The Top 3 Things to Do on Hilton Head Island this Summer

"Tourist." Go ahead and say it. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

The word may evoke images of be-floral-shirted Ohioans whose Birkenstocks rest comfortably over a pair of Gold Toes (all the better to work the pedals of their minivans) but being a tourist is not a bad thing.

Especially on Hilton Head Island, where tourists are warmly welcomed with a grown-up playground of beaches, bars and golf courses. Here, there’s no better place to be a tourist.

But the challenge becomes how do you play tourist when you’ve seen the beaches, the bars and the golf courses? Is there anything to this island getaway outside of manicured greens and generously prepared daquiris?

You’re about to find out. Slap on your SPF 60 and button up your finest Tommy Bahama luau shirt. These are the 3 Things You Must Do on Hilton Head Island.


Head To The Top of the Harbour Town Lighthouse

This is as tourist as it gets, but believe me it tops every “thing to do” list for a reason.

Built in that late ’60s (they were still wrapping up construction during the first Heritage golf tournament), the Harbour Town Lighthouse holds the distinct honor of being one of the few decorative lighthouses you’ll ever see. That is to say, it was never intended to guide ships or act as an actual lighthouse.

Instead, the lighthouse was the vision of Charles Fraser who knew he needed something iconic to anchor this new “Harbour Town” he was creating in Sea Pines. People laughed. They called it Fraser’s Folly.

No one’s laughing now, especially if they’ve just climbed the 114 steps to the top and taken in the scenery. The view is as figuratively breathtaking as the climb is literally breathtaking, so make sure you pace yourself heading up and check out the vignettes of island history that await on the landings.

Then, enjoy a panoramic vista of Calibogue Sound, with the 18th of Harbour Town Golf Links rolling toward you.

Check out for more information.

Photo by Barry Kaufman


Spend a Day at Coligny Plaza

Even before Hilton Head Island was Hilton Head Island, there was the Forest Beach Market, the first grocery store on Hilton Head Island.

Built by Norris Richardson, that little market soon became the social hub for this fledgling community, a legacy that carries on at the site of Forest Beach Market, now called Coligny Plaza. The market is no more, but in its place you’ll find 60 shops and restaurants in an outdoor beachfront setting that makes for a great day spent exploring.

Take in a movie at Coligny Theater, pick up something to remember your trip or just grab a bite to eat at one of over a dozen restaurants. It’s all here.

See a full list of shops and events at

Photo by Barry Kaufman


Go Ziplining

You’ve probably seen the billboards and put this on your “yeah, I’ll try that someday” list along with kickboxing and learning the guitar. It’s time to make someday today.

Zipline Hilton Head is part of a whole complex of high-flying adventures on Broad Creek. You can either take the two-hour zipline tour, which focuses more on the elevated views and sense of freedom you enjoy whipping from platform to platform among the tree tops. As you travel, you’ll enjoy amazing views of the forests and creeks mid-island.

Or, you can try out the Aerial Adventure course, which bills itself as a “playground in the sky.” Show your moderate sense of vertigo who’s boss as you tackle 50 different challenges suitable for anyone from kids to the Flying Wallendas.

Book your trip at

Photo courtesy of Zipline Hilton Head

To find out more destinations to explore in the south, subscribe now or pick up the April/May issue of South magazine.