Your Guide to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island's windswept beaches, tranquil waterways and marshes, and ample outdoor activities have long made it a favorite vacation destination for families. The island's unmistakable lowcountry charms permeate all corners, from the Spanish moss draping stately live oaks to the classic cuisine, like hush puppies and shrimp and grits. Whether you've come to tee off at one of Hilton Head's championship golf courses, explore the peaceful waterways and trails, or relax on the beach or at your resort pool, Hilton Head has you covered.
Where to Stay
Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island
When they're not cozied up in one of the property's 340 guestrooms, guests of Hilton Head's AAA Four Diamond Sonesta Resort have 11 lush acres to explore at their leisure. The resort overlooks the Atlantic Ocean on the island's southernmost end, and recently completed $30 million dollars in renovations. Families can play in one of the resorts pools, including a heated lagoon pool, or enroll the little ones in an exclusive kids club. Unwind with a decadent treatment at Arum Spa, then dine on low-country cuisine at one of the property's restaurants.
The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa
Tucked into Port Royal Plantation, the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa sprawls alongside the ocean, with easy access to the beach. The resort is ideal for golfers, thanks to its proximity to Port Royal Golf Club's 3 championship golf courses; there's even a junior golf camp for kids. Guests can swim in 3 heated pools, relax at the Heavenly Spa, or practice their serve at the Port Royal Racquet Club. In the evening sip a sunset cocktail at the waterfront lounge, or enjoy dinner at one of 3 restaurants.
The Sea Pines Resort
For more than 50 years, Sea Pines Resort has ranked as one of Hilton Head's most iconic destinations, and lies within the 5,000-acre Sea Pines community. The property borders the Atlantic Ocean and Calibogue Sound, and guests can choose to stay in one of 300 villas, 100 rental homes, of a luxe, 60-room inn. Guests can tee off at one of three world-class golf courses, splash on the beach, go horseback riding, paddle on a kayak excursion, or play a game of tennis. The spa will keep guests pampered, and the many restaurants and lounges whet their appetites.
Where to Eat
Skull Creek Boathouse
Get the full South Carolina lowcountry dining experience at Skull Creek Boathouse, where diners can sit al fresco, overlooking the scenic waterfront. Tuck into a heaping plate of shrimp and grits, or a local favorite, frogmore stew. Find the freshest raw shellfish at the restaurant's Dive Bar, like oysters, or stop by at sunset and sip a cocktail at the Buoy Bar, overlooking the tranquil Skull Creek waters.
The Salty Dog Café
Don't leave Hilton Head without paying a visit to the Salty Dog Cafe, an island institution. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the cafe dishes up hearty fare, like crab cake Benedict, she crab soup, and their famous hush puppies, fried bites of cornbread served with homemade honey butter. If you're really starving, order the lowcountry boil, a mix of shrimp, snow crab, andouille sausage, potatoes and corn steamed with Old Bay butter.
Hudson’s Seafood on the Docks
You know you're getting served the freshest local seafood at Hudson's Seafood on the Docks, which has been keeping local appetites satisfied since 1967. The restaurant operates the largest fishing fleet on Hilton Head Island which practically delivers their catch from the boats to your table. You'll savor just-caught soft shell crabs, shrimp and oysters, as well as swordfish, grouper, and snapper -- when they're available. Stop by for Sunday brunch, or visit in the early evening to take advantage of happy hour specials.
What to Do
Hilton Head's placid waterways are among the island's highlights. Families can explores these creeks and more on a kayaking tour with Outside Hilton Head. The outfitter offers a number of trips for all skill levels, including a 2-hour journey through a salt marsh, where paddlers will learn about wildlife as well as the region's history and culture. Longer trips are also available, including a birding and beachcombing paddle through Pinckney Island Wildlife Refuge.
Most people recognize Hilton Head Island by its iconic red and white striped lighthouse, which is located in Harbour Town, the island's beating heart. Located in Sea Pines Resort, Harbour Town is where visitors go to shop, dine, and experience entertainment – such as live music under the enormous Liberty Oak Tree performed for more than 30 years by Gregg Russell. You can stretch your purse strings at more than two dozen shops, or book a dolphin-sighting or adventure cruise at the bustling marina.
Hilton Head Island has been called one of the most bike-friendly destinations in the United States thanks to hard-packed sand beaches and more than 60 miles of scenic, multi-use bike trails. Looming southern live oaks cloaked in Spanish moss line many paths and create a dreamy lowcountry atmosphere for riders. the island's flat landscape means it's an easy ride for everyone – including children.