The 3 Best Chill-Out Spots on Hilton Head Island
Take a break from your summer adventure at a few spots to clear your head.
As relaxing a destination as it is, sometimes your summer daytrip to Hilton Head Island can get a little hectic. Racing to get that prime parking spot by the beach, making that early-morning tee time or early evening dinner reservation, hustling to get to your favorite watering hole before happy hour ends… it can be a bit of a steeplechase sometimes.
So what you need is a good place to just get away, put your feet up and get a whole lot of nothing accomplished. Fortunately, you have come to the right island. Hilton Head Island places a premium on green space, with a slew of quiet, tucked-away spots where you can just unwind, watch the grass grow and re-center yourself.
It’s an island built for silent reflection, and here is where to go:
The Sea Pines Forest Preserve
Photo via Facebook/SeaPinesForestPreserve
Hilton Head Island’s reputation for blissful tranquility started here, on 606 serene acres that encompass a range of peaceful environments. You can walk a boardwalk that stretches over an antebellum rice patty, or make your way through the stillness of the “vanishing swamp,” perch on the edge of a 40,000-year-old Indian shell ring and contemplate the passing of the millennia or watch your bobber float on the fishing dock at Fish Island. If you get there soon, you can still see the wildflowers blooming.
Whatever your meditative happy place looks like, odds are good you’re going to find something like it here. Located inside Sea Pines, you’ll need to pay the $6 gate fee to get in. Horseback tours are available, but a walk in the woods to find tranquility comes free with admission.
Photo courtesy Town of Hilton Head Island
There’s an immense serenity to the simple act of digging your toes into the sand, staring off into the waves, and losing yourself in thought. The gentle sound of waves lapping against a beach, with nothing else but the call of distant seabirds and the windy rustle through nearby trees, makes for the ideal soundtrack to a few moments of blissful reflection.
These moments abound at Mitchelville Beach, with wide sandy beaches butting up against lush maritime forests around the island’s less-developed north end. The first freed slaves to have their own town lived here. Consider how sweet that freedom must have tasted, in a place this beautiful, while you lose yourself in the serenity of sand and sea.
Jarvis Creek Park
Photo courtesy Town of Hilton Head Island
The beauty and stillness of Jarvis Creek Park comes partially from its juxtaposition with some of the few busy spots on Hilton Head Island. Cars go racing by on the Cross Island just beyond the borders of the park, but you’d never know they were there from the grassy banks of the water where heron and egrets walk the shores looking for fish. The Wal-Mart Supercenter lies just down the road, but the hustle and bustle of commerce is muffled by a ring of forest around this sanctuary.
A winding path that rings the small lake here offers a great place to wander while you unwind, with little alcoves and secrets dotted along the way. Sit a spell on one of the bench swings and you’ll understand how truly peaceful paradise can be.
BONUS: Questionable answers from our Facebook friends.
We wanted to see some other places that locals like to visit when they need some peace and quiet. Their responses proved we have interesting friends. Here's some of the places on Hilton Head that they recommend:
1. “McDonald’s on The North End”
2. “If you walk straight through the woods to the left of the theater in park plaza, there is this huge green pond that is super fun to take acid at.”
3. “Porter & Pig, Corks Hilton Head (on south end), Beach Break is a good dive bar. Edit: my idea of a chill spot is somewhere that someone else is making the drinks.”
4. “under the cross island bridge in the marsh”
Where are your favorite places to chill on Hilton Head Island? Let us know in the comments! As always, to read more about the greatest places to eat, stay, play and shop in the Lowcountry, subscribe now or pick up the June/July issue of South magazine.