Lowcountry (wikipedia) definition: The Lowcountry (sometimes Low Country or just low country) is a geographic and cultural region along South Carolina’s coast, including the Sea Islands.
This is kind of Home for the Holidays Part 2 because Hilton Head Island is my second home. I lived there for the summer between graduating and moving to New York City and now for the second half of being home for the holidays we spent a few days exploring what is known as the lowcountry.
At the end of the drive from Atlanta to Hilton Head, my sister and I decided to go to Savannah for a quick adventure. I can’t even count how many times we’ve been to Savannah and it never gets old. The city is a cute historic town with beautiful architecture and a whole lot of southern charm. There are a lot of great places to eat including of course the famous Paula Dean’s restaurant, The Lady and Son’s, as well as some great pubs and seafood restaurants.
My favorite part of Savannah is River Street. River Street is a stretch of shops and restaurants on a cobblestone road along the river. It is where you’ll find the Savannah’s Candy Kitchen (best pralines ever) as well as a number of local restaurants, shops and markets. Savannah makes the perfect day trip from Hilton Head it’s only 45 minutes away (30 if you try hard enough).
After our short trip to Savannah, we spent the next couple of days relaxing in Hilton Head. Hilton Head is a great place for family vacations. It’s mainly weekly rental properties with a few hotels. It has a quiet, relaxed family atmosphere (think the opposite of Panama City). Most of the island is divided into different rental communities, the largest being Sea Pines. Though the first few times we came we stayed in hotels, after becoming familiar with the area we chose Sea Pines as our rental destination and now our second home. The gated community covers the entire southern tip of the island and includes areas such as South Beach, home of where I used to work at the famous Salty Dog Cafe, and Harbor Town.
The island is a small, quiet island that has everything families could want for a great vacation. It has great dining all over the island, movie theaters for rainy days, mini golf for after the beach and plenty of water sports for active families. The island also has miles of bike trails to explore. If you aren’t on a bike are you even in Hilton Head?
On my last day at home, I decided I couldn’t leave without a day trip to my favorite southern port city, Charleston. There is no city with more classic southern charm and beautiful historic architecture than Charleston. The city has great restaurants, great shopping and great sight seeing.
The first place we always go when we get into Charleston is the Charleston City Markets. The markets are a long stretch of covered market with local artisans selling everything from the traditional Sweetgrass Baskets to sterling silver jewelry and local art. It is a great place to start or end your day in the city because it is pretty centrally located to other tourist destinations.
Just a block from the City Markets, you’ll find multiple stables offering horse drawn carriage tours. After going around and investigating each one, I chose Charleston Carriage Works. I had been on their tours once before a couple years ago and they proved again this time to be an awesome tour. The tours are pretty well regulated by the city so each tour is at most 16 people in four row carriages. The route and time of departure is regulated by the city. However, the quality of the tour guide is not. From my experience with Charleston Carriage Works, the tour guides don’t just know the sites, but they understand the history and they know the stories behind the founding of the historic city. The best thing about the tour guides is they give suggestions for more places to explore after the tour.
The best thing about staying in Hilton Head is you can make the vacation anything you want it to be. You can spend your time relaxing by the beach, doing all kinds of water sports, explore the island on your bike, and so much more. For me, it’s seeing everything I possibly can. I can explore Hilton Head for a couple days and then spend a couple days take day trips at most an hour away to my favorite historic southern cities.
And, as always, pictures: