Visiting Hilton Head Island with Children

Our Top Five Activities for Families with Small Children

GREEN.  When I think about the Hilton Head Island area in South Carolina, I think of the color green.  Green trees bordering roadways, green grass and shrubs in yards, green vegetation popping up throughout the marshy areas, green vines hanging above the vast system of paved pedestrian trails… We spent a few days in Hilton Head during our family’s spring break vacation in 2014, and wow, it was truly beautiful there.

While this cute little resort area teems with tennis courts, lovely bike paths, relaxing walking trails, fine dining and great shopping, our small children wanted nothing to do with those things. So what did we do there in that beautiful green wonderland? Here is our top five countdown of fun stuff to do in Hilton Head with small children in the springtime. 


The Sandbox Interactive Children's Museum in Hilton Head
The Sandbox Interactive Children’s Museum in Hilton Head

#5 – The Sandbox

It was a day-long steady drenching rain that left us searching for indoor activities and inspired us to try out this interactive children’s museum called The Sandbox . Our small children (ages 2 and 4) loved it, and even our 11-year-old found parts of it fun. This small two-story building was jam packed with fun themed play areas for little ones. There was a nautical-themed play area with a large ship play structure which tied in well with the overall pirate theme of our vacation. (More about that later!) It also had a construction-themed area which kept all three of my children busy even the preteen. The upper floor was mainly focused on vocations with areas dedicated to doctors/nurses, veterinarians, news broadcasters, emergency responders, and more. Other popular areas included a giant Kinetic sand table, an airplane cockpit play structure, and even a play area specifically for babies and toddlers.


#4 – Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf

Pirate's Island Adventure Golf in Hilton Head
Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf in Hilton Head

Putt-putt golf is always a fun vacation activity.  We especially enjoyed this course because of the pirate décor. As I mentioned earlier, our vacation had a bit of a pirate theme to it – we had watched Disney’s Treasure Island movie together as a family the week before our trip, we ate lunch at the Pirates House (where real pirates had stayed in the 1700s and 1800s) just days before while visiting Savannah, and not to mention, we had a special pirate surprise planned for our last day in Hilton Head (see number one on this countdown list). Thus, Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf was a perfect addition to our vacation agenda.


#3 – The Parks

Hilton Head Island has some wonderful parks.  We packed picnic lunches and explored new parks during the lunch hours of each day. Our favorite parks included:

  • Compass Rose Park
    Hilton Head Island's Compass Rose Park
    One of the many neat features at Compass Rose Park is a large spinning compass rose made from granite.

    This smallish park is simply unique and truly beautiful.  It has some pretty water features, a large spinning compass stone made of granite, bench swings, and a sculpture of Charles Fraser walking alongside an alligator. Charles Fraser was the visionary behind the creation of the Sea Pines Resort and is often credited with the overall success of Hilton Head Island as a resort area. I’m not sure what the significance of the alligator is but my children loved posing for pictures with the alligator sculpture.

  • Jarvis Creek Park
    Jarvis Creek Park
    Jarvis Creek Park

    At first glance, Jarvis Creek Park looks very much like a million other parks – a typical playground in a wooded setting and surrounded by small covered picnic areas.  However, this park had one thing different that makes it a truly memorable experience – ALLIGATORS! A short ways off from the playground area is a small dock that sits high above Jarvis Creek.  From this dock, you can usually see a few alligators along the creek shores. This park also features several paved trails so it is a great place for exercise.

  • Gregg Russell Harbour Town Playground
    Gregg Russell Harbour Town Playground at the Sea Pines Resort
    Sculptures to climb on are just one of the many fun features in the playground at Sea Pines Resort.

    Inside the gated Sea Pines Resort community is Harbour Town – a mecca for family fun, shopping and dining.  The Harbour Town playground is named for a locally-popular entertainer that has entertained children on Hilton Head Island for decades. Visible from the main parking area, this fun nature-inspired playground features a large tree house, climbable sculptures of sea creatures, log tunnels, and more.  My children would have spent hours here if we hadn’t pulled them away for another super fun surprise in the Sea Pines Resort.

Hilton Head Island beach
On our way to the beach!

#2 – The Beach

I can't help but wonder what he was thinking at this moment. Maybe he was pondering just how big our world really is.
I can’t help but wonder what he was thinking at this moment. Maybe he was pondering just how big our world really is.

One simply does not go to a seaside resort area such as Hilton Head Island and not enjoy some time on the beach.  Thus, we spent a good half-day exploring the sandy shoreline. The children enjoyed running along the shore on the packed sand and gazing out at the vast expanse of the ocean.  We discovered a handful of small shells and a dead jellyfish upon the shore.  It was not warm enough that day for swimming, but the kids enjoyed wading up to their ankles.  A good time was had by all.

#1 – Pirates of Hilton Head

Pirates of Hilton Head
All aboard the Black Dagger, me hearteys!

Our big surprise for the children was a pirate adventure.  In the Harbour Town area of the Sea Pines Resort, we surprised the kids with tickets for a Pirates of Hilton Head cruise. (Didn’t I tell you that we had a bit of a pirate theme going on???) If you have a pirate-lover under the age of 10 in your family, we would highly recommend this experience. The piratical fun started before we even boarded the Black Dagger ship.  Upon arrival, the children were given pirate names, tattoos, pirate attire, and some face paint to help them look the part. They learned important pirate terminology like ahoy, blimey, booty, grub, landlubber, seadog, etc. And then, we boarded the ship and hoisted the Jolly Roger. The crew puts on a really fun interactive show for the children.

Shooting a water cannon with the Pirates of Hilton Head
My little pirate shoots a water cannon as our ship battles Stinky Pete to get our treasure back!

The show includes a snack, searching for treasure, and battling Stinky Pete (a rival pirate who has pillaged their loot) with water cannons. Each child has their own water canon to spray the bad guy with!  The entire family left with smiles on their faces and treasure in their pockets. Afterwards, we celebrated our adventure by visiting the nearby shops for souvenirs and ice cream.

BONUS – HarbourFest

We were there too early in the season to enjoy it but HarbourFest sounds like a ton of fun. This summertime festival in Shelter Cove Harbour and Marina features live music, fireworks, clowns, arts and crafts, and more. The next time we pay a visit to Hilton Head Island, I hope we have the opportunity to check it out for ourselves.

Have you been to Hilton Head?  What fun activities do you recommend for families?

If you enjoyed this article, you may also be interested in reading about our kid-savvy vacation in nearby Savannah

Visiting Hilton Head with your family? Check out this list of the best things to do there!
Visiting Hilton Head with your family? Check out this list of the best things to do there!

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  1. Great tips! It seems like Hilton Head has a lot to offer! Love the picture of your little dude staring at the water.

  2. Oh man, my boys would absolutely LOVE the pirate cruise!! The Sandbox sounds like a lot of fun too. What a great holiday destination for kids!

  3. Hilton Head has been on my radar, especially because I want to stay at the Disney resort there. But it looks like there is a lot more than just Disney. My family would like the Pirate cruise. Especially my husband, who is the biggest kid of all!

  4. This is another place I would like to visit. Seems like there are tons of fun places int he area. The only thing is that I would run for my life if I spot that alligator sculpture on a playground (looks so real). #citytripping

  5. Aaaahhh Hilton Head!! We go there as often as we can! We have taken the kids once, but it’s most often our birthday weekend getaway every spring! We thoroughly love the biking and THE FOOD!

    1. Yes, there is so much to do there! It’s such a beautiful and relaxing place! I would love to go back there with my husband sometime. I think it would be fun to bike along all the pedestrian trails.

    1. We did not see any dolphins on this trip. I wish we had; the kids would have loved that! I lived in Myrtle Beach, SC for a while, and it was always exciting to discover dolphins along the shorelines there.

  6. Since I’m pretty much just a large child, most of these activities would work well for me too. I’m not super far from Hilton Head, and I love anything beachy, I’ll have to check it off the list at some point.

  7. I used to love going to Hilton Head when I was growing up. It has changed so much! I may have to add it to my list!

    1. We enjoyed our visit there so much! Everywhere I looked, it was just so beautiful. And all the lovely walking paths and the cute parks and the shopping and the beach and… it really is a great place to vacation!

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