By Frank Babel:
When one thinks of Hilton Head Island, one thinks golf, tennis, beaches, a beautiful place, shopping, and a family friendly place for great memories. But, think Biking and Dining too, because together, they help define the Hilton Head Island experience.
Biking on Hilton Head Island’s 115 mile multi-use pathways system is safe, simple and easy for everyone regardless of age or ability. Combine this with dining, and one has the makings of a great weeklong adventure, choosing from any of 250 restaurants, grocery stores and countless other places where food is available.
Now, where do you go, what do you do?
Most of the island’s restaurants start mid-island at Mathews Drive, and increase in number and variety as you head “on-island” using the Wm. Hilton Pkwy. as your biking highway. This starts with eight restaurants in Port Royal Plaza, more in Shelter Cove and the new Shelter Cove Towne Centre with other restaurants along the way. At the end, Sea Pines Circle is at the epicenter of at least 25 restaurants within ¼ mile, handily in clusters along New Orleans Rd., Reilly’s Center, the Publix Shopping center or Park Plaza. And then from Sea Pines Circle either east to Coligny or west towards Palmetto Bay Marina, you have your choice of more than 150 restaurants. Its mind boggling but fun and easy to explore with your family by bike.
Ok, you’ve got your bearings, you know where to dine and how to get there, but which ones do you choose?
Breakfast. With family, you’ll need some menu variety to keep all members of the family happy. I’ve never been disappointed with the Sunrise Café at Palmetto Bay Marina—great breakfasts, nice people, interesting views hard by a marina. For something different, try Kenny B’s New Orleans Café at the BI-LO Center off Pope Ave. Other classics include Skillets in Coligny Center, or the Plantation Deli on Pope Ave. near Coligny or at a second location in Port Royal Plaza.
Lunch; pick your food group, you won’t be disappointed in anything. So many choices, but also consider Hudson’s on the north end for seafood lunch specials, or at the Boathouse nearby. Gruby’s Deli in the Fresh Market Shops is a good choice as well.
Dinner is tougher. To help, there is the chamber website and readily available publications that feature restaurants, menus, and special events (yes, there is at least one special food event on the island every weekend). My suggestion is to use these guides to determine your dinner destination. And once you’ve decided, call ahead and make a reservation. Be mindful of sunset; you don’t want to be riding your bike in the dark.
Another idea is to picnic on twelve miles of bikeable beach, but check to make sure the tide is out when you do this. Also think town parks; two dozen of all varieties scattered around the island, all connected by the HHI bikeways system. Most have rest rooms and many have views or are special places like Fish Haul Creek Park with a gazebo overlooking a beautiful marsh view where you also can learn about Mitchelville, site of the first freedman’s town in America. Or try the Coastal Discovery Museum with its interesting historical exhibits and incredible live oak trees with Jarvis Creek Park next door. Your picnic ingredients; remember those grocery stores? They all have takeout, ditto most restaurants.
So enjoy our beautiful island and the many biking and dining experiences that await you. Ride safely.
Enjoy Hilton Head Island’s bike paths and fabulous restaurants during Chamber Bike and Dine Week, Presented by Coligny, May 2nd – 9th.
Frank biking in Cuba
Frank Babel is a biker and cycling advocate; Co-chairman of the HHI Bicycling Advisory Committee, a member of the Kickin’ Asphalt Bike Club, Board member of the Palmetto Cycling Coalition and advocate member of the League of American Bicyclists.