If there’s one thing that the Lowcountry likes to do as soon as the weather cools off a few degrees, it is to plan a festival or two–or ten. And we’re good at it too! Fall is a time to gather as a community and welcome new faces to celebrate the live music, great food, and beautiful weather within the Hilton Head and surrounding Beaufort County area.
Here are a few festivals and events to keep on your radar if you happen to be visiting the island this fall:
Music & Taste on the Harbour
Select Thursday Nights in September & October 6-9 pm | Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina
These pet-friendly outdoor concerts at the Neptune Statue are the perfect way to spend your Thursday evenings on the island this fall. Enjoy local bands with the chance to purchase light appetizers, wine, beer, and cocktails from featured Shelter Cove Harbour restaurants. Leave the outside food and beverages at home as they’re not permitted, but don’t forget to grab your lawn chairs as limited seating is available.
Weather permitting–please check here for event updates and concert lineup.
Farmers’ Market at Coastal Discover Museum
Tuesdays | 9 am-1 pm | 70 Honey Horn Dr., HHI
Farmers’ & Makers Market
Tuesdays (Ending Nov. 22nd) | 10 am-2 pm | The Shops at Sea Pines Center, 71 Lighthouse Rd. HHI
Calling all shrimp lovers: the Hilton Head Island Shrimp Festival can’t be missed! Your ticket will unlock a profuse sampling of shrimp prepared by eighteen celebrated chefs from the Hilton Head area. Pair your savory shrimp dishes with craft beer tastings from 14 breweries. A family-friendly event, kids will love the designated “Fun Zone,” complete with a bounce house, face painting, and arts and crafts. Enjoy an array of specialty vendors, as well as a live performance by local band, Groove Town Assault.
Celebrate the first official weekend of fall with the Harbour Town Fall Fest. Peruse the shops from 11 am-6 pm during the sidewalk sale to find great deals on gifts for friends and family back home–and a little something for you, too! Starting at noon, check out the classic car display hosted by the Carolina Dreamers Car Club. At 1:00 pm, get ready for some great live music from local band, Deas-Guyz and children’s activities galore!
Please note that there is a gate fee to enter Sea Pines.
LowcountryFish and Grits Music Festival
Lowcountry Celebration Park
Saturday, Oct. 1st
The Lowcountry Fish and Grits Music Festival will offer “Great music, great food, and great times!” By showcasing a lineup of fantastic musical talent and local cuisine, this festival brings awareness to the Gullah Geechee culture. Live entertainment includes a mix of folk, funk, jazz, spoken word, and R&B, as well as a special appearance by a Gullah storyteller and preservationist. Enjoy delicious food and market brought to you by Lowcountry Gullah Geechee vendors.
Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.
Rock N’ Ribs Music & BBQ Fest
Times Vary Per Ticket
Live music and barbecue, what could be better than that? Enjoy some classic rock and roll while tasting world-class barbecue from pit masters across the country. This is the inaugural year of this festival, and the island is buzzing with excitement. General admission and one-day VIP tickets are currently still on sale as of the publishing of this blog post. If you aren’t able to grab tickets for your group, you can always attend the Rock N’ Ribs Afterparty which is free and open to the public.
Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.
Italian Heritage Festival
Coastal Discovery Museum
70 Honey Horn Dr., HHI
Saturday, Oct. 22
Hilton Head Island will celebrate the 12th Annual Italian Heritage Festival this fall, rain or shine. The festival returns with classic events like the grape stomping and pizza-eating contests, along with a few new events on the schedule as well. It wouldn’t be an Italian Heritage Festival without an array of booths offering traditional Italian foods. Cheeses, breads, pasta, calzones, meatballs, Italian ice, gelato, biscotti, and so much more will be available and sponsored by local restaurants. In addition to the delicious food and live entertainment, a silent auction will offer gift certificates for golfing, dining, boat cruises, and more!
Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.
The 20th Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival continues to celebrate the art and passion behind the automobile. Year after year, those who flock to Hilton Head Island for the Concours d’Elegance festivities are never disappointed. The 2022 schedule of events is as elegant and entertaining as ever, so you won’t want to miss out! Find more information about each event and purchase tickets here.
Hilton Head OysterFestival
Shelter Cove Community Park & Lowcountry Celebration Park
Nov. 11 & 12
If we’re going by the r-rule–months that include the letter “r”–then November is well into the oyster season. This festival is an island favorite that benefits the Carmines Family Recreation Scholarship Fund at the Hilton Head Island Recreation Center. The Friday night before the official festival, join in on all-you-can-eat steamed local oysters and other delicious Lowcountry offerings while listening to live music. Saturday’s festivities include live music, kids’ activities, and an entire lineup of bands. Treat yourself to more delicious food and beverages while browsing local artisan pop-up shops. And of course, don’t forget about the Oyster Shucking Contest scheduled for 1:10 pm.
Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.
Hilton Head Island Lantern Parade
South Forest Beach
Saturday, Nov. 12
A Hilton Head Island tradition that the whole family can enjoy, the Lantern Parade will return once again this fall. A beautiful and fun experience to either partake in or watch, the parade will start at the Alder Lane Beach Access and make its way up the beach where an afterparty at the Tiki Hut awaits. It is a free event, and the only requirement to participate is that you have a lantern. This event was created by and features artist, Chantelle Rytter, and truly brings the island community together! Please leave pets and bicycles at home.
A hot topic among those that visit Hilton Head Island, frequent visitors tend to know the drill and even look forward to seeing them sunbathing or skulking about in a nearby pond. On the other hand, first-time visitors might be hesitant about these modern-day dinosaurs—and that’s very understandable. These powerful reptiles shouldn’t be messed with, but we also don’t want anyone’s fear of alligators keeping them from exploring our beautiful island.
This guide is meant to give you some piece of mind and a solid understanding of how to keep both yourself and these crocodilian creatures safe.
NEVER FEED ALLIGATORS
This can actually apply to all wildlife, but in this case, it’s extremely important to never feed alligators. There’s a reason for the saying, “A fed gator, is a dead gator,” since the act of feeding an alligator is not only illegal in South Carolina but also may come to a sad—and otherwise avoidable—outcome. Alligators end up associating humans with food, meaning that they lose their fear of people. So let them find their own catch of the day, snap the photo, and move on.
KEEP YOUR DISTANCE
Smart phones these days have incredible camera quality, so there’s really never a reason for you to get closer than you already are to an alligator. In fact, you should be doing the opposite: give them as much space as possible. These creatures have incredible speed over short distances, and although they usually won’t chase people just for fun, they might interpret your approach as a threat.
In the rare occurrence when an alligator crosses your path, stay calm and give it as much room as possible. Alligators typically are the most active at night, dawn, or dusk, but sometimes they want to travel to the next pond in the middle of the day. They’ll be on a mission and won’t want to bother you as long as you don’t get in their way. Be as patient, calm, and respectful as possible while they finish crossing a path or road. We say patient, because they might take a couple of breaks on their journey regardless how short it is.
REGARDING PETS AND CHILDREN
Alligators can’t differentiate your pet from a wild animal, so the best way to keep your pets safe is to keep them on a leash and far from any ponds or marshy areas in general. Children can also be curious about these creatures and will want to get a closer look, so keep them away from the edge of ponds regardless if you see an alligator or not.
It’s best to just leave the island’s alligators alone, end of story. Maybe that’s where the phrase, “see you later, alligator,” comes from.
Contact the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources regarding alligator disturbances. The number for Beaufort County is (803) 625-3569.
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It’s extremely hard not to think of the Harbour Town Lighthouse when Hilton Head Island is mentioned. The iconic, red-and-white striped structure has welcomed visitors for more than five decades, and its likeness has traveled around the country on many a bumper sticker and T-shirt.
Although the lighthouse itself was constructed in 1969, it holds a collective history of Hilton Head within its walls. Now a museum with 9 landings documenting the island’s history dating back to its Native American populations, visitors can climb all 114 steps to the very top for the best panoramic views of Harbour Town and the surrounding Calibogue Sound. The museum also includes a Coast Guard Exhibit, the first of its kind in the United States.
At 93 feet, the Harbour Town Lighthouse stands out amongst the live oaks as it overlooks Harbour Town Yacht Basin and the legendary 18th hole of Harbour Town Golf Links. In addition to acting as a navigational beacon for those out on the water, the lighthouse serves its true purpose as a gathering point, daily. Charles Fraser, the creative genius and developer of the Sea Pines property, insisted there be a place for people to socialize. After extensive research, the plans of Harbour Town developed with Mediterranean influences, mainly open-air central plazas with gorgeous backdrops. There was really only one thing missing—a centerpiece. And so, the Harbour Town Lighthouse was created, making it the first lighthouse built since the early 1800s that was privately financed. Construction was completed just in time for the inaugural Heritage golf tournament, something that only grew Hilton Head Island’s popularity.
A must-see for first-time vacationers to the island, especially for those interested in the region’s history, a visit to the Harbour Town Lighthouse will complete your trip to the island. Easy to get to and worth the trip, keep in mind that there is a gate fee when entering the Sea Pines property. Plan to drive into Harbour Town, as bikes aren’t permitted through the gate unless you’re a guest staying within Sea Pines. Parking does tend to fill up later in the day during peak seasons, so we recommend making the excursion after breakfast or brunch on a beautiful, clear morning. You’ll arrive just in time for the museum’s opening at 10 am and can enjoy the shops or have lunch in Harbour Town afterward. To find ticket pricing, the live webcam, or other information, click here.
For more information about discounted tickets to the Harbour Town Lighthouse Museum or other fun activities on Hilton Head Island, fill out the form below.
Don’t miss out on the two remaining chances to enjoy Jazz in the Park, a free outdoor concert series. A great way to enjoy a beautiful, summer evening filled with live music, don’t forget to bring your own chairs or blanket!
Each concert begins at 7:30 pm, giving you the option of having a nice dinner beforehand or picking up a meal to-go from any of the restaurants within walking distance of Lowcountry Celebration Park.
Want to learn more about this concert series or future concerts? Visit the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra’s website here.
To stay up to date on the island’s events and for more information on activities and island-wide discounts, fill out the form below.
Hilton Head Island’s bike trails have been named the most beautiful place in the state of South Carolina by Travel and Leisure. The article identifies some well-known areas like Arizona’s Grand Canyon, the Florida Everglades, and Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway, as well as lesser-known places that prompt some major wanderlust.
It seems as though we’re not the only ones raving about how convenient and beautiful the miles of pathways connecting our 12-mile island are. The trails are absolutely the best way to get around and truly see the island–biking or otherwise. Whether you’re going for a morning ride to grab some coffee, bypassing traffic on your way to the beach, or heading out on an after-dinner walk and catching the island’s gorgeous sunset, the 85-miles of paths can get you where you need to go. Bauso writes that “a bike ride is especially lovely in the late afternoon, as the sun begins to set over the marshes,” and we couldn’t agree more!
Fill out the short form below to receive a bike trail map courtesy of our Premier Partner, Wheelz of Hilton Head:
The first piece of advice I’m going to give you is this: don’t let your weather app scare you. More times than not, the scary-looking week filled with thunderstorms that will “surely ruin your vacation,” might turn into two afternoon-long bursts of weather that will help knock out some humidity and keep the island looking as green as ever. That is unless your weather app is tracking a hurricane–then, yes, definitely take the weather seriously. Here’s my second piece of advice: rain in the forecast or not, it’s always a good idea to pack a rain jacket when you’re visiting the island, especially in the summer months.
So if your beach day does get rained out, the good news is that there are plenty of indoor activities around the island and surrounding areas to choose from. Here are a few of our favorites:
Stop by the Coastal Discovery Museum
A Smithsonian affiliate, this museum captures Hilton Head’s heritage and wonderfully showcases the island’s history and natural landscape. Sitting on a piece of history itself, the Coastal Discovery Museum is located on Honey Horn Plantation, 68 acres that are filled with trails, gardens, and fascinating exhibits. Visiting the Coastal Discovery Museum is always a great way to keep your group entertained and out of the rain for about an hour or two. This activity is free of charge, but donations are always appreciated.
Although the entire property might be a little harder to explore when it’s raining, you can always return to walk the boardwalks through the Jarvis Creek salt marsh and stop by to say hello to the Marsh Tacky horses. The Honey Horn property also hosts the island’s farmers market every Tuesday from 9 am-1 pm.
The Sandbox has become one of Hilton Head’s favorite destinations for both visiting families and locals. The Sandbox has two convenient locations: one on Hilton Head Island and one at the Tanger 2 Outlets in Bluffton. Both locations offer children a hands-on, interactive experience they won’t soon forget. Children of all ages will love the flight simulator where they can “navigate the friendly skies” in a real jet, listen to commands from air traffic control through their captain’s headphones, and even don a pilot costume to complete the experience. Transition from air to sea as you explore their 48” saltwater aquarium filled with unique sea creatures. Little artists will love the rhythm and hues art room, and no visit is complete without a stop in the Loggerhead Sandcastle where children are surrounded by sand, sea, and sky. Kids can put on hard hats and construction gear while working with giant lego blocks or take a trip to their grocery corner. There’s something for everyone at this family-centered attraction (you’ll want to check it out even if it’s not raining)!
80 Nassau St | Hilton Head Island, SC 29928 | (843) 842-7645 | TheSandbox.org
Make a Reservation at The Art Cafe
The Art Cafe is a paint-your-own pottery studio that promises to be a family favorite activity. The Art Cafe is open Monday – Saturday and a reservation is required. When your family arrives, you’ll have the opportunity to pick out a piece of pottery to paint, and their friendly staff will help get you started. Upon completion, the team will glaze and fire your artwork for you. Try to plan this activity during the early days of your visit because your piece won’t be finished until 3 days later (don’t worry though. They’ll arrange to have your pieces shipped if you’re leaving soon after your visit). Enjoy food and drinks while you paint including beer and wine for the grown-ups!
5 Lagoon Rd | Hilton Head Island, SC 29928 | (843) 785-5525 | ArtCafeHHI.com
Catch a Movie
Hilton Head has 3 theaters for your movie-viewing pleasure ensuring that no rainy day is a washout! Relax in electric reclining lounge chairs while enjoying something from the beer and wine bar during a trip to Northridge Cinema 10. If independent films are your thing, visit Coligny Theater. Hilton Head Island’s first theatre caters to an upscale adult audience. If you’re hoping to catch a new release while relaxing in luxurious reclining seats, Park Place Cinema is just what the doctor ordered. The cafe & lounge has a full food menu and offers beer, wine, coffee, and ice cream.
Do a Little Shopping
Coligny Plaza is the perfect destination for some rainy day shopping. There’s plenty of cover as you wander from store to store and there’s something for everyone.
Here are some must-see shops:
Island Girl – clothes, accessories, and footwear for women
Coastal Sunglasses–wide selection of name-brand sunglasses
HH House of Jerky – Over 60 varieties of jerky!
HH House of Popcorn – Over 75 flavors of gourmet popcorn!
The Island Fudge Shoppe – Homemade fudge, hand-dipped chocolates, candies, and more.
Mingles Gifts & Collectibles – easy-living clothes and jewelry, hand-crafted items, home accents, wall art, garden decor, special souvenirs, wine accessories, pet gifts, shell crafts, gourmet foods, and year-round Christmas.
Haskins & Co. – stylish, designer dresses, jewelry, bags, and much more.
Hilton Head Toys – Surfer Dudes, Spike Ball, and a large assortment of other beach toys and games.
Camp Hilton Head – wide variety of t-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts, pants, hats, glassware, trinkets, jewelry, picture frames, and other collectibles.
Atomic VR Virtual Reality Arcade
Fun for everyone 8 and over! Atomic Virtual Arcade offers players an unlimited amount of entertainment. With 4 VR gaming stations available, you can explore the virtual experiences with your friends and family, go online and play with others around the world, or take on your own battles. Become immersed in a virtual reality video gaming world.
38 Gateway Circle | Hilton Head Island, SC 29928 | 843-505-7182 | AtomicVRHHI.com
Adventure Cove Mini Golf & Arcade
Even if you can’t play a round of mini golf due to the rain, this miniature golf course has a trick up its sleeve: an arcade! A fun spot to keep the friendly competition going, this arcade has a variety of games and of course, a counter full of great prizes. Plus, you can always revisit to play a round or two of putt putt when the sun comes out.
Check out the Lowcountry’s first indoor golf and multi-sport simulation sports bar. Choose from over 100 golf courses and 13 other sports to play from the comfort of your own bay/living room area. Use their top-of-the-line Srixon and Cleveland golf clubs and Full Swing Simulators.
Guests love “catching the breeze” to connect to some of the island’s favorite destinations. Access shopping and groceries, the best island restaurants, any of the Hilton Head beaches, and all of the island activities. The 2 Breeze Trolley routes promise to connect you to your favorite on island destination hassle-free! Download their route map and schedule here.
Fill out the form below to request a copy of your Mini Discount Packet and learn more about the discounts available for island-wide activities.
If you happen to be visiting Hilton Head Island during mid-July, take our advice and plan on spending at least one day at the Beaufort Water Festival. Hop in the car and take the beautiful, one-hour drive to Hilton Head’s Lowcountry neighbor, Beaufort, South Carolina.
First hosted in 1956 and considered one of the biggest outdoor festivals in the south at the time, the Water Festival has grown year after year into the can’t-miss lineup of events that it is today. Completely organized and produced by local volunteers, this event not only shows off the beauty and charm of Beaufort, but the community’s love for the area as well. This year, there will be ten days full of activities for all ages, as well as exciting, live entertainment nightly.
Every year, the Concert in the Park brings some pretty big names to the stage, with this year’s headliner being the Eli Young Band. Slotted for Saturday night on July 16th, this country music sensation will share the stage with openers, Tyler Reese Tritt and Kidd G. Tickets are on sale now.
Every day holds something new in store. Want to enter a badminton, bocce ball, or fishing tournament? Cheer on teams during the famously hysterical Bed Race, watch a ski show or air stunt show, and don’t forget to be downtown for the Water Festival Grand Parade! You’ll even have the opportunity to take a tour of a shrimping boat, a real Lowcountry experience. There are also chances every day to stroll through the Festival Arts & Crafts Market to shop from local artists and vendors. These are just a handful of events scattered throughout the duration of the festival, but for the entire schedule of events, click below: