So much is available to see and do in addition to the traditional vacation activities of
Recommendations include tours by land or water especially for the history buff or nature lover. Many of the individual sites suggested here can be enjoyed without a guide, although the full story of the Beaufort County history, arts and culture is best learned with a professionally-guided tour.
plus kids' activities, nightlife and entertainment vary with the seasons and usually can be found at the individual resorts.Tagged for See & Do...
It’s a quaint town on the Intracoastal Waterway sharing Port Royal Island with the smaller town of Port Royal. Boutique shopping, more than a dozen art galleries and unparalleled lowcountry dining are worth a visit, especially during one of the frequent festivals in its Waterfront Park.
Bluffton is much older than Hilton Head. American Yemassee Indians first settled here. It’s on the mainland in the southern portion of Beaufort County, perched on the high bluff overlooking the May River. It was incorporated as a town in 1852. Then during the Civil War it was shelled and burned. The remaining structures which are preserved today include seven private homes in the town’s historic district. Also, the Church of the Cross was left standing, albeit with the image of burned wood still marring the structure. The Heyward House which survived the war is preserved as an example of an 1840s farmhouse.
unique estuarine system
The ACE Basin is created by the confluence of the Ashepoo, the Combahee and the Edisto Rivers. It encompasses some 350,000 acres of diverse habitats and is one of the largest undeveloped estuaries on the east coast of the United States with fin fish and shell fish found in fresh, brackish and salt water marshes.
of Coastal Carolina
Visiting musical and dramatic shows are hosted here as well as special community events and art exhibits in the gallery. Something is always going on, with varying themes and ticket prices. It’s professional and popular, with tickets which should be reserved early for the big shows.
A 50-acre sanctuary for preserving the natural environment and protecting the habitat of indigenous plants and animals. Trail guides with plant and tree labels help the visitor navigate. Guided walks can be arranged for groups.
The town maintains some 50 miles of public bike trails, and another 50 miles of bike paths are within the private developments for their residents and guests. It's the most popular exercise of many who live or visit the island, whether biking on the hard-packed beach sand or along the pathways. It delivers the most scenic view of the natural beauty, especially away from traffic which is sometimes congested.
eclectic historic downtown
A dozen or so galleries showcase the work of several dozen artists including the noted Jacob Preston's working pottery studio and the Pluff Mudd Art Studio
which features painting, photography, pottery, glass, jewelry, wood carving and turning, fiber and metal art by a growing group of talented artists.
Bluffton Farmers' Market
entertainment and local products
Bluffton Oyster Company
last remaining oyster factory in SC
One of the few places it’s possible for a visitor to see where the world-famous oysters actually arrive and the best place to purchase the Bluffton oysters. It’s a seafood market with no actual viewing of the work underway unless a boat happens to be coming in to unload. Also, it is situated on the May River with a view on a sunny day being incomparable.
Campbell Chapel AME
built in 1853
Purchased in 1874 from Bluffton Methodist Church by nine slaves who wanted to establish the black denomination African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Church of the Cross
National Register of Historic Places
The Gothic design by architect E. B. White was built in 1857. The town of Bluffton was heavily burned when federal troops arrived in 1863, but this church was spared. The Episcopals fled, along with most of the county’s wealthy planters. The church was severely damaged in a hurricane of 1898, but was repaired and has continued to expand with additions and modern amenities.
Coastal Discovery Museum
exhibits, tours and educational programs
Coastal Discovery Museum currently is partially located in the first building across the bridge onto the island. Additional exhibits and programs are located at historic Honey Horn where the museum plans to be headquartered.
boat tour from Hilton Head
Daufuskie Island is accessible only by boat, although actually only a few miles from Hilton Head. The name is believed to come from Indian words for pointed feather which defines the shape of the island.
The bottlenosed dolphin really does have a nose the shape of a
bottle and a wide mouth which appears to be smiling. Hundreds of them
live in our sub-tropical waters and thus a few can frequently be seen
frolicking behind a tour boat or swimming near the coastline.
Dolphin & Nature Tours
SS Pelican or Island Queen
Island Queen is a 45-foot covered boat that is used for the dolphin watch cruises and can carry up to 40 passengers as approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. These tours last about 90 minutes.
First African Baptist Church
established in 1862
This is the oldest church on Hilton Head. When slaves were freed, Blacks were allowed to build their own churches in Mitchelville
. A minister was selected from the community, and he began this church with 25 members. It is now a large active church welcoming to visitors.
Fishing & Nature Tours
by Drifter Excursions
Drifter Excursions offers deep sea fishing and nature tours.
Black Chamber of Commerce for guide info
Gullah is pronounced gull’ uh. The word is believed to be a pronunciation derived from Angola where many of the South Carolina slaves originated. It is a culture incorporating the language, customs, music, art, crafts and foodways of African Americans.
shopping, dining, entertainment
Harbour Town Lighthouse
at Sea Pines
This is the most recognized landmark of Hilton Head and worth a visit to Harbour Town with additional shopping, dining and activities within Sea Pines. It was built in 1970, the first privately financed lighthouse built since the early 1800s.
Home of a planter, this is one of eight antebellum houses in Bluffton’s National Historic District. It’s called a Carolina style farmhouse, and the original slave cabin and summer kitchen remain. It’s preserved as the headquarters of the Bluffton Historic Society and serves as a welcome center for the small town and its walking district.
African Baptist and others
The First Union African Baptist Church on Daufuskie was begun in 1879 by former slaves who bought 12 acres for $82 for the church and cemetery. In the early 1900s, the church was used for worship and as a school for the island children. Although closed for a few years in the 1950s when the island population decreased, the church is now incorporated and offers weekly worship services and special events.
best seen on guided tours
has more than 90 individual structures in its downtown, including homes, churches and a library, which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places
. Most are private residences and not typically open to the public except
for annual tours which showcase a few of the spectacular ones. A guided tour by horsedrawn carriage, walking or bus offers the best information about these homes, many being architecture from the 1800s.
few ruins remain
From 8000 B.C. Native American visits are documented, most notably with a shell ring on the banks of Skull Creek from 1335 A.D.
historic plantation site
Honey Horn is the site of impressive live oaks draped with Spanish moss and historic buildings and farmland dating from the 1850s.Talks and walks through the woods are opportunities to see and learn about nature such as the Native American’s use of the Yaupon holly and other important plants and trees.
Three miles of beautiful public beach in a 5000-acre state park. The forested beach is quite different from most typical Atlantic coast public beach attractions. The wide sandy beach is bordered by towering pines and palms plus palmetto trees and dense sub-tropical plants.
Hunting Island Nature Center
pier and exhibits
Fishing at the pier and visits to the adjacent nature center are educational and entertaining. Dolphin and bird watching from the pier are also popular. Egrets, heron, brown pelicans, bald eagles and osprey are a few of the interesting birds which may be seen here.
music after dinner
It’s well known for the jazz performances and the concept of the venue itself conveniently located in the Village at Wexford.
horseback riding and petting zoo
Trail rides, pony rides, carriage rides, riding instruction and training.
in Hunting Island State Park
The adventurous visitor can climb the spiral 167 steps. The view of ocean, beach, marsh, forest and neighboring islands is well worth the effort.
Mary Fields School
The Mary Fields School was built in the 1930s for the Black children of Daufuskie Island.
Mitchelville was known as the nation’s first freedmen’s village built during the Civil War. Although only ruins, this is a significant African American site on the north end of Hilton Head Island. Only the tabby foundations of a few buildings remain, speaking to the history of the island.
Old Sheldon Church
One of the oldest churches and graveyards in the area is the Old Sheldon Church, standing in stately ruins. This church is in a beautiful setting with live oaks draped with Spanish moss. This church was built some 25 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed. It was built in the Greek revival style popular in America during the 18th and 19th centuries.
The outdoor outfitter and tour operator Outside Hilton Head
offers a wide variety of activities from the convenient Shelter Cove
location or from Palmetto Bluff. Stand Up Paddleboarding is popular including SUP Yoga classes. Fishing, kayaking, touring, skiing, kneeboarding, group programs or summer children's camp offer year-round choices of high quality outdoor experiences.
at Marine Corps Recruit Depot
Parris Island has served many purposes since French Huguenot Jean Ribault first settled the island in 1562. After both the Spanish and French had abandoned the island, an Englishman named Alexander Parris became owner and had several plantations on the 8,000-acre island.
National Historic Landmark District
Penn School, on a campus listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was established in 1862 by two missionaries from northern states who created an experimental school for freed slaves. In 1900 it became an agricultural and industrial school with the name changed to Penn Normal. The school closed in 1948 and became a community center.
Pick Pocket Plantation
and farmers' market
The historic plantation is a mid-19th century property with a restored plantation home and several additional buildings. Tours are available.
Natural Wildlife Preserve
The Pinckney Island Natural Wildlife Preserve offers amazing displays for bird watching with as many as 200
native species. Egrets, ibis and herons are the graceful long-legged shore birds which never fail to capture the photographer’s lens or the nature artist’s brush.
Rose Hill Mansion
plantation home tour
This Gothic Revival home is the only plantation home tour in the area available daily, although appointment is required due to its location within a private gated residential neighborhood. It is also available for rental for weddings and special events. A guided tour includes detailed and personalized local history with a genuine southern welcome.
environmentally-friendly way to see nature under sail
Advanced Sail offers a special experience on the water. The owners have lived here for more than 30 years and have hosted sailing charters for 23 years .
Homes, villas and the Inn at Harbour Town
offer fine accommodations for any vacation, whether a golf group or family trip. It's a gated community with everything that could be desired. The rentals range from deluxe to moderate comfortable accommodations which are in separate sections: Oceanside, South Beach, Harbour Town or plantation. The North Forest Beach is outside the gated resort.
Sea Pines Forest Preserve
free nature walks
A horseback or walking tour of the Sea Pines Forest Preserve is an opportunity for unmatched enjoyment of the surroundings.
Shelter Cove Harbour
Retail shops include gifts, art, apparel, kids’ clothing, home and garden accessories. Special events are frequently in the complex which is waterfront with scenic views of the marina on Broad Creek.
oldest authentic African craft in America
These can only be found in the Lowcountry where the palm and grasses are grown in the South Carolina and Georgia sea islands. The sweetgrass basket was a practical vessel which originated with the rice culture. Today the baskets are woven by a few African Americans, with the delicate and complicated patterns and weaving techniques being passed down through families. While also practical for any use today, the many sizes and styles of baskets are collectible art items.