Hilton Head is an extraordinarily popular family vacation destination. As a result it’s not a particularly inexpensive place to visit. However, if you know where to look, you can get away with saving a few bucks more than the family in the next condo over.
If you’re driving to Hilton Head, don’t forget your bicycles! If you’re flying, there are tons of bike rental joints to choose from, but it’ll run you about $20 per bike for several days with coupons you can find here: www.hiltonheadisland.com. Hilton Head is a bike-friendly community with miles and miles of paved trails and beach riding available. Besides, you can save on gas and get some exercise by riding everywhere!
Enjoy Hilton Head for Free
Beaches: The good news is that there are plenty to choose from and the beach is always free! Lots of soft white sand and sunshine. Besides spreading out a towel and soaking up some sun, many of the beaches are extra wide with super packed sand near the water that accommodates beach running and biking wonderfully. And if you have kids, Coligny Beach has a fountain pad to play in. There are also chairs and bench swings for relaxing.
Parks: Take your pick. There are lots of parks and wildlife refuges to explore and maybe find some gators and other exciting wildlife. Pickney Island National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to start with miles of hiking and biking trails and lots of nature to enjoy. For other parks inn which to play and explore, check out your options here: http://www.hiltonheadislandsc.gov/ourisland/Parks/parksandfacall.cfm.
For additional entertainment, Hilton Head and the surrounding cities are always hosting some kind of festival or another (shrimp festivals, sand castle building festivals…), so keep your eyes peeled for fun!
Our Favorite Things
Sea Pines Resort: It costs $9 (cash only) per vehicle per day to get into the resort and finding a parking spot can be a challenge, but there’s plenty to do once you get inside. Check out the shops all around it selling everything from island souvenirs to fine jewelry. Eating cheap won’t be easy, though. There are several restaurants to choose from, but the only ones that offer a deal on munchies are Harbourside Burgers and Brews where you can get a quarter-pound hot dog or a burger and Cups and Cones for ice cream and coffee which is only open seasonally. You’ll also find Lawton Stables in Sea Pines. It offers trail rides for a pretty penny ($80 per person), but also has a free animal farm and $15 pony rides for kids. There’s also the 605-acre Forest Preserve for exploring marshes and wildlife from the many boardwalks. There’s golf, too, of course, but it doesn’t come cheap. You can even go on a dinner or sightseeing cruise from the dock starting at around $45 a person when on sale.
Harbor Town Lighthouse: If history and great views are your thing, check out the lighthouse in the Sea Pines community. The lighthouse itself if relatively new, built in 1977, but the climb to the top is peppered with bits of history and relics and a panoramic view of the bay awaits you at the top. It’s $7 to go up, a modest price.
Grab a Bite
New York City Pizza: Share a 14″ or 16″ pie for a cheap meal. Two of us only managed to scarf half of a 14″ veggie (with artichoke hearts!) at $19 meaning we had leftovers for lunch the next day (and a midnight snack).
The Herb Room Apothecary: While their business is comprised primarily of their house made tinctures, balms, and cold and flu fighters, their vegan kitchen is also open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday. Menu items include a vegan BLT, walnut tacos, and vegan cheesecake. Yum!
Frozen Moo: Dessert is always a hit with us, so just about every night we found ourselves at the ice cream parlor in the popular Coligny Plaza. It boasts over 90 flavors of ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt and more. With options like blueberry cheesecake, chocolate raspberry truffle, chocolate peanut butter and pumpkin pie and a perfectly portioned kids cup size, who wouldn’t want to go every night?
French Kiss Bakery: For an afternoon snack or a quick breakfast, I highly recommend this cafe in Coligny Plaza. They don’t have much in the way of fancy caffeinated beverages, but their sweets and treats are lovely. Grab a macaroon to satisfy a sweet tooth or a large slice of quiche. My favorite, however, was the spinach and feta croissant served warm. Delightful.
If you crave seafood or BBQ, be prepared to pay for it, but keep in mind that appetizers, including fried clams and the like, are usually cheaper and come with just as much food.
Money Saving Tips
Stop into the nearest Piggly Wiggly for lunch or dinner fixin’s to avoid dining out every night.
Visit www.hiltonheadisland.com for lists of attractions and coupons.
As an added bonus, the beautiful historic town of Savannah, Georgia is only about an hour away, so you can turn one vacation destination into two!
Enjoy the beach!
Alisha is a freelance outdoor journalist and photographer based in Ogden, UT. She loves backpacking, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and snowboarding (even though she’s terrible at it). She’s also pretty sure she’s addicted to coffee. alishamcdarris.com