People enjoy comparing notes about the best things to do on Hilton Head Island with kids because there are so many different answers. Each family has good reasons to see it their way, and every visit seems to re-set the stage for what might be the most fun this time. Finding out what went over well with another family is often the start of a memorable day for one’s own. And sometimes the best things to do on Hilton Head Island with kids become family traditions, going on for generations, and being talked about with eager anticipation all year long.
Something Everyone Will Enjoy
The fun lasts a lot longer when you’re not just “doing it for the kids.” So, let’s start with a few ideas that can make everybody happy, and keep everyone interested while the kids are having fun. Some of the best things to do on Hilton Head Island with kids are just as much fun for adults.
Right in the shadow of the Harbour Town Lighthouse, the island’s only custom-built pirate ship, the Black Dagger, is standing by to spirit you and the kids away on a pirate adventure you’ll always remember. Pirates of Hilton Head offers an hour-and-a-half of pure fun and fantasy, preparing the kids to play the crew in pursuit of a stolen key to pirate treasure – and then whisking you all away into Calibogue Sound to rescue the key from the villain pirate, Stinky Pete. Children squirt Pete with the ship’s water “cannon” until he gives back the key. If you asked them at that moment, just about every child on the boat would say this is surely one of the best things to do on Hilton Head Island with kids. Recommended especially for kids ages two to 10, The Pirates of Hilton Head cruise is part adventure, part photo-op, and all memorable, for the children and grownups alike.
Equally near the Harbour Town Lighthouse, our long-time friends at Vagabond Cruise offer a variety of on-the-water excursions that please grownups and kids at the same time, and they’ve been perfecting the experience since 1968. Those thousands of cruises gave Vagabond Cruise a real feel for the experiences people are looking for on the water, and their variety ranges from social, such as the dinner cruise, to environmental, such as the Dolphin cruises to culinary, such as the “shrimp trawlin’ cruise,” and even historical, such as the cruise to neighboring Savannah. Time and again, Vagabond Cruise proves that the best things to do on Hilton Head Island with kids don’t have to be kids-only kinds of fun.
The Pied Piper of Hilton Head Island
It would be difficult to omit an evening beneath the Liberty Oak from any list of the best things to do on Hilton Head Island with kids. It is there, on the Harbour Town Yacht Basin, where children and adults alike can enjoy the songs of Hilton Head Island’s own “Pied Piper,” Gregg Russell. The evening of guitar and songs that Gregg performs there has always been a family favorite because of the rare connection Gregg makes with kids, or as Gregg might say, “kids of all ages.”
Gregg has been performing there for so long that the children of the children of the children who joined Gregg during those early years are now coming to see him. Perhaps our favorite story, among the tens of thousands of stories of how generations of families have enjoyed Gregg’s music and good vibes for more than 40 years, is this one. Some proud parents sent Gregg a photo of their grade school son sitting in Gregg Russell’s chair and holding Gregg’s guitar. The grade school son was now Nashville music legend Brad Paisley.
Something They Can Handle on Their Own
Another long-term success among the best things to do on Hilton Head Island with kids is how generations of older kids and pre-teens have entertained themselves. Here, a time comes when things such as biking along the 100+ miles of paved, shared-use recreation trails on the Island – including 60 miles of bike paths – are well within the abilities of many kids. This opens a new world of possibilities that don’t require quite such constant attention from the adults who brought them here. Sometimes, the bike trails provide the activity itself. Other times, they are the yellow brick road leading kids to forms of fun they enjoy so much they turn them into family traditions.
Near the lighthouse’s front door, how many of our friends remember hour after hour of crabbing from the sea wall that separates the beach from Harbour Town? Still today, it’s possible to get a crab trap from Grayco Hardware on Bow Circle and a few chicken necks to use for bait from the Harris Teeter nearby, and with a minimum of instruction from the grownups, voila! A whole day of fun and learning are in the kids’ own hands.
Now that they are grown up, some of these veteran kid-crabbers tell us that the key is to resist the temptation to check the trap too often. For the fun diversions that this requires, the options nearby are just about unlimited. Some kids frolic the playground nearby in Harbour Town, where a tree house, swings, and playground equipment await. Some kids take off on their beach bikes for practically a whole tide change before coming back to find their crab trap well attended by fresh Blue Crabs.
A Climb Through the Story
Nearly saving the best for last, the landmark Harbour Town Lighthouse is, beyond a doubt, at or near the very top of the best things to do on Hilton Head Island with kids. The 114-step climb to the top – a feat kids are eager to claim – is punctuated on every landing by an immersive story or exhibit that brings a first-hand dimension to Hilton Head Island, showing up-close how it went from prehistoric to America’s favorite vacation island.
At the top of the lighthouse are the caps and t-shirts the kids will want to show their friends at home that they went all the way when they went to Hilton Head. Yes, getting hold of bragging rights is very much a part of the best things to do on Hilton Head Island with kids. And in the Shoppe at the Top, grownups, too, find charms, bracelets, crystal collectables, and souvenirs they can’t find anywhere else.
A Magnet for Together Time
The visit itself to Hilton Head Island puts the kids in a different frame of mind and our relationships with them in a different light. The warmth that grows from this forms a big reason why vacationing here is one of the most popular things to do in America. A sometimes-overlooked focus for that warmth is to find something to read together when the activities are done and the spectacular sunset has made its bow to the Harbour Town Lighthouse.
Yes, reading – unplugged and together – is one of the best things to do on Hilton Head Island with kids. How in the world to find something you would all enjoy together? Answers are right here in the first-floor Gift Galley of the Lighthouse itself. Many more answers are in a little book store tucked in the corner of our neighbor, The Shops at Sea Pines Center, with the playful name, By Hand, Ink.
There are so very many wonderful things to do, memories to be made, when you come with kids to Hilton Head Island, that the list of the best is never finished for long. Indeed, the answer to what are the best things to do on Hilton Head Island with kids depends on who, and when, and what mood you’re in.
Here at the Harbour Town Lighthouse, we are always happy to talk it over with you. We hope to see you soon.