Beyond the Island Paradise
Hilton Head Island is a paradise in itself. Yet beyond its borders are new areas you may not have explored on a Hilton Head vacation! I have some “outside-the-box” ideas for those of you who have the urge to see what else is out there. Recently I blogged about 5 Favorite Day Trips Near Hilton Head Island (such as Charleston and Savannah). Let’s peer out beyond the popular favorites and explore what else is out there!
Parris island, s.c.
Parris Island is an 8,095 acres military installation 5 miles distance from Beaufort, SC. It’s the marine training locale for all females and for males living east of the Mississippi River. Over a million men and women have trained at the Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot since 1915 and the Marines train approximately 17,000 recruits there annually. The Parris Island Museum is open to the public. Its main purpose is to honor the history and traditions of the Marine Corps. On display are artifacts from the American Revolution, the Civil War and they pay homage to the long history of Parris Island as a military installation. The island is also home to the Charlesfort-Santa Elena National Historic Landmark. Displays devoted to the Charlesfort-Santa Elena share space in the museum with the military history of the island. It’s the site of two settlements dating back to the time of European colonization – one by the French (Charlesfort 1562) and one by the French (Santa Elena 1566). War memorials and monuments open to the public are easy to find. You can even see captured Japanese artillery at the island’s welcome center! Ask for a map of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot to help you navigate all of the sights when stop at the welcome center.
The Old Sheldon Church Ruins by far is the most frequented location for visitors in Yemassee. A small Southern town, Yemassee is embedded in history and is named after the Native American Yamasee tribe and is divided by two counties. The Yamassee were powerful allies for South Carolina until the Yamasee War of 1715. Multiple Civil War and Revolutionary historical landmarks are scattered throughout the town. The Old Sheldon Church Ruins have been in ruin for over 120 years. The pre-existing building was known as Prince William’s Parish Church. It was one of the first Greek-Revival structures built in the Unites States, constructed between 1745-1755 and was a highly impressive church. During the Revolution, the Patriots are believed to have used the church to store gunpowder inside. The church was burned in 1779 during the Revolutionary War, rebuilt in 1865 and again burned in 1865 by Sherman’s men during the Civil War. Massive columns and outer walls still stand while the inside and roof are missing. Lush green grass and oak trees draped in Spanish moss add a picturesque backdrop. Check out the Carolina Cider Company while in town for country knick-knacks, homemade pies, canned jams and jellies, and flavors of cider that have been made for 4 generations!
Here lies the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge which covers a half million acres. There are three entrances – Folkson, Waycross and Fargo, G.A. The Okefenokee has over 120 miles of paddle and motorboat water trails. Boat tours follow original Indian waterways weaving through lush green lily-lined paths and cypress forests. The Refuge has been deemed one of the 16 water trails in the United States’ National Water Trails System. Trails awarded this status provide education, recreation, conservation and have great community support. Okefenokee has all of these! The natural habitat is beautifully preserved. You can spot tortoises, barred owls, alligators and various fowl and fish in the water. The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia was named one of the top 10 canoe trips in the world by Green Global Travel in 2015! And #49 of National Geographic’s “World’s Most Beautiful Places-100 Unforgettable Destinations” in 2013!
oatland island, g.a.
Savannah brings visions of grandiose architecture and cobblestone strolls down River Street but did you know of this gem within its city limits? At Oatland Island, you can observe the gray wolf, red wolf, flying squirrel, cougar, bobcat, bison, red-tailed hawk, cooper’s hawk, great horned owl, barred owl, alligators, armadillos, deer and barnyard animals at Oatland Island Wildlife Center. My best advice is to lace up some walking shoes and pack your bug spray so you can truly enjoy the nature and observe wildlife up close. Oh, and don’t forget your camera!
Right over the bridge on the mainland sits the bustling Lowcountry town with the motto “Bluffton is a State of Mind”. Tucked away on the May River, Bluffton has become one of the fastest growing towns in South Carolina. Whether you’re in the mood for outlet shopping, bowling, brewery tours or walking the Historic District’s quaint cafes, historic buildings, or chatting with artists in one of the many art galleries along Calhoun Street – Bluffton has it all. The town is rich in history also. Did you know Bluffton is home to the Secession Oak? Or that Union forces set fire to the town on June 4, 1863 demolishing over two thirds of the town? Both the history and the artistic, Southern vibe of Bluffton make it a great stop while in the Hilton Head Island area.
I hope I’ve convinced you to get out and start exploring during your next vacation visit to Hilton Head! There is so much all around us here on Hilton Head. If you discover a neat spot off the beaten path while vacationing with us, I’d love to hear about it!