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JAN-FEB 2017

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36 J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7 F O R known WITH SANDY BEACHES on its eastern edge and a slim web of waterways that put the island just off the coast, minutes from the city of Savannah, Tybee Island has long been a favorite vacation spot for Georgians. e Tybee Light Station fi rst started safely guiding mariners into the Savannah River in 1732. Although the lighthouse has been rebuilt several times since then, the current black-and-white cylinder was rebuilt after the Civil War. Visitors can hike the 178 stairs to the top of the lighthouse for "arguably the best view of Tybee," said Sara Lane, director of Visit Tybee. Admission includes several other structures at Tybee Light Station as well as the museum, which is housed in one of Fort Screven's seven batteries. ere, exhibits showcase the island's history and role in the Civil War. Just on the other side of the museum is public access to North Beach, which is "a great spot to ship watch and take in the beach and look back at the lighthouse," she said. Tybee Beach is a popular sunbathing and swimming spot dur- ing peak summer season. e beach is the site of a wooden fi sh- ing pier with a picturesque octagonal pavilion that's available for group rentals. Located at the pier, Tybee Island Marine Science Center off ers staff -led eco-tours and beach walks "that are really worthwhile," Lane said. W W W . V I S I T T Y B E E . C O M LOOKING AT PHOTOS OF THE SUGAR-WHITE SAND and emerald-green water, people may be surprised to learn the im- ages weren't captured on a far-off tropical island but right along Florida's panhandle. Florida's Emerald Coast is a 24-mile stretch of shoreline along the Gulf Coast where the oval-shaped sand squeaks underfoot and the jewel-tone water surprises fi rst-time visitors. e reason for the sugary sand and teal water? e Apalachicola River delivers quartz from the Appalachian Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico. e coast includes Destin, Destin Harbor, Fort Walton Village and Okaloosa Island, a barrier island surrounded by Santa Rosa Sound, Choctawhatchee Bay and the gulf. e island "is my go-to beach," said Maureen Morgenthien, deputy director of sales and marketing for the Emerald Coast Convention and Visitors Bu- reau. Instead of condos and restaurants, visitors will fi nd natural dunes and sea oats, and "it's quiet and pristine." If groups are looking for less quiet and more activity, Destin Harbor is the spot. e Destin Boardwalk off ers easy access to restaurants, shopping, water activities and fi shing charters. "Everything there overlooks the beaches that protect the harbor," she said. Groups can take sunset or dolphin-watching cruises or rent paddleboards and jet skis. Visitors can also dine at about 30 area res- taurants that participate in the "gulf to table" program where "what the fi shing fl eet catches today is on your plate tonight," she said. W W W . E M E R A L D C O A S T F L . C O M BEACHES TYBEE ISLAND, GEORGIA EMERALD COAST, FLORIDA Courtesy Visit Savannah Courtesy Emerald Coast CVB T Y B E E I S L A N D D E S T I N ' S M A R L E R B R I D G E

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