Did you know you can spend the night at Paula Deen’s personal beach retreat? Yep. You can pull up to her beach house on Tybee Island, a beautiful barrier island in southeastern Georgia, pull into her garage, ride up the elevator with your luggage, kick off your shoes and call the place your own – at least for the duration of your stay.
Deen’s three-bedroom “Ya’ll Come Inn” cottage, located a hop, skip and a languid stroll away from Tybee Island’s five miles of sandy beaches and a world removed from the mania of everyday life, is as comfy and colorful as you’d expect of the doyenne of southern cookery. There’s an orange sherbet-colored sofa, yellow wicker chair and plump cushions and pillows piled high everywhere – especially on the beds in the bedrooms, each a breezy oasis of pastels and well-swaddled beds. Sink in.
A family-size dining room table gives everyone plenty of elbow room for digging into a low country boil of sausage, shrimp, crab, corn and potatoes. The kitchen is gorgeous, with granite countertops and cabinetry finished with crown molding. It’s also stocked with all the (stainless steel) appliances and variety of spices you’ll need to cook up the dishes found in one of Deen’s many cookbooks.
Deen’s beach digs are so peaceful, pleasant and inviting, your impulse may be to hole up there in, stretched out on the chaise lounge in front of the giant-screen TV and amidst piles of books – but don’t. Several of the celebrity chef’s favorite restaurants and shops are right down the road. You’ll want to visit these as you explore the island. And you won’t want to miss an evening out in Savannah, just a 20-minute drive away.
Lots of Tybee Island shops have the traditional t-shirts, trinkets and tchotchkes that make for fun and affordable souvenirs. One boutique in particular is absolutely inspired. Shopping at the very funky Seaside Sisters is like stepping into a treasure chest. One-of-a-kind artwork might feature hand-painted glass mermaids or sea turtles. Statement-making fashions and frivolities, shell art, shoes, seahorse pillows, books, botanicals, beads – everywhere you look, beach-inspired baubles there, bits of whimsy here. And if you run out of any of the mixes, sauces and condiments Deen left for you at the cottage, this is the place to restock.
For springtime visits to Tybee Island, there are a couple events that will get you up and off the sofa. The Sixth Annual Tybee Wine Festival takes place April 9 to 13, bringing with it a selection of international wines, cooking and table decorating demos, lots of live entertainment, a champagne brunch at The Crab Shack, and a five-course meal featuring coastal cuisine paired perfectly with fine wines – yes, wines plural.
The pièce de résistance: the Grand Wine Tasting held on the grounds of the historic Tybee Light Station. Built originally in 1732 at the behest of General James Oglethorpe, governor of the 13th colony, the lighthouse was rebuilt several times and is today one of America’s most intact. It is against this dramatic backdrop that 75 international wines will be poured, accompanied by local noshes and nibbles and live music.
If you prefer water guns to wine, Tybee Island’s Beach Bum Parade take places on the evening of May 16. Don’t show up without arming yourself with squirt guns or a bucket of water. This event is billed as the “South’s largest water fight” and as the parade floats roll down the street, a full-on water fight gets underway. Not quite as peaceful as lounging at Deen’s cottage, but your respite will be there waiting for you.