Hilton Head South Carolina is a popular vacation destination for good reason. There are plenty of things to do while you're there, some of which you may not even expect! If you're looking for some ideas on how to make the most of your trip, read on. I'll share some of my favorite activities in and around Hilton Head. Whether you're into nature, history, or just plain relaxation, I'm sure you'll find something that suits your interests!
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What to do When Visiting Hilton Head South Carolina
While traveling be sure you bring change so you can take advantage of any pressed penny machines you come across. These make great souvenirs.
The drive out to the island is beautiful. It's something out of a Nicholas Sparks movie. We spent the day and spent less than $20, so I call this a budget day! Our first stop was the Harbortown Lighthouse located in the SeaPines community located on the southwest side of the island. You have to pay $6 to enter the community, but it covers your parking for the day.
You have to pay $6 to enter the community, but it covers your parking for the day. The community (and island) is gorgeous with these old trees and Spanish moss everywhere.
Looking at the map of this community there are quite a few things to do from the Harbortown Lighthouse and shops, the Shops at Sea Pines Center, Plantation Gold Club, Sea Pine Beach Club shops and dining and the famous south beach.
The houses are beautiful and ranging from the small, modest home to huge mansions.
Parking near the lighthouse is scarce so but fighting for parking was so worth it. The lighthouse is that famous red and white.
On the way up the 114 stairs, to the top of the lighthouse, is the history of the lighthouse and the area on the walls. It started with some beautiful pictures of the lighthouse. They have a display of civil war era bottles found in the ground at Fort Sherman.
The picture below shows Civil War Union Troops Stationed at Port Royal.
When the Civil War was over Hilton Head was mostly free saves, and they had a picture of the some of them. Here is a bit more of that history.
Here is a picture of the freed slaves working their new land.
As you climbed the stairs, you could see how many feet up in the air you were.
Then we hit the top of the light house.
You can't beat the views from the top. There are also many signs that tell you what you are looking at across the bay.
One of the views is of one of the golf courses. This golf course zig-zags in and out behind houses and crossing over roads around the area. While we were there, they were setting up bleachers for an event that was going on later that week.
We walked the beach after the climb back down and came across some of this spongy purple stuff. Not sure what it was anyone have any ideas? It was pretty neat.
On the way down the lighthouse, we saw this picture of the Baynard Ruins and found out it wasn't too far from where we were so we headed over to check it out next. The ruins are pretty easy to find, and they have a great little parking area as well.
A little bit more on the history of the ruins. This was a plantation owner's house that had burned down, and this is all that is left.
You can see there isn't much left of the ruins and the first level is actually what would have been the basement. The building is made from Tabby, which is made from shells (mostly oyster shells) sand and water.
From this sign, you can see how the structure is originally thought to sit.
Here are my kiddos and hubby in front of the ruins.
The next structure was the slave quarters. This would be where the domestic slaves would have been or the ones that worked in the house. I explained to my kids that it was a ‘privilege' (for a lack of better words) to be a house slave over one that works in the fields. 2 slave families lived in this structure.
The last 2 building were explained in this sign. One was used when the military had taken over the plantation, and the other was the kitchen. We used this chance to explain why back in those days the kitchen was so far away from the house.
This is all that is left of the kitchen.
The grounds of the ruins are very pretty with the tree coverings.
Next, we headed to the opposite end of the Island and visited the Zion Chapel of Ease Cemetery and Baynard Mausoleum, which is the oldest standing building still on the island. The cemetery is set back off of the road and if you didn't know it was there you would more than likely miss it! There is a great sign with information on the cemetery when you enter.
You learn that this started at the first church on the island and that there are 4 revolutionary war soldiers buried here along with the Baynard Mausoleum that is the oldest standing building on the island. I apologize for the bad picture I took several, and this is the best one they all had those lines no matter what angle I took them at.
My kids wanted to see what it was like inside (only kids!), but I had to explain it was locked, and only family members had the key. After this, we viewed some of the old graves. The markers are so old you can't even make out what they say anymore.
We were surprised to see just a new grave in this old cemetery. Well, new being from 1991.
Then we viewed the 4 Revolutionary War graves.
The cemetery is pretty spread out, and if I had to guess, I would say there are many unmarked graves from the look of the placements.
All in all, we had fun, but you can tell this is a tourist destination for summer. There are many summer water sports and things to do. Plus it's great if you are a golfer!
Have you visited Hilton Head South Carolina? What did you do while there?