Spring Break On Hilton Head Beach, SCApril 10, 2011 No Comments
Planning a family friendly beach vacation with young kids during Spring Break can be tricky. How do you find a spot that offers a wide range of attractions and activities to keep your family happy, yet is as far away as possible from loud, teenage Spring Breakers with a slightly different idea of a happy vacation? This was the puzzle we had to solve earlier this month as we planned the Spring Beach Vacation we had promised our young daughter
After some initial scratching of heads, we set out to select by elimination. And so – what may have been great choices if we didn’t have a 4.5 year-old to please – Panama City, Miami, Myrtle Beach & Daytona – were quickly crossed off from our list of potentials and we zeroed in on Hilton Head Island, in South Carolina. It seemed like just the right mix of sun, sand and family fun we wanted minus the raucous spring breakers that we were eager to avoid. And within driving distance from home.
Hilton Head Highlights
Beaches worth biking on
One of the most enjoyable aspects of a Hilton Head vacation is the biking experience. Miles and miles of bike trails around the town plus endless stretches of sandy beaches invite you to cruise along all day. Biking on the beaches of Hilton Head is a truly relaxing and rejuvenating experience – pack a picnic basket and beach towels and you’re all set for a day of biking, sun bathing, sand castle-building and chilling on the beach. Biking on the beach means that you can cover longer distances than you ordinarily would on foot. It also gives you the freedom to stop wherever and whenever you feel like and take a dip, build a castle or just relax for a while before you head out again to explore some more. If you have young kids, there’s no better way to enjoy long stretches of the beach, than by strapping them to the child carrier seat and riding along, stopping for snack breaks and for water play as and when you want to.
Do be prepared for the changes in beach trails brought about by the change in tides! We were met with a wide stream of ocean water when we were trying to get back to our hotel at the end of our long biking trip. What was once all sand just a little while ago was now uncrossable by bike due to the high tide, especially with a child. We ended up retracing our steps and traversing around the impase through a different route to return to our hotel.
With sand so soft, can you help but build a castle?
We had to remind ourselves that we were only helping our daughter build the castle, but even we weren’t convinced. The sand on Hilton Head beach is so soft and inviting that even adults can’t resist building sand castles and playing!
Beauty doesn’t stop at the beach
As I mentioned earlier, it wasn’t just the beach that offered plenty of biking opportunities. The whole town is very bike friendly with wide trails running parallel to almost all major streets. People living here probably don’t even need to use their cars to get to work or the grocery store as most everything is accessible by bike. Lush greenery in the form of palm and pine trees, and breathtakingly beautiful golf courses are some of the vistas you will be treated to as you bike along the streets of Hilton Head. With not too many gradations to conquer, biking here is an enjoyable, stress-free experience.
You can’t help but lead a healthy lifestyle
We noticed that many of the locals used bikes to get to stores, restaurants and even to work. So while the rest of us are stuck struggling with rising gas prices, high cholesterol and weight issues, Hilton Headers are happily biking their way to a healthier lifestyle while saving on fuel and having the last laugh as they head to the beach.
Bonus trip to Upscale Sea Pines
It’s unlikely you will ever get enough of the beach and the bike rides, but at some point in your vacation, do peel yourself away and head to the scenic Sea Pines area. You do have to pay a toll of $5.00 to get there, but you would have recovered the toll amount’s worth of sights and fresh air within a few minutes of entering inside this community. The calming combination of serene tree tunnels, more golf courses, bike lanes and fresh air is invigorating to say the least. The Sea Pines area is popular for its dining and shopping, but as we were soon to discover it had another little surprise in store for our little girl.
A trip to Lawton Stables and a surprise pony ride
Our car literally screeched to a halt by this beautiful place as we were passing it. Not originally on our list of spots to visit, something about the horses and ponies that were at an arm’s length away from the road beckoned us to stop and say Hello. Our daughter snagged a surprise pony ride on Romeo, a gorgeous white Pony who happily strutted around the track pleasing his tiny rider to no end. We also met Callie the llama and got to pet a few of the other animals on the farm. The place does offer guided trail rides on horseback through across the 603 acre Sea Pine Forest Preserve for those 8 and older if you’re interested.
Harbor Town Light House – Historic and refreshing
The final stop on our trip was the Harbor Town Lighthouse and marina. The 90 foot red and white striped lighthouse is fairly easy to climb with just a little over a hundred steps, and offers a spectacular view of the area around. The gift shop, aptly named The Shop at the Top and the pier below surely warrant a visit. Do ask about the guided kayak tours if you’re interested.
Hotel & Dining
As you may expect, there are several options when it comes to accommodations in this tourist friendly, family beach town. We stayed at The Marriot Resort and Spa by the beach and were mostly pleased with our choice. We were disappointed that we didn’t snag an ocean front room and even the ‘Ocean view’ that our room had was an obscure one since our room was located at the far end of the building, away from the ocean. So, do plan your trip ahead of time so you don’t miss out on an oceanfront room. The amenities, location and facilities on the premises turned out to be rather impressive. The hotel offers hourly and daily bike rentals which was one of the reasons we chose this place. The hotel also boasts four restaurants/cafes on site – we loved The Cafe for breakfast. They have a hearty breakfast buffet and some great options on the menu.
We didn’t check out Conroy’s as they didn’t have too many vegetarian options, but for seafood lovers, you probably will find that the in-house restaurants have a great variety to offer between the four of them. They also have a grocery store where you can grab your daily dose of caffeine and a quick donut or muffin if you’re not interested in a full sit-down breakfast. An easily accessible complimentary beach towel booth, an indoor pool ideal for younger kids and a larger outdoor pool area facing the beach, in-house massage and spa facilities, a well-equipped fitness room and 3 golf courses on the premises are some of the other reasons to love this place. The fact that our room didn’t have a microwave or a great ocean view and that parking cost us an additional $10 a day were some of the black spots in an otherwise perfect vacation.
At the end of the day – we had managed to accomplish it – a spring break beach vacation without having to endure brash spring breakers. Though the water itself was cold and not all that inviting, there was plenty more Hilton Head had to offer that kept our family happy for 3 days and left us with memories to last a lifetime.