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Hilton Head Island Has Plenty to Do on Vacation in Addition to Golf

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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For those attending the annual springtime classic RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, golf's the thing at South Carolina's only annual PGA Tour event.

But for those looking for a change of pace during the tournament or during other times of the year, there's always plenty of fun things to do at Hilton Head Island. Here are some suggestions for taking advantage of all Hilton Head - inside Sea Pines Resort and outside - has to offer.


There are plenty of locations for renting bicycles to enjoy the miles and miles of bike paths on Hilton Head. South Beach Bike Rentals (843.671.2453) has bikes, carts, tag-a-longs and adult tricycles, as well as beach chairs and umbrellas. And they've been in business a quarter-century.

Low Sea Beach & Baby Rental (843.384.9322), as its name implies, has bikes and associated items for rent - and they deliver, anywhere on the island, for free. Sea Pines Resort Bicycle Shop (843.842.1890) has bikes for adults and kids plus kiddie karts, trail-a-bikes, child seats, helmets and baskets.


The Sea Pines Racquet Club (843.363.4495) offers a wide selection of teaching clinics and instructional packages under the direction of former US Open and Wimbledon champion Stan Smith. For juniors, the Smith Stearns Tennis Academy (843.363.4789) has private lessons and programs for ages 6-college, and daily/weekly sessions year-round. Van Der Meer Tennis (800.845.6138), operated by Dennis Van Der Meer, also offers lessons for adults and juniors.


Outside Hilton Head has a Stand Up Paddleboard program specially for families, in addition to its wide array of other offerings, including SUP yoga. Island Water Sports (843.671.7007) rents paddleboards and kayaks for exploring Calibogue Sound and surrounding marshes. And H2O Sports (843.671.4386) offers paddleboards, too - not to mention alligator boat tours.


If your thirst starts kicking in, quench it with locally brewed beers. Choices include River Dog Brewing (843.645.2302), Southern Barrel (843.837.2337) and Hilton Head Brewing (843.715.3251). Each has its own sit-down taproom - Southern Barrel also has a full kitchen and outdoor seating - and all three distribute their beers at bars and restaurants on and off the island.


A fun outing for the entire family, the museum (843.689.6767) is open Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Explore natural history and cultural heritage on the 68-acre Honey Horn property, with such exhibits as the Salt Marsh Discovery and Lowcountry Critters. The museum is located off US 278 Business East. Cost is $10 adults, $5 children ages 4-12.


What better way to see all of Hilton Head Island than by taking a boat tour on Calibogue Sound and in the various waterways surrounding - or, better yet, take a boat ride to nearby Daufuskie Island, site of Pat Conroy's book "The Water Is Wide" and accessible only by water. Boat tours include Echo, a 32-foot boat offering 4-, 6- and 8-hour tours (call 843.298.3246); Vagabond Cruise (843.363.9026), offering sunset dinner cruises and day trips to nearby Savannah, Ga., dolphin cruises and even a sailing yacht that competed in the America's Cup; and the Salty Dog Cruise (843.683.6462) on a 63-foot double-deck catamaran with food, beverages and live music on some cruises.


The Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge is a 4,053-acre National Wildlife Refuge established in 1975 between Hilton Head and the mainland, attracting some 400,000 visitors each year. The island is open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily and offers various tours including shuttle tours for visitors with limited mobility. The Sea Pines Forest Preserve (843.842.1979) has 605 acres of forest, marshes, lakes and meadows and includes walking trails, bridle paths, wetland boardwalks, observation decks, brides and fishing docks.


The venerable "city center of Hilton Head" (843.842.6050) has a vast array of shops for all tastes, including Billy's Beach Club/Bikes & Things, Camp Hilton Head, Chico's, Del Sol, Francesca's Collection, Island Girl and many more. There also are plenty of places to eat including the Big Bamboo, Coligny Deli & Grill, The Earle of Sandwich, Frosty Frog Cafe, Gringo's Diner, House of Jerky and more.

For a low-key shopping alternative, visit Village at Wexford, which features local, boutique shops.


This site of the first self-governed Freedman's Town in America offers insights into the post-Civil War South and how former slaves created their own community. For background on this historic site, visit "The Mitchelville Story" website and the Mitchelville Preservation Project's website.


If you're at Hilton Head to see the world's-best PGA Tour players play at the RBC Heritage presented by Boeing, sooner or later you're likely to get the bug to play yourself. Hilton Head has more than 25 courses on-island or in nearby Bluffton. Inside Sea Pines Resort are Harbour Town's sister courses: Atlantic Dunes, a redesign by five-time Heritage winner Davis Love III, and Heron Point by Pete Dye, the architect who built Harbour Town in 1969. Outside Sea Pines, Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort has three courses by architects Robert Trent Jones, George Fazio and Arthur Hills. For a full list of area courses, visit their website.

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.