Hilton Head boasts 12 miles of beautiful beaches. — Photo courtesy of Lee Coursey
Hilton Head is a popular vacation destination in its own right, but you don’t have to cut your vacation to Savannah short to spend time on South Carolina’s most famous island. A day trip from Savannah to Hilton Head can give you a flavor for the island, its lovely beaches, exciting attractions and fantastic restaurants.
You’ll want to pack a lot into your day, so grab a quick bite to eat at your hotel and leave early. If you’re staying in the Historic District, it should take you less than an hour to get on the island.
Coligny Beach is one of Hilton Head's most popular public beaches. — Photo courtesy of Ron Cogswell
Once you arrive, head to Coligny Beach, rent some chairs and an umbrella, and spend a couple of hours basking in the sun and playing in the surf of Hilton Head’s most popular public beach.
Fried chicken, mac and cheese, and collards are just some of the delicious Southern fare you'll find at Annie O's. — Photo courtesy of Annie O's Southern Eats
You’ll undoubtedly have worked up an appetite, so take advantage of Coligny Beach’s outdoor showers and changing areas, throw back on your clothes and head to Annie O’s Southern Eats for some delicious down-home grub. Start with an appetizer of freshly made biscuits with pimento cheese. For your main entrée consider the shrimp and grits with spinach, bacon and tomato butter sauce or Annie-O’s crab cake club, a sinful sandwich with a jumbo lump crab cake, fried green tomato and bacon on Texas toast with lemon herb mayonnaise.
After lunch, make your way to Sea Pines, a gated community that features homes, vacation rentals, a resort, shops and restaurants. You’ll have to pay a nominal fee to get into the main gate, but you’ll be able to take advantage of two enjoyable and very different types of activities once you arrive.
A wooden bridge takes hikers through an old rice field at the Sea Pines Forest Preserve. — Photo courtesy of Amy Pine
Shortly after entering Sea Pines, turn left into the Sea Pines Forest Preserve. This unexpected 605-acre gem features walking trails–including a lovely wooden footbridge that takes visitors right through an old rice plantation–a wildflower field and a 4,000-year-old Indian Shell Ring, which listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
An aerial view of Harbour Town. — Photo courtesy of Sea Pines Plantation
Once you make your way back to your car, head down the road to Harbour Town, a waterfront area in Sea Pines that features shops and restaurants. In addition to browsing the goods at the many souvenir shops, gift shops and boutiques, you can admire the magnificent boats docked at the Harbour Town Yacht Basin and learn about Hilton Head’s rich history at the Lighthouse Museum.
By now, it’ll be time to make your way back to Savannah, but the fun–and shopping–don’t have to end. Swing by the Tanger Outlets in Bluffton en route to Savannah to pick up an item or two from stores like Joe’s Jeans, Michael Kors and Saks Off 5th. Then grab an early dinner at Bluffton's The Greek Table, a small eatery where you can indulge on authentic dishes like souvlaki, moussaka and lamb shish kabobs.
The drive from Bluffton to the Historic District will only take about 40 minutes, so you’ll be back in the Peach State before dark.