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8 Ways to Explore Hilton Head Island Off the Golf Course

Bob Gillespie Bob Gillespie
Bob is a former sports writer at Columbia’s The State newspaper. He enjoys golf at South Carolina’s 350-plus courses, and after a round, sampling craft beers from the Palmetto State’s breweries.
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Biking is a perfect way to soak up the rich natural beauty of Hilton Head.

Despite what fans of the RBC Heritage and the various courses all across Hilton Head Island may think, man (or woman) does not live by golf alone. If you've suffered one too many bogeys or double bogeys for one day, take a links break and check out these other entertaining options.


Lawton Stables

Take a guided one-hour ride under a canopy of beautiful oaks and palmettos in Hilton Head Island’s Sea Pines Forest Preserve.

190 Greenwood Drive, Hilton Head, 843.671.2586

Located inside Sea Pines Resort, Lawton Stables offers trail rides, pony rides and an animal farm - perfect outdoor fun for the whole family. With 603 acres of the Sea Pines Forest Preserve as a backdrop, guides offer one-hour escorted Western-style trail rides for adults and older kids, while younger children can enjoy pony rides. And all ages will like the collection of small "critters" at the animal farm. Lawton Stables also hosts a non-profit, therapeutic riding center, Wish Upon a Horse.

ZipLine Hilton Head

Hilton Head zipline
New zip line takes you flying over Hilton Head Island

33 Broad Creek Marina Way, Hilton Head, 843.682.6000

Get above it all with a two-hour canopy tour eco-adventure through the majestic live oaks and pines, with views out over the water and marshes. Eight zip lines carry riders as high as 75 feet; there are swaying bridges and an aerial staircase, all interconnected by platforms and trees. Top it off with a dual-cable zip line finale, where two riders zip side by side in a 900-foot race to the finish line. There's also Aerial Adventure Hilton Head, 50 in-the-tree challenge activities on six courses (easy to hard) with swinging bridges, a skateboard zip line, hoops and obstacles - all suitable for ages 5 and older.

Baynard Ruins

Stoney-Baynard house
The ruins of the Stoney-Baynard house, built in 1793, can be found in Sea Pines Plantation.

The six-acre Stoney-Baynard Ruins offer a look at Hilton Head's past, as well as a living testament to the masonry technique known as "tabby," popular in the 18th and 19th centuries when walls were made using crushed oyster shells, sand, whole shells and water. The ruins' original Braddock's Point Plantation, built by cotton planter John "Saucy Jack" Stoney, has remains 40 feet wide and 46 feet long, plus evidence of a chimney. During the Civil War, the plantation was raided by Union forces and later burned. Visitors can explore this site, listed on the National Register of Historic Sites, on their own or take a guided tour through the Nature Center in Harbour Town. Baynard Cove Road, Sea Pines Resort, 843.671.4386


Bike Rentals

biking on Hilton Head Island
With more than 100 miles of multi-use trails on Hilton Head Island, visitors can pedal virtually anywhere in the family resort.

Due to the relative flatness and the abundance of different sights, bicycle riding is the official way to get around Hilton Head. With more than 12 miles of hard-packed sandy beaches and more than 53 miles of paved public bike paths, visitors and residents alike can explore all parts of the island - and get some exercise, too - while avoiding traffic. Nature and bike trails are also located within the island's plantations and accessible to all. For information on public trails, call Town Hall at 843.341.4600.

Those without their own bikes can rent from a number of local rental companies around the island. Most have free delivery and pickup service, plus helmets, child carriers, baskets, locks and covered kiddie carts. Rentals are by the hour, day or week. Outlets include:

Bicycle Billy's, 843.785.7851

Coconut Bike Rentals, 843.686.5055

H2O Sports, 843.686.5323

Pedals Bicycles, 843.842.5522

Vagabond Cruises, 843.363.9026


Visit a Musuem

The Butterfly Habitat at the Coastal Discovery Museum
The Butterfly Habitat at the Coastal Discovery Museum offers visitors a close-up look at these beautiful insects. Photo courtesy of Coastal Discovery Museum.

Coastal Discovery Museum

70 Honey Horn Drive, Hilton Head, 843.689.6767

Established in 1985 with the mission to teach the public about the natural and cultural history of the Lowcountry, Coastal Discovery Museum offers a fun learning experience about Hilton Head and the surrounding region for the whole family. Open to the public since 2007, the 68-acre Honey Horn property has history 300 years old and is considered the last significant parcel of open space on Hilton Head. Sights include salt marshes, open fields, stands of centuries-old live oaks, some of the oldest buildings on the island and South Carolina's largest Southern red cedar tree, dating from 1595.


The Sandbox Interactive Children's Museum

18A Pope Ave., Hilton Head, 843.842.7645

Located on the island's south end, this interactive museum offers educational play for children, parents, grandparents and caregivers. Kids ages infant to 8 have access to play centers and engaging activities.


Old Town Bluffton

With flower boxes, rocking chairs, garden art and sculptures, there's plenty to see and do in Bluffton.

Located near the May River and minutes from Hilton Head, Old Town Bluffton offers art galleries, shopping and dining amid a historic backdrop. The Bluffton Old Town Merchant Society welcomes visitors to stroll, shop and discover the historic town. With flower boxes, rocking chairs, garden art and sculptures, there's plenty to see and do. Especially popular are the Old Town Vintage Posters Shop and the Old Town Dispensary.


Farmers Markets

Tents set up at Bluffton Farmer's Market in the South Carolina Lowcountry.

The farm-to-table movement sweeping the US has created a number of local farmers markets in the Hilton Head-Bluffton area, with at least one market open almost every day of the week. Besides saving money, shopping for produce and other products is entertaining as well. Here's a schedule of the area's markets:


Traditional Farmers Market, Buckwater Place, Bluffton; 2 p.m.-6 p.m., May-October

Pick Pocket Plantation Farmers Market, 93 Trask Farm Road, Beaufort; 2 p.m.-6 p.m., 203.417.7512

Shelter Cove Community Park, 39 Shelter Cove Lane, Hilton Head; late April-October, 4 p.m.-7 p.m.; June 17-Aug. 12, 4 p.m.-9 p.m., 843.681.7273


Downtown Beaufort Farmers Market, Freedom Mall on Bay Street (in front of Downtown Marina); 2 p.m.-6 p.m., May-October


Bluffton Farmers Market, Calhoun Street; 2 p.m.-7 p.m.; 843.415.2447


Habersham Farmers Market, Habersham Marketplace, Beaufort; 4 p.m.-7 p.m.; 843.846.3444


Pick Pocket Plantation Farmers Market, 93 Trask Farm Road, Beaufort; 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; 203.417.7512

Port Royal Farmers Market, Heritage Park on Ribaut Road, Port Royal; 8:30 a.m.-


Bob Gillespie
Bob is a former sports writer at Columbia’s The State newspaper. He enjoys golf at South Carolina’s 350-plus courses, and after a round, sampling craft beers from the Palmetto State’s breweries.