My parents introduced me to James Taylor when I was a child (I’ve loved his music ever since), and as I got older I finally learned why he sang “In my mind I’m going to Carolina…” We’ve been to different parts of South Carolina, but this post is going to focus on Hilton Head Island. HHI is the perfect place for a getaway with your family, significant other, or a group of friends. Southern Living named HHI as the South’s Best Beach Town for 2019, and I agree that it is definitely one of the best beach towns — would be hard for me to choose a favorite, but HHI ranks high on my list!
Where to Stay
Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort
- Coffee from Palmetto Market (grab your coffee to-go, and take a walk around the hotel’s beautiful property or along the beach — this became our routine each morning).
- Breakfast at HH Prime
- Casual outdoor lunch at the Buoy Bar.
- Drinks and appetizers at XO Sports & Spirits
You can also grab a quick breakfast, or snacks throughout the day, at Palmetto Market. They have seating, as well, so it’s a great spot to get out of the heat to enjoy a bite.
Highlights: Full-Service Spa, 2 family pools, and an adult pool, as well as a splash zone for the kids. Also when you check into the hotel, kids get a small Omni backpack filled with crayons, an activity pad, and a water cup — we still use the cup and backpack — they are great souvenirs!
Other hotel options: Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island, The Westin Hilton Head Resort & Spa
Watusi Cafe & Coffee Bar was a recommendation from a local. Watusi’s motto is “It is what it is…”, and their definition of Watusi is “It is a state of mind. Let go of your worries, relax your mind, and feel at home. It is what it is.” What a great reminder while you’re enjoying a cup of coffee/tea and a delicious breakfast. There was a short wait, but it was worth it! Also, the kids pancake comes in the shape of Mickey Mouse — it made us all smile. Locals always know the best spots to grab a great meal!
New York City Pizza has unique baked ziti, delicious meatballs, and great pizza (which you can also get by the slice!) We went to the Shelter Cove Towne Centre location where we enjoyed sunset views, as well as shopping after dinner.
Palmetto Dunes General Store is located on the property of the Palmetto Dunes Resort on Queen’s Folly Road. Where else can you grab beach toys, sunscreen, t-shirts, and a delicious breakfast or lunch? This is a must-visit while on HHI! When putting together your list of what to order, make sure to include: cinnamon rolls (baked fresh daily!), homemade biscuits, and grits, and then you will need to try the fried chicken and macaroni & cheese for lunch. PD General Store also has soft-serve ice cream and slushies!
A Lowcountry Backyard Restaurant lived up the hype! I worried that this was just a tourist trap, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I won’t say too much, but go and order the Shrimp & Grits, and the Shrimp BLT Salad (both dishes are amazing!)
Shelter Cove Towne Centre for unique shops selling gifts from local artists, books, HHI-inspired clothing, and lots of restaurant options (along with evening activities).
Alexander’s Restaurant & Wine Bar is also located on the property of the Palmetto Dunes Resort (both PD General Store & Alexander’s are walking distance to the Omni). We had such a nice dinner here — they have a great menu (including a unique kids menu), a diverse drink menu and wine list, and delicious food — I recommend the crab cake with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
The Shops at Sea Pines Center has great shops and restaurants including Lowcountry Produce Market & Cafe — grab a coffee and walk around the shops. Try and visit when the Farmer’s Market is scheduled.
Lawton Stables is great for families to see beautiful horses and farm animals, and to go horse-back riding. This was one of our favorite stops on HHI. One of the best parts is the drive through the Sea Pines Resort — you’ll want to drive slowly and take it all in (especially the Live Oaks with Spanish Moss).
Harbour Town Lighthouse at the Harbour Town Marina, not only has the iconic lighthouse (perfect spot to grab a photo), but also has shops and restaurants. I would recommend hitting the gift shop at the bottom of the lighthouse — that’s where we picked up our copy of Scoot’s New Home by Ann Eilers Lilly. It’s still one of our favorite books at bedtime.
Coastal Discovery Museum for the Farmer’s Market, nature trails, reptiles & amphibians, butterflies, and a beautiful property. Make sure to check their schedule before heading over so you can register for their daily events. The Coastal Discovery Museum also has a great gift shop!
Bluffton, South Carolina is just under 15 minutes from HHI, and it is worth the drive. We did not spend as much time here as we would have liked during this trip, but we are so glad we visited this beautiful area. Make sure to visit the Church of the Cross — read the history and grab some photos.
The Storybook Shoppe located in Bluffton is a beautiful little local bookstore.
Duck Donuts for made-to order donuts — I recommend the plain donut with hot fudge, and the donut with peanut butter/chocolate sauce. Those were our favorites!
Kilwins Hilton Head Island located at Shelter Cove Towne Centre, is perfect for grabbing ice cream after dinner at New York City Pizza.
Hilton Head Island is ideal for a family vacation, or for a romantic getaway — it is just under an hour from Savannah, and just over two hours from Charleston, Kiawah Island, and Isle of Palms. The beaches are beautiful and serene, and there are so many hotels and vacation rentals in the area — so there are plenty of options for your stay. This is the type of place you will want to return to again and again.
What are some of your favorite spots to visit on Hilton Head Island?