Travel Today: Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

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 

Favorite Spots

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?

 

Travel Today: Newport, Rhode Island

It’s no secret that Newport, Rhode Island is one of my favorite places in New England. We would move there if we could, but luckily it’s a short enough drive that we can visit at any time. It’s the perfect place for a day trip, an overnight, or a long weekend getaway. Condé Nast Traveler named Newport the Best Walking City in the United States – I’m not surprised. Who doesn’t love walking along Newport’s cobblestone streets?

Where to Stay

Gurney’s Newport

  • Early morning coffee at For Five Coffee.
  • Brunch at Tillie’s (order the house-made croissants and the egg breakfast!)
  • Get your second cup of coffee (or tea), and enjoy a walk along the grounds of the resort – make sure to visit the lighthouse and Cornelius and William (Gurney’s adorable goats!)
  • A drink at the Pineapple Club (May through September)
  • Dinner and wine at Scarpetta (extensive wine list, and delicious spaghetti!)
  • A nightcap and a cheese board at the Regent Lounge

Highlights: Cornelius and William, the ice skating rink (mid-December through the end of February), a full-service spa, indoor and outdoor pools, and cozy sweatshirts at the gift shop!

Newport Marriott

  • Coffee from Plank Bar
  • Brunch at MainSail (a la carte or buffet)
  • Drinks and small plates at Skiff Bar
  • Dinner at The MainSail

Highlights: Indoor Pool, Full-Service Spa

Up next: Hotel Viking 

Favorite Spots

Flat Waves Food Shack (Middletown, Rhode Island) for a little taste of aloha in New England. This is one of our go-to stops on the drive into Newport!

Liberty Donuts for made-to order donuts, delicious coffee, ice cream, and breakfast sandwiches. Get the warm Liberty Donut and a coffee – you won’t be disappointed. When you’re done, take your coffee and walk around the Long Wharf Mall.

Shopping up and down Thames St. and Bowen’s Wharf

Museum of Newport History and Shop (great books and gifts) – you can spend so much time just walking around this shop!

Kilwins Chocolate and Ice Cream

Newport Vineyards for dinner or a cheese board at Brix Restaurant, wine and beer tastings, and shopping in their on-site wine shop! (Check out the chalk drawings around the vineyard created by their in-house artist!)

Visit the International Tennis Hall of Fame

Tour the mansions

Visit the Newport Cliff Walk

Ryan Family Amusements (arcade)

Grab breakfast at the Corner Café

Enjoy a cheese board and a drink (or brunch) at Bar and Board Bistro

Audrain Automobile Museum

National Museum of American Illustration

The Redwood Library — this library is steeped in history, and it’s a must-see for anyone who loves books and libraries as much as I do!

Newport is ideal for a family getaway, or for a romantic overnight – it’s the first place that comes to mind when people ask where to go for a night away. It’s just about 2 hours from Boston, and just under 4 hours from New York City. It’s the perfect place for a change of scenery and water views, for inspiration, and a place to clear your head. I love that New England destinations are great for summer and fall getaways, and also for cozy winter ones. If you’re looking for travel spots, I would add Newport to the list.

Just a tip: It’s less expensive in the winter months, and also less crowded — it’s always a good time of year to visit Newport!

What are some of your favorite spots to visit in Newport?

Newport Lighthouse Gurneys

Morning Commute

During my morning commute I saw a bumper sticker that said “What You Do Matters”. It resonated with me for a variety of reasons, and it was a good reminder as I work towards my personal and professional goals. As I think about why I started Travel and Write Today, and the direction it is taking, I start to question why I started it in the first place, and if I want to continue with it.  What is the purpose? What is the goal? I am still not quite sure where this will lead, but one thing that I do know is that what I do matters – what we all do matters. Whether your inspiring hundreds or just a few, whether your teaching others, providing travel options, or offering words of wisdom and beautiful photographs – it all matters. Keep doing what you’re doing.

The year ahead…

In thinking about the New Year ahead I am starting to focus on the content for this blog, and on my various writing projects – both fiction and nonfiction.  I am always continuing to work on my Instagram and Twitter content, but I plan to write more often on this page, as well. I want this blog to be a few different things – a space to write about my journey – as a writer, traveler, and just as a human being, and a place to share our favorite travel spots – where to go for the best coffee and made-to-order donuts, which restaurants are the best for kids or date nights, and which hotels are the best for families or romantic getaways. I think this blog can be all of this, and that is my goal over the next year. I would love for you all to learn a little more about me through my writing, and through our travels. Please continue to follow along as I work to make this blog into what I’d like it to be.

Change Can Be a Good Thing…

Along with wanting to be a writer, I had always wanted to be a teacher. I could visualize myself standing in front of the classroom, and I dreamed of one day having my name on the students’ schedules that they received over the summer.  I worked hard to achieve that goal, and taught for years, but it never felt right. It is difficult to be on a path, and then make a drastic change mid-course. What will people say? How will I explain? Sometimes we need to do what feels right regardless of the comments, judgments, and criticisms of others. Sometimes we are led down a path because it will bring us elsewhere.  What we thought was the destination is merely a pit-stop. Life takes us down different paths for a reason. I’ve always wanted to work in a profession/field where I believed my skills were being utilized, where I felt passionate about the mission and values of the organization, where I felt fulfilled, and most importantly, where I felt like I was respected and making a difference.  Work is such a large part of our lives – it should not just be a place where you do not dread coming in, but where you feel rewarded, respected, and valued – where you actually enjoy being there. My goal has been to maybe not love work (all the time), but to really, really like it. To feel like I am doing great work, while taking the time to pursue my passions through side projects.  Since I left teaching, years ago, I’ve made many changes in my professional life – I’ve taken many leaps of faith, trusted my instincts, and went into uncharted waters.  I felt calm each time I made a decision, which I believe means I made the right choices at the time.  I walked away from something I worked hard to attain, and decided to start again.

The same goes for starting Travel and Write Today — I don’t know where this path will lead, but it felt like the right decision to get started.

Goals

In thinking about goals and dreams, I start to think about my reasons for starting my Instagram page and this blog.  What am I hoping for…? I have many reasons for starting, but often get overwhelmed with how long it can take to reach a goal. I am not even sure where this will lead, and I am not even sure it matters – what truly matters is that I am doing something every day that brings me closer to my goals, focusing on one step at a time. There are many different paths I can see this taking, but for me in this moment, it is about sharing my experiences, recommendations, a few inspiring words, and photographs from places near and far. What’s important is that I am sharing the message that you need to stop putting things off, and you need to start doing the things you want to do today.  Maybe that’s more important than the outcome, maybe this should be the goal.

Finding Time

It’s important to me to do something I love every single day — whether it’s as simple as researching new spots in New England, reading a few chapters (or even pages) of a book, time with close friends, watching a few minutes of a favorite show, or writing my next blog post.  There are things that I easily find time for — morning coffee, family time, work related to my day job, thinking about our next getaway, finding beauty in my own backyard, and my Instagram page. The question is: How do you find time to fit in your passions and your hobbies? Do you wake up early before the sun rises? Do you stay up late into the night? I always want to make sure that I am listening to my own words about doing something today.

I like to get up early in the morning — hours before I need to be anywhere.  I will have a cup of coffee with a book or journal — I’ll also have my computer, to research and plan, and my blog page is always open and ready for the next post. This is when I spend the most time writing. I feel like my head is clear and the words flow; it’s before I need to look at the to-do list. I’m making the effort to write every single day — whenever I find the time, even if it is during my lunch break or just before going to bed. Like I’ve said in my previous post, if you want to be a writer you write.  You make the time.  The things that I am most passionate about, are also tied to my own personal and professional goals. I know that I need to always make the time to do the things I love — it’s that important.

When do you find the time to do the things you love today, whatever your something is…(doesn’t have to be traveling or writing)?