Meet the winners of our annual search for the best coastal places to call home—for a weekend or a lifetime. (Check out the 2016 lineup and vote for your favorite here, through 11:59pm PST January 25th!)
Photo: Joseph Shields/Getty Images
Savannah’s long-held secret is out: This tiny barrier island with cooling, salty breezes in the heat of summer is an ideal escape not only from the mainland, but also from a busier, noisier world. And for 3,044 residents, that retreat to white sands, green marshes, and the glint of dolphins offshore is the rhythm of daily life.
Just 18 miles east of the Hostess City, Tybee Island sits at the mouth of the Savannah River, with three miles of soft, wide beaches that greet the Atlantic. At the south end of the island, a pier and pavilion lure families and fishermen, while the Tybee Island Marine Science Center draws naturalists of every age. At the north end, the photo-perfect, black-and-white-striped Tybee Lighthouse stands guard. Just off the island’s spine of Butler Avenue are brightly colored little shops and restaurants—including Sweetie Pie, a vintage turquoise-and-white trailer that serves up made-to-order gelato, as well as milkshakes and smoothies, and is parked behind the ebulliently stocked Seaside Sisters shop filled with coastal cottage decor and gifts.
At just around three square miles, this is a place where exploration is basically automobile-free, and most residents get around town on bikes. For visitors, the pastel beach cruisers at Fat Tire Bikes come complete with drink holders, which, again, says something about a sweet little island that puts relaxed Southern pleasures at the head of the parade.
Where to Stay: Mermaid Cottages offers a charming assortment of 48 cozy retreats, many historic homes, tucked from one end of Tybee to the other; 912-313-0784 or