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The sunny barrier island of Tybee Island offers a laid-back lifestyle with more than three miles of beaches on which to frolic, salt marshes and nature trails to explore and view a wide array of coastal wildlife. History and culture buffs will have plenty to keep them occupied with Fort Pulaski National Monument, the Tybee Island Light Station and Museum. The Tybee Island Marine Science Center provides families with a chance to get up close and personal with marine life with touch tanks, observation decks, and a fun interactive playground. The Tybee Pier and Pavilion allows for a pleasant afternoon of people-watching if you’re not entranced by the waves and beautiful surroundings. For a more secluded experience, take a boat ride (or kayak or jet ski) across the Back River to Little Tybee Island – it’s a stunning spot for an intimate sunset picnic on your own private beach. Once designated as the “Best One Tank Trip” by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Tybee has much to offer day trip visitors.

While we may claim the St. Simons light as our favorite lighthouse due to hometown bias, Tybee Island’s light has the distinction of being Georgia’s oldest and tallest light. It is also one of America’s most intact light stations, having all of its historic support buildings on its three-acre site. Ordered by Governor James Oglethorpe in 1732, the Tybee Island Light Station has been guiding mariners safely into the Savannah River for more than 285 years. Rebuilt several times, the current lighthouse displays its 1916 day-mark (lighthouse without a light) with 178 steps and a First Order Fresnel lens. In 1790, the United States Lighthouse Establishment took over operation of the day-mark and turned it into a lighthouse. The 100-foot-tall brick and wood structure was lit for the first time in 1791. After much of the tower was destroyed during the Civil War, it was rebuilt using the existing structure. This fireproof, first order light station is the structure that stands today. Although the lighthouse is currently under restoration and closed through March 13, the rest of the light station and museum are still open to visitors 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily except Tuesdays. For more information, visit tybeelighthouse.org.

Not far from the lighthouse on Meddin Drive is the Tybee Island Marine Science Center. A relatively new sprawling facility houses spacious galleries with live animal exhibits including loggerhead sea turtles, baby American alligators, a diamondback terrapin and several local fish, as well as a sea table touch tank filled with live sand dollars, sea stars, hermit crabs, and snails. Their Grey’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary exhibit offers visitors a chance to virtually experience the NOAA live-bottom reef without actually having to travel to the Gray’s Reef site 19 miles off the coast. The Marine Science Center also hosts beach walks, bird walks, marsh treks, sea camps for kids, and other programming for all ages that is designed to nurture a lasting love and responsible stewardship for the Georgia coast. For more information, visit tybeemarinescience.org.

Standing guard over the Savannah River for over 150 years, Fort Pulaski’s heritage represents an important phase of the nation’s history and lives on in the stories of the people, places, and events that helped shape the imposing fortress. Fort Pulaski took approximately 18 years and $1 million to build. Part of America’s ambitious Third System of coastal fortifications, the completed two-tier structure is a truncated hexagon that includes a demilune, moat, two powder magazines, and a large parade ground. With 7½ foot-thick solid brick walls backed by massive piers of masonry and surrounded by swampy marshes and the waters of the Savannah River, the fort was considered impregnable. A 30-hour bombardment of the fort using newly developed rifled cannons that had superior range and penetrating power proved that wrong. The restored fort stands today as a monument to that milepost in history when the power of technology and progress prevailed over a false sense of indestructability. Learn more about the fort and get information to plan your visit at nps.gov/fopu.

If you’re looking for entertainment, Tybee Island also has a St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Irish Heritage Celebration, but theirs will held on Saturday, March 9, from 3:00-5:00 p.m., the procession of marchers, music, and floats will commence from Tybee City Hall. There are some fantastic concerts, movies, and other performances scheduled at Tybee Post Theater this spring. Visit their site at tybeeposttheater.org to see their calendar and get tickets to shows. Join the fun!

Tybee Island originally posted on by Elegant Island Living magazine.

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