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Spend Christmas on Historic Jekyll Island

Program No. 13410RJ
Celebrate Christmas on Jekyll Island, where you’ll enjoy world-class cuisine, explore the festively decorated National Historic District and learn the grand story of this “Golden Isle.”
6 days
Rating (4.73)
Activity Level
Starts at

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At a Glance

Experience the splendor and history of Jekyll Island during the Holiday season! More than a century ago, many of the nation's richest families, such as the Rockefellers and the Pulitzers, discovered the serenity and beauty of the jewel of Georgia's east coast. It became the winter retreat for many wealthy families. Imagine Christmas through the ages as you venture inside the cottages in the National Historic District with some curators in period dress. Complement the program with dinners at the nationally renowned Jekyll Island Club Hotel and the Jekyll Ocean Club. Other highlights include presentations of the Gullah-Geechee culture, a visit to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and holiday high tea.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Enjoy an unforgettable Christmas Day brunch in the Grand Dining Room of the renowned Jekyll Island Club Hotel.
  • Get into the holiday spirit on the Holly Jolly Trolley as we enjoy the festive holiday music, hear historic anecdotes, and see more than a million lights adorning the Jekyll Historic District.
  • Spend an afternoon on the largest of the “Golden Isles,” St. Simon’s Island.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Jekyll Island Colony
by June Hall McCash
During the Gilded Age, Jekyll Island, Georgia, was one of the most exclusive resort destinations in the United States. Owned by the most elite and inaccessible social club in America, a group whose members included Rockefellers, Pulitzers, Vanderbilts, Goulds, and Morgans, this quiet refuge in the Golden Isles was the perfect winter getaway for the wealthy new industrial class of the snowbound North. In this delightful book, a companion volume to The Jekyll Island Club: Southern Haven for America's Millionaires, June Hall McCash focuses on the social club's members and the "cottages" they built near the clubhouse between 1888 and 1928. Illustrated with hundreds of never-before-published photographs from private family collections, The Jekyll Island Cottage Colony tells the stories of each home, the owners' connections with the island, and their interactions with one another.
Splendid Isolation: The Jekyll Island Millionaires Club 1888-1942
by Pamela Bauer Mueller
AN HISTORICAL NOVEL Untamed, and virtually unchanged since its discovery in 1733 by General James Oglethorpe, Jekyll Island s history unfolds with the excitement and suspense of a fairy tale. Because so many of the world s greatest minds and bank accounts gathered together in virtual isolation for three months each year, history was made on Jekyll Island. A group of tycoons with surnames such as Rockefeller, Morgan, Vanderbilt, Pulitzer, Baker and others formed their exclusive Millionaires Club on this island hideaway the richest and most inaccessible club of that time. Between 1888 and 1942, Jekyll Island was open only to Club members families and their guests for hunting, relaxing and playing in luxurious ease. In this sweeping historical saga, you will discover the Millionaires joys, tribulations, and deeply guarded secrets told through the unique voices of four Club employees. In this true story of the island getaway that offered them sovereignty, discover how the decisions of these powerful men changed the face of world finances, business and politics as they built modern America.
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6 days
5 nights
13 meals
4 B 1BR 3 L 5 D
Check-In, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Jekyll Island, GA
Jekyll Island Club Resort

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing the up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. A bagpiper will herald in the season at the Jekyll Island Club Resort and then down by the Jekyll River. We will enjoy this special holiday treat each afternoon of Christmas week.

Dinner: In a private banquet room at the hotel, we’ll enjoy a buffet meal with salad, entrée, dessert, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

St. Simons Island History, Guitarist, and Fireworks
Jekyll Island, GA
Jekyll Island Club Resort

Activity note: Getting on/off bus

Breakfast: In the hotel’s Victorian-era Grand Dining Room, we’ll enjoy a buffet with an assortment of seasonal fresh fruits, yogurt, scrambled eggs, hot and cold cereals, breakfast meats, breakfast potatoes, grits, homemade pastries, toast, bagels, and muffins, and a daily special breakfast entrée, plus coffee, tea, milk, juices, and water.

Morning: We will depart for a field trip by bus to St. Simons Island. We will learn about several historical sites on the island which will include a tour at the World War II Museum, Christ Church, and the Harrington School.

Lunch: We will enjoy a plated lunch at a restaurant on St. Simons, ordered from a select menu. Coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase

Afternoon: After lunch enjoy some free time while visiting the shops and sites of Pier Village on SSI before we depart for our return to the Jekyll Island Club. When we return, enjoy another afternoon performance from our Highland piper at the hotel, who will play while marching the grounds.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: As we wrap up dinner, enjoy the seasonal music from a professional guitarist as we settle into the evening and anticipate the spectacular holiday fireworks display.

Jekyll History, High Tea, Historic District, Bagpiper
Jekyll Island, GA
Jekyll Island Club Resort

Activity note: Getting on/off tram.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Enjoy some free time this morning to sit on the porch, visit the nearby turtle center, or stroll through the historic district.

Lunch: At the hotel, we’ll have a special holiday high tea in grand holiday decor.

Afternoon: After lunch, we will enjoy a behind the scenes tour of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. After the tour we will visit Goodyear Cottage which is now home to the Jekyll Island Arts Association. Once again we will enjoy our bagpiper’s tunes.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: This evening, we will take a ride on Jekyll's jolliest trolley ride to see more than a million lights adorning the historic district as we enjoy the holiday music and interesting historic anecdotes about the area.

Cookie Decorating, Christmas Eve Dinner
Jekyll Island, GA
Jekyll Island Club Resort

Activity note: Getting on/off passenger van. Walking up to 1 hour on sandy terrain. For dinner at the Jekyll Ocean Club, jackets or collared shirts and slacks requested for gentlemen. Sunday attire for ladies.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: The hotel's famous pastry chefs have all the parts ready for this cookie decorating workshop. Let’s celebrate as we decorate! Our pastry chefs roll out the dough and fun of Christmas We will each receive a dozen cookies to decorate and take home, with colorful icings and traditional cookie sprinkles provided. Jekyll Island's 10 miles of beach and outlying sand dune ecosystem provides many shells on the coast. Our expert will share her collection beautiful whelk shells, perfectly formed conch shells and much more with the group.

Lunch: Hotel buffet.

Afternoon: We will explore and walk on Jekyll Islands pristine beaches. 65% of the island exists as a state park, an ideal of conservation and preservation.It's time for the bagpiper to herald in the season. We’ll return to the hotel for dinner.

Dinner: Dinner at the fabulous Jekyll Ocean Club.

Christmas Day Brunch & Dinner
Jekyll Island, GA
Jekyll Island Club Resort

Activity note: Minimal standing and walking today.

Breakfast: In lieu of breakfast, we will enjoy a wonderful Christmas Brunch later in the morning.

Morning: Free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Brunch: We will enjoy a Christmas brunch. Coffee, tea, water included.

Afternoon: We will enjoy an afternoon on a boat tour in search of dolphins as well as other wildlife while admiring the scenic views of Jekyll Island.

Dinner: In a private banquet room at the hotel, we’ll enjoy a buffet meal with salad, entrée, dessert, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: This afternoon we will enjoy an elective Christmas gift swap. If you choose to participate, gifts will need to range between $10-$20

Program Concludes, Local Author
Jekyll Island, GA

Activity note: Hotel check-out 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Wrap up with local author Pamela Mueller: Splendid Isolation: The Jekyll Island Millionaires Club 1888-1942 If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on another rewarding program in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!

Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.