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5 Favorite Day Trips near Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island is an ideal location due to its proximity to Savannah, Beaufort and Charleston. But did you know Jacksonville, FL is only 30 minutes farther than Charleston is to the island? Yes! All of these places make for great day trip jaunts.

All of these places make for great day trip jaunts. If you’re visiting Hilton Head and looking to have some new adventures, here are some suggestions. As a native local, I’ve visited all of these locations and I hope to explore each more in depth in future blogs.

1. Daufuskie Island, SC (approx. 30-60 minutes from Hilton Head) Daufuskie is visible from several spots on Hilton Head Island. It’s a 25-60 minute “water taxi” ride across depending on which ferry service and pick-up/drop-off location you choose. The island is a vastly different experience from the hustle and bustle of Hilton Head Island and so well worth the visit. There are no bridges connecting the island to the mainland. Pat Conroy’s book The Water is Wide was based on his experiences in the ’60s as a schoolteacher on Daufuskie. The island has the lure of Lowcountry grand oaks, salty marsh, quiet beaches, historical buildings and yes, golf courses with arresting views for the golfing enthusiast. There are two historic lighthouses that date back to the 1800s. Segments of the island are private communites while others still are accessible by all. There are less than 500 full-time residents on Daufuskie, only two paved roads and zero stoplights. Go visit and step back in time!

2. Savannah, GA (approx. 45 minutes from Hilton Head) Savannah is a popular tourist stop. There are so many sites to visit in Savannah! If you cross the Talmadge Bridge into the city, you’ll note the massive cargo ships docked at the Savannah Port. The city dates back to 1733 and the Savannah Historic District has breathtaking city squares – 22 in all – that turn the streets winding towards the riverfront. The Savannah Riverfront (known as River Street) is full of little shops, cafes and pubs that overlook the Savannah River. Just along the river there’s a plethora of reasons to stop. Savannah architecture is worth the visit alone. The City Market, Forsyth Park, Bonaventure Cemetery, Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Mickve Israel Temple, Lady & Sons along with ghost tours, horse-drawn carriage tours, trolley and river boat rides all are popular.

3. Charleston, SC (approx. 2 hours from Hilton Head) Charleston is a romantic, picturesque destination. Just the name alone promulgates the Old South as it dates back to King Charles II of England, known originally in 1670 as Charles Town. Charleston’s historic district has street after street of beautifully preserved historic architecture with manicured lawns, brick and iron fences covered in ivy, and grand archways and columned wraparound porches. The Battery is a defensive seawall named for a civil-war coastal defense artillery battery bordering the Ashley and Cooper Rivers. The promenade around the Battery presents rows of magnificent antebellum homes. Replicas of various types of cannons, mortars and statues erected in remembrance of battles and war heroes border large oaks stretching their long limbs throughout an inner square along the Battery. The most visited attraction in Charleston is the City Market. Established in 1790s and four city blocks of covered stalls serving 300 + vendors, there is something for everyone. Authentic local ware, craft goods and traditional souvenirs. The South Carolina Aquarium, Fort Sumter, Fort Moultrie, Rainbow Row, Patriot Point, Charleston Museum (which is America’s first museum that was founded in 1773), various cathedrals as well as one of the remaining two Hugenot Churches in the United States, Port of Charleston, and so much more await! Horse-drawn carriage rides are also offered in Charleston.

4. Jacksonville, FL (approx. 2 ½ hours. from Hilton Head) Jacksonville is a city that makes my heart leap with joy crossing over the bridges after dark. Normally I prefer to arrive by day to take in all of the initial sites upon arrival. The Acosta Bridge, Main St. Bridge, Fuller-Warren Bridge and the Hart Bridge all lit in blue at night accentuate the St. John’s River. The Jacksonville Landing and Riverwalks (on the riverfront) provide dining and shopping. At one end of this strip is the Friendship Park, home of the Friendship Fountain, one of the largest fountains in the country. It’s considered one of the most recognized landmarks in Jacksonville. The Friendship Fountain features a light show and music each evening. Jacksonville beaches, public gardens, art museums and music festivals make this a very popular city to visit. If you’re sports minded, don’t forget the NFL Jacksonville Jaguar games as well as the PGA Tour stop in Ponte Vedra Beach for the Players Championship.

5. Beaufort, SC (approx. 45 minutes from Hilton Head) Beaufort is a slower-paced city with rich history. It’s located within the same county as Hilton Head Island. It has won accolades as a top small southern town. It’s saturated in military branches which gives it a strong sense of American pride. Parris Island, a U.S. Naval Hospital and the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort all call this town home. If you are a cinema buff, many movies were made here including The Big Chill, The Prince of Tides, Forrest Gump, The Great Santini, Something To Talk About and G.I. Jane. The historic waterfront has a large waterfront park with staging for music events and several restaurants and watering holes have outdoor patios that sit out facing the water. Gullah tours and horse-drawn carriage rides provide a memorable look at Beaufort. History buffs are surrounded by Gullah, Revolutionary and Civil War history as well as Parris Island military history. Others can enjoy the boutiques, art galleries, local seafood restaurants and do not forget the Hunting Island State Park!

I’ve covered these five day trips in brevity and I’d like to share more detail at another time. If there are any other nearby destinations you’d be curious to hear more about, don’t hesitate to email me! Remember that your Activities staff has great knowledge as well as helpful tips and guides that can help make your vacation a true adventure! There may even be a day trip planned by Activities to one of these locations that has peaked your interest. There’s always something new to discover on vacation whether it’s your first visit or your 20th visit!

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