My family has been going to Hilton Head since I was very little and it is a place I’ve come to love very much. The island has changed a lot in that time — it’s much more built up now — but it still has the same low country, laid back beach vibe. It is a great place to visit as a solo (like I just did!), as couple, with friends (like I did for spring break!), or definitely with your family.
Hilton Head is divided into “plantations” which are basically like huge neighborhoods. When I was really young we stayed in Palmetto Dunes, but now my family always stays in one on the more residential northwest side of the Island. Sea Pines is probably the most popular place for visitors. I definitely haven’t explored everything there is to offer, so please add your own input in the comments! Here’s a link to the official Hilton Head website, too, for more info.
Without further ado, my Hilton Head Island favorites!
Beach & Pool
This is why you go!! You could spend all your time just at the beach and pool and it would be a perfect trip. The entire beach is public, but there are areas with private access (like resorts.) The water is perfect for swimming in during the summer but gets pretty chilly through the winter months. It’s still great to go for beach walks or just read a book then, though, because it’s not so hot! I was told that Burke’s beach is the place locals go to surf.
My dad loves Hilton Head for the golf. There are 33 championship golf courses in the Hilton Head area, a mix of public and private. There is a PGA tour event at Harbor Town Golf Links each year, too.
Bike! Biking is huge on Hilton Head. There are 60 miles of trails and renting bikes is easy and inexpensive. I love to bike everywhere when I’m there, whether it’s leisurely just to look around, to go to the grocery store, or to the beach for a swim. Most of the bike rentals will gift you a basket for the bike which comes in handy.
Rent kayaks or paddle boards
Sunset Cruise. You can bring appetizers and drinks and it turns out to be a beautiful evening!
Boogie board at the beach!! Or surf, if you can! The waves aren’t huge, but they are enough to have fun.
Mini Golf. (See above)
Shop at the outlets. There are two major outlets right next to each other about 10 minutes off the Island and we always make a trip when we are down there!
Areas of Hilton Head
Harbor Town. This is where the famous lighthouse is! It’s a really cute area to wander shops, check out yachts, sit in rocking chairs or listen to a concert in the summer.
South Beach. Home of the Salty Dog Cafe and lots of other cute shops!
Coligny Plaza. Tons of shopping and restaurants.
Shelter Cove Town Center. This is my favorite area for shopping and hanging out! It’s right on broad creek and has tons of events all summer, including fireworks on Tuesday nights.
The “Barmuda Triangle” is famous for its young nightlife. It’s on Greenwood road and is a group of bars all together with a big shared patio. It can get pretty busy, especially during tourist season!
Poseidon in Shelter Cove has a roof top bar with a more club-like feel (and dress code!)
Here’s a list of the other places with good night life. I’ll admit I don’t partake too often — usually just hanging with the fam or friends and a glass of wine back at the house!
Hilton Head Restaurants
There are TONS of great restaurants on the Island, but these are my family’s favorites!
Sea Pines Beach Club. This is pretty new and is an awesome spot. There are a variety of dining options, but my favorite is sitting outside on the patio around the fire pit.
Salty Dog Cafe. The food isn’t anything to rave about necessarily, but it’s a famous spot and has a great atmosphere! And then you can get one of the tshirts you see everyone wearing.
Old Oyster Factory. A great seafood spot that get’s packed in the summer. It has a huge patio with live music and is really family friendly.
Mi Tierra. This is my family’s spot, though it did change locations and lost some of its original hole-in-the-wall charm. It’s great Mexican food. Hint: tell them if you have a birthday in the group!
Charlie’s L’etoile Verte. This is a an adorable but sophisticated french restaurant that is great tif you’re looking for a really nice night out.
The Jazz Corner. A really cool spot for upscale food while watching a jazz show! It can get booked up as it isn’t huge, but the quality is fantastic and the music is award winning.
It’s easy to be active with all the walking, biking, and swimming you can do! As for more organized fitness, I really love Jiva Yoga. There are a variety of different styles of yoga taught, including beach yoga and stand up paddle board yoga!
There is also a Pure Barre, a Crossfit box, and a variety of other gyms on the island. Most will offer a week-long traveler’s pass.
Savannah. This is a 45 minute to and hour drive, and likely where you’d fly into if you travel by air. It’s such a gorgeous southern town with tons of history, unique squares, beautiful architecture and a fun river walk. A must see!
Charleston. Charleston is more like 2 hours away, but again has the most beautiful homes, antebellum mansions, tons of civil war history, and tons of southern culture.
Daufuskie Island is still an authentic gullah Island, listed as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places, and the only access is by ferry. Many of the 250 residents are descendants of freed slaves, though there is a newer residential community now. It feels very removed from the bustle of every day, and so is a great place to visit or even stay if you like the feel. Play golf or just take a golf cart tour to learn some of the history.
I hope this helps plan your trip, or maybe even encourages you to consider Hilton Head for your next vacation. Have SO much fun!!