School’s out, vacation time! I cannot think of a better way to kick off summer than a week at the beach! After much research (seriously for me to commit to a place is a LONG process) we decided on Hilton Head Island, SC. I know most GA people swear by the Gulf Coast beaches. Maybe the Atlantic isn’t as pretty as the Gulf, but let me tell you, I am sold on Hilton Head and plan on returning next year! Thanks to Sarah (over at Small Town Love) and her hubby Ike – our fur babies were taken care of too – which is always a big plus knowing they are in good hands!
Once the location was picked, accommodations was the next challenge. After even more research, we decided on a 2-bedroom villa in Harbour Town in the Sea Pines Plantation. Due to a little bit of last-minute booking, this may not have been my first choice as it was a bottom floor unit with no view. But the location was great and other than some loud upstairs neighbors and an uncooperative A/C unit, it suited our family well. I seriously am thinking about looking for next year’s digs very soon! Amenities of the area included a playground (which the kids loved), pool, fitness center, tennis courts, and a trolley to the beach.
When I made our reservations, the booking agent asked if we wanted to reserve bikes. Apparently that is the preferred method of transportation on the island. I went ahead, still a bit skeptical, but after our first day there, that was a suggestion I am glad we took. We rented 2 bikes, and Steven’s pulled a kiddie cart, which the kids loved! The bike paths were very easily accessible and we took them every chance we had to meals, activities, and even just for fun/exercise. And how did I almost forget the best part – the island is so FLAT – that even someone out-of-shape can manage a few mile bike ride without too much struggle! It doesn’t hurt that the paths, like the streets, are all lined with big trees and Spanish moss (shaded and beautiful).
The island seems to boast a bunch of little “towns” or harbors, each with their own set of shops, restaurants, and activities. As mentioned, we stayed in Harbour Town, home to the famous Harbour Town Lighthouse (which we all, even LL, walked 114 steps to the top). While there we ate at The Crazy Crab, Harbour Town Grill, Lowcountry Produce, Guiseppi’s Pizza, and Harbour Town Bakery & Deli. We also took an afternoon Dolphin Cruise on the Vagabond. (Which I was SO excited there was a Living Social Deal for at the time we were there – saved us 50%!) I also spent a nap-time or two wandering the many shops of Harbour Town and admiring the boats and view!
South Beach Marina Village is another little town. It was a 3.7 mile bike ride down. Home of The Salty Dog Cafe. We went down there twice. The first night we were there, they had a Low Country Boil, live music, face painting, and a special appearance by Jake the Salty Dog, all to celebrate his 25th birthday! Then we went back later in the week to buy our shirts (I think I saw somewhere this was required – haha!), presents for our pups, and to eat in the actual restaurant.
The next little “town” we visited was Shelter Cove Harbor, home to Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort. I had looked into this for lodging for a few minutes before moving along due to price (seriously like $500/night), I know LL would have loved it, as even seeing the Mickey logo brought a huge smile to her face. Maybe someday…but this had another group of restaurants and shops and was home to the big Neptune statue. We ate at Scott’s Fish Market, which was probably my favorite meal of the week. It had an open-air patio on the harbor and had a guy with a guitar playing many enjoyable classics that had us all dancing and singing along! As Steven pointed out – it was very fitting that the name was Scott’s (like my father) as the music came straight from his record collection, a nice little reminder/message to discover.
I cannot forget to mention the beach! We spent 4 mornings playing on the beach. It was nice and flat and hard (perfect for riding bikes – which we’ll do next time), and had little shallow wading areas that were perfect for the kids to play in without waves. Steven got the kite out and the kids really just had a blast digging, building, catching hermit crabs and various sea creatures (ok – maybe that one was me!), and watching for birds and dolphins.
A few more activities to note were mini-golf. Maybe not the best idea with a 1 & 3-year-old, as we had to throw our competitiveness out the window, but at least we tried! The Sandbox: An Interactive Kid’s Museum, cute for the little ones with various sensory activities. And Lawton Stables, where they had many animals to pet (goats, sheep, pigs, deer, llamas) and LL got to take a pony ride on Romeo the blue-eyed pony!
We even made it to church on Sunday. And I have to point out that they have a Publix there, which really makes shopping a pleasure in an unknown place as it feels like home to me! Sounds silly, but with trying to eat breakfast and lunches in, I like to know and be comfortable with what I am buying and eating! Speaking of eating, this week was a bit of a break from clean eating, but I am looking forward to jumping back in as I really have felt much better!
So overall – a wonderful week, now back to reality (not without posting a recap and some pictures first though!) Next year, the dogs are coming along (or at least a few of them). My research neglected to uncover just how dog-friendly the island is. But we’ll check this off as a scouting trip and make next year’s even better!
Happy Memorial Day weekend and may you have a GREAT summer filled with special memories like ours!