Hilton Head Island is one of the top vacation destinations in the U.S. — so it’s no surprise that there are a ton of fun things to do with your kids.
What might be surprising is how many things you can do with your kids for free. Yes, you read that right. Free activities do still exist in tourist areas!
Here are a few of our favorites:
Head to the beach!
There’s endless fun to be had at our beautiful white sand beaches. Here is a list of all public beach access points.
Need some ideas to make beach days extra fun?
Check the tide charts and hit the beach during low tide to search for shells and sea creatures! Just make sure to not disturb any living creature — which includes sand dollars. (If you get caught taking live sand dollars from the beach you’ll face a hefty $500 fine on the island. Learn more here.)
You could even make a fun scavenger hunt for your kids out of it! Just make a list of different shells, seaweed, sea creatures, etc., for them to spot and have them check each one off as they find them. You can include “fun facts” for each item to make your beach day educational, too. Check out this blog on the best beaches to find shark teeth.
A few of the island’s beaches also have playgrounds near the beach access areas — and Coligny Beach even has a fun splash pad! For playgrounds, check out Driessen Beach Park and Islanders’ Beach Park. If you want to take a lunch break to grill, both of those beach access parks also have grills.
And, of course, don’t forget the classic beach activities: Bring beach toys to build a sandcastle or sculpture, or fly a kite! Just make sure to cover any holes and knock down sandcastles before you leave the beach to protect the nesting sea turtles!
Have a little money to spend? Rent some beach cruisers and take the kids on a beach bike ride! Here’s a list of bike rentals on the island.
Check out the island’s extensive bike trails
Do your kiddos love to ride their bikes?
The island has an extensive network of bike trails — which is a perfect way to explore our beautiful island.
Download a map and get more information from the government’s website here.
Aside from the beach parks, the island has a bunch of other fun parks & playgrounds to explore — including the new Lowcountry Celebration Park near Coligny Plaza. This park includes the epic pirate ship-themed Adventure Playground.
Some other fun parks include:
- Greens Shell Park, which has a playground, picnic pavilion and a basketball court. The park is adjacent to Amelia White Cemetery and Greens Shell Mound, a South Carolina archaeological site.
- Chaplin Community Park, which has a public tennis complex with six courts, basketball courts, multi-purpose fields, extensive trails, beach access and parking, playground, picnic pavilions, multiple restroom facilities, and the Town’s only dog park.
- Squire Pope Community Park, which has a fishing pier equipped with an ADA accessible kayak launch, fire pit, playground, and restroom building. Picnic tables and grills are available in shaded areas and beneath the pavilion.
- Shelter Cove Community Park — one of the island’s favorite spots for concerts and other events — features an event lawn, playground, picnic areas, waterfront views and more.
Visit the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn
The Coastal Discovery Museum is one of the coolest places on the island when it comes to learning about nature and the island’s wildlife.
The museum has free admission, and they have a Kids Zone, Discovery Lab and rotating art exhibits. The grounds themselves are also fun to explore: Not only is it a gorgeous area, but the grounds include “68-acres of exploratory trails, age-old live oaks, specialty gardens arranged for browsing and education, and locally celebrated landscapes and floral designs throughout the property.”
They also offer a ton of affordable classes and hands-on experiences for both children and adults.
Go bird watching
Is your curious kid a bird lover? Grab a pair of binoculars and take them on a bird watching adventure!
The Audubon Newhall Preserve is owned by the Hilton Head Island Audubon Society, and has about a mile of wheelchair (and stroller) friendly trails.
Learn about the island’s Gullah history at Mitchelville Freedom Park
Take your kids to Mitchelville Freedom Park to teach them about Hilton Head’s Gullah history. The park is designed so that you can do a self-guided tour with the informational signs and placards that are placed around the park. Learn more here.
You can also visit The Gullah Museum of Hilton Head Island, but they were only open for private appointments as of March 17. Admission is $20.
Go to one of the island’s free, family-friendly events
Free events on Hilton Head Island really are the best. From the summer concert series and fireworks to the parades and festivals, there are a ton of events year-round. Keep an eye on the Chamber’s event calendar to see what’s going on.
Here are a few of our favorites:
- Hilton Head Island Gullah Celebration: The celebration showcases the Gullah people and their history on the island. You can experience many facets of the Gullah culture at this event, from food to art.
- Hilton Head Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade: Did you know Hilton Head has the oldest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the state? The parade is always held the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day.
- Shelter Cove’s Music & Taste on the Harbour: This free concert series at Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina is tons of fun for all ages.
- Harbourfest: Enjoy fireworks, live music and more child-friendly entertainment at Shelter Cove Harbour during the summer months. Shelter Cove Towne Centre usually has a summer concert series as well as a summer movie night series, but neither event is listed yet for 2022.
- Hilton Head Island Farmers Market: Find fresh produce and other local goodies this year-round farmers market.