In Hilton Head for The Heritage? Five things to do off the golf course

By Mike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- You're in town to watch the action at The Heritage golf tournament at Harbour Town Golf Links -- one of the PGA Tour's favorite venues -- but you're looking for something else to do when you're not at the course.

Harbour Town Lighthouse
For $3 you can climb the lighthouse for panoramic views of Hilton Head Island.
Harbour Town LighthouseHudsons on the DockHilton Head Island beaches

Luckily for you, you don't have to look far. Hilton Head Island and the South Carolina Lowcountry offer plenty of activities and sights, many of them beyond playing golf.

"Golf is certainly spectacular on Hilton Head Island," said Mike Overton, owner of Outside Hilton Head, a local outdoor adventure company. "But I like to tell people that in addition to enjoying our fairways, make some time to get out and experience the water. Our island is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and acres of Lowcountry salt marsh, which are great to explore by kayak, sailboat, power boat, paddleboard, etc."

The water, of course, is the dominating feature of Hilton Head Island. You see it surrounding the last three holes of the golf course, on the beaches and around the island. To learn about it, as well as the natural habitat that makes the area special, you could head over to William Hilton Parkway and visit the Coastal Discovery Museum, established in 1895. Or if you really want to experience the magic of the ocean, take in a dolphin or nature tour. Bottle-nosed dolphins are native to the waters, and there are egrets, herons, gulls and pelicans, as well.

Quite simply, there's no shortage of activities on Hilton Head Island and the Lowcountry.

"Here they’ll find pristine beaches, fresh local seafood, boutique and outlet shopping, arts and entertainment venues, Gullah history, crafts, and more," Susan Thomas, vice president of the Hilton Head Island Visitor & Convention Bureau, said.

With that said, here are five more specific activities that you can enjoy while in town for the Heritage.

Head to the beach

Hilton Head Island was recently named a "Traveler's Choice Best Beach in the United States" by TripAdvisor reviewers for good reason. There are 12 miles of naturally beautiful beaches accessible wherever you stay.

You could take a walk, lay out and get some sun or even ride a bike ride on the hard-packed sand, which is very popular. And there are bike rental places throughout the island.

The water still might be a little chilly in April, but for anyone who visits from the Northeast or Midwest, it will probably feel pretty good.

Take in some live music

There's nothing better after watching some good golf than kicking back and listening to live music. A couple of options are the Jazz Corner and Big Bamboo.

Both independently operated venues offer live music and unique atmospheres. The Jazz Corner continues to get rave revues for its skilled musicians and has been labeled one of the finest jazz clubs on the East Coast. The Big Bamboo is a classic bar setting with a vintage '40s-style beach bar theme, with plenty of friendly faces of all ages, eager to strike up a conversation.

Ice cream and shopping at Coligny Plaza

Coligny Plaza is the Island’s longest-running shopping center offering great souvenir shops, stores with resort casual wear and beach attire, an ice cream parlor, Java Joes coffee shop, Skillets for breakfast, and other unique shopping and dining establishments.

Located at One North Forest Beach Drive, Coligny Plaza is a good bet to find an affordable souvenir that says "Hilton Head Island."

Seafood for dinner

Eat out at Hudson's on the Dock, Hilton Head's classic seafood restaurant. It's plain and simple and no fuss.

Set along the Skull Creek waterway with excellent sunset views, Hudson's has been serving the freshest seafood for more than 40 years.

With shrimp boats docked behind the restaurant, how could you go wrong ordering a large plate of freshly caught oysters, shrimp, flounder or other catch, served along with signature Southern sides such as hush puppies and collard greens?

Climb the lighthouse

And, finally, you've seen the famous red-and-white lighthouse on TV and now in person, but you probably haven't thought about going to the top and taking in the view.

For just $3, you can do just that. The Harbour Town Lighthouse offers wonderful panoramic views of the island and a sense of what being surrounded by water really means.

The town of Hilton Head Island has made great efforts over the years to protect the natural environment, something that's easy to see with a bird's eye view.

Mike BaileyMike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

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