Got 15 hours? Head to Tybee Island

Tybee Island is one of those cliché destinations-a well-kept secret that you hate to share for fear you’ll ruin what is best about the place: its laid-back charm and funky feel.

Tybee is a 15-hour drive from Chicago and a 15-minute drive from Savannah, Ga. My family and I were invited to visit last spring and fell in love with both Tybee and Savannah, two historic, natural and gastronomic wonders.

What to do

The expansive beach is the big draw. But if you’re visiting during the spring, bring a sturdy jacket. The ocean breezes have a bite in April. On days that aren’t beach friendly, rent a bike and ride up and down the streets, with stops to see the Tybee Island Marine Science Center and climb the Tybee Island Lighthouse for a view over the island. Or drive over to Cockspur Island and learn some Civil War history at Fort Pulaski. Weather permitting, hitch a ride on Captain Mike’s dolphin tour boat to see Tybee from the water.

Where to eat

Don’t miss breakfast at the Breakfast Club. The entrees are a little pricey, but the gritty atmosphere of this eatery owned by a former Chicagoan left us smiling. For dinner, head to the Crab Shack. My non-fish-lover kids didn’t dig the food, but they loved pushing their garbage through the hole in the middle of the table. If you’re a foodie, head into Savannah and grab some takeout from Zunzi’s, a fusion of Swiss, Italian, South African and Dutch cuisines that even my pickiest eater loved. If you prefer more traditional fare, try the barbecue at Wiley’s Championship BBQ, a nondescript spot in a strip mall on Highway 80 East.

Where to stay

We stayed at the Beachside Colony in a spacious, beautiful three-bedroom condo with an ocean view. If you’re willing to forgo the ocean view and the heated pool, consider one of the cute little cottages a block or two inland.

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