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Hilton Head Travel Guide
Get Your Bearings in Hilton HeadWhere to Stay
Hilton Head is a great vacation destination no matter what your budget. If you want a full-service resort, you’ll find plenty of options nestled in the island communities of Port Royal Plantation, Sea Pines, Palmetto Dunes and Shipyard Plantation. There are also a number of fine choices for those trying to save a few bucks. While these budget-friendly hotels may not offer oceanfront accommodations, most are just a short drive to public beach access points and receive high marks for their cleanliness and customer service.
Hot Tips: Some of the luxury hotels can be pricey, but many offer special packages that include resort credit, which can be utilized at on-site spas, golf courses and restaurants.
What to Eat
Hilton Head is teeming with fun, family-friendly eateries, from lively seafood restaurants to always-hopping pizza joints. If you’re looking for lots of options in one place, head to Coligny Plaza or Harbour Town, where you can peruse all the menus before making a decision. Some of the best restaurants, however, are located off the beaten path. You may need to use your GPS to find them, but it will be worth the effort.
Caution: Hilton Head's popular restaurants get very crowded during the high season. Plan ahead or plan to wait.
Be Sure to Sample: The island's fresh, delicious seafood.
Things to See
While you could spend your entire vacation enjoying Hilton Head’s 12 miles of beautiful beaches, don’t pass up all of the island’s exciting outdoor activities including golf, tennis and cycling. Many golf courses and tennis courts, along with some of the most picturesque biking trails, are located within the island's plantation communities and only available to guests, so plan your trip accordingly and stay in a place that will give you access to these amenities.
Hot Tips: Beachwear is appropriate almost anywhere on Hilton Head, but many of the golf courses have strict dress codes.
Places to Party
Hilton Head’s laid-back vibe makes it the perfect place to enjoy a night on the town. For an authentic beach vacation experience, head to one of the island’s oceanfront bars. If you like to bar hop, be sure to check out the “Barmuda Triangle,” an area near Sea Pines that features several bars within walking distance of one another. Hilton Head also has a comedy club, jazz bar and several karaoke bars for those looking for other forms of entertainment.
Take It or Leave It: Some of the best bars are located in restaurants, so you can eat first and party later without having to leave the building.
Where to Shop
Hilton Head has several popular shopping areas including Harbour Town, Coligny Plaza and Shelter Cove, which are perfect for the casual shopper who wants to pick up a few trinkets to bring back home. Hard-core shoppers should head over the Hilton Head bridge and visit the island’s two Tanger outlets, featuring upscale stores such as Saks Off Fifth, Michael Kors, DKNY, Lucky Brand Jeans and more.
Avoid: Driving to the outlets can be tricky on weekday mornings and evenings as commuters make their way to and from work. Plan accordingly.
Ready for Your Dream Vacation?
About Hilton Head
Situated on the southern coast of the Palmetto State, Hilton Head Island is a short drive from Savannah, GA. Grand, hovering oak trees draped with Spanish moss and quiet, expansive beaches characterize this vacation destination, filled with luxurious resorts, impressive golf courses and palatial, coastal-style homes.
Originally settled by English planters, the island was used for producing cotton, indigo, rice and sugarcane until the outbreak of the Civil War, when Union soldiers invaded the island and most of its inhabitants fled. Some of the African-American community remained and kept its Gullah heritage alive. During the 1940s, Hilton Head's plentiful pines attracted the attention of the lumber industry. In 1956, landowner Charles Fraser decided the area was best suited for leisure activities and founded Sea Pines Resort, the island's largest gated community. Many other similar planned communities have been added since, including Palmetto Dunes and Port Royal Plantation.
Today, tourism and real estate are Hilton Head's top sources of income. While commercial development has flourished, restaurants and stores must adhere to strict standards to preserve the island's ecology and aesthetic appeal. Lakes and... Read more »