8 Reasons Why Hilton Head, SC Makes for a Perfect Family Vacation
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My family and I have vacationed in Hilton Head island in South Carolina several times as it is one of those places that is perfect for family vacations. It has that winning combination of relaxation, outdoor activity and adventure. Hilton Head is known for its many excellent golf courses, but the island has so much more to offer than just golf (not that there’s anything wrong with golf!). Here are 8 reasons why Hilton Head makes for a great family vacation destination.
I’m putting this on the top of the list because I absolutely love the biking experience in Hilton Head. It’s my most favorite thing about the island. Though Hilton Head is technically 12 miles long and 5 miles wide, there are hundreds of bike paths, including 60 miles of bike lanes and 200+ miles of shared paths. Everyone bikes in Hilton Head, that’s just what you do. It’s so easy to go from place to place on all the trails, and so much fun.
Many paths wind around in the woods, twisting through canopied trees, that the whole experience is adventurous. You can even bike on the beach when the sand is just right! We used to go to this one hotel at cocktail hour on bikes, watch the sunset, and head home. Many bike shops will deliver your bikes directly to where you’re staying, and most have trailers to put the wee ones in.
R + R at the Beach
There’s nothing that screams family vacation more than the beach, and Hilton Head has a lot of it. With 12 miles of beautiful beaches along the Atlantic, there is no shortage of options. All the beaches are considered public, but access is often private. See this website which has a full listing of the beaches and how to access them. The most popular beaches on Hilton Head are Coligny Beach Park, Folly Field beach and Islanders Beach Park, which offer amenities such as food vendors, chair and umbrella rentals and playgrounds. But you can’t really go wrong no matter where you go.
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Outdoor Adventure Galore
Hilton Head has a ton of outdoor activity, which makes it such a great place to take the kids. You can only do the beach for so long, at least for us anyways. Below is a list of some highlights.
Zip lining in Hilton Head? Absolutely! Zipline Hilton Head is very popular as it has its Aerial Adventure, which is 6 obstacle courses at varying levels, from easy to hard. The “playground in the sky”, as they call it, is pretty much every kid’s dream.
If you want to spot some dolphins, take a cruise on Captain Mark’s Dolphin Watch Cruises. Not only will you see dolphins but you’ll also see other wildlife, private plantations and the Harbor Town Lighthouse. This is just one cruise option of many.
We haven’t done this, but hear the Pirates of Hilton Head pirate ship cruise is awesome! Kids get face-paint, tattoos and a pirate sash as they search for sunken treasure.
Hilton Head is known for its mini golf as much as it is for its grown-up golf. We always make time for mini golf when we’re in town, either at Pirate’s Island or Adventure Cove.
And then of course there are all the staples, such as kayaking, paddle boarding, jet skiing and parasailing. We always play a lot of tennis in Hilton Head as well, as there are a ton of courts. The Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center is a good one as it has around 30 courts.
Visiting Quaint Harbour Town and Harbour Town Lighthouse
Harbour Town, located in the Sea Pines Resort, is one of Hilton Head’s most visited spots as it is picturesquely situated on the yacht basin and with the famed Harbour Town Lighthouse. This is where many of the cruises depart from, including the Pirate ship. There is shopping and dining and it’s a great place to go for sunset at the end of the day and stroll around all the stores. You can climb to the top of the red and white striped lighthouse, or just admire it from a bench by the water below.
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Fun Animal and Wildlife Activities
Hilton Head is known for its wildlife, most of all for its alligator spottings. They say you should always be vigilant when biking around in case you come across an alligator! To be honest, that’s always sort of freaked me out. I’ve heard of alligators getting into peoples’ pools, and I can’t go there.
The Sea Pines Forest Preserve is a great place to seek wildlife in their natural habitat. Walk along the boardwalk where you can often times see gators, turtles, rare birds and snakes. It’s a nice diversion from the beach, and one my kids have really enjoyed. Their new favorite activity is to see wildlife this way, such as a recent trip to Corkscrew Sanctuary in Naples, FL.
Located in the preserve is the beloved Lawton Stables, where you can go horse back riding or walking on its many trails. It’s a great place to explore Hilton Head’s Lowcountry. They offer pony rides, and they also have an animal farm full of sheep, goats, donkeys, pigs and more.
Hilton Head Museums for an Overcast Day
It’s always good to know about museums wherever you’re visiting in the event the weather is not going your way. Two Hilton Head favorites are:
The Coastal Discovery Museum – learn all about the Lowcountry and what makes it so unique. Kids will love the butterfly habitat.
The Hilton Head Sandbox – this interactive children’s museum is good for a rainy day.
Shopping at Tanger Outlets
May sound random, but the Tanger Outlets on the outskirts of Hilton Head are one of our favorite go-to’s. I never make the time to go to outlets in my every day life, so what better time than when I’m on vacation and do have the time! Bring the kids and finally get the new pair of shoes you’ve been meaning to get them, at a discount. I’m a really picky shopper, and don’t like a lot of outlets, but I always find things here.
Take a day trip to Savannah
Last but certainly not least is Hilton Head’s proximity to Savannah, GA. It’s a 45 minute drive to one of the coolest cities in America. We love Savannah, and every time we go to Hilton Head we make a stop there. Our thing has not been to actually take a day trip there, but to fly into Savannah, spend a day or night, and then head to the island. But for those of you flying directly to Hilton Head, it’s such a short drive you have to go. We love getting lunch and walking around its many squares and gardens and feeling like we’ve stepped into a time warp. Post on the lovely Savannah coming soon.
Those are my top picks for why Hilton Head makes for a great family vacation destination. It’s easy, relaxing, and there’s a lot of activity; you can make what you want of it. If there’s anything I’m missing, I’d love to hear in the comments.
Want to read more about South Carolina and Hilton head? Check out these guides!
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Sounds like a great place Corey – I especially love that you can cycle everywhere too. We always try to rent bikes on holiday and it sounds perfect here.
I know we love to bike too, Joy. I just took my first bike ride with my younger daughter a month ago! Last year I had to get surgery, right before she learned how to bike on her own, and of course then couldn’t do it myself. We had the best time last month biking in Miami ;).
I remember reading about your injury Corey in your blog – hope it’s all healed now!!
Doing much better, Joy thanks! Still have some things to sort out but it’s an injury that takes a while so now I’m used to it ;).
We’ve never been but should check it out! Wish my kids were better bikers!
Oh they will be after a visit to Hilton head!
As a child from age 6 to 9, we lived in Columbia SC and spent time on both Hilton Head and Hunting Islands – there is something so lovely about a South Carolina beach. I do NOT remember alligators though and we used to throw chicken legs on a string into estuaries to catch crabs! GAH. I love that biking is the preferred mode of transport – especially after becoming a biking family in Copenhagen! Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin
I had no idea you lived in SC until your Twitter message! I love it down there. Have you been to Charleston? My absolute favorite city in America!
Yes of course! And when we were living in Philly, we got invited to a proper southern wedding down there and it was amazing! (Yes – I’ve lived a lot of places!)
Allligators in your swimming pool?! Goodness gracious – we’re more likely to get frogs in ours! That said, we’d love to go wildlife spotting somewhere like Sea Pines – it looks so peaceful there – until you see an alligator, that is. All you’d hear would be me screaming! Great to read this on #FarawayFiles
Thanks, Clare. The alligator thing really freaks me out. I love visiting, but not sure I could live there on account of that!
A roommate of mine used to go to Hilton Head with her family. I’ve always thought it sounded restful and magical. Would love to visit with our kids. #farawayfiles
Restful is a great way of putting it – our batteries are always recharged when we go ;).
Hilton Head looks like a great place for a relaxing family holiday with lots of variety for everyone. I’ve always wanted to visit Savannah – it’s at the top of my must visit list in the US.Have you written about it yet Corey? #FarawayFiles
Not yet. Having trouble locating photos since it’s been about 7 years so I keep putting it off. But I’ll be writing soon!
Looks a great mix of activity, relaxation, wildlife and scenery.
That it is..;)
This looks so fabulous! Plus, I’ve always dreamed of a visit to Savannah… The photos are perfect, especially that tree tunnel! #farawayfiles
Thanks Hilary! Savannah is one of the most interesting cities around, definitely recommend a visit if you’re able to swing it!