On Jekyll Island, waves lick the 10 miles of beaches as kayaks cut through the salty water, cyclists roll over 20 miles of paved trails, and riders on horseback clop through hushed maritime forests. All visitors to the barrier island can partake in myriad active, relaxing, or educational activities while immersed in its lush natural landscapes, where dunes give way to beaches filled with hermit crabs and shell collecting and where birders clutch binoculars to examine avian habitats and decode gulls' sign language. The island's public golf club, open since 1898, hosts two 18-hole courses and one 9-hole course on manicured greens and rolling terrain. In the summer, the Summer Waves Water Park provides a cool escape from the heat with six slides, a wave pool, and a lazy river. For indoor adventurers, exhibits at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center illuminate the lives of the shelled reptiles, and a museum preserves relics of the wealthy families who used the island as their gilded getaway and a place to bury their expired money. The Jekyll Island Authority oversees all conservation and development on the idyllic island, existing to continually improve the park and its amenities.
Sun filters through bay windows at The Blue Goose, a coffee and wine shop nestled within the painted blue walls of a repurposed home. Upon entering the friendly environs, visitors are greeted with a barrage of smiling faces and the scent of freshly ground Jittery Joe’s and Perc coffee beans. Servers ferry small plates of goat cheese and hummus to tables, pairing the snacks with imported and domestic wine and bottled brews. These gourmet refreshments also feed private parties in The Blue Goose’s backroom and on its outdoor patio, which can accommodate up to 60 guests or one Mothra.
The chocolatesmiths at Fantastic Fudge meld together slabs of rich fudge in an old-fashioned copper kettle using a recipe that's more than a century old. Sink sweet teeth into chocolate and nuts with a half-pound slice ($6.50) of maple-walnut fudge. Rocky road, chocolate peanut butter, and chocolate pecan also populate the roster of delectable convections. Delicious saltwater taffy ($4.91 for 3/4 lb. box), unlike a shoe full of baby flip-flops, pleasantly commemorates time spent on the beach. Fantastic Fudge also whips up tasty assortments, such as a half-pound bag of peanut brittle ($4.91) and a one-third pound bag of chocolate popcorn ($5).
In 2009, Melissa Garnier opened a small produce co-op, seeking to save money on her grocery bill while providing her five children with healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables. Today, that co-op has grown into The Neighborhood Garden, a company that regularly supplies 200 Jacksonville families with fresh meats, local honey, dairy goods, and certified organic produce from Albert's Organics in Sarasota. Patrons can pick up pre-ordered edibles from 17 locations, or opt for delivery service.
Pete Behringer's passion for sweets ignited at the age of 14, when his mother founded Peterbrooke Chocolatier, the site of his first job. Pete’s profession hasn’t changed in three decades, and his passion and talent for handcrafting artisan confections has flourished. His insistence on weaving together simple, all-natural ingredients with an artisan touch earned him the proud title of Chocolatier of the Year for his gourmet chocolate treats, many of which are gluten-free, at Jacksonville's 2012 Taste of Chocolate Challenge. Within his candy shop, a century-old picturesque Victorian nestled in historical Springfield, he displays rainbows of jellybeans, sour gummy bears, vegan and gluten-free products, and colorful lollipops shaped like animals, airplanes, and Rorschach blots. When he's not spinning natural cane sugar into edible masterpieces, Pete hosts candy-making classes, parties, and events in his candy shop or on location.
At Home adorns humans and their domiciles with an elegant spread of beach-inspired accents. Mounted wall art and snapshot-hungry picture frames cling to the boutique’s creamy walls ($18–$80), bracketing caches of artisanal gifts ($10+) and reclaimed-wood furnishings. Delicate hand-painted sea creatures frolic across glazed platters and stemware ($30–$100), and clusters of Archipelago bodycare products coddle and moisturize sun-kissed land-dwellers ($20+). Fragrant rainbows of Trapp candles peer out of a-framed boxes, mustering their forces for up to fifty hours of ambrosial incineration ($25). Crown a favorite hostess or visiting auditor with wreathes of eclectic jewelry ($20–$200) or rifle through treasure troves of baby apparel for giggle-inducing gifts. After a rousing browse, shoppers can throw on sartorial cover-ups ($30) and strut six blocks to the sandy catwalk.