Are you looking for the best things to do in Hilton Head South Carolina? Then you’ve come to the right place! Hilton Head is an island off the coast of South Carolina. It’s actually very close to Savannah, GA. So close that it’s actually a really great day trip option from Savannah. Hilton Head Island is part of the Lowcountry area of South Carolina. The Lowcountry has a distinct culture that you’ll see in their food, activities, and even way of life. It’s a unique part of the south to visit!
While Hilton Head is part of the Lowcountry, that’s not necessarily what it’s known for. Hilton Head Island is probably best known for its beautiful beaches and world-class golf courses. However, you don’t have to love the beach or golfing to find fun things to do in Hilton Head. The island is also a really great vacation spot in South Carolina. Whether you’re planning a trip with family or friends, there are plenty of attractions in Hilton Head.
In recent years, Hilton Head Island has seen a lot of growth. There are now new beach parks, amazing shopping centers, and unique tours available. Hilton Head is also near some great nature preserves and parks. Whether you love beaches, golf, shopping, or exploring nature, there are so many places to visit in Hilton Head SC. So, let’s take a look at 15 of the best things to do in Hilton Head South Carolina that you won’t want to miss!
15 Best Things To Do In Hilton Head SC You Shouldn’t Miss
Coligny Beach Park
One of the best places to visit in Hilton Head SC is absolutely Coligny Beach Park. Coligny Beach Park is easily one of the prettiest beaches in South Carolina, for a variety of reasons. It’s a massive beach park full of unique amenities that really set it over the top. You’ll find a paved walkway, outside showers, changing rooms, bathrooms, and more to make your day at the beach more comfortable. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer season and the beach is wheelchair accessible. Throughout the beach, you’ll find mats that lead to the water for those in wheelchairs to use.
Just across the street from Coligny Beach Park you’ll find the Coligny Plaza. The plaza is full of shops that are all beach-goer friendly. So you can walk straight from the beach to one of the shops and feel comfortable walking around. In the plaza, they also have restaurants of all kinds. So you can spend your entire day at Coligny Beach Park and have everything you need within reach! Whether you’re traveling with kids, friends, or just your partner, you’ll want to spend some time at this top attraction in Hilton Head.
Coastal Discovery Museum
If you’re looking for things to do in Hilton Head with kids, consider stopping by the Coastal Discovery Museum. The Coastal Discovery Museum is a perfect way to spend a rainy beach afternoon with the whole family. There are over 2000 square feet of indoor exhibits as well as 68-acres of natural space to explore on a sunny day. The museum has been open for 35 years and educates visitors on the island’s native flora and fauna.
The museum’s exhibits range in topics. You’ll learn about 16th century Hilton Head via the Santa Elena, a history center that has recently opened. There is a kid’s zone where kids can interact with exhibits and learn science in a hands-on way. The museum also has a discovery lab, a range of historical buildings, and gardens and grounds you can explore. The Coastal Discovery Museum is easily one of the best things to do in Hilton Head with kids.
Harbour Town is probably one of the most well-known attractions in Hilton Head. When you see images of Hilton Head, you typically see the big red and white striped lighthouse. That lighthouse, the Harbour Lighthouse, is in the heart of Harbour Town. Harbour Town is in the center of the resort village of Sea Pines, around a yacht marina. It’s the go-to spot for souvenirs and trinkets to bring home to remind you of your trip.
However, shops aren’t the only thing Harbour Town has to offer. The area is also home to some of the best restaurants in Hilton Head. Whether you’re looking for fine dining or casual cafes, Harbour Town has it. You can also climb the Harbour Lighthouse! The Harbour Lighthouse is historic and when you climb it, you’ll get to enjoy beautiful aerial views of the marina below. If that’s not your thing, you can rent a boat, or do any number of activities in Hilton Head’s Harbour Town. It’s one of the most popular attractions in Hilton Head for a reason, and we think you’ll quickly see why!
Hit The Greens And Go Golfing
Hilton Head Island is known for its world-class golf courses. On the small island, there are over 23 golf courses alone. People travel from all over the world to spend some time hitting the green at these beautiful golf courses. In fact, a few have hosted golf tournaments. They range from public and private courses, and they all start at different price points too.
Many of the golf courses have been designed by renowned golf architects. You’ll be able to golf on courses designed by designers like Pete Dye and Jack Niklaus. Some of the courses are even right on the beach. So you’ll get to enjoy coastal views while enjoying a round of golf. No matter your budget or skill level, we’re confident that there is a golf course in Hilton Head that meets your needs. It’s one of the best things to do in Hilton Head for adults.
Go On A Dolphin Boat Cruise
One of the best activities in Hilton Head is unsurprisingly a water activity. If you want to see dolphins in their natural habitat, then we suggest going on a Dolphin Boat Cruise. There are several companies on the island that offer boat cruises. There are sunset cruises, cruises and nature tours, and even cruises that end in fireworks.
While you’re out on the water, you’ll be with a trained guide. They know the best places to potentially see dolphins swimming in the ocean. The boat will keep a safe distance to ensure the dolphins are protected. However, you’ll still get to see them a lot closer up than you would if you were watching them from the beach. It’s easily one of the most fun things to do in Hilton Head.
Book Your Tour Here: Getyourguide.com
Take The Ferry To Daufuskie Island
Daufuskie Island is an island in South Carolina that is between Hilton Head and Savannah, GA. We think it’s one of the best beaches near Savannah too. However, it’s not a very big island. In fact, it’s only about 8 square miles. But, it is inhabited and is the southernmost inhabited island in South Carolina. The only way to get to Daufuskie Island is by ferry or barge and there is a ferry that leaves frequently from Hilton Head.
With 5 miles of pristine beach, it’s a beautiful island in SC to visit. There are just over 400 permanent residents on Daufuskie Island. So it’s a really different atmosphere compared to Hilton Head. On the island, you’ll find nature preserves, historic buildings, Gullah houses, and plenty of art galleries to explore. If you want to experience a slower pace, compared to Hilton Head, then you’ve got to take the ferry to Daufuskie Island. It’s one of the coolest things to do near Hilton Head South Carolina.
Explore Hilton Head Island’s Bike Trails
If you’re wondering what to do in Hilton Head on a beautiful day, then we suggest exploring the island’s bike trails. You can rent a bike at several different shops on the island or bring your own. All throughout the town, you’ll find kiosks that have printed maps. Or, you can use the maps that are posted conveniently along the trails.
The entire island is incredibly bike-friendly, so you can feel safe taking the whole family on a bike ride. It’s a great thing to do in Hilton Head with kids too. You’ll be able to easily bike around the whole island on the designated bike paths. While you bike around the island, you can stop at the many restaurants, shops, and beach parks on Hilton Head.
Sea Pines Forest Preserve
In the Sea Pines Resort, you’ll find the Sea Pines Forest Preserve. The Sea Pines Forest Preserve has been a protected wildlife area since 1970. In the protected wildlife habitat you’ll find trails, bridle paths, wetland boardwalks, and bridges. They help you better explore this expansive preserve without disturbing the native flora and fauna. You can explore the area in a variety of different ways.
They offer horseback riding, wagon tours, and guided tours, or you can go at your own pace and walk the trails. There is a wildflower field, a 4,000-year-old seashell ring, marshes, and beautiful lakes to explore. You can pack a picnic and enjoy it on the banks of Fish Island, or bring your binoculars and enjoy some bird watching. However you choose to explore, you’ll agree that this is one of the best free things to do in Hilton Head SC.
Folly Field Beach Park
Another popular place to visit in Hilton Head is Folly Field Beach Park. Like Coligny Beach Park, Folly Field Beach Park is not your typical beach. You’ll find Folly Field Beach Park at the most northern point of Hilton Head Island. It doesn’t have all the amenities that you’ll find at some of the other beaches on Hilton Head. However, it does have restrooms, sand showers, vending machines, and water fountains.
If you want to visit this Hilton Head Island beach, you will need to pay for parking. Parking spots are limited and numbered, so plan to get there early if you want to spend the day there. The parking lot fills up quickly! It’s an extremely popular beach, even without some of the other amenities that other Hilton Head beaches have. We suggest planning ahead and bringing everything you’ll need so that you don’t have to leave and lose your parking spot!
Hilton Head Distillery
One of the best things to do in Hilton Head for adults is the Hilton Head Distillery. The Hilton Head Distillery is the first craft distillery on the island, and it’s definitely worth a visit. They offer tours and tastings daily. If you don’t want to do one of the full tours or tastings, they also have a cocktail bar that has a limited menu. The cocktail bar’s menu is seasonal, so you’ll get to try something different if you visit throughout the year.
After a romantic dinner, ending the night at the cocktail bar is one of the most popular things to do in Hilton Head for couples. The Hilton Head Distillery is known for its unique and delicious cocktails and you’ll want to stop by to try them. Or, you can book a tasting and try the different liquors the distillery makes throughout the year. If you’re wondering what to do in Hilton Head at night, you can’t go wrong with visiting the Hilton Head Distillery.
Take The Kids On A Pirate Cruise
If your kids, or even just the adults, love pirates, then you’ll want to take the Pirate Cruise on the Black Dagger. It’s a super fun thing to do in Hilton Head with kids. On the cruise, you’ll learn how to be a pirate! The tour guides, called the pirate crew, will teach you how to talk like a pirate and give you a new pirate name. You’ll even get a tattoo to complete the transition to seafaring pirate. Once you’ve been turned into a fearsome pirate, you’ll head out onto the water.
While out on the water, everyone will get to search for sunken treasure. You’ll be racing ‘Stinky the Pirate’ to get to the treasure first using a treasure map. While you race Stinky, the crew of the ship will use water cannons to get the treasure chest key from Stinky. Once you and your crew have the key, you’ll be able to enjoy your hard-won treasure. The kids will love this unique and immersive Hilton Head activity. It’ll be an afternoon they won’t forget!
Book Your Tour Here: Getyourguide.com
Zion Cemetery And Baynard Mausoleum
History lovers will enjoy exploring the Zion Cemetery and Baynard Mausoleum. The mausoleum was built in 1846 by William Baynard, a plantation owner. It was completed just 3 years before his death and is absolutely massive. No one knows exactly why it’s so big, but it’s the size of a modern ‘tiny home’. The rumor was that Baynard built it to house all of his most precious possessions. This rumor persisted during the Civil War and led to Union soldiers raiding it.
Today, it’s not known what was actually in the mausoleum that would have been of value. In fact, the mausoleum sits empty and is believed to be haunted by Baynard himself. The mausoleum is also believed to be the oldest surviving and intact structure on the island. The Zion Cemetery has an equally colorful and unique history. It was established in the 18th century and is the final resting place for many Revolutionary War soldiers. With their unique history and tales of hauntings, exploring the Zion Cemetery is one of the more unique things to do in Hilton Head at night.
Go Sea Kayaking
A fun thing to do in Hilton Head for couples is to go sea kayaking. You don’t have to be in a couple to go, but it can be a really fun and romantic experience too. There are several companies that offer guided tours for sea kayaking. You can also bring your own kayak, or rent one, and head out. It’s up to you, and your comfort level. However, you may get more out of a guided tour if this is your first time kayaking around Hilton Head or in the ocean.
If you choose to do a tour, you’ll find they can range from eco-tours, and sunset tours, to even half-day tours. Kayaking on Hilton Head is generally very safe. It’s also a Hilton Head activity that you can enjoy with the whole family if you want. But it’s also a really fun thing to do in Hilton Head for couples who are looking for a more adventurous vacation activity.
Compass Rose Park
Compass Rose Park is one of the newer parks on the island. The building was completed in the spring of 2008, just ahead of the summer months. It’s a serene space that is a perfect romantic spot. We think it’s a great thing to do in Hilton Head for couples who want to enjoy a quiet and romantic stroll. As you walk through the park, you’ll see four separate water features.
The sound of the tranquil water features follows you throughout the park. This is part of the reason that Compass Rose Park is known as a serene and peaceful place. Despite being right off of a busy street, the park is surrounded by trees. So you won’t even notice the rest of the town or crowds that you’ll typically find on a busy street on the island. There is also a pavilion where you can sit and enjoy the quiet park with your partner and a picnic lunch.
Stoney-Baynard Plantation Ruins
Another place to visit in Hilton Head that has a unique history is the Stoney-Baynard Plantation Ruins. The plantation was originally built in the 1790s by Captain Jack Stoney. It included a large main house and quarters for enslaved peoples. When it was intact, it was one of the grandest Antebellum-era plantation houses in the area. Rumor has it that in 1840 Stoney lost the deed to the house in a poker game to William Baynard. Baynard and his family lived there until 1861. They were forced to evacuate the house when Union forces descended upon the island.
The home was then used as a headquarters for the Union forces. When they were done using it, Union soldiers burnt it to the ground. Today, all that’s left are some ruins of the original plantation house. Due to its history, it’s a Registered National Historic Site. You can visit the ruins, but the remaining structures are fenced off to protect them from further damage. Like Zion Cemetery and the Baynard Mausoleum, the Stoney-Baynard Plantation Ruins are rumored to be incredibly haunted. So, if you’re looking for one of the spookiest things to do in Hilton Head at night, go to the ruins and see if you can make contact with a ghost.
We hope you enjoyed this list full of the best things to do in Hilton Head South Carolina. It’s a unique southern island that is full of history and adventure. Whether you want to spend the day on the beach or spend your day enjoying Hilton Head activities, it’s a great place to visit.