Our family really enjoyed our week-long vacation on Hilton Head Island. The area is beautiful, clean, and very family-friendly.
One of the first things we noticed is that people were riding their bikes everywhere! We also noticed that the majority of stores, shops, and restaurants were hidden behind trees. We learned to watch closely for the store/restaurant signs on the road (and I asked Siri for directions A LOT!) We also discovered that Saturdays are CRAZY! Apparently, the majority of check-in times are on Saturday around 4 p.m. (or so I was told by a couple of Hilton Head locals). Traffic is bumper to bumper leading onto the island on Saturday afternoons. It took us an hour to travel the last 10 miles to our condo.
The restaurants and grocery stores are also packed. We decided to go to the local Publix to grab a few things for dinner and it was very crowded. Everyone was very friendly and in a good mood, so it wasn’t too bad. (There are several grocery stores located on Hilton Head Island. We shopped at SAM’s Club, Fresh Market, Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, Kroger, Publix, and Bi-Lo.)
While we were there, we felt like we could do as much or as little as we wanted. There is plenty to do on the island to keep the kiddos busy. There is fishing (and shark fishing), Pirate Cruises for kids, dolphin tours, kayaking, paddleboarding, miniature golf, horseback riding, and a variety of water sports.
There were also times when we just wanted to relax on the beach or take a nap in our condo (the napping was one of my favorite things to do). We also went to the movies a couple of times, which the kids enjoyed.
Coligney Beach Park
Our favorite beach on Hilton Head Island was Coligney Beach. Coligney Beach Park is very clean and offers outdoor showers, public restrooms, and changing rooms. There are gazebos with swings and chairs to sit and relax. The park offers free parking and plenty of places to park bicycles. Coligney Beach Park even offers free wi-fi.
The beach here is flat and perfect for playing games, flying kites, or riding bikes. The water, for the most part, was warm and calm. The kids did a little “surfing” on their boogie boards. The waves tended to be gentle and perfect for even the smallest kiddo to have a good time and feel safe in the water (we had one morning where the waves were a little rough so the kiddos stayed close to the shore or on the beach until it calmed down).
You can even take a stroll over to Coligney Plaza for some Superman ice cream and some shopping. There are several restaurants, salons, spas, and over 30 shops and boutiques. There is also a movie theatre located here.
Coligney Plaza & Beach // 1 North Forest Beach Dr., Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
Above: The entrance to Coligney Beach. This is where the sprinklers are, but they weren’t spraying at 7:30 p.m. when I took this photo.
Hilton Head Island Bike Trails
Biking is VERY popular on Hilton Head Island. We biked to dinner. We biked to the beach. We biked ON the beach. We biked to the grocery store for a loaf of bread.
We brought the kiddos’ bikes, but I rented one for the week. The bike (and lock) was delivered to our condo, and then the bike was picked up by the rental company at the end of the week. It was a very easy process, and it cost about $40 for the week (Most bike rental companies also offer three-wheeled bicycles, beach cruisers, mountain bikes, kiddie carts, and tandems.) I definitely recommend bringing bikes or renting one for your stay on Hilton Head. (My six-year-old son also brought his RAZOR Scooter and he loved riding it and he kept up with us really well.)
This is the first time I had seen anyone biking ON the beach. The beach is very flat and is actually perfect for a nice bike ride. There are more than 13 miles of hard-packed sandy beaches on Hilton Head Island that are great for bike riding. There are also miles and miles of designated bike trails. The island itself is actually linked through a system of trails, and there are more than 100 miles of paved public and leisure paths.
I did notice a few “accidents”. One family had to call an ambulance for their little boy. I definitely recommend wearing close-toed shoes and bringing water to drink. Not everyone wore helmets while biking, but our kids brought theirs to wear.
Harbour Town Lighthouse & Museum
The Harbour Town Lighthouse and Museum is located in the Sea Pines area. It is $6 per car/per day to enter this area of Hilton Head (They only take cash. After paying you receive a daily pass to keep in your car). There are over two dozen shops, boutiques, jewelry stores, and art galleries located in Sea Pines. There are also several restaurants ranging from gourmet to casual (and ice cream shops; there is no shortage of ice cream shops on Hilton Head). This is also a great place to book & take a family dolphin cruise or fishing trip since boats leave regularly from this area.
The Sea Pines Forest Preserve is also located in this area. It is a combination of a Wildlife Habitat and an Outdoor Recreation Facility that covers over 600 acres. There are nature trails, picnic spots, and information about the local wildlife and botanical species. This preserve is home to alligators, the Hilton Head Whitetail Deer, and over 200 bird species. You can walk the nature trails or visit Lawton Stables for a guided one-hour tour on horseback for adults and children 8 years or older.
We also found a nice little playground area at Sea Pines (it’s on the way to the Marina and Lighthouse) for the kiddos to play at.
Sea Pines is also a BEAUTIFUL place to go bike riding if you want to pack yours up and bring them for your visit to the Sea Pines area.
Our favorite part of Sea Pines (and a highlight of our entire trip) was the Harbour Town Lighthouse & Museum. It is a small lighthouse with only 114 steps, so it is not overwhelming or exhausting for the kiddos. As we walked up the staircase, we realized that the entire lighthouse was a museum that displays 19th Century and Civil War photographs and artifacts. We were able to stop at each landing to see these photos and artifacts and to learn more about the lighthouse itself.
After we climbed the 114 steps, the kiddos and I stepped outside to the balcony that wraps around the entire lighthouse. We had a fantastic view of Calibogue Sound and Harbour Town. The kiddos thought it was so cool that they climbed to the top of an actual lighthouse.
The Harbour Town Lighthouse is open 7 Days a week from 10:00 a.m. until sunset. Admission to the Lighthouse is $4 and children 5 and under are free.
There is a small gift shop at the top of the lighthouse and another one at the bottom at the entrance.
Harbour Town Lighthouse & Museum // 149 Lighthouse Road, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
HARBOURFEST at Sheltor Cove Harbor and Marina
Sheltor Cove Harbor and Marina is a nice area with lots of shopping and restaurants. This is another great place to take a dolphin cruise, fishing charter, or one of many watersports. There is a cute little playground in this area (behind Kroger) and there is a Movie in the Park on Thursday nights (They were showing Toy Story 3 while we were there). Our favorite thing about Sheltor Cove and Marina was HarbourFest, especially the fireworks show.
HarbourFest is a nice, family-friendly event that has been held at Sheltor Cove & Marina for 27 years. It is a weekly celebration that is held Mondays thru Fridays all summer long. In 2016, it ran from Tuesday, June 14 through August 23. It starts at 6:00 P.M. and ends at 10:00 P.M. There is live music, arts and crafts, and activities for the kids.We went on Tuesday night because that is the night to see the fireworks show (It was a little crowded and finding a parking spot was a little tricky, but it is a nice event and well worth the effort).
The fireworks show was beautiful and definitely a big hit with the kids. We found a nice spot to sit and watch the sunset before the fireworks show began at 9:30. (I recommend bringing a blanket if you’re going to sit on the ground. I wish we had stopped at the nearby Dollar Tree to get the kids some glow sticks. One smart mom near us did that. There are some people there selling glow sticks for $5, but we didn’t get those.)
There is no entrance fee or parking fee, and the fireworks show is free. There are opportunities to buy things from vendors at Harbourfest if you wanted to.
Sheltor Cove Harbor // 1 Harbourside Lane, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
Coastal Discovery Museum
When I read that the Coastal Discovery Museum was an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute, I knew that I wanted to take the kids there. The Museum sits on the Honey Horn Plantation. It is a charming place and the museum is very interesting. It is a very low-key and relaxed environment.
My kiddos really liked the Kid’s Fun Zone. They got to see a Horseshoe Crab and a Diamondback Terrapin Turtle. They also got to see how turtles hatch from their eggs. There were lots of books and puzzles for older and younger children in this area. After going outside the museum, you can walk out on some boardwalks that lead to salt marshes. This is a great place to see different plants and possibly some animals (like birds, crabs, and snails).
Above: A staring contest (?) with a Diamondback Terrapin Turtle
My kiddos favorite part was the butterfly exhibit. They were able to see different kinds of butterflies and even got to see the butterflies going through various stages of development.
Above: Butterfly Exhibit
The museum is open year-round on Mondays through Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sundays from 11:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m. Admission to the Coastal Discovery Museum is free for everyone, but donations are accepted and appreciated there. In the summer, there are kids’ discovery camps and other activities that require advance sign-up. PH. (843)689-6767
Coastal Discovery Museum // 70 Honey Horn Drive, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
A Low Country Backyard Restaurant
There is no shortage of restaurants on Hilton Head Island. There are upscale gourmet restaurants, casual dining restaurants, restaurant chains, and small local restaurants.
We had dinner one night at A Low Country Backyard Restaurant and everything we ordered was delicious. There was a wait (like most restaurants), but there were games outside to keep the kiddos entertained while we waited (there was Happy Hour going on at the bar to keep the grown-ups entertained while we waited). There was also live music which we enjoyed. The atmosphere was very laid back and friendly. One of the nice servers even gave the kiddos water while they played the outside games.
It is a small place and isn’t fancy, but don’t let that fool you – the food is FANTASTIC.
Above: Shrimp & Grits
I really liked that this restaurant offers several Gluten Free Meals (we have food allergies in our family including a severe gluten allergy). Even the sandwiches and burgers can be served with gluten free bread if requested. I tried the Gluten Free Potato Chip Meatloaf with Moonshine BBQ Sauce (with a side of Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes) and it was magically delicious!
You can see their menu HERE
A Low Country Backyard Restaurant // 32 Palmetto Bay Road, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
HONORABLE MENTION: I have to say we really enjoyed Northridge Cinema 10. It’s the perfect place to catch a matinee on a rainy day or a day when the kiddos are “done” with the beach. My kiddos hadn’t seen The Secret Life of Pets yet, so we went here one afternoon. All of the seats are cushioned, reclining chairs, which we all loved. The matinee price is $6.00 and the Large Popcorn is only $4.75 with FREE refills. After about 18 popcorn refills, I thought “We can never show our faces here again!”. But the kiddos wanted to go back and see Ice Age: Collision Course (bleh!), and so we went after our visit to the Coastal Discovery Museum.
Northridge Cinema 10 – Northridge Plaza Shopping Center // 435 William Hilton Pkwy, Hilton Head Island, SC 29926
Have you been to Hilton Head Island? What was your favorite part?
Let me know in the comments below!
Let's Be Friends! Follow Me: