What are the five best things to see and do in Hilton Head Island?

People flock to Hilton Head Island to enjoy the long stretches of pristine beach and a vacation that can be a combination of active and relaxing pursuits. Here are our five recommendations for what you should see and do during your stay on Hilton Head Island:

1. Go to the beach. With miles of coastline, large beach areas and extreme high and low tides that change the way the shore looks throughout the day, you and your family will enjoy lots of waves, sun and fun at whichever beach you choose.

2. Play a round. Golfing is a huge draw to Hilton Head Island. Make sure to bring your clubs and reserve a tee time at renowned courses such as the Harbour Town Golf Links, home to the famous Heritage PGA tour stop, located on the Sea Pines Resort. Many of Hilton Head Island’s golf courses boast ocean views, providing magnificent scenery to marvel at between holes and a sea breeze that cools the island year-round.

3. Explore by bike. There’s no need to bring four wheels along to Hilton Head Island — you will see bicyclists everywhere taking advantage of the more than 35 miles of wide biking trails that wind around the island. Some accommodations provide free or discounted bike rentals, so take advantage of the freewheeling island lifestyle.

4. Pick up something new. Shopping is another popular vacation pastime for Hilton Head Island visitors — and a good way to give your arms a break from swinging the golf club. The popular Tanger Outlets include a wide variety of stores such as Nike, Black House White Market and Columbia, so there should be something for everyone. The island is also sprinkled with cute boutique stores and souvenir shops to help you find the perfect gifts for your loved ones — or just yourself.

5. Get in (or on) the water. A vacation at Hilton Head is about the ocean, so take advantage of the plethora of water activities available. Fishing charters, Jet Ski rentals, boat rentals and kayaks, are all available for you to enjoy the island by sea, and you should consider visiting some of the small nearby isles like quiet Daufuskie Island. Dolphins and other sea life abound in these coastal waters, and no visit to the island is complete without some aquatic exploration.

  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best Hilton Head Island museums?

    Beach destination Hilton Head Island doesn’t have many museums, but if you bring the kids along, be sure to take them to the educational children’s museums Coastal Discovery Center and The Sandbox. These interactive museums emphasize awareness and appreciation for the beautiful coastal surroundings and wildlife found on Hilton Head Island. You can also find local art galleries and smaller museums like the Harbour Town Lighthouse Museum, which rewards visitors with an unbeatable view of the Calibogue Sound at the top of the lighthouse. Also take note of the rotating exhibits and artistic performances at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina.
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is Hilton Head Island’s cultural scene like?

    Hilton Head Island’s culture revolves mostly around understanding and appreciating the coastal surroundings, and with a relaxed attitude. There are two interactive children and family museums on the island — The Coastal Discovery Center and The Sandbox. The island is also home to many galleries showcasing art that often depicts the idyllic island and selling handmade clothing, jewelry, and home décor. The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina provides the best option for culture seekers, with theater shows such as Dreamgirls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. You can also find a wide variety of festivals and events year-round that focus on the arts and culture, such as the Native Islander Gullah Celebration held each February to honor the traditions of food, music and basket weaving, all staples of the Lowcountry past and present. Those looking for a musical experience can enjoy the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, now in its 30th season. If you stop to take a break from the bevy of active options available on the island, you’ll find a charming cultural scene waiting to be explored.
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best five things to do on a romantic trip to Hilton Head Island?

    Hilton Head Island can be a great destination for a romantic rendezvous for two to enjoy the Lowcountry’s coastal surroundings. Here are the five best things to do on a romantic trip to the island:

    1) Take a sunset dinner cruise. As day slowly fades into night, you will be able to see the island from a different perspective. Sip some wine and nosh on tasty food, really taking in all of the beauty and variety of scenery from the deck of the boat.

    2) Rent bicycles for a romantic ride. Cruising along with your mate feels carefree — on a tandem, it’s positively dreamy. Hilton Head Island’s 35 miles of bike trails snake through the island so you can see it all, or just each other.

    3) Explore Daufuskie Island. Hop on a boat to the remote Daufuskie Island off the coast of Hilton Head; upon arrival, rent a golf cart — or another bike — to cruise around and stop at the galleries and restaurants on a small eight-mile island that feels a million miles away from the rest of the world.

    4) Splash around. Zip around on Jet Skis or paddle in kayaks depending on your mood — but do it together. Plenty of dolphins, birds, and other aquatic wildlife are waiting to be spotted, and romance will be in the air as you soak in nature together.

    5) Dine with a view. For a great vista of the Calibogue Sound, try a href='#'> Topside at the Quarterdeck , a casual yet romantic eatery located within the Sea Pines Resort. This second floor establishment offers a panoramic view of Habour Town.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best Hilton Head Island food experiences?

    When you're not soaking up the rays on the beach or exploring the wildlife on a bike, Hilton Head Island’s best food experiences revolve around the seafood caught at the popular fishing destination. The best five Hilton Head food experiences you can have are:

    1) For a fresh, unique experience, book a fishing charter to catch your own fish, where you’ll then take it to a local restaurant to cook up for you on the spot, or to take back to your rental property if you have access to a grill or kitchen. It’s the most hands-on way—literally—to enjoy a meal on the island.

    2) Look for places with amazing views, such as Topside at the Quarterdeck. With seemingly endless coastline to enjoy, why not take advantage and dine adjacent to the crashing waves?

    3) You can find oysters served almost every way imaginable in Hilton Head, such as oyster shooters to start your meal, steamed, Rockefeller�the list is endless!

    3) Visiting the South means enjoying the best of what Lowcountry cuisine has to offer. Enjoy shrimp and grits during your stay for a truly Southern experience that you won’t soon forget.

    4) Southerners have their own special Carolina barbeque sauce, so be sure to try this specialty vinegar and mustard based concoction during your stay on Hilton Head Island.

    5) Don’t leave the island without trying she-crab soup.. This Southern staple originated in neighboring Charleston, South Carolina, and many restaurants recreate this classic with their own twist. Chances are, you’ll be able to sample several kinds throughout your vacation.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Which five Hilton Head Island restaurants are best for brunch?

    Weekends on Hilton Head Island are great for a slew of reasons, one in particular being brunch. The best five places to stop for brunch are:

    1. Black Marlin Bayside makes this list with its wonderful seafood quiche and stunning views overlooking the Palmetto Bay Marina. As you nosh on your breakfast cuisine, you’ll find yourself set in a fun, Key West atmosphere to start your day off right.

    2. Signe’s Bakery & Café has been operating for 36 years and was featured on the Food Network for its deep dish French toast.

    3. Palmetto Bay Sun Rise Café is another favorite, offering affordably priced items such as its stuffed French toast and outdoor seating to enjoy the coastal climate while you dine.

    4. With a name like Skillets, you know their breakfast means serious business. The restaurant offers its breakfast menu all day with a variety of omelets, breakfast sandwiches, benedicts, and of course layered skillets.

    5. For a New Orleans-style brunch right in the heart of Hilton Head, try Kenny B’s French Quarter Café. Owner Kenny B. has cooked Creole food in New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama but even more impressive than his resume is the all-you-can-eat buffet, offering made-to-order omelets and eggs Benedicts with heaping piles of jambalaya and beignets.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where can I go to watch sports in Hilton Head Island?

    Hilton Head Island does not have any professional or amateur sports teams; however, if you love golf, be sure to visit in April when the famous Heritage Golf Tournament takes place. This tournament is one of the most-loved stops on the PGA Tour each year and has been a staple on the schedule since 1969. Famous golfers like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Davis Love III have played here, with Nicklaus serving as a design consultant for the magnificent course. For a little swing-and-a-miss action, you can also watch minor league baseball in Savannah, Georgia, located about an hour from Hilton Head Island and home of the Sand Gnats minor league team.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best five romantic restaurants in Hilton Head Island?

    Hilton Head Island is known as a family-friendly destination; however, couples looking for romantic restaurants can still find places to enjoy a great date night. We suggest these five restaurants in Hilton Head for a romantic evening:

    1) Catch 22 offers an artistic atmosphere, locally caught seafood, and a high-end menu including duck, lobster, and a bone-in filet.

    2) For a stunning view, request a window table at Topside at the Quarterdeck. You will be rewarded with a panoramic setting of the Calibogue Sound, Harbour Town Marina, and famous 18th hole of the Harbour Town Golf Links—a popular wedding ceremony venue on Hilton Head Island.

    3) Red Fish offers some outdoor dining complete with outdoor fireplaces, sure to add a warm glow to your intimate meal. They have an extensive wine list and a great menu, including Lowcountry shrimp and grits or grilled sea bass.

    4) For a unique wine-centered meal, check out Wine Times 4, showcasing the Enomatic Wine Systems which allows you to self-serve its large selection of wines by the taste, half glass, or full glass. The sampling of vino serves as a lovely prelude before, during and after your tapas that are perfect for sharing, such as artisan cheese plates, mussels, or a new daily selection of tapas.

    5) Chart House is another waterfront dining option that offers consistently good food and a postcard-worthy view of Skull Creek, a popular boating, fishing, and kayaking area.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What’s the best time to visit Hilton Head Island?

    The atmosphere of Hilton Head Island changes with the seasons, so what you’re looking for will dictate what time the best time of year it will be for you to visit the island. Memorial Day and Labor Day prove to be the busiest times to visit thanks to the beautiful coastal setting and high temperatures, making it ideal for enjoying the long stretches of pristine beaches. Hilton Head is also extremely family-friendly, so parents bring kids of all ages to this locale throughout the summer vacation season. If you plan to do some fishing—another popular island attraction—during your Hilton Head Island vacation, you will also want to visit during these summer months.

    If you are interested in golfing at some of Hilton Head’s famous golf courses, you will enjoy visiting during the months of September through May. Every April, you can even catch one of the most popular stops on the PGA tour in Hilton Head—the Heritage Tournament located on the famed Harbour Town Golf Links. The off-season is also the best time for a romantic visit to Hilton Head, as the island will be quieter and less crowded with a more leisurely atmosphere.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the best way to see Hilton Head Island in one day?

    The best way to see Hilton Head Island in one day is through a guided trolley tour. You will learn about the history of the island that began when Captain William Hilton landed here in 1663. Hit up all the must-see historic sites along with the beaches, marshland, shopping, and dining spots you will want to explore post-tour. Another great option is to take a boat tour. Hilton Head Island is famous for its beaches, marshland, and aquatic wildlife and a boat tour is a great way to soak in the coastal setting and see the island from the outside. You can also opt for an up-close experience by renting bicycles and taking advantage of the 35 miles of bike trails winding throughout Hilton Head Island— it’s an easy way for a self-guided tour of the gorgeous Lowcountry surroundings.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best free things to do in Hilton Head Island?

    The best five free things to do on Hilton Head Island revolve around — what else — the beautiful coastal setting:

    1) Check out the beaches. With miles of pristine beaches to explore, there’s no need to pay for entertainment. Pack your SPF and enjoy relaxing on the white sand, or playing in the gentle waves.

    2) Picnic in the park. Take a stroll through or have a picnic at one of Hilton Head Island’s many beautiful community or recreational parks.

    3) Bike or walk the paths. 35 miles of biking, walking, or jogging paths zigzag through Hilton Head Island so you can enjoy all that Southern nature has to offer such as marshlands, coastline, moss-draped trees, and plenty of wildlife to be on the lookout for during your exploration.

    4) Visit Pinckney Island Wildlife Refuge. Located in nearby Beaufort, S.C. this public area includes salt marshes, tidal creeks, forestland and freshwater ponds. Keep your eyes peeled for an abundance of wildlife — from birds to alligators.

    5) Visit Fort Mitchel. Built in 1862 as part of the island’s defense structure, the fort gives you a chance to learn about local history. And the canon still stands.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where is the best Hilton Head Island shopping?

    When you’re not hitting the green for a few rounds or searching for dolphins on the coast, another worthwhile Hilton Head Island pursuit is hunting for bargains at the Tanger Outlets. With nearly 100 different stores offering discounted finds on a variety of brands, you’ll have no problem finding that perfect dress, gift, jewelry or anything else you are looking to take home. You can hit up classic favorites such as Nike, Kenneth Cole, Polo Ralph Lauren and Saks Fifth Avenue and many more have their doors wide open for you to spend a little cash. Looking for something a little more unique? Boutique and souvenir shops can be found throughout Hilton Head Island, many tucked inside public access plantations like the Sea Pines Resort. Surf shops, pro-shops, and everything else under the gleaming Hilton Head Island sun are around for you to peruse.