Shopping on Hilton Head Island offers more than just the thrill of finding the perfect strappy sandals, a great deal on a graphite driver or a unique gift for your mom. It's another opportunity to enjoy the Lowcountry's lush natural setting.
As beautiful as their surroundings, the island's outdoor shopping areas are designed to feel like urban parks with shaded benches and courtyards, where you can take a break from browsing the chic boutiques to sit and sip on a caffé macchiato or have an ice cream cone with your kids.
Shelter Cove Towne Centre has taken the concept a step further, creating a waterfront walking village overlooking Broad Creek. Visitors can stroll along palmetto-lined sidewalks from the Belk department store to specialty shops filled with classic fashions, casual couture, art, jewelry, sportswear and the latest electronics. They also can dine at one of the waterside restaurants, indulge in a French pastry or handmade fudge, and have cocktails at a rooftop bar.
The shopping/entertainment complex is also home to Hilton Head's newest community park, featuring a marshfront promenade, performance pavilion and playground. Concerts, food festivals and kids' events are planned throughout the year, making it a popular destination for visitors and residents.
Coligny at the Beach offers another distinctive shopping experience. The North Forest Beach marketplace is a tropical paradise with a winding picturesque lagoon as its centerpiece. Hilton Head's original shopping center, it features more than 60 shops, restaurants, bars and even a small art theater. It also presents special holiday events and concerts in season.
No matter where you stay on the island, you'll find charming little plazas with a variety of locally owned shops. Make a day of exploring The Village at Wexford, The Shops at Sea Pines Center, Main Street Village and Sea Turtle Marketplace. You'll also have fun ambling about the island's marina villages - Harbour Town, Palmetto Bay, Shelter Cove and South Beach - featuring their own eclectic mix of stores and restaurants.
For some serious shopping, make the short drive over the Hilton Head bridge to Tanger Outlet Center, boasting a collection of more than 90 stores in two locations. The designer brand lineup includes: Michael Kors, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH, Under Armour, Banana Republic Factory Store, Build-A-Bear Workshop Outlet, Columbia Sportswear Company, Gap Outlet, Harry & David, Pandora and Pro Golf.
If you're looking for out-of-the-ordinary treasures, try Old Town Bluffton with its eccentric art studios and antique stores. Among visitors' favorites is The Store, a collectibles shop housed in a vintage building, and Eggs ‘n' Tricities, full of whimsical fashion jewelry, handbags and home accents.
While visiting the tidewater town, be sure to stop by Jacob Preston Pottery on Church Street. It's not unusual to find the affable artist happily spinning his potter's wheel to create beautiful glazed bowls and dishes.
Like Bluffton, Hilton Head Island also has an ample helping of art galleries and studios specializing in golf landscapes, marine sculptures, contemporary Lowcountry paintings and works by some of the South's best-known folk artists.
On the practical side, there are plenty of the usual retail offerings-pharmacies, grocery stores, supermarkets and premium wine and food markets-conveniently located near resorts and along Hwy 278, making it easy to grab any necessities you forgot at home.