Hilton Head Island, South Carolina is a getaway for every type of trip, whether it’s a gentlemen’s golf trip, a romantic weekend away or a trip with the kids. The area features warm temperatures well into the fall and plenty of relaxation, fine dining, and spa treatments.
You can also spend time exploring nearby areas, including the small town of Bluffton and taking the ferry to the nature preserve on Daufuskie Island, home to a rum distillery and the Gullah Geechee communities. Hilton Head is known for its golf events like the RBC Heritage tournament as well as Gullah music, arts, and performance events.
The island is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and a handful of rivers, accessible by Highway 278 that runs the length of the island. the Cross Island Parkway is a toll road that takes you to the western end without as many traffic lights.
You can fly into Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport and take a car to the island in around 45 minutes. The island is only 12 miles long and 5 miles wide but is made up of over 200 restaurants and 200 shops.
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What to Do
There aren’t standard tourist attractions on Hilton Head Island except for the Lighthouse, which you must pay $6 to visit, and the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, where you can go on nature walks.
Most of the activities on the island are family or fitness-oriented. Bike rentals are a popular choice offered by most resorts. They allow you to ride on the beach or down the paths that extend the entire length of the island.
Beaches- Many beach access points are limited to hotel guests, but there are public beaches at Forest Beach, Coligny Beach Park, Burkes Beach, Driessen Beach Park, and Folly Field Beach. Despite the lax public drinking laws in nearby Savannah, you cannot consume alcohol on the beach in Hilton Head.
Coastal Discovery Museum– It is a favorite for visitors, where you’ll learn about the culture and ecosystems of the Lowcountry. The facility has gardens, boardwalks, and historic buildings to explore. Miniature golf is another favorite for families. Adventure Cove, Pirate’s Island, and Legendary Golf are the three putt-putt establishments on the island.
Adults can play golf or tennis at some of the 350 tennis courts and 24 golf courses. Many resorts include access to their private facilities in rates or can alternatively recommend a place to play. You can also rent kayaks and stand up paddle boards. Hilton Head Island Kayaking Tour allows visitors to see local wildlife.
Where to Eat
Lucky Rooster Kitchen & Bar– This cozy spot fuses both upscale dining, with menu items like foie gras and veal sweetbreads, and Southern favorites like their decadent shrimp and grits that change seasonally. Enjoy their signature cocktails and Moscow Mules in traditional copper mugs. 841 William Hilton Parkway, (843) 681-3474
Hudson’s Seafood House On The Docks– Hudson’s is a local institution for the dockside location, which is the best place on the island to see the sunset. On the menu is large portions of fried seafood and oysters. 1 Hudson Road, (843) 681-2772
Old Town Dispensary– Located inland from Hilton Head, this restaurant has live music and a raw bar. They have Sunday brunch and happy hour. Favorites include the Palmetto burger and fried green tomatoes. 15 Captains Cove Road, Bluffton, (843) 837-1893
The Salty Dog Cafe– The longtime Sea Pines restaurant has waterfront dining and delicious seafood like she-crab soup and fish tacos. They also have popular t-shirts and vacation rentals. 232 South Sea Pines Drive, (843) 671-2233
Skull Creek Boathouse– Waterfront views are only part of the appeal. The restaurant also has a sushi bar and an outdoor raw bar with fresh oysters, ceviche, and other seafood dishes. 397 Squire Pope Road, (843) 681-3663
Where to Stay
Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort– This property has the comfort of a hotel room with the amenities of a condo. They also have direct beach access, bikes for rent, a giant chess board and a fire pit. (book here) 23 Ocean Lane
The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa– The most luxurious hotel on the island is the Westin, which has nine tennis courts and golf courses. The spa and fitness center are a part of the wellness appeal. 2 Grasslawn Avenue
Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort– Fans of Disney resorts have everything they need at their Hilton Head hotel modeled after a hunting lodge. They have a heated pool with a slide, kids activities, and golf lessons. 22 Harbourside Lane
Sonesta Resort– The renovated property has beachfront access, kids activities, and multiple restaurants. Rooms have views of the ocean or the resort. 130 Shipyard Drive
Beach House– The Holiday Inn resort is a step above with coastal decor, a pool, restaurant, and a tiki bar. It’s a short walk to a shopping center and movie theater for rainy days. 1 South Forest Beach Drive
Grand Hilton Head Inn– The neighboring Ascend hotel has WiFi, a seasonal pool, and balconies overlooking surrounding Hilton Head. 36 South Forest Beach Drive
Inn and Club at Harbour Town– This Sea Pines resort has easy access to the links and is a Forbes four-star hotel. Golf is the main draw but there are also multiple restaurants, tennis, shopping, a marina, and a spa. 7 Lighthouse Lane
Marriott Hotels- The hotel brand has eight properties in Hilton Head of varying type with dozens of golf courses. Monarch at Sea Pines has villas with full kitchens that are popular with families.
Marriott’s Heritage Club is the vacation club option. Marriott’s Grande Ocean has luxury villas. Marriott’s Barony Beach Club is the most modern with access to the marina. Marriott’s SurfWatch is an apartment-style hotel. Marriott’s Harbour Point and Sunset Pointe at Shelter Cove is a three-star hotel in the heart of the island.
Rentals- Renting condominiums is another option if you’re traveling with a group and plan on cooking some meals in. You can find them from HomeAway, Wyndham Vacation Rentals, and Airbnb. Diamond Resorts has Royal Dunes and Island Links Resort.
Camping- There are a number of private campgrounds including Hilton Head harbor RV Resort and Marina.