We’re thrilled to introduce our new travel guide series, “Where Locals Go,” featuring insider’s picks of hidden gems and favorite spots in different destinations. Our first stop? The picturesque Hilton Head Island, as revealed by the lovely Leah, also known as Low Country Leah. With her eight years of living on the island, Leah has discovered the best restaurants, coffee shops, breweries, and more. Whether you’re craving Mexican cuisine, the perfect cup of coffee, or a memorable date night spot, Leah’s got you covered. Get ready to explore the vibrant food scene and uncover the top attractions of Hilton Head Island, as recommended by a true local!
drive time from Myrtle Beach ⏱️ 4 hours
Your Local Guide
Hilton Local mom, Leah, shares the best things to do, see, and try in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina on her instagram! Follow her:
MEET LEAH: YOUR LOCAL GUIDE
Hi yall! I’m Leah (known to my insta community as Low Country Leah). I’ve lived on Hilton Head Island for 8 years and I absolutely love the laidback island state-of-mind that Hilton Head Island offers our family. My children are born and raised here, and I feel incredibly blessed that we get to raise our family nestled amongst the spartina grass and wading in tide pools with the picturesque backdrop of palm trees and moss-covered live oaks. I’m so excited to share some of my family’s favorite spots on Hilton Head Island. I hope some of these recommendations land somewhere on your itinerary next time you visit our beautiful slice of Island paradise.
- FOOD: Explore Hilton Head’s Food Scene
- SHOPPING: Local gems and Trendy Finds
- THINGS TO DO: Weekend Picks and Family-Friendly Activities
EXPLORE Hilton Head’s FOOD SCENE
Favorite Mexican Spots in Hilton Head Island
Santa Fe Painted Desert Soup and Pistachio Cheesecake
I have a few and I refuse to just pick one! I have a different choice depending on what I’m in the mood for so let’s lay them out.
Java Burrito Co. – Dare I say this is my favorite restaurant on Hilton Head? It might be. Think Chipotle meets Coffee Shop with a trendy spin and impeccable vibes. The food is OUTSTANDING. Not only are their burrito bowls and tacos amazing for lunch and dinner; they also have an incredible breakfast and make some of the best potatoes ever. Their margaritas are some of the best I’ve ever had. And their COFFEE! Just outstanding. You need an espresso milkshake or coconut mocha latte – stat.
Fiesta Fresh – This is a local hole in the wall but my gosh their food is GOOD. They have two locations on the Island one on the north end and one on the South end off of New Orleans Road. Their Fiesta Chicken Taco Salad is one of my go-to lunch orders (they put it inside of a huge flour tortilla shell) get an extra order of the Avocado Ranch salad dressing – trust me. My husbands go-to order is a Chicken Panson Burrito – it’s awesome.
Amigos Café & Cantina – I promise you their BBQ Chicken Salad is the one of the best salads you’ll ever have in your life. It’s so fresh and delicious and unfortunately I cannot tell you anything else about their menu because for the past eight years this is the only thing I order when we go.
Best Spot for a coffee meeting
Definitely Java Burrito Co. This is the perfect spot for coffee date with friends or to meet with clients.
Favorite Hilton Head Pizza
This is a loaded question for me. As a native Jersey girl I take my pizza game very seriously.
If we’re ordering pizza delivery we always order from Dough Boys. I love their hand tossed crust pizzas and I’m a huge fan of their build your own chopped salads. They also have some fantastic wings.
We also love New York City Pizza – they have two locations on the Island (one near Coligny and one on the North End). Their pizza is delicious, as are the wings. It’s a great place to order pizza from.
We also love eating at Local Pie. They have really good pizzas and when you dine at the restaurant with kids they give them pizza dough to play with while they wait. It’s a fan favorite amongst my kiddos (link to reel).
Go-to spots when you’re craving Italian
I’m 80% Italian. Let’s talk about my favorite spot.
Michael Anthony’s is it for me. I’ve never had a bad meal there. Not only does Michael Anthony’s have a fine dining restaurant but they also have a Market Café where they offer a more casual dining atmosphere and smaller menu. They also have a wide variety of Italian products available for purchase in the café. Another thing worth mentioning is they have a COOKING SCHOOL. They offer hands-on classes and demonstration style classes right at their location. I have not done this yet but it is high on my to-do list for the fall.
UNCOVER THE Coolest Hilton Head BREWERIES
We are very fortunate in Hilton Head to have access to incredible breweries. We frequent a lot of them as avid beer aficionados and they all have their own charm. We love Hilton Head Brewing’s beer in general. They do such a good job and it’s an easy spot to run by with the kids, listen to some music and grab a soft pretzel. Our favorite beers at Hilton Head Brewing are the Tropical Lager, Crab Pilsner, and 9 Juan Juan.
Probably one of the hottest & newest HHI hangouts is The Bank: Hilton Head’s Beer Garden. Y’all this place has so much to offer. It’s in the heart of HHI’s tourist district (down the road from Coligny Beach) and it’s pretty incredible. They took an old bank and converted it into a HUGE indoor/outdoor beer garden. Side Hustle Brewing is the main brewery on campus. They have endless options for food (all appropriately themed with names like Mo’ Money Tacos & Bank Heist Burgers). It’s a great spot to take kids to as they have lawn games like corn hole and giant jenga. There seems to be an incredible set up for live music, and when we were there they had a fantastic DJ. You truly did not feel like you were in Hilton Head.
Lincoln & South Brewing Company is home to two of my favorite local beers – Hearts and Arrows IPA and the Beach City Pilsner. They have a really good live music schedule and make a mean charcuterie board!
We’re a bunch of sushi lovers in our house and when we have a craving for sushi we always go to OKKO Japanese Sushi and Hibachi Restaurant. My favorite roll is hands down the Volcano Roll.
Favorite Date Night Spot
Our date night jam remains the same year after year – WiseGuys Modern American Restaurant. I really love this place. The food is phenomenal, the ambiance is calming and chic, and the staff is topnotch. They have a really great selection of small plates – we love the Shrimp & Lobster Wontons, Tuna Tacos, and Flash Fried Shrimp & Calamari. The real star of their show is their steaks. I’m not a huge red meat eater but I love their Filet Mignon with Gorgonzola Fonduta. I’m a sucker for their Sky’s The Limit Wine Flight. Ask to sit in the bar area if you are going on a date and definitely make a reservation.
Hilton Head SHOPPING: LOCAL GEMS AND TRENDY FINDS
Pick out a great bottle of wine
You MUST stop by Rollers Wine & Spirits on Palmetto Bay Road for ALL of your libation needs while visiting HHI. Not only do they have a vast variety of wine, beer, and liquor; they also have the most stunning bar called ‘The Candy Room’ where I love to grab a glass of Santa Margherita and share one of their beautifully crafted charcuterie boards with friends. They have secluded booths that are perfect for a girls night out, book club meetings, and date nights.
Find a gift for your best friend
LETTRS on Main Street is my first stop when shopping for gifts. They have every gift item you could think of: clothing, accessories, entertaining items, jewelry, perfume, candles, handbags, linens, platters, etc. They even have a wonderful collection of children’s clothing, accessories, and books. The best part about LETTRS is they will monogram or engrave just about anything. Every one of my children’s backpacks, lunch boxes, nap mats, you name it – get monogrammed at LETTRS.
Shop for your kids
Sea Bees (@seabeeshilton) has an incredible selection of Hatley products as well as Bows for Belles and Posh Peanut. The shop owner is such a treasure and will help you find the perfect outfits!
Moonlit Lullaby (@shopmoonlitlullaby) This is one of my go-to shops for nice outfits – especially coastal chic attire for my son (if you haven’t checked out the Saltwater Boys Co brand you need to!) They carry Beaufort Bonnet Company which I especially love. Their baby section is really well done and I love that they carry a wide variety of gift items, toys, and shoes.
Island Child (@islandchildhhi) has been in business on Hilton Head for over 30 years. They have an unbelievable collection of kids clothes and accessories. It’s an adorable store with a great variety!
Pick out a trendy outfit
I’m a huge fan of so many incredible boutiques on Hilton Head but here are a few of my favorites when shopping for myself.
Coastal Bliss (@coastalblisshhi)
Mandy & Ally (@mandyandally)
L+B Boutique (@shoplbstyle)
Spartina 449 (@spartina449)
Gigi’s of Bluffton (@gigisofbluffton)
WEEKEND PICKS AND FAMILY-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES
Summer Kid Guide to HHI
Finding things for my kids to do year round is SO easy to do in the Low Country. I have a guide on my Instagram page called “Kid Guide to HHI”. I also have a highlight bubble labeled “LowCo Kids” and a page on my milkshake app all geared to towards things to do on Hilton Head with kids. Here are a few of my kids favorites:
Lawton Stables: We go here multiple times a year to feed the animals or go for a pony ride. It’s right down the road from Harbour Town so it’s a great place to stop on your way to the lighthouse. →check out the reel of Lawton stables
Tie-Dye at The Salty Dog in South Beach: During the summer, Salty Dog has a lot of different events but they do offer tie-dying of their iconic Salty Dog Shirts. Make sure you stop and see the scarlet macaws outside of the tee shirt shop.
Lowcountry Celebration Park: A fantastic pirate ship style playground down at Coligny Beach. It’s HUGE and beautiful. My kids absolutely love it, especially in the fall and winter when it’s a little less crowded.
Favorite Boat Tours
If you’re coming here on vacation during the summer do not miss these four tours. Under the “Guides” tab on my Instagram page there is a guide highlighting each of these.
Mermaid of Hilton Head Boat Tour
→ check it on on insta
Crabber J Boat Tour
→ check out the reel
Island Skiff Boat Tour
→ check out the reel
Hibachi Sunset Cruise
→ check out the reel
Things To Do In The Rain
If you’re familiar with the low country you know that we are no stranger to the afternoon summer shower during June, July, and August. Don’t fret – there are so many amazing things to do on (and off) the Island when the storms roll in.
Chronic Golf + Games (@chronicgolf)
Park Plaza Cinemas (@parkplazacinemahhi)
The Sandbox Children’s Museum (@thesandboxhhi)
If You’re Feeling Cultural
One of my favorite ways to learn about the Island or embrace myself in the history is to check out the Coastal Discovery Museum (@coastaldiscoverymuseum). If you’re coming to Hilton Head you NEED to check out their program schedule they have so much to offer. In the summer, they have some wonderful programs on rotation like Meet the Critters of the Low Country, Gullah Heritage Trail Tour, Blue Crab Discovery, and a Butterfly Learning Station. There is a great Farmers Market on Tuesdays with a wide variety of incredible local vendors as well.
THANK YOU, LEAH!!! These are amazing local picks for Hilton Head! Share in the comments if you try any of her recommendations 🥂
Leah’s “Where Locals Go” guide to Hilton Head Island is just the beginning of our series. Stay tuned for more insider perspectives and destination recommendations from locals!