Live Like Mary Kay Andrews on Tybee Island
Renowned novelist and self-proclaimed Tybee beach bum Mary Kay Andrews knows a thing or two about our lovely barrier island. We sat down with the New York Times’ bestselling author to find out her tips for vacationing like a pro and living it up on Tybee Island.
Born in St. Petersburg, Florida, Mary Kay Andrews moved with her husband Tom to Savannah at age 22. In need of a getaway, she and Tom drove the short 15-mile trip to nearby Tybee Island during their first summer in town.
“It was a little honky-tonk place back then,” she says. “But its charms grew on me.”
She frequented the quirky island whenever she needed a break, falling more deeply in love with its funky locals and gorgeous cottages with every passing season.
“When I first started writing fiction, I borrowed friends’ cottages to escape and get away to write,” Andrews says.
She eventually bought a cottage on Tybee and spent nine months gutting and renovating the 1943 beach house, affectionately naming it the “Breeze Inn” after the fictional motor court hotel in her book “Savannah Breeze.”
In early 2014, she purchased another colorful cottage beauty and named it after the beach house in “Summer Rental.” “Ebbtide,” as it’s known, is decked out in decor and furniture Andrews handpicked herself. Andrews currently rents both cottages to those eager to experience all the island has to offer.
She leaves an autographed copy of one of her novels for those renting her lovely abode — a favor her fans happily return.
“I’ve received gifts, cards, you name it,” Andrews says, smiling. “Sometimes I’ll even find a handwritten letter hiding in a drawer!”
Though she currently lives in Atlanta with her family, Andrews says she can’t resist the allure of Tybee Island. She comes back several times a year to relax, see old friends and indulge in all her favorite things. She even let us in on a few of them.
Stay the night
In addition to staying at Ebbtide and Breeze Inn, Andrews is a fan of the colorful Mermaid Cottages. Owner Diane Kaufman is a close friend of Andrews’ and the two share a love for bright colors and on-trend interiors.
Grab a bite
“And then there’s 80 East Gastropub, Fish Camp and Social Club,” she continues. “If we’re hanging out, having family movie night, we’ll order from Lighthouse Pizza. I’m also a big fan of the farmers’ market if I’m here on a Monday.”
An avid yard sale aficionado, Andrews knows good thing when she sees it. Her favorite past time is “junking,” — perusing estate sales, garage sales and antique sales in search of a hidden gem.
“I practice ‘catch and release,'” she says.
She “releases” her finds at Seaside Sisters, where she sells her favorite vintage pieces in one room of the funky boutique for all to enjoy. Another of Andrews’ longtime friends, Susan Kelleher, owns the shop.
Andrews’ antiques aren’t the only wares available for purchase; fans can buy all 22 Mary Kay Andrews novels, as well as her branded T-shirts, witty coffee mugs and other signature pieces.
“I just love Tybee Island. There’s no wrong way to visit,” says Andrews. We couldn’t agree more.
Jess Brannen is Visit Tybee’s Social Media Coordinator. She graduated from Armstrong State University with her BA in English and Professional Communications. Jess is a Savannah native and loves playing with Sir Charles Barkley, her neurotic golden retriever, and watching reruns of Martha Stewart’s cooking shows while eating chocolate.