I’ve visited Hilton Head for my entire life at least once a year.
It’s the same, simple, undistracted vacation each time: unwinding, bike riding, beaching, eating, swimming, laughing, hanging, shopping, antiquing. It’s just a beautiful, non-flashy destination to truly relax and connect with family.
In my baby days, sand was my dining option of choice. As I’ve gotten older and explored all of the restaurants around Hilton Head, I’ve developed a few that we return to again and again.
For the best donuts, ever
Duck Donuts is like the Cold Stone Creamery of the donut genre. A fun dessert-for-breakfast spot to visit while on vacation, each crispy hot cake-style donut order is made-to-order with glazes (chocolate, maple, or just a drizzle of a vanilla…) and toppings (nuts, coconut, sprinkles, BACON…) and coatings (sugar, cinnamon, powdered sugar…) so the combinations are endless. We ordered a few custom donuts and then dealer’s choices for the rest of our box. All were insanely delicious. Order My favorite was the cinnamon and sugar coated donut with or without the vanilla glaze. Eat immediately, while it’s warm.
For the best Greek you’ll ever try
When I visit HHI, I head directly to It’s Greek to Me my first open lunch spot. Order I never stray from my first order: the appetizer spread which includes your choice of dips (my choices are always the feisty feta spread, hummus, and tzaziki, sometimes the eggplant as an add-on) along with fresh cucumbers, hefty slices of feta cheese, bright red tomatoes, and kalamata olives.
For Farm-to-Table Fare
Chow Daddy’s sounds like a meat-and-three diner-type establishment, so were surprised to find a hipster atmosphere and farm-to-table menu. Two thumbs up for an eclectic menu accompanied by a normal chicken finger + french fries menu so our child had something familiar to eat. Order the ice cream sandwiches, which we had cut in quarters to share. Don’t be like us. Splitting is not a smart decision.
For the best wining and fine dining on the Island (it’s a restaurant and wine shop!)
For a glass of wine or a bottle to go, Red Fish is our go-to wine shop and fine dining restaurant on the Island. For wine lovers, the retail wine shop in the bar area is on point in both selection and price point, and we always find a great bottle (or three) to buy. The coolest part? If you’re dining, you can grab a bottle and pay a $10 corkage fee – which is a fantastic deal. Order anything, it’s all delicious.
For fresh-off-the-boat seafood fried, grilled, or broiled
When we drove up to Hudson’s for lunch, the “Overflow Parking” sign was both a sign we had made the best choice and a tiny cause for concern that we would have a long wait. It would have been worth a long wait, but thankfully with two kids in tow, we were seated right away and served quickly. Exceptional food, unbeatable setting on the water. We plan to go back without kids to sit on the deck for beers. Order try the hush puppies, even if you’re on a diet.
For the best ice cream in the Lowcountry
I’ve gone to Hilton Head Ice Cream for decades. Literally. Three decades. Order ice cream, obviously. Cinnamon ice cream is my go-to because you cannot get it anyplace else, but all of the homemade ice creams are worth the bike ride.
For live music & beer on the water
Visit Salty Dog Cafè for more than the t-shirt: an outdoor grill with great food (not extensive, or gourmet, but quick and quality) and a fantastic beer list + live music with the water as a backdrop. Plus you can be legit when you wear the Salty Dog t-shirt because you’ve been there.
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