Posted on 8/9/2022

Live The Local Hilton Head Island Life.

There are plenty of beautiful, fun, and amazing things to do and see here on Hilton Head, but we want to give you the local insider's perspective and let you experience the island as if you called it your home.

Sometimes it seems the island has as many restaurants as it does palm trees, but here are a few that locals love to frequent. It may be their views, locations, signature libations, or of course their unmatched food–or a combination of all of those things–but you’ll want to make sure you try them all.

For more than 50 years, Hudson’s Seafood on The Docks has been a unique Hilton Head Island experience. You’re not just dining and having drinks by the water, you’re literally doing it on the dock in Skull Creek (Intracoastal Waterway). Tables, both inside and out, feature extraordinary views of Port Royal Sound–including the best sunset photo opp imaginable. But what really sets it apart from any other dining experience is just how fresh the seafood is. The Carmines family-run Hudson’s has one of only two remaining fishing fleets on Hilton Head Island, bringing fresh local seafood straight from their boats to your table. Watch as their crews unload thousands of oysters, shrimp, and soft shell crabs from the day’s catch, while you catch sunsets as incredible as the food.

In Wexford Plaza just down from Sea Pines circle you’ll find something quite unique. A fast, fresh, casual dining experience featuring the unlikely combination of the freshest, locally-roasted coffee along with equally fresh burritos packed with locally-grown ingredients. Welcome to Java Burrito, a bustling joint that has a philosophy that’s simple yet inspiring, “Every customer counts and every new relationship is just as special as the last.” They believe whether they are your go-to coffee spot, farm to fork favorite, happy hour home, or if you happen to be here for a week or lived here a lifetime, they are forever grateful you love what they love to make!

Although Hilton Head is home to over 12 miles of soft, sandy beaches there aren’t many watering holes right on the water. An exception to that is Pool Bar Jim’s; an oceanfront cocktail oasis serving up the freshest fruit libations overlooking the ocean. Located at Sea Crest Resort in North Forest Beach, Jim’s is literally next to a pool right on the dunes and under swaying palms. And, yes, there is a real Jim, and you usually find him behind one of the two bars whipping up the freshest frozen concoctions you’ll find anywhere as he has for decades. They’ve also teamed up with another local favorite, Lowcountry Backyard Restaurant which serves up “Lowcountry seafood and cuisine made the way it used to be.” With fabulous food, breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, and fresh, frozen drinks served up by an island legend it’s no wonder why Pool Bar Jim’s is a hit with locals and visitors alike.

Another hidden local gem tucked away not far from Sea Pines circle is Side Hustle Beer Company, the smallest craft brewery in South Carolina! And they’re proud of that fact because as they say, “As we all know, size doesn’t matter, but amazing beer does!” This owner-operated working brewery serves up exceptional tasting beer, available in 16oz cans to-go and draft pours on site. Pop in, kick up your flip flops and enjoy some brews here with us or take them to go to your favorite island spot.

Don’t just go to the movies go to what Cosmopolitan magazine calls the “Coolest movie theater in South Carolina!” Just outside the Sea Pines main gate nestled in the back corner of Park Plaza is Park Plaza Cinema: a truly one-of-kind movie-going experience. Ever since husband and wife partners and owners, Larry and Lucie Mann took over the theater in 2010 it’s been a wildly popular place to watch everything from Hollywood blockbusters to independent short films staring local actors. This place has it all from luxury reclining seats to a fully stocked café offering beer, wine, coffee and ice cream! But what makes this movie theater an editors cut above the rest is Larry and Lucie’s dogs Annabelle and Antoinnette. The dogs play starring roles at the theater greeting customers six days a week and even making it into the theater slogan “The Movie Theater with The Dogs!”

If you have a sweet tooth you’ll want to make your way to the Chocolate Canopy. You’ll find this chocolate-lovers dream come true just off Sea Pines circle on New Orleans Road. The Chocolate Canopy has been Hilton Head’s local chocolate company for 40 years! Their melt-in-your-mouth chocolates and confections are created by hand using only the finest ingredients. This attention to detail yields the most amazing chocolate you’ve ever tasted. Sun, sand, sea–and chocolate­–some things were just made for each other! Enjoy on your stay and even at home as they ship nationwide, so you can always get a little taste of the island whenever you want.

Get on your bike and ride–to your heart’s content! Hilton Head Island puts the pedal power in your hands–and feet with Home to over 150 miles of public and private bikepaths. And hello that doesn’t even count the 12-plus miles of beach to cruise along taking in the ocean views as the waves roll in. Hilton Head is one of America’s most friendly biking communities, even earning the silver award from the League of American Bicyclists. One of the best places to grab your wheels and go is the family-owned Peddling Pelican with stores in Sea Pines and delivery and pickup in Sea Pines, Shipyard, Palmetto Dunes, Port Royal, Folly Field, North and South Forest Beach, and all points in between. They even have a large inventory of beach gear for rent too.

On an island that’s one-of-a-kind, you’ll want to stay at a one-of-a-kind vacation home from a one-of-a-kind property management firm. Whether you’re a first-time visitor, or have come to Hilton Head for years, each of us at The Vacation Company can’t wait to welcome you to our beautiful island. Our team is made up of all locals, and have over 150 years of combined experience. Reach out today to one of our Hilton Head Island concierge experts, and they’ll help you choose from a portfolio of 400 exclusive island homes. Whether it’s a breathtaking oceanfront estate or well-appointed golf-course villa, all of us at the Vacation Company are real people who really care about giving you a true local Hilton Head experience.

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