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The Landings on Skidaway Island: With historic, happening Savannah this close, you can enjoy more than just golf

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

With six golf courses, fishing, tennis and more, there's plenty for folks who own homes in The Landings to do. And if they do what to leave, historic Savannah just is a short drive away.

Savannah Downtown Fountain
Downtown Savannah is just 20 minutes away from The Landings on Skidaway Island.
Savannah Downtown FountainSavannah - NightlifeThe Landings - Marshwood Golf CourseSkidaway Island

SKIDAWAY ISLAND, Ga. - The Eastern Seaboard has some excellent residential golf communities, like Sea Island and the Reynolds Plantation in Georgia, or The Cliffs, the golf community that's garnered so much publicity in South Carolina.

But few golf communities on the East Coast offer the proximity to natural beauty and to a cool city that you'll find at The Landings in Skidaway Island.

You can be staring at a six-foot alligator in a prehistoric-looking swamp one minute, and be strolling the historic streets of downtown Savannah 20 minutes later, maybe sipping an ale at Kevin Barry's Irish Pub (117 W. River St., tel. 912-233-9626).

That's a significant advantage for The Landings, a sprawling golf community located on Skidaway Island, just south of Savannah.

"That's one of the great things about this place," said resident Mike Werneke. "Savannah's a great city, and there are all sorts of things to do there - if you want to leave here."

The reason why there is such a short disconnect between urban and rural is that The Landings takes up most of Skidaway Island, an inner barrier island. The island is 6,500 acres while the Landings takes up 4,500 acres and the state park 550.

Union Camp snatched up the island after the Civil War and used it for timber purposes for many years before deciding to develop it for residential use. The company made a deal with the state to donate land for a park if the state would build a road to the island.

Georgia officials agreed, building the road in 1971, and the result is that, if you're headed for Skidaway, you're likely either a resident of The Landings or a state park visitor. That makes for a quiet, serene community, a short hop away from Savannah.

Things to do in Savannah

Savannah, which describes itself as "hip and historic," is the place where the book "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" was based, and the setting for the movie of the same name.

It's a busy little city that likes to party and eat well. It is especially well-known for its St. Patrick's Day celebrations, ongoing since 1813. It's a raucous celebration and the city paints its downtown fountains green.

Right behind it in terms of big party events is the Savannah Music Festival, an event that draws acts from around the world. The 2009 festival will be held March 19 through April 4.

The place isn't exactly boring when it isn't partying collectively. It isn't Charleston, but it does have more than its share of excellent restaurants, like Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room (107 West Jones St., tel. 912-232-5997), Bistro Savannah (309 W. Congress St., tel. 912-233-6266) and the
Olde Pink House Restaurant (23 Abercorn St. tel., 912-232-4286).

Or, you can try the crab cakes at Belford's (315 West St. Julian St., tel. 912-233-2626), Sunday brunch at Firefly Cafe on Troup Square (321 Habersham St., tel. 912-234-1971), the Crab Shack at Tybee Island (40 Estill Hammock Rd., Tybee Island, tel. 912-786-9857), with its big porch overlooking the marsh and Chimney Creek, or barbecue at Johnny Harris Restaurant (1651 E. Victory Dr., tel. 912-354-7810) or Sweet Leaf (606 Abercorn St., 912-447-5444).

Savannah also has an active nightlife, though the music scene could be more lively, and of course great antique hunting and shopping. Women might enjoy the Savannah Day Spa on Oglethorpe Avenue.

Things to do at The Landings

Of course, Savannah is the nearby destination for residents of The Landings when they tire of things to do on the island. That could take a while because it is an active community, with more than 100 groups, including one of the largest ladies golf organizations in the country.

There are the six golf courses, of course, which keeps the 3,500 or so golfers in the community busy.

But, the community isn't just about golf.

There are also three tennis centers and 34 courts, two deep-water marinas, a fitness center slated to be doubled in size, four swimming pools, two athletic fields, more than 40 miles of paved walking and biking trails and four clubhouse restaurants.

If you like to fish, there are more than 150 lagoons on the property, stocked with bass. If you prefer your fishing a little wilder, there are nearby boat ramps to the the Skidaway Narrows and surrounding waters, where you can catch spotted seatrout, red drum, striped bass, flounder and whiting.

There is no beach on Skidaway Island. You have to take a 10-minute boat ride to the state-owned Wassau Island.

Then there's the park, which has both salt and fresh water, as well as picnic areas, nature trails, observation towers, a birding station, and reptile room.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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