Spring Break wrapped up this weekend for local college students, and it had me thinking about my visit to Tybee Island, Georgia. With a proliferation of bars and restaurants and short proximity to numerous colleges, Tybee Island is a great Spring Break destination. But what do you do when you find yourself in this Spring Break town smack dab in the middle of Winter Break? When your 'day at the beach' is actually a blustery winter day with decidedly no beach activities in the forecast?
You save it. Because every second of vacation is precious and because there is beauty lurking in the sights and sounds typically reserved for the locals. There is behind-the-scenes-charm and horror-movie-magic and, at the end of it all, a sense of accomplishment for persevering.
My first sign that this day was not going to involve a beach came while checking in to the Desoto Beach Hotel. As I made a beeline for the coffee, I heard the attendant ask my aunt what brought us to Tybee on this December day. "Passing through on our way to see family in Florida", she said, the optimism fading a touch from her voice.
She had visited the island on a work trip and loved it. I could tell how badly she wanted to share it with us in all of it's lazy, beach town glory. Wanting to give it our best effort, we all layered on as many articles of clothing as we could and crossed the beach to the Tybee Pier: a big beautiful structure with views of the dunes and ocean that stretched for miles. As the wind whipped us and the cold chilled us, an unspoken pact was made to turn this rainy day into an adventure.
When we stepped off the pier, we found ourselves at the door of the Tybee Island Marine Science Center. So, we spent the next hour or so checking out the flora and fauna we were otherwise robbed of.
We inspected sand and listened to seashells. We saw a misguided sea turtle (actually, LOTS of turtles) and some starfish and jellies. It definitely lifted our spirits.
After leaving the Marine Science Center, we wandered in and out of a few shops. Perhaps it was the weather, but I found myself depressed and disappointed by this part of the island. But I was soon cheered back up when we stopped in the Rock House to warm up. We drank spicy Bloody Marys, watched football, and ate shrimp all-of-the-ways. Spicy shrimp. Wonton Shrimp. Fresh Shrimp. Beer Battered Shrimp. Coconut Shrimp. Sooo goooooood.
We also used the time to inspect the island map we'd been given and make a plan. We decided to head over to the Tybee Island Light Station, which would turn out to be the true gem of the day.
Sitting next to the Savannah River entrance, it is one of seven surviving colonial-era lighthouses and one of a small number of lighthouses with a First Order Fresnel Lens. I felt a million miles from home and ready to explore.
Doesn't it look like something that should have been in the spooky video from The Ring?
We chatted with the keeper of the lighthouse for a few minutes and were encouraged to climb the 178 stairs up to the top where we could walk out on the ledge and get a better view - both of the area and of the 9 foot lens.
We also got to tour the houses on the property which had been turned into a museum. It was full of crazy cool artifacts.
Next we went back to the hotel for a bit to relax and, you guessed it, warm up. We decided on The Crab Shack for dinner. Again, feeling strange to be surrounded by island wares while wearing a fleece poncho and boots.
After dinner, dashing through the rain, we made our way into a bar called Tybee Time, where slushie machines lined the wall. On the recommendation of the bartender, I opted for the pina colada - white russian combo and my aunt and cousin received some other suicide slushie concoctions. Right on cue, our day ended with a stranger coming to our table for the sole purpose of asking us why we were in Tybee in the middle of winter. All we could do was shrug and take another sip from our slushies. It was an appropriate end to this perfectly strange day.
And without further ado: How To Save a Rainy (or wintry) Day in Tybee Island, Georgia:
1. Layer up
2. Visit the Marine Science Center
3. Eat yummy seafood and drink bloody marys
4. Explore the Tybee Island Light Station
5. Spend the evening like any tourist would and delight in the silliness of it
What about you? Have you ever had your vacation plans thwarted? What did you do to salvage the day?
All posts from this trip:
Still to come:
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Hello, there! My name is Nikki Jones and this is a place for me to write about my travels, my urban homesteading adventures, and whatever else my little heart desires at a given moment. Like many personal-blog bloggers, there are times I write daily and long streteches I'm not inspired to write at all. And that's ok! At any rate, I'm glad you're here.