Stroll: The 12-mile beach on Hilton Head Island is the quintessential spot to head for a sandy stroll. Plus, the island’s many miles of paved walking and biking paths provide shady options for mid-day strolls. Islander’s Beach was created for locals, but those in the know have learned that there are a number of metered parking spots there as well. Visitors quickly feel like locals at this family-friendly beach access, complete with playground, picnic tables and outdoor showers. It’s next door to the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa (www.westinhiltonheadisland.com), so when you’re ready for lunch or a cocktail or two, it’s just a stroll away
The Spirit of Old Beaufort (www.thespiritofoldbeaufort.com) offers 2.5-mile historic walking tours of downtown Beaufort, which claims more antebellum homes per block than any other town in the nation. Of course, it’s also easy to stroll Beaufort at leisure as well, including homes used in the movie versions of Beaufort resident Pat Conroy’s novels (including “The Great Santini” and “The Prince of Tides”).
Shop: Hilton Head Island’s newest waterfront shopping spot, Shelter Cove Towne Centre (www.sheltercovetownecentre.com) features one-of-a-kind boutiques. Post-shopping pleasures can be found at the rooftop bar, Poseidon (www.poseidonhhi.com), which overlooks the park and sunsets over the water and features live music, outdoor dining and a relaxed lounge-like atmosphere.
In Beaufort, SCOUT Southern Market (www.scoutsouthernmarket.com) features “Southern good and worthy imports,” Bay Street Outfitters (www.baystreetoutfitters.com) has outdoor clothing and everything fly fishing (instruction, advice and more) and LuLu Burgess (www.luluburgess.com) sells women’s clothing, accessories, home goods and much more.
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Hike: Just before the bridge over to Hilton Head Island proper, Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge (search for it at www.fws.gov) is a perfect place to head for miles of hiking trails, waterfront views and lots of wildlife.
Beaufort’s Spanish Moss Trail (www.spanishmosstrail.com) is a classic rails-to-trails hiking and biking path that will eventually run more than 13 miles. About five miles of the trail are currently open, connecting the city of Beaufort with the town of Port Royal.
Bike: With more than 24,000 bicycles for rent on the island and thousands more owned by residents, Hilton Head Island is big on biking. The island is the only destination in the Southeast ranked as a gold biking destination by the League of American Cyclists. In addition to more than 100 miles of bike trails throughout the island, the beaches are also bike-friendly, thanks to hard-packed sand and expansive beaches at low tide.
Also: Beaufort’s municipal website (www.beaufortsc.org) features a unique “map my ride” app from Lowcountry Bicycles (www.lowcountrybicycles.com), providing lots of varied bike rides – including an old Beaufort ride and the Parris Island cruise.
Hudson’s on the Docks (www.hudsonsonthedocks.com), a long-time Hilton Head Island favorite, is better than ever, thanks to fresh “water-to-table” fare, waterfront views and spectacular sunsets. Overlooking the ocean, Coast (www.seapines.com) restaurant at the new Sea Pines Beach Club features fresh Southern seafood.
The Italian fare of chef Laura Bonino at Beaufort’s Griffin Market (www.griffinmarket.com) is a Pat Conroy favorite; while other tasty downtown Beaufort options include Saltus River Grill (www.saltusrivergrill.com) and Breakwater Restaurant & Bar (www.breakwatersc.com); both feature fresh seafood. The Foolish Frog (www.thefoolishfrog.com) is worth the trip to St. Helena Island for fresh seafood, fire-grilled steaks, smoke ribs, local produce and great marsh views.
Along with Poseidon, the Ocean Lounge (www.seapines.com) at Sea Pines Beach Club is the place to head for a waterfront sip. The outdoor lounge area overlooks the ocean and the dunes and the modern vibe still feels oh-so-Lowcountry. The Jazz Corner (www.thejazzcorner.com) is a long-time Hilton Head favorite with live music; Beaufort’s Griffin Market (www.griffinmarket.com) has created an award-winning wine list, including lots of Italian bottles that pair perfectly with their cuisine. Beaufort’s Wren Bistro & Bar (www.wrenbistro.com) is a great place for a glass of wine or creative wine and food pairings.