From The League of American Cyclists, Andy Clarke takes a closer look at Hilton Head Island Food + Biking
Spring break in 2014 ended in the rain, early. We left Hilton Head Island for the long drive to Fairfax County, Va., a little deflated, but already thinking about the possibilities for next year.
Then before you know it, we are looking at rental properties again and then making the booking and then starting to wait for the long range weather forecast to cover our week on the island. The anticipation grows. Golf reservations are made, a spa treatment for 16yr old Jacqueline and her friend Alyx is confirmed, suitcases are packed and the drive south begins. We can’t wait to get back to Hilton Head for the many delights that await. There are all kinds of new shops and destinations and the dining options seemingly get better every year.
So imagine my surprise when the first thing Jacqueline and Alyx want to do it jump on their bikes and head to the General Store for lunch. All that anticipation, all the options in front of us and their first destination is the Palmetto Dunes convenience store? I mean, no disrespect but there are some fine dining establishments in Hilton Head; the General Store, really? What about the beach as the first stop, at least?
“The fried chicken is sooo good, Dad. And the mashed potato is the best ever,” says Jacqueline with the exasperated tone perfected exclusively by teenagers for use on their clueless parents. “And we just want to ride our bikes there, OK?.”
Of course you do, bikes mean freedom and independence. They have for generations of kids and on Hilton Head the increasingly impressive bike path network and quiet streets means granting that independence is pretty easy and worry-free. Not like the mean streets of Fairfax County, that’s for sure. But on Hilton Head Island, bikes mean freedom and fun for the grown-ups as well. In my day job, I travel to dozens of communities a year and see what they are doing to encourage bicycling. On Hilton Head Island I see people riding bikes who wouldn’t dream of doing the same thing back home…and they are loving it.
Whole families head out to eat on their bikes as if it’s the most natural thing in the world to do. And on Hilton Head Island it truly is. Biking is easy and convenient, and even fun. We ride to rent canoes, to Shelter Cove, to the beach (yes, we do get there in the end) and I ride around the Island just for fun. And I curse when we make the mistake of driving to Harbor Town and struggle to find parking.
And as the week draws to a close and we ask what final things the girls want to do…”we want to go get breakfast at the General Store in the morning. It’s the best breakfast and I’ll eat it all, I promise.”
Just what are they putting in the cooking oil down at the General Store? And can we bottle some that and bring it back to Virginia, please?
Enjoy Hilton Head Island’s bike paths and fabulous restaurants during Chamber Bike and Dine Week, Presented by Coligny, May 2nd – 9th.
Andy Clarke and his wife Kristin visited HHI in April with their daughter Jacqueline and friend Alyx. Andy is President of the Washington, DC-based League of American Bicyclists and is now a regular visitor to Hilton Head Island.