Visiting Hilton Head in the Summer

We’ve mentioned visiting Hilton Head Island, South Carolina in various other articles, but the last one where we discussed it in detail was when we talked about winter beach trips. Winter’s long past now, and we thought it was time to tell you a little about what goes on in this area during the summer!

But first a little background for those of you who might not be familiar with the area. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina is located about five hours or so from Atlanta, just north of Savannah. The easiest route is I-75 south to I-16 east, then north on I-95 to Exit 8 (US 278) which takes you directly into Hilton Head. This is the only road onto and off of the island. As you approach the actual island, you’ll see the huge outlet malls conveniently located on the highway!

Since the early 1960s when developers first purchased property and sold it for vacation homes, Hilton Head has grown to include numerous resorts including Disney, Hilton, and Marriott among others. There are a number of chain hotels and motels as well as lots of privately owned rental homes and several B&Bs.

There are more than twenty golf courses with all kinds of packages available to include this popular sport. And you’ll find fishing charters, miniature golf, and more than 12 miles of beautiful white sand beaches. Bicycles are a favorite mode of transportation, and there’s a bike rental shop on every corner. Many resorts and rentals include them in their amenities.

Pets are allowed at many of the resorts and restaurants (outside) as well, but during the season from Memorial Day to Labor Day, they are only allowed on the beaches before 10am and after 5pm.

As you probably know, Hilton Head Island is divided into communities called “plantations,” each with its own personality. Sea Pines was the first, developed in 1956. Sea Pines is divided into two sections, Harbor Town and South Beach. Harbor Town is where you’ll find the Salty Dog Café and the beautiful lighthouse as well as many other restaurants and shops. There’s a reasonable admission price, but it’s well worth it.

by Moody Groove via wikimedia commons

Other plantations include Palmetto Dunes, where you’ll find the Marriott and Hilton Oceanfront resorts as well as the Disney Resort. This is where the Shelter Cove marina and retail area are located. Port Royal Plantation includes Marriott’s Barony Beach and a Westin Hotel. Shipyard Plantation is home to numerous condos and timeshares as well as the Sonesta Hotel and the Dennis Van Der Meers Shipyard Tennis Center.

Many of the communities are gated with access only for residents or registered visitors. Forest Beach is the largest ungated area on the island. Lots of rental homes and condos are here as well as several chain hotels. This is where Coligny Plaza is – a commercial area with plenty of shops and restaurants. It’s also where the largest public beach access is. There’s a park with bathhouses and showers as well as a splash pad area, benches and swings.

by Thierry Caro via wikimedia commons

Summer offers a number of exciting choices in addition to golf, tennis and the beach. High up on the list is a visit to the Costal Discovery Museum. Here you’ll be able to explore the natural history and cultural heritage of the area including special programs like Camp Dig It, Blue Crab Discovery, Amazing Oysters, Shrimp Trawl Expedition, and even an Evening Sea Turtle Talk. Reservations are required for most special programs.

Another special summer event is the annual HarbourFest at Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina. Along with Parrot Palooza, the fun begins June 17 with nightly fireworks, music, arts and crafts, food, and children’s activities. All HarbourFest events are free and open to the public.

by fw_gadget via wikimedia commons

If theatre is more to your liking, be sure to check out Xanadu on stage at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina from June 17 through July 26, and Big Fish, A New Musical, offered by the Savannah Summer Theatre Institute. It’s offered June 26 – 28 and June 30.

One day only, June 20, you can enjoy live demonstrations and performances at Reconstructing Mitchelville, The Juneteenth Celebration. This is a family-friendly event offering food and entertainment commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery in June, 1865, throughout the Confederate South.

So if a quick trip to the beach is on your agenda, be sure to check out Hilton Head. But if you’d rather learn something about the history of the area, there’s plenty to hold your attention! And there’s always shopping and eating – and golf and tennis! Lots to choose from when you’re visiting Hilton Head Island in the summer! Enjoy!

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