Needing some vitamin sea? With just under a tank of gas, most Atlantans can reach the beach in just under 5 hours. Keep reading for our favorite places to strike out for some sun and fun if you have a couple of days to spare.

Tybee Island: 4 hours 11 minutes

Just a stone's throw from Historic Savannah—18 miles, to be exact—Tybee Island has its own unique vibe that just happens to set the stage for a perfect family beach vacation. This Georgia barrier island has beautiful beaches and tons of places to explore. 

Things to Do: When you're ready to dust off the sand (kind of), the best thing to do on Tybee is get out and explore the waterways. A sea kayak trip will have you paddling past oyster beds and exploring the undeveloped Little Tybee Island, where you'll see wildlife in it's truly natural form. Visit Tybee Island Light Station to climb the oldest and tallest lighthouse in the state for fantastic views of the Savannah River—and sometimes, Hilton Head. And don't leave without a visit to the Marine Science Center for year-round programs on the beach, in the marsh, on the water, in the classroom, and at their Coastal Georgia Gallery.

Covid Travel: Travelers are required to mask up, stay 6-feet apart, not congregate in large groups, and enjoy the restaurants and businesses that are in the process of reopening. For up to date travel info, click here

Find Out More: Pay a visit to the official Tybee Island website for accommodation deals and additional information. 

 

photo: S. Massey

Hilton Head Island: 4 hours 17 minutes

Warm sunshine. Balmy breezes. Wide, sandy beaches. Meandering bike trails underneath a canopy of live oaks and Spanish moss. Al-fresco dining. Effortless adventures for the entire family. Happiness. That's Hilton Head. 

Things to Do: With over 12 miles of sparking sand beaches—public beach access and parking is abundant if your hotel or rental isn’t beach adjacent—the first thing you're going to want to do is slather on some sunscreen and play in the surf. Coligny Beach Park (12 S. Forest Beach Dr.) has earned a reputation for being one of the most fam-friendly beaches due to their fabulous fountain (perfect for cooling off), clean bathrooms and swings in the shade. Hard-packed beaches and paved public pathways, means that Hilton Head Island is heaven on earth for bike enthusiasts. Rent a bike for a day or a week and have it delivered (and picked up) at your location. Be sure to ride your bike on the beach at low tide for an unforgettable experience.

Covid Travel: Travelers are required to mask up and stay 6-feet apart while visiting Hilton Head. For up to date travel information, click here

Find Out More: Check out our insider's guide to Hilton Head, and be sure to visit the official Hilton Head Island website for accommodation deals. 

 

St. Simon's Island: 4 hours 47 minutes

Recently voted the number one favorite beach town by Travel and Leisure, St. Simon's Island is laid back fun with a small town vibe. Similar to Hilton Head, the hard-packed sandy beaches are perfect for strolling, biking, and building sandcastles in. And with a dedicated business district, you've got lots of options for dining and entertainment, too. 

Things to Do: In addition to the beach and biking that should be at the top of your list, a visit to Fort Frederica National Monument—a Georgia State Park historical site that was once a thriving community in colonial Georgia—offers a nice history lesson and break from the beach. Or perhaps get on the water with the Lady Jane Shrimp Boat to trawl through the marshes to discover the spoils of the sea: pufferfish, huge sting rays, and even a few shrimp have been known to find their ways on board. 

Covid Travel: Travelers are required to mask up, stay 6-feet apart, and enjoy the restaurants and businesses that are in the process of reopening. For up to date travel info, click here

Find Out More: Take a peek at the Official Golden Isles visitor guide for the scoop and deals on lodging.

photo: S. Massey

Jekyll Island: 4 hours 57 minutes

Beach vacations with babes in tow score bonus points when they offer up a little something more than sand. And with miles of wide, flat beaches, bike trails through Spanish-moss covered live oaks, and wildlife interactions at world-class facilities, Jekyll Island is a family vacation jackpot only four-and-a-half hours from Atlanta.

Things to Do: While any of the beaches on Jekyll Island are sure to please, don't pass up a chance to take the littles to Driftwood Beach. Located on the north end of the island, it's dotted with sun-bleached, beached, and gorgeous remains of live oaks that are as beautiful as they are entertaining to climb on. Jekyll is also home to Georgia’s only rehabilitation center for endangered sea turtles. The Georgia Sea Turtle Center offers eco-experiences led by biologists and researchers about sea turtle nesting and monitoring, and the American alligator.

Covid Travel: Travelers are required to mask up, stay 6-feet apart, not congregate in groups greater than 10 on the beach, and enjoy the restaurants and businesses that are in the process of reopening. For up to date travel info, click here

Find Out More: Check out our insider's guide to Jekyll Island, and be sure to visit the official Jekyll Island website for accommodation deals. 

Panama City Beach: 4 hours 59 minutes

Historically know for being the spring break destination for colleges across the southeast, this panhandle community will surprise you with its abundance of family friendly attractions and will wow you with its beautiful turquoise water. 

Things to Do: After you get your fill of the sugar-white sands and gentle gulf waves, take the crew to Beachfront Adventures for off-road buggies and zip lines, ropes courses, go karts, mini golf, an aqua maze and more. To keep the adrenaline going, you might opt for a helicopter tour of the coast, or perhaps an airboat ecotour.

Covid Travel: Find up-to-date Covid travel guidance here, but expect businesses to be generally open if you're heading to Panama City Beach.

Find Out More: Pay a visit to the official Panama City Beach website for accommodation deals and additional information. 

Featured image by Jan Haerer from Pixabay.

—Shelley Massey