Hilton Head Island or Hilton Head is a town in Beaufort County, South Carolina. It is 20 miles north of Savannah, Georgia, and 95 miles south of Charleston. The island features 12 miles of beachfront on the Atlantic Ocean and is a popular vacation destination. In 2004, an estimated 2.25 million visitors pumped more than $1.5 billion into the local economy. The year-round population was approximately 33,900 at the 2000 census, although during the peak of summer vacation season the population can swell to 275,000. Over the past decade, the island's population growth rate was 32%.
Hilton Head Island offers an unusual number of cultural opportunities for a community its size, including Broadway-quality plays at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, the 120 member full chorus of the Hilton Head Choral Society, the highly-rated Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, the largest annual outdoor, tented wine tasting event on the east coast, and several other annual community festivals. It also hosts the Verizon Heritage, a stop on the PGA Tour which is played on the Harbour Town Golf Links in Sea Pines Resort.
The island has a rich history that started with seasonal occupation by Native Americans thousands of years ago, and continued with European exploration and the Sea Island Cotton trade. It became an important base of operations for the Union blockade of the Southern ports during the Civil War. Once the island fell to Union troops, hundreds of ex-slaves flocked to Hilton Head, which is still home to many 'native islanders', many of whom are descendants of freed slaves known as the Gullah who have managed to hold onto much of their ethnic and cultural identity.
The beginning of Hilton Head as a resort started in 1956 with Charles Fraser developing Sea Pines Resort, with the center piece being Harbour Town. Fraser was a committed environmentalist who changed the whole configuration of the marina at Harbour Town to save an ancient live oak. It came to be known as the Liberty Oak, known to generations of children who watched singer and song writer Gregg Russell perform under the tree for over 25 years.
The Town of Hilton Head Island incorporated as a municipality in 1983 and is well known for its eco-friendly development. The Town's Natural Resources Division enforces the Land Management Ordinance which minimizes the impact of development and governs the style of buildings and how they are situated amongst existing trees. As a result, Hilton Head Island enjoys an unusual amount of tree cover relative to the amount of development. Approximately 70% of the island, including most of the tourist areas, is located inside gated communities. However, the Town maintains several public beach access points, including one for the exclusive use of town residents, who have approved several multi-million dollar land-buying bond referendums to control commercial growth.
For a spectacular time in Hilton Head, come check out some of the annual festivals, like the Oyster Festival or the Wine and Food Festival. Bring your friends and get ready for a memorable time in Hilton Head!
Oyster Festival at Shelter Cove Community Park will include great seafood (oysters, of course!) plus chowder, chili, hotdogs, hamburgers, and more.
Hilton Head Island Wine and Food Festival
We’ve spent a quarter of a century promoting the island as a wine and food destination. Join us on Hilton Head Island in 2010 to celebrate our silver anniversary. A host of opportunities have been scheduled to recognize our milestone 25th anniversary. Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival
Hilton Head Island Golf
Hilton Head Island combines a wealth of golf courses fashioned by some of the game's most well known architects with the charms of the region itself. It strives for quality versus quantity and it shows. Hilton Head golf courses were voted #10 by Golf Digest readers as one of the world's best golf resort destinations. http://www.hiltonheadisland.org/golf/
Hilton Head offers many great attractions that will keep you and your family busy. Visit the Coastal Discovery Museum or The Sandbox for an exciting time you’ll never forget!
The Coastal Discovery Museum
The Coastal Discovery Museum offers programs, activities, and exhibits year-round to make learning about Hilton Head and other sea islands an enjoyable experience for island visitors and residents alike.
The Sandbox is a hands-on interactive museum filled with unique entertaining, and educational play areas to explore
Hilton Head Island Calendar of Events