The Isle File: A Guide to Hilton Head For Fun-loving Families

Located just four hours away from Atlanta is the beautiful island of Hilton Head, South Carolina. Dripping with Spanish moss and Southern charm, Hilton Head is aglow with it’s landmark lighthouse and activities for all ages. Read on for your guide to this island oasis of family fun.

Beach Basics
With over 12 miles of sparking sand beaches there is so much of it for you to enjoy. Public beach access and parking is abundant if your hotel or rental isn’t beach adjacent. Visit the Hilton Head Island website for parking and public access locations. Coligny Beach Park (12 S. Forest Beach Dr.) has earned a reputation for being one of the most fam-friendly beaches due to their fabulous fountain (perfect for cooling off), clean bathrooms and swings in the shade.

Beyond The Beach
Whether it is due to a sudden shower or a sunburn, sometimes the littles need a break from the beach. Located just off Pope Avenue on the south end of the island, the littles will love The Sandbox‘s interactive museum for children, complete with a Spanish galleon play ship and pilot flight simulator. If you are looking for the local Loggerheads, The Coastal Discovery Museum offers evening turtle walks Tuesday and Thursday nights during the summer (no children under 4) as well as other family programs. Home to 36 holes of miniature golf and the only arcade on the island, Adventure Cove Arcade and Miniature Golf and Arcade is sure to bring out everyone’s competitive side. If you would like to take your vacation off shore, Hilton Head Island Sailing offers dolphin watching and sunset sails that are sure to make you fall in love with coastal living. Commander Zodiac offers dolphin watching, kids water fun camps, sea life discovery excursions and junior sailing classes for young sea lovers.

Happenings, like HarbourFest, offer opportunities for evening entertainment beyond the beach. Don’t miss this longstanding island tradition as singer Shannon Tanner entertains multi-generation crowds with songs like “My Hair Had A Party Last Night” at the pavilion at Shelter Cove Harbour (Monday-Thursday at 6:30 and 8 p.m.).

Good Eats
Parents will love their raw bar, she-crab soup, and selection of more than 250 beers from around the world at Steamer Seafood, while the wee ones will love how they “plate” the kid’s meals on a Frisbee. Hilton Head Backyard Restaurant serves up seafood as well as regional fare with outside seating nestled under a canopy of trees. Or, hit the popular Skull Creek Boathouse on the early side for amazing water views and a kid-friendly atmosphere (Jenga while you wait!). Coligny Ice Cream Cone and Deli is the perfect spot for a sweet treat or a quick bite to eat.

Where to Stay
The Sonesta Resort sits on 11 acres of beachfront property and offers casual and fine dining options, a zero entry heated swimming pool and children’s area, spa as well as the Just Us Kids Club. At this club kids as young as age three can spend their days riding bikes, swimming, feeding turtles and hiking all under the watchful eye of First Aid and CPR certified counselors.

For those looking to stay a while on the island and would like more room to spread out vacation rentals are the way to go. The ability to cook your own meals and have separate sleeping quarters can make your vacation that much more enjoyable. Sunset Rentals offers housing options from economy to elegant in varying neighborhoods across the island.

Have you been to Hilton Head? What is your favorite beach to take the babes? Tell us in the comments section below!

—Maria Pinkelton

Photos courtesy of Keith Allison and Lee Edwin Coursey on flickr via Creative Commons, Commander ZodiacElena T.James H. and Cassie M. via Yelp and Shannon Tanner via Facebook


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