ENJOY THESE SPOTS WHEN YOU NEED TO GET AWAY
Fun and exciting destinations are a short car ride from home in the Lowcountry. Whether you go for a day trip or explore for an extra day, neighboring cities are ready to greet you. Here are a few must-see spots within driving distance for family adventures.
BY HILTON HEAD MONTHLY
BLUFFTON, S.C. (0-.5 HOUR AWAY)
Explore Old Town: Visit local shops on Calhoun Street (from art galleries to a bookstore) or grab a bite to eat at a local establishment. The Bluffton Farmers Market on Boundary Street is a fun place to visit on Thursdays for fresh, locally grown vegetables and fruits. Burnt Church Distillery on Bluffton Road has welcomed 80,000 customers since it opened last year. Enjoy one of its 22 original cocktails. Old Town also includes the pre-Civil War Church of the Cross. A site worth visiting, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For more, visit blufftonsc.com.
May River Shrimp Festival: A marque event, the three-day May River Shrimp Festival offers live music, arts and a craft beer garden. The event, July 13-15 this year, is about enjoying delicious shrimp and seafood, all with the beautiful backdrop of the May River. The Shrimp Fest Sunset 5K opens the festival weekend. Visit blufftonsunsetparty.com.
Slide into Summer: Enjoy waterslides, video games and win prizes at the town of Bluffton’s “Slide Out of July” event, set for July 16 at Oscar Frazier Park. The event gives families a chance to socialize with neighbors and children in the community.
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (0-.5 HOUR AWAY)
HarbourFest: For more than 30 years Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina has hosted the summer-long HarbourFest. The free family-fun event features a firework display, live music with Shannon Tanner, and children’s activities with Cappy the Clown.
Enjoy fireworks one night a week through the end of August. Go to sheltercoveharbourfest.com.
Hit the Beach: Beachgoers rejoice, Hilton Head is the perfect place to enjoy a day in the sun and water. Nationally renowned Coligny Beach is the most trafficked (and has a full array of shops and restaurants within walking distance). Burkes and Driessen beaches are equally beautiful public beach options.
Beat the Heat: Take a respite from the sizzling temperatures by heading indoors to watch a movie. Visit Northridge Cinema 10, which has 10 screens, or enjoy Park Plaza Cinema or Coligny Theatre. Park Plaza is an independent theater. Coligny is a single-screen theater that shows mostly art house movies. If you want some action, Adventure Cove Mini Golf & Arcade on Hilton Head features air hockey, video games and a creative mini golf course.
BEAUFORT, S.C. (.5-1 HOUR AWAY)
The Kazoo Factory: The Kazoo Factory features one of the largest collections of kazoos in the world. Visitors can tour the factory and get an opportunity to make their own kazoo. Choose among 14 colors of bodies and caps. Fun for all ages. Fully guided tours are available Monday to Friday. For more information, visit thekazoofactory.com.
Highway 21 Drive-In Movie Theater: Under new ownership (Jake Higgins), but it still has that same feeling of nostalgia. You can watch an outdoor movie on one of three big screens. A mainstay since 1978, the Highway 21 Drive-In Movie Theater offers double features. For an updated schedule, visit hwy21drivein.com.
Hunting Island: Hunting Island attracts more than a million visitors a year. The main attraction is the island’s lighthouse, built in 1859. Visitors can stand 130 feet above the ground (in 167 steps) and absorb a panoramic view of the Atlantic Coast. Visit the nature center and you might see an alligator. Learn more at southcarolinaparks.com/hunting-island.
SAVANNAH, GA. (.5-1 HOUR AWAY)
Explore a Ghost Tour: Savannah is considered one of the country’s most haunted cities. There are a variety of tours, from walking tours to trolley tours and even a hearse tour. A new attraction is the Savannah Underground, which features spooky tales. For more tours, go to visitsavannah.com.
Telfair Museums: Experience culture, history and art at the Telfair Museums, which includes the Telfair Academy, art exhibits at the Jepson Center and the historic Owens-Thomas House and Slave Quarters. Founded in 1883, Telfair Museums is the oldest public art museum in the South.
The buildings and collections bridge centuries of art and architecture to the city. Visit telfair.org.
Fort Pulaski: Located on Cockspur Island, just 20 minutes from downtown Savannah, Fort Pulaski has stood over the Savannah River for more than 170 years. It was built to protect the city of Savannah and has become a prime attraction, with more than 374,000 visitors in 2019, according to the National Parks Service website.
Guests are invited to explore exhibits and hike or bird watch. At the fort, visitors can walk the rooms inside, view exhibits and read panels that tell stories about its history. You can also explore numerous walking trails. Visit nps.gov.
CHARLESTON, S.C. (2 HOURS AWAY)
Charleston City Market: In the heart of downtown Charleston, more than 300 local artisans line four city blocks to display their craftsmanship. Browse decor, art, jewelry, and clothing. Native Gullah artisans hand-weave the beloved sweet grass baskets and similar treasures from local bulrush, a Lowcountry sweet marsh grass. For more information, visit thecharlestoncitymarket.com.
South Carolina Aquarium: This waterfront location on the Charleston Harbor features more than 5,000 animals.
It offers outside views where visitors can spot wild dolphins and birds. A top attraction is the 385,000-gallon, two-story Great Ocean Tank. Tickets purchased online. Learn more at scaquarium.org.
Park Circle in North Charleston: Outside of the hustle and bustle of downtown is a thriving community in North Charleston. Park Circle is anchored by a central circular park and includes nearby green spaces. Within walking distance are plenty of local shops (pizzeria, an independent bookstore, dinner spots) and a fantastic cidery, the Ship’s Wheel Hard Cider. If you stop by for a drink we recommend the “High Seas.” Park Circle is close to the Hunley submarine, which is always a great attraction. Visit charlestoncvb.com.
COLUMBIA, S.C. (2-2.5 HOURS AWAY)
South Carolina State Museum: The South Carolina State Museum has more than 210,000 square feet of art, natural history and science-technology exhibits. It has four floors of modern design for curious minds of all ages. There’s an interactive 4D theater, Boeing Observatory and the 55-foot, 145-seat dome planetarium. Learn more at scmuseum.org.
Riverbanks Zoo & Garden: Natural habitat exhibits on 170 acres of greenery are home to more than 2,000 animal species. Feed giraffes, mingle with monkeys, and ride the Spots and Stripes train. Experience interactive fun and learning opportunities.
Beautiful blooms and greenery are another attraction. “Horticulture Magazine” voted them one of 10 gardens that inspire. To learn more, visit riverbanks.org.
Pawley’s Front Porch: Voted 2021’s best hamburger and food truck for “Best of Columbia Metropolitan.” Homemade pimento cheese and jalapeño bacon top the Isle of Palms burger.
Crawfish tail or mahi mahi tacos, plus cinnamon sugar sweet potato fries, make for happy, porch-rocking customers. For the latest info, visit pawleysfrontporch.com.
JACKSONVILLE, FLA. (2.5-3 HOURS AWAY)
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens: Jacksonville has a variety of entertainment options, but this is a prime attraction. See more than 2,400 rare and exotic animals, plus 1,000 varieties of plants.
Feed giraffes, watch otters float and tigers roam. Learn about the earth’s wildlife through interactive and educational experiences. Visit jacksonvillezoo.org.
Chamblin Bookmine: A large independent bookstore with two locations. Get lost in selection of thousands of books. There are used and new books from an endless collection of subjects. This is 60,000 square feet of browsing heaven.
The original store opened in 1976 and moved to its current location on Roosevelt Boulevard in 1991. By 2004, a new space opened on N. Laura Street.
Plan to blissfully spend hours roaming the aisles. Go to chamblinbookmine.com.
Adventure Landing and Shipwreck Island Water Park: The amusement park includes go-karts, an arcade, laser tag, miniature golf and batting cages. The water park includes a half-million gallon wave pool, four slides, water cannons and waterfalls.
The waterslide complex (Pirates Play Village) features a slide with 360-degree loops and an open-body slide with twists and turns.