Georgia's Tybee Island

A vacation rental property with its own Wikipedia page must be special. I chose Tybee Island's Dutton-Waller cottage because it was dog-friendly -- I would be traveling with my Basset hound, Geraldine. After I booked the cottage, I Googled it, curious what the review sites would say. The first hit that came up was Wikipedia. I learned that Dutton-Waller is a historic property of architectural significance; it's even listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Built in 1938, Dutton-Waller is a rare example of an authentic raised Tybee cottage, which, according to the official description in the National Register, was "a standard beach house design for middle-class families on Tybee Island from the early 1920s through the 1940s." This type of cottage has its main living area on the second level, with the ground level reserved for parking, storage, a shower/changing area and servant's quarters. Many raised Tybee cottages were razed to make way for modern development. Being able to stay in one still containing its original, unpainted heart pine interior, was a treat. I could feel the history of the place, from the claw foot tub in the bathroom to the screened-in sleeping porch with its brass-fram bed underneath a constantly churning ceiling fan.

Dutton-Waller is located on a section of the island known as the Back River area, not on the beach. Tybee Island doesn't lend itself to beachfront accommodations, owing to an old-fashioned street grid without a main beach road, and an extensive protected dune area. It would've been nice to have had a waterfront location, but with Geraldine in tow, it didn't matter. Dogs aren't allowed on Tybee's beaches. But there are plenty of un-trafficked neighborhood streets and two dog parks on the island. Geraldine found her own way to a Back River inlet beach to chase some crabs, but managed to avoid detection by the dog police while currying favor with the locals.

Whether you have a dog or not, here are some important things to know about Tybee Island before booking your trip:

It's Georgia's most popular coastal retreat, the closest beach to Atlanta and Savannah, so expect traffic and crowds along the main thoroughfares and around the pier.

If you want peace and quiet, stay on the north end of the island near the historic lighthouse and Fort Screven, or in the Back River area. If you want to see and be seen among the crowds, book accommodations near the pier and pavilion at the southern end of the island.

There is no free public parking anywhere on Tybee Island. Seriously. You will be ticketed if you park and don't feed the meter. Sometimes the meter may be a half a block away, but you still need to feed it and put a ticket in your window. Best to hop on a bicycle. Tybee Island is a very bike friendly place.