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The Ultimate Hilton Head Island Travel Guide: A Local’s Perspective

By Hilton Head Insider

If you’ve visited Hilton Head Island, you know it’s more than a destination. Lowcountry living is a way of life. Renowned for its lush landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and vibrant community, it’s easy to see why visitors are drawn to the island escape. 

We’re sharing some of the best hidden gems, must-visit attractions, and the unique experiences that make Hilton Head Island a haven for relaxation and adventure through the eyes of an island local. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a seasoned island-goer, our insights will help you navigate the offerings of America’s Favorite Island®, ensuring an unforgettable stay in the Lowcountry. 

Eat Like a Local

Hilton Head Island offers a culinary journey unlike any other. From classic Southern BBQ to International cuisine served with a side of island charm, your palette won’t soon forget a meal at these community-endorsed local spots. 

If you’re craving fresh, simple, local Southern Italian cuisine, grab a table and cozy up at Nunzio Restaurant + Bar. This local favorite pairs a love of relaxed dining, wonderful wines, and spirits with classic Lowcountry charm that provide the perfect atmosphere for an enjoyable meal. 

Those on the hunt for the perfect cut of steak and expertly crafted cocktails might enjoy Bowdies Chophouse. This refined steakhouse offers a timeless elegance that perfectly complements the luxury of the Lowcountry, making it well-loved by locals. 

Nectar Farm Kitchen offers a farmhouse atmosphere served alongside some local Southern charm. Thoughtfully prepared dishes use ingredients grown in the South to offer up an unforgettable farm-to-table experience. 

Pining for the taste of classic Southern BBQ? Look no further than the beloved One Hot Mama’s BBQ. This family-friendly restaurant shares authentic BBQ platters, burgers, char-grilled chicken, and more. 

Nestled at the base of the iconic Harbour Town Lighthouse, Quarterdeck offers decades of tradition and provides some of the most breathtaking views on Hilton Head Island and the Calibogue Sound. A local favorite, Quarterdeck offers an unforgettable raw bar, the fresh seafood, and features house specialties like the seared salmon burger. It's the quintessential spot for savoring the island's culinary delights with a touch of local charm.

nunzio entrace

Local-Endorsed Experiences

If you want to make your way around Hilton Head Island like a local, hop on your bike and pedal away on one of the more than 60 miles of dedicated leisure pathways and inviting hard-packed sand beaches, providing an ideal backdrop for cyclists of all levels. Embrace the unique allure of the Lowcountry as you pedal through this island paradise, where every path unfolds a new chapter of discovery. 

Nature enthusiasts can head to Fish Haul Beach Park, renowned by locals for its bird and wildlife-watching opportunities. Alternatively, get to know the local marine life by embarking on an exhilarating dolphin tour with Island Skiff Adventure Tours, where you take the helm of your own skiff boat and navigate the stunning waterways surrounding Hilton Head Island. Cruise through picturesque locales, all while accompanied by a knowledgeable local guide.

coastal discovery museum

If you’re searching for a local’s understanding of the very essence of Hilton Head Island, your first stop should be the Coastal Discovery Museum a Smithsonian Affiliate. Visitors can explore 2000 square feet of indoor exhibits, 68 acres of outdoor exploration, and endless discovery of the Lowcountry. This experience will give you an even deeper appreciation of what makes America’s Favorite Island® so unique. 

There are plenty of opportunities for visitors who desire to delve into the storied history of Hilton Head Island. Head to Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park to tour the first-ever self-governed town of formerly enslaved people in the United States. Explore the rich tapestry of Gullah heritage and join a captivating Gullah Heritage Trail bus tour that winds through 10 family-based neighborhoods as knowledgeable guides walk you through the experience. 

Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort

Locals will tell you that Hilton Head Island is a haven for racquet sports enthusiasts, boasting eight of the world’s top 100 tennis resorts and camps. Tennis enthusiasts are spoiled for choice with the island's top-notch facilities, featuring well-maintained clay and hard courts set amidst picturesque island landscapes. The island has also embraced the rising popularity of pickleball, with dedicated pickleball courts providing the perfect setting for players to enjoy spirited matches. 

It’s impossible to talk about sports on Hilton Head Island without mentioning the world-class golf. The Lowcountry is a golf enthusiast's playground featuring more than 23 Championship Hilton Head Island area golf courses. Golfing like a local on America’s Favorite Island® means playing a round on some of the island’s most iconic courses, like the legendary Harbour Town Golf Links, or enjoy a day on the expansive greens at the Robert Trent Jones Course at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort

Locals will tell you that golf on Hilton Head Island isn’t just reserved for the pros. There are a host of family-friendly courses, like Harbour Town Golf Links, Robert Trent Jones Oceanfront Golf Course at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, and Port Royal Golf & Racquet Club. These courses cater to all skill levels so anyone can tee up for an enjoyable day of golf in the Lowcountry. 

Vacation Like a Lowcountry Local.

With so much to see and do on America's Favorite Island®, it's time to experience life as a Lowcountry local for yourself! Request your free vacation guide and start planning your dream Hilton Head Island itinerary today! 

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