The best way to see Hilton Head is by bike, and that’s a fact. Families who visit year after year know the drill, but we’re letting you in on a not-so-secret tip that maximizes not only your time, but fun while you’re on the island! So go ahead and order your bikes (ahead of time, especially in the summer) and start exploring Hilton Head. You don’t need a plan, but we’ve partnered up with our friends at Wheelz of Hilton Head and created a list of some places of interest across the island that you may want to check out.
The South End includes an award-winning beach, the island’s first resort community, and plenty to see and do. The bike paths in this area will allow you to travel everywhere you’ll need to go starting with the beach in the morning to your dinner reservation at night. Picking up a rental bike from Wheelz of Hilton Head for the day? Staying in the South End will definitely be enough to pass the time before you return your bike at the end of your rental period. The one thing to keep in mind is that if you are staying outside of the Sea Pines property, you will not be able to take your bikes through either gate–only bikes delivered to or rented inside Sea Pines are allowed. With this being said, we’ve decided to include some sights to see outside of Sea Pines.
Palmetto Bay Marina
On the Broad Creek side of the South End, and sitting right beside the Coligny Beach Bridge (no longer a toll bridge, might we add), Palmetto Bay Marina’s peaceful setting is a great spot to admire the beautiful scenery. Grab breakfast at Palmetto Bay Sunrise Cafe, or watch a game or listen to live music at lunch or dinner inside or out on Carolina Crab Co.’s covered patio. Your dolphin cruise or other watersports tour might even launch out of this marina.
Charles Fraser Statue
Located in Compass Rose Park at the intersection of Pope Avenue and New Orleans Road, this piece of art commemorates a key player in Hilton Head’s travel industry, Sea Pines Resort founder, Charles Fraser. The statue modeled after the iconic photograph of Fraser was taken and published in the Saturday Evening Post. This photograph is attributed to growing interest in the island as a tourist destination back in 1962, and can now be spotted on the walls of many of Hilton Head’s establishments.
Coligny Beach & Plaza
Coligny Beach continues to win awards and the hearts of visitors and locals alike, with its combination of free and plentiful parking, clean and beautiful amenities, convenient location to dining, shopping, lodging, and entertainment, as well as its seemingly endless stretch of sand and surf. Check the tide before going on a beach bike ride, or lock your bikes at the available racks. Coligny Plaza has numerous bike rack locations throughout the shopping center, so feel free to explore the shops and restaurants at ease.
Lowcountry Celebration Park
Directly across from the Coligny Beach parking lot, you’ll find the island’s newest hub for festivals, events, and live music. If none of that’s scheduled, you’ll also find a relaxing park with walking trails and fitness stations, public art to find and admire, as well as public restrooms that are open until 10pm. Families will especially love the green space to run around, the Adventure Playground modeled after Captain William Hilton’s ship, and the Sandbox Children’s Museum which is a great option for either getting out of the rain or staying cool in the heat.
Mid-Island is considered to be the middle stretch on either side of William Hilton Parkway (or 278) that’s lined with delicious local restaurants, scenic shopping centers, loads of miniature golf, and a handful of resort communities and neighborhoods mixed in. Hilton Head Island is 12 miles long, which can seem like nothing for a car but may seem daunting for a bike ride. If you’re staying on either the South or North End of the island, these Mid-Island locations may actually be closer and easier to reach than you think. Hilton Head’s bike paths are smooth and often shaded, so take a look at the bike route before dismissing any future adventures!
Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina
A great area to grab a bite to eat or do a little shopping, this picture-perfect marina is located on Broad Creek and easily accessed by the bike paths parallel to 278. This area is a great pit stop on your bike ride and a great place to rest your legs or do some walking. Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina is also known to have special events scheduled throughout the year, such as weekly festivals, fireworks, and even events featuring local food and craft vendors.
Shelter Cove Towne Centre & Community Park
Connected to Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina, and located on the same side of 278, Shelter Cove Towne Centre features a collection of local and nationally-known stores and restaurants. The place to be if shopping is your specialty or if you want to break out your dancing shoes, this center also features scheduled events year-round such as outdoor movie nights and festivals that celebrate local groups and holidays at the adjacent Community Park.
Veteran’s Memorial & Sculpture Trail
Start your ride in Shelter Cove Community Park and head up the trail to see some of the island’s public artwork on the Sculpture Trail. You’ll see beautiful views of Broad Creek to your left, and the homes, marinas, and restaurants just beyond. This path will take you to the Shelter Cove Veteran’s Memorial, where community events are scheduled to commemorate holidays and significant dates. There’s a nice loop to ride through, and seating if you’d like to take a break or just enjoy the park’s serenity.
Chaplin Community Park
Hilton Head’s largest park, its central location, amenities, and beach access to Burkes Beach and Singleton Beach are only a minute down Singleton Beach Road. A popular sports park, Chaplin has public basketball and tennis courts and other multi-purpose fields. There are many trails to enjoy, public restrooms, and outdoor showers. Kids will love a stop at the playground, and there are picnic pavilions available. Chaplin Community Park also includes the island’s only dog park.
The island’s North End has its fair share of resort communities, beaches, fantastic dining, and shopping, but feels more spread out than Mid-Island, and especially the South End. Those ready to take on longer bike rides (not necessarily harder ones, since the trails are still smooth, flat, and mostly shady) will love cruising around to these historically significant locations.
Green Shell Park
Nearly off the island and not too far from the bridge connecting Hilton Head to Pinckney Island–which we don’t recommend as a bike ride, by the way–Green Shell Park often goes under the radar for most tourists. Located in a neighborhood district, most folks often only visit on a history tour. The main attraction may be the playground for kiddos, but history buffs will want to see the Shell Ring, an archeological site dating back 3,000 years ago. Plus, you’ll get a beautiful view of Skull Creek, once navigated by pirates.
Mitchelville Freedom Park
Your path to the Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park will most likely be almost all bike paths, but as always, please be aware of your surroundings and watch for traffic. Plan to visit on a dry, sunny day, for the best riding and walking conditions. You will want to hop off your bikes to explore the exhibits to learn more about Mitchelville and the Gullah people, as well as walk out on the observation deck overlooking the marsh to watch for wildlife. Historic Mitchelville hosts various events throughout the year that you’ll want to watch out for!
Just down the road from Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park, it is also best to visit Fort Howell on a sunny, dry day. Those fascinated by history will need to make a stop at this site to see the best preserved Civil War earthworks fortification in all of South Carolina. Impressively intact, this fort has fought off the elements over the years rather than any enemies during the war.
Zion Chapel of Ease & Baynard Tomb
Those wanting to learn more about the island’s history and see one of the few haunted locations will want to make a stop at the Zion Chapel of Ease and Cemetery. The chapel has since been destroyed, but historical markers will fill you in on the historical significance and explain more about the Baynard Tomb. The tomb does come with a ghost story, which we’ll leave the Heritage Library to tell during one of their events.