Hilton Head Island, S.C. — Hilton Head could calm even the most high-strung, Type-A executive. It’s not just the temperate climate or the 12 miles of Atlantic coastline or the commitment to green space that traces back to one of the island’s original visionaries, Sea Pines developer Charles Fraser.
Time moves more slowly on Hilton Head, perhaps because you’re never rushed to make an appointment or a tee time. Even PGA Tour pros talk about their annual April visit for the RBC Heritage as a chance to decompress after a white-knuckles week at the Masters.
If you’re looking to spend a long, leisurely weekend in South Carolina, Hilton Head is an ideal place to start your visit. Here’s how it might go.
Wake up in the AAA Four Diamond comfort of The Inn & Club at Harbour Town and make the short walk to the first tee at Harbour Town Golf Links, the design that revolutionized golf architecture when it opened in 1969 with its tight corridors and emphasis on strategy and shotmaking. Golfweek ranks Harbour Town No. 2 in the state and No. 19 nationally among resort courses. Or if you prefer the ocean views, take the shuttle over to Atlantic Dunes, a fabulous Davis Love III reimagination of the island’s original golf course. It ranks No. 110 on Golfweek’s resort list.
After golf, it’s off to the Lowcountry’s salt flats to go fly fishing for cobia and redfish. The island’s experienced guides know how to find the “nervous waters” in the shallows where fish are biting.
Before you leave the island, book reservations at Coast at Sea Pines, which, true to its name, sits beachside, with indoor-outdoor seating. Coast, fittingly, places a strong emphasis on fresh seafood. After dinner, head upstairs to the Ocean Lounge for an after-dinner drink and even better views of the Atlantic waves crashing on the beach.
Head north to Florence for a round at the Country Club of South Carolina, an amenity-rich club anchored by an Ellis Maples design that is regarded as one of the Midlands’ finest layouts. From there, it’s on to Lynches River County Park for a relaxing canoe or kayak trip down the Revolutionary River Trail. Depending on how ambitious you are, you might want to hire a guide for an extended trip or overnight excursion.
In the heart of town, the boutique Hotel Florence is convenient to dining and entertainment. That includes Da Massimo Ristorante Italiano, an intimate and authentic little bistro just a mile down North Irby Street.
Heading west toward the Blue Ridge Mountains, you’ll eventually arrive at the expansive Rock Golf Course & Resort, at the base of Pinnacle Mountain. Whether you’ve arranged a tee time on The Rock, the centerpiece of the 500-acre resort, or are just out for a hike, you’ll inevitably be drawn to Gauley Falls, just off the eighth fairway.
A little further west, Devils Fork State Park on Lake Jocassee offers no shortage of options for couples and families looking for a relaxing way to spend an afternoon. The 7,500-acre mountain lake is ideal for boating, jet skiing, paddleboarding, even scuba diving.
At day’s end, kick back at the Appalachian Ale House on Main Street in Pickens, where you can swap stories about your journey over local craft brews.