TRAVEL: A Trip to Hilton Head Island

Low country, low-key fun
Excursion Sonesta Hhi
Photo courtesy of Michele Huggins
Hilton Head Island offers a relaxing pace and leisure activities for families.

Hilton Head Island in South Carolina’s low country is located about five hours from the Triangle. Resorts are plentiful on the island, as are house and condo rentals tucked under oaks dripping with Spanish moss.

The Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island — part of the Shipyard Plantation — was ideal for my family of four. This five-story resort’s oceanfront location made it easy for us to dash from our well-appointed room to the beach, and then back for a quick dip in the zero-entry pool. On cooler days, guests can relax in the hot tub located by a second, smaller pool.

The Sonesta Resort’s lush layout made it easy to take early morning walks to the beach with my 3-year-old. We could see yoga classes taking place that were hosted by the resort at no cost to guests. Bicycle rentals kept my 9-year-old son happy. Hilton Head boasts wide, flat beaches for bicycle riding and more than 60 miles of paved trails.

Children ages 3-5 can participate in half-day programs, while kids who fall into the 6-12 age group can enjoy full- or half-day activities as part of the supervised Just Us Kids club. (Be sure to book 24 hours or more in advance.)

Mom and Dad can check out the Arum Spa while the kids play. Services include signature massages, facials, body treatments and nail services. My 50-minute spa session was topped off with a foot soak and glass of champagne.

Photo courtesy of Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island

 The Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island offers an oceanfront location and family-friendly amenities.

Sweet Cane Bar and Grille’s poolside food and beverage service allows everyone in the family to stay in their swimsuits for lunch without having to dry off and get dressed, and the 5-7 p.m. happy hour is a nice way to wind down before dinner.

If, after a long day of play, your family doesn’t want to leave the hotel for dinner, the resort offers two restaurants — Heyward’s Restaurant and Seacrest Terrace and Patio. Be sure to check out the kids menu at Seacrest Terrace and Patio, which serves kid-friendly meals at a reduced price. Heyward’s Restaurant also offers an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet, including made-to-order omelets and waffles.

During summer, the resort offers a seafood buffet on Friday nights from 5:30 to 9 p.m. If you schedule early adventures, stop by Bayley’s Bar and Terrace adjacent to the lobby for a quick cup of coffee and chocolate croissant, yogurt or cereal.


Island Adventures

Explore Harbour Town in Sea Pines Plantation for an entry fee of $8 per car (cash only), which gets you access to the Harbour Town Lighthouse and Lawton Stables. Climb 100 steps to the top of the red-and-white-striped lighthouse to take in the view across the surrounding coastal plains and marshlands. Kids will enjoy the nature-inspired Gregg Russell Harbour Town Playground, which features a huge treehouse surrounding a live oak and plenty of play areas. Parasailing and banana boat rides in Calibogue Sound can be booked via H2O Sports.

Lawton Stables is a great stop for animal lovers. Spend $1 on a cup of feed and enjoy a self-guided stroll through the small animal farm that houses cows, miniature donkeys, pot-bellied pigs, alpacas, goats and chickens. Make a reservation for a hand-led pony ride (suitable for ages 7 and younger) or a guided, one-hour, Western-style horseback trail ride (suitable for ages 8 and older) at

Explore Coligny Plaza’s array of retail boutiques, beach stores and eateries. Grab a quick lunch at Stu’s Surfside Subs & Suds and be sure to check out the pirate playground. Stop by Coligny Beach Park, located at the end of Pope Avenue off Coligny Circle, to cool off in the splash pad there.

Learn more about all that Hilton Head Island has to offer your family at


Michele Huggins, editor of Charlotte Parent magazine, savors a good day at the beach with her boys.


Categories: Seasonal Fun, Travel