Hilton Head Island in South Carolina is a place you go to take it slow. If you don’t wish to follow an itinerary and prefer not to know what time it is while you’re on vacation, this is your paradise. The locals are incredibly friendly and helpful, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy the island. This is a great place to relax and spend time either alone or with your family. Enjoy the sand, sun and ocean breeze as you unwind and adapt to island time.
1.) The Beach
When you think of visiting an island I’m sure one of your first thoughts is a wide stretch of beach dotted with colorful umbrellas. In your vision there might be children playing in the sand or flying a kite, or maybe you picture a beach chair set far away from all of the commotion, making the perfect spot for sunbathing and reading. You’re in luck because this is all possible on Hilton Head. The beach is the ultimate place for relaxing and enjoying your alone or family time.
If you golf, then you probably already know that Hilton Head has been named #10 on Golf Digest’s list of the world’s best golf resorts. It’s also home to over 20 championship golf courses! I’m impressed. Unless you’re extremely dedicated, you won’t be able to play but a handful of the courses, so be sure to make those precious tee times count.
There are over 300 tennis courts on the island, so even if you’re not really into tennis you will definitely notice that it’s a major sport here. With world class tennis academies like Van Der Meer or resorts like Palmetto Dunes and Sea Pines, Hilton Head has its share of elite tennis players. Private lessons and clinics are offered for all experience levels all over the island, so take the opportunity to learn a new sport or fine-tune your existing skills.
Go to Old Town Bluffton on the mainland to experience a quaint Southern town. Bluffton has all of the unique, cutesy shops you could want, selling everything from upscale vintage clothing and antiques to coastal décor and custom designed wrought iron. Go on the historic walking tour to get a sense of the town in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. Don’t forget to stop in The Cottage for a delightful afternoon tea!
5.) Bike Trails
Get out and explore the island by bike! Enjoy the wind on your face as you cycle on the nearly 60 miles of biking/walking paths through and around the peaceful, towering oak trees. Bike to lunch, an ice cream shop, or a putt-putt course, and relish in the simplicity of an afternoon bike ride. Your bike didn’t fit in the overhead bin on your flight? No problem. There are plenty of places to rent one for the whole family for up to a whole week for just a few dollars per day.
6.) South Beach Marina Village
South Beach Marina Village in Sea Pines is a great place to explore for an afternoon. If you’re not staying in Sea Pines, it costs $6 per car to enter the community, but it is well worth the price. Eat at the famous Salty Dog Café, shop for nautical décor, shirts, or souvenirs, or take a tour. You can go deep sea fishing, kayaking, parasailing, boating, or rent jet skis from the marina, so there’s plenty to do in this village.
7.) Fresh Seafood
If you like seafood you are sure to enjoy some of the fresh-caught fare in Hilton Head. The fish doesn’t have very far to travel from the ocean to your plate, so you know it’s going to be delicious. It’s so good even the most finicky kids might prefer some fresh golden fried fish nuggets to their normal chicken nugget diet.
8.) Sea Pines Harbor Town
Venture a little further into Sea Pines to Harbor Town. Let the kids run wild on the playground while you take a break. Enjoy many more fantastic dining and shopping experiences, including a small store with arguably the best views of the Lowcountry. To enter the store and observe this view, all you have to do is climb the 114 steps to the top of the Harbor Town Lighthouse!
9.) Tanger Outlets
If you didn’t get enough shopping in on your trip, head to Tanger Outlets. They offer designers like Coach, Kate Spade, and Michael Kors, apparel from Under Armour, Gap, American Eagle, and Justice, and specialty stores like Bare Minerals, Pro Golf Discount, and Bath & Body Works. There are dozens and dozens of other stores to browse, window shop, or snatch up some deals, and the outlets can make a nice break from the beach.
If you want an adventure for the day, head to Savannah, Georgia. It’s only a 45 minute drive from the island and can keep you busy for an entire day. For more details, read my 10 Reasons to Love Savannah article.
Even though the island is only 12 miles long and 4 miles wide, Hilton Head packs an incredible punch if you appreciate the open air. The weather is perfect in the summer and mild in the winter, so year-round the outside is calling. Get out, explore, and enjoy this Southern gem.
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