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Posts Tagged ‘Beach’

Isle of Palms: Things to Do and See at This Coastal SC Beach

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If you are planning a family vacation to the SC coast, a stellar beach to visit is Isle of Palms. Things to do at IOP near Charleston are endless. Isle of Palms is convenient, family-friendly, and fun. You can even make a fun day trip out of it! She shares all the information that you need, including things to do, where to eat, and how much parking costs if you’re just planning a quick day trip at this local South Carolina beach. 

Things to Do at Isle of Palms Near Charleston, South Carolina

About Isle of Palms

Recently my family traveled to Charleston to spend the day at Isle of Palms. Yes, you read that right – we went for the day. Isle of Palms is completely doable as a day trip. It’s perfect if you’re like me and live on a budget but long to breathe in the salt air.

Let me tell you, I was so impressed. There’s a quaint beachfront road lined with restaurants and shops. The shops are your typical beach shops filled with t-shirts, trinkets, and every size/shape boogie board to hit the market. You know, the kind of shops full of souvenirs found only on the coast.

There are also plenty of unique places to eat, a wonderful and clean beach, and fun shops to explore!

Isle of Palms: Things to Do With Your Family

Hang out at the Beach

One of the best things to do while in town is to head to the beach. The beach at IOP is flat, and there is plenty of room, even during high tide. The boys had a great time with boogie and skimboards. You can also spend the day looking for seashells, building sandcastles, or just enjoying the sounds of the Atlantic Ocean. You can occasionally catch live music right by the dunes!

South Carolina’s crazy weather pattern has created a more hazardous environment for swimmers, so always be cautious of rip tides. In the midst of your family fun, make sure to keep an eye on the colored flag at the lifeguard stand.

Big Family Day Trip Tip: Isle of Palms County Park

If you park at Isle of Palms County Park, you’ll have restrooms, outdoor showers, and changing rooms available to you. This is a big deal when you’ll have 3 hour plus ride back home!

The beach can get pretty crowded, especially on Saturday, so plan to get there early in the day if you want a large space on the beach to set up camp. If you are in need of chair and umbrella rentals, there is a company for that! You can rent surfboards, bikes, chairs, and umbrellas from IOP Beach Chair Co. They even rent accessible beach wheelchairs.

You’ll also find rentals for chairs, umbrellas and boogie boards available at a cart by the restrooms at Isle of Palms County Park.

Bonus tip: There is a Harris Teeter across the street from Isle of Palms park. It’s a good place to stop before the beach to load up on snacks, fruit, or even some pre-made sandwiches. You’ll save some money here over restaurants and beach carts!

A man playing a live music show near the beach at Isle of Palms.

Grab Some Delicious Seafood

There’s certainly no shortage of food choices. Whether you enjoy live music and seafood, or you’re looking for some good ol’ American burgers and fries, you will find a delicious meal at Isle of Palms. One of the most popular places is Acme Lowcountry Kitchen. They have mostly seafood options and use fresh and local ingredients, which would make for a great dinner after a long day on the beach. They also have a pretty decent kids’ menu, which is always a plus.

If you are looking for something delicious right off Ocean Boulevard, then Smugglers Island Eats and Raw Bar will hit the spot. They pride themselves on a family-friendly atmosphere with a casual vibe. Smugglers, of course, offers seafood like fried shrimp baskets but also has smash burgers and vegetarian options if you want something else. Their frozen daiquiris are delicious by the way!

One of the most popular beach restaurants in IOP is Coconut Joe’s Beach Grill. They have lots of seafood dishes like crabcakes and shrimp and grits that are delicious, but they also have burgers and sandwiches. The restaurant is located by the ocean on Ocean Boulevard and offers a rooftop bar for patrons to enjoy a delicious cocktail while taking in the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.

Take a Barrier Island Ecotour

If you are a nature lover, then going on an ecology tour of the waterways and marshes near IOP would be a perfect addition to your trip. Barrier Island Eco Tours has public tours that are guided by a naturalist and include boat excursions, dolphin tours, an exploration of Capers Island, and more. You are certain to see lots of sealife on your excursion, and it is a wonderful way to learn more about the SC coast while also having a blast. The company offers public trips, private charters, school trips, and special events throughout the year.

Isle of Palms Beach Parking

The beachfront Isle of Palms County Park offers great parking, snack bars, restrooms, and beach access. Admission prices vary depending on the season but car prices do not exceed $15 during the week, and $20 on Saturday. If Saturday is your only option for travel, you’ll want to get an early start. The County Park lot will fill up, I promise. I’m speaking from experience.

Parking on the street is an option, but the spaces are limited on the weekends. There are electronic pay-boxes along the sidewalk, so make sure to have a card handy (it’s inexpensive). We lucked out with a spot on the street directly in front of beach access with a clean bathhouse.

Between the County Park and plenty of public beach access, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the Isle of Palms. Whether you are renting a home, having a day trip, staying at Wild Dunes Resort, or vacationing at one of the few hotels in town, you are certain to find your Isle of Palms vacation worthwhile.

Visit the Isle of Palms website for more information on where to eat, what to do, and where to stay if you need more than a day trip.

Find a Place to Stay in Isle of Palms

Use the map below to find the perfect place to stay in Isle of Palms. Kidding Around earns when you book through these links through an affiliate relationship with Stay 22.

What’s your favorite thing to do when visiting the Isle of Palms?

Best family-friendly beaches

Are you a beach lover?

Check out our list of the 20 Best Beaches in the Southeast!

For a Beach Vacation With Smaller Crowds Visit the Outer Banks, NC

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Have you visited the beaches on North Carolina’s Outer Banks? Many of the Upstate’s favorite beaches are just a few hours away on the South Carolina coast, but many of those beaches have large hotels and a big entertainment scene making those beaches more crowded. The Outer Banks of North Carolina have a very different feel with mainly vacation rental homes for lodging plus long skinny islands with huge lengths of beautiful beaches. Here are some of our favorite things to do and places to eat in the Outer Banks.


Quiet Beaches, Biking Trails, and Wildlife Wait for You At Jekyll Island

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Are you looking for the perfect, uncrowded beach for this summer? We recently visited Jekyll Island, Georgia this summer. Here’s what we experienced plus recommendations on what to do and where to eat on the island.

Despite all the media coverage of crowded beaches, in the Southeast there are great choices of beach towns that you can visit where crowding is not an issue. Jekyll Island, Georgia is one of these pristine, unspoiled beach towns where you can relax and recharge in a quiet setting while still having access to entertainment options. The main island activities include enjoying the numerous beaches, biking, and eating great food. For families looking for additional entertainment, Jekyll Island also offers mini-golf, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, historic tours, a waterpark, and more.

For more beach vacation ideas, see our list of the best beaches in the Southeast.

Our lodging was courtesy of Holiday Inn Resort Jekyll Island. We were also provided complimentary tickets to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.

Find a place to stay in Jekyll Island, GA. This article contains Stay22 affiliate links.

Traveling to Jekyll Island from the Upstate

Jekyll Island is part of the barrier islands on the southern Georgia coast known as the Golden Isles. It took us about 5 hours to travel to Jekyll Island from the Upstate. Our trip took us through Columbia and then along the South Carolina/Georgia coast.

Jekyll Island is a Georgia State Park, and vehicles are charged an $8 daily parking fee. You only have to pay the fee when you enter the island.

Black wicker beach lounger sits in grass facing the beach

What Is There to Do on Jekyll Island?

Georgia Sea Turtle Center

When we started telling friends that we were headed to Jekyll Island, one of the top recommendations of “things to do” was to visit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. This turtle rehabilitation center offers a public glimpse of sea turtles and conservation efforts. While there, you can visit the sea turtle hospital where the turtle patients are recovering and you might even get to watch a turtle surgery or medical procedure take place from the observation area.

Right now the center is limiting guests due to COVID-19, which may result in a wait to get in. We were told that 2 pm was a quieter time but still experienced a 30 minute wait to enter the building at that time. You do not have to wait in line but do need to wait close enough to the entrance to hear your name called.

Two adults performing a medical procedure on a turtle in a vet surgery.

While signage was posted encouraging guests to social distance, limit numbers in particular buildings, and the staff wore masks, we did find that a large percentage of guests were not wearing masks or observing signage. Part of the tour is in an open air facility but you must walk through a gift shop and museum room to get there. More vulnerable guests may want to consider these factors as they plan their visit.

The center also offers guided sea turtle walks in the morning and evening.

214 Stable Road, Jekyll Island, GA
Georgia Sea Turtle Center Website (includes admission fees and hours)

Public Access Beaches at Jekyll Island

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort on Jekyll Island. You can read our full review, but one of the biggest perks was that the resort had beach front directly in front of the property. Choosing lodging that has beach front access will allow you to avoid more crowded public beaches though during our visit even the public beaches did not look overly crowded.

You will also find a number of public beaches on the island and several have unique features.

Driftwood Beach

Large driftwood lying on rocks on a beach

Near the north end of the island, Driftwood Beach is a beautiful spot that is famous for it’s marine forest driftwood from years of erosion. You can walk up and down the beach front and explore the many trees. We also saw quite a bit of wildlife from little crabs to interesting beach bugs.

Also, this area is adjacent to a paved path that leads through the salt marsh and is also quite scenic.

This beach is a great area for photos and our readers recommend seeing it at sunrise.

Sharktooth Beach

As you might guess, Sharktooth Beach is a great place to find shark teeth and also see other wildlife. Go at low tide if you want the best chance of finding interesting treasures.

Jekyll Island Oceanview Beach Park

Described as peaceful and uncrowded the Oceanview Beach Park also has air-conditioned bathrooms, changing rooms, and showers.

Sandy beach with people walking in water in the distance.

Great Dunes Pavilion

This beach is a great place swim, see local wildlife, and has a large sandbar. Outdoor showers, bathrooms, and changing rooms are available and mini-golf and bike rentals are just a short walk away.

St. Andrews Beach

St. Andrews Beach is a great place to see dolphins and another spot on the island where you can find driftwood. In addition, near the picnic area you will find The Wanderer Memorial that remembers the lives of 400 illegally imported slaves.

Biking at Jekyll Island

There are approximately 25 miles of bike trails and most of the beaches and parts of the island are easily accessible by bike. Many of the hotels offer adult bike rentals, but you can also find children’s bikes and other types of bikes such as dual bikes at the Jekyll Island Bike Barn (912.635.2648). We did learn that it’s best to rent early in the day rather than waiting as sometimes the bike rentals do run out.

Summer Waves Park

Jekyll Island’s water park is open with reduced capacity for the summer of 2020 and has multiple water slides, a lazy river, and a children’s splash zone. Tickets are currently $18/day if purchased ahead of time and $20 at the gate. Children, 3 and under, can enter for free but you are required to purchase an approved swim diaper.

210 S Riverview Dr, Jekyll Island, GA
Summer Waves Park website

Museum and Historic Spots on Jekyll Island

Mosiac, Jekyll Island Museum is a history museum that also offers tours of the historic district. On the island, there are significant remains and restored homes that you can either drive by or even tour, including the Horton House, the remains of an 18th century tabby house and the Indian Mound Cottage which was owned by the Rockefeller family in the early 1900s.

Tons to Do on Jekyll Island

Mini golf course with palm trees

These are just a sampling of the many activities available on the island. Families can also enjoy mini-golf or golfing, horseback riding, exploring the parks and trails on the interior of the island, or attending wildlife exploration trips such as a gator trip or dolphin tour. In addition, Jekyll Island is part of the Golden Isles and the surrounding islands are close enough to explore.

Where to Stay on Jekyll Island

Holiday Inn Resort at Jekyll Island

Sandbar near Holiday Inn Resort on Jekyll Island

Our trip was courtesy of the Holiday Inn Resort of Jekyll Island. We loved that the resort had outdoor entrances to every room, ocean views on every room, and double rooms with sleeping quarters. The resort was also right on the beach and had multiple beach access points. We have written a full review that includes more information on our stay.

Camping on Jekyll Island

Many of our readers recommended the Jekyll Island Campground. The campground offers both full hook-up sites and primitive sites and is within walking distance to the Clam Creek picnic area and Driftwood Beach.

There are also plenty of other hotel options and short-term rentals on the island. We recommend considering proximity to bike rental options (or onsite bike rental) and the beaches for your stay. We did notice as we roamed the island that not all of the beaches were accessible at high tide.

Where to Eat on Jekyll Island

Due to COVID-19, we noticed that many restaurants were operating on limited hours and menus during our stay. Most restaurants were offering take-out and/or outdoor seating for patrons trying to social distance.

These are the restaurants we enjoyed during our stay:

The Beach House at Holiday Inn Resort at Jekyll Island

Child smiling over a plate of food with palm trees in the background.

Whether or not you stay at the Holiday Inn Resort, you can dine at their on-site restaurant, The Beach House. We were happy with the wide range of options on the menu, reasonable pricing, and outdoor seating options. Kids, 12 and under eat free with a paying adult.

701 Beachview Dr N, Jekyll Island, GA
Beach House Restaurant website

Sunrise Grille

We ordered a fabulous take-out breakfast one morning from the Sunrise Grille. They offer breakfast sandwiches and plates.

21 Main St, Jekyll Island GA
Sunrise Grille website

Wee Pub Beach

Shepherd's pie

Our take-out from Wee Pub Beach included a Shepherd’s Pie that the whole family ended up fighting over plus some yummy sandwiches. We did have to enter a crowded restaurant to pick up our order but the food was definitely worth ordering.

20 Main St, Jekyll Island, GA
Wee Pub Beach website

Have you ever been to Jekyll Island? We would love to hear what your recommendations are!