily guided tours in The Rockefeller Experience, which explores the couple's vacation home, a spacious "cottage" they enjoyed for 36 years. The tour includes a visit to nearby Faith Chapel, a spellbinding, gothic-revival structure featuring gargoyles, grotesques, and signed Tiffany stained-glass windows.

Meanwhile, on the south end of the island, near St. Andrews Beach, visitors may find a pair of gun mounts meant to help defend Jekyll Island and Brunswick Harbor during the Spanish-American War. Due to the island's shifting sands and underbrush, some say there are even more of these cannon emplacements yet to be discovered.

For Some Island R&R

When it's time to unwind, nothing beats a stroll through the Beach Village, where families can shop, grab a quick bite to eat, or savor a delicious frozen treat. In addition, on the last Saturday of each month from May through November, visitors can take in one of the outdoor "Movies on the Green" feature film presentations. With its lineup of fan-favorites, families gather on the Village Green to picnic on the lawn and enjoy the beautiful summer weather while taking in a movie al fresco. Guests can also enjoy popular tunes performed during the new Beach Village Music Series, held the first Saturday of each month (from June through September).

Take the Time Off

The travel association reports that the nation's workforce did not use about 705 million of its allotted vacation days in 2017, with more than half of us leaving at least some time on the table. The number of family experiences, moments and memories that were missed because of this is distressing. It's time to put in that vacation request.

For more information about all Jekyll Island has to offer, as well as a recommended summertime itinerary, visit www.jekyllisland.com.  With activities to suit every interest and plenty of dining, lodging and shopping options for every budget, Jekyll is sure to become the family's favorite summer escape.

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