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Jekyll Island, Ga., boasts a combination of pristine nature and the high life. There are ways to enjoy it on a budget.
GIOVANNA DELL'ORTO/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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BY MYSCHA THERIAULT
McCLATCHY-TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
Travelers searching for a unique and affordable getaway will find lots to love on Georgia's Jekyll Island.
Accessible for $6 per vehicle with entertainment options suited to literally every budget, it is one of the most cost-friendly destinations in the country.
While it's certainly possible to spend big on sensational dinners and multiple spa treatments, truly affordable luxury is still available to those who know where to look.
History: Dating to the late 1800s, the national historic landmark district on Jekyll Island is a sight to behold.
It includes the former holiday cottages and recreation facilities of individuals such as J. P. Morgan, William Rockefeller and Joseph Pulitzer, as well as other notable families of the day, including the Vanderbilts, Goulds and Astors.
While it had once fallen into disrepair, the entire area is now restored for public enjoyment. For fully-guided trolley tours which include entry into a number of the original cottages, the Jekyll Island Museum offers scheduled daily tours for $16 per person. Those on a budget can take a self-guided, multi-media electronic tour for $8 per unit, also available at the museum.
Nature: Kayaking and sand strolling on Jekyll Island's miles of low-traffic beaches are both free ways to enjoy your time there.
The Saint Andrews picnic area in particular provides a penny-pinching way to enjoy nature for the day, and is accessible to those with adaptive travel needs. In addition to wheelchair ramp access to the sand, the venue has picnic table access and a touching African-American historical exhibit.
Young marine life conservation enthusiasts will want to take in the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, which boasts a small interactive museum as well as access to a fully functional rehabilitative center where visitors can see live sea turtles in the recovery tanks being treated for their injuries before returning to the wild. Adult tickets are $7, with discounts available for seniors, military members and children.
To see more of the island's eco system, the Jekyll Island Authority offers $5 guided tours that last for 90 minutes, routing through beaches, maritime forests and salt marshes.
Sports: If you prefer a more active itinerary, Jekyll Island has a number of affordable options. Tennis enthusiasts can enjoy court time for $6 per session and training clinics for 10 bucks per hour.