Click here to see Hilton Head Photos with captions
2 days at the beach in Hilton Head
After visiting the Angel Oak we wanted to stop by the Firefly Distillery which is right nearby (about 12 miles away). Unfortunately after driving there we found that they weren't open on Mondays. Darn! But we were able to stop by on Friday on our way back to the airport in Charleston. It was worth the trip, just to see the half-drunk crazies who were there sampling. FUN!
After trying to stop at the distillery we went by a beach someone at the workshop I taught the week before had recommended, Edisto Beach. I am not sure where there was to take pictures but we couldn't find it. He had shown me all kinds of photos taken there but we must have missed that spot.
Our next stop was the town of Beaufort. This is the town closest to Paris Island Marine base and quite a pretty place. We stopped and walked around downtown and then along the waterfront where there were some awesome swings (not the playground kind, the front porch kind) that we spent some time on and then it was off to Hilton Head.
Hilton Head–Day 1
We arrived in Hilton Head around 3:00 and after taking a quick sight seeing drive around the main roads, we checked into our hotel, the Hilton Head Marriott Resort and Spa. We had booked this hotel as a way stop between our two AirBnBs and we used Marriott points to do it. With that said I can now tell you that I am pretty much done with Marriotts for a number of reasons. This place was awful. Yes, it had a nice view and was right on the beach but it was dirty (surface clean but you should have seen the vents in the bathroom–disgusting) and as Marriotts often do, tried to charge us for every little thing. When we booked this on their website we were not informed that there was a $25 a day "resort fee." Not sure what that covered but we were not expecting it. Then when we checked in we were told, "We are going to upgrade you to an Oceanview King." We said, that would be great. Surprise, surprise to find an upgrade charge of $25 per day for the "Oceanview room" which was really a partial view. To be honest, we were trying to be thrifty here booking with points but to have them try to add $50 a day to the price is outrageous. I am going to use up the balance of my Marriott points and I am done with this company. I have stayed in some nice Marriott properties around the world but this one was the last straw, not to mention their corporate anti-gay, pro-life political stance. Besides, if we keep getting the kind of AirBnBs we got on this trip, we will be staying in more of those.
The first night we were there we headed out to the Old Fort Pub for dinner based on a recommendation from a good friend here in the Seattle area. Contrary to its name, the place is not really a pub but a very traditional dinner house with an amazing view. We were in our "resort wear" which for me was shorts and an izod shirt. Most of the folks eating there were in jackets for the men and dresses for the women but that was OK. I handled it. Once I was sitting down, no one knew I was in shorts. And later when a young gentlemen walked in wearing a jacket and tie but with a HUGE rainbow mohawk (you can see a pic here). From that point on, I was just fine.
Had a nice squid appetizer, some decent bread but my entrée was totally disappointing. I had ordered the pork tenderloin which came wrapped in prosciutto, a very salty prosciutto. This would have been OK except for some reason it came with a soy-based Asian sauce that was also very salty. This made it pretty much inedible. Like licking a salt block. A very poor choice by the chef. I know that I should have sent it back after a bite or two but kept hoping that it would get better. On the other hand, Kathleen loved everything she had and the service was good, but all in all, it was the most disappointing meal we had on the trip. Not the worst by a long shot, but the most disappointing. We did have an excellent dessert but I am darned if I can remember what it was.
That night there was a huge electrical storm. It was nice that it all happened at night and the next morning the air was crystal clear. We headed out looking for breakfast and had checked Trip Adviser for the best breakfast in Hilton Head. The only problem was that after a 20 minute drive, there was a hand-painted sign that said "Closed for family emergency." So we looked around nearby and stumbled onto The Plantation Cafe and Deli. What a great find! Super food, great service and great coffee. If you get a chance, this is the place to go for breakfast. We wish we had gone back there the next morning instead of where we wound up.
After breakfast we decided that we had done far too little shopping on this trip so Kathleen directed me to the Tanger Outlet Mall. It has two locations, a smaller original one and a larger newer, more spread out one. We hit them both. And as usual, it was Kathleen who wanted to go there but it was me that ended up buying clothes. Not sure why. After a morning of shopping we went by the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge. It looked like a very nice place but we stopped here (thankfully it is free) because their website looked interesting. What they neglected to mention is that there is nothing to see if you aren't a walker. My wife has an artificial hip and can walk a fair distance but the shortest trail was more than 2 miles. The longest more than seven. If you can do that, this might work for you.
By this time we were getting thirsty so we headed to the Salt Marsh Brewing in nearby Bluffton for a beer tasting. Had some great beers and some great service. Then it was off to tour Bluffton (cool church—see my pics) and then out to the Sea Pines end of Hilton Head to see the lighthouse and the harbor. After that, back to the hotel to rest up and clean up before dinner.
Dinner that night was at a place that was pretty high on the Trip Adviser list—The Lucky Rooster Kitchen and Bar. As much as the previous night's dinner had been a disappointment, tonight's was a wonderful surprise. Appetizers that blew us away (an octopus/alligator dish for me and one of the most interesting panzanella salads I have ever seen. Both were amazing. We hardly ever order the same entrée but the chicken sounded so good that we both ordered it. I got fried and Kathleen roasted. I won but both were incredible. We finished the entire thing off with a wonderful blueberry cobbler. And the service was AMAZING! Everyone we talked to on the staff from our server to the manager who stopped by to see how we liked everything, to our bus boy was so welcoming. This place is worth a trip to Hilton Head just to eat here.
After dinner it was back to the hotel where the weather was gorgeous and Kathleen decided she wanted to walk in the Atlantic ocean, which we did and it was warm and glorious. We ran into a nice couple who asked if I would take their photo which I did and they took one of us which has rapidly become one of my favorites of us. It's on the front page of this website.
The next morning we were out of the hotel by 9:00 (after a long discussion with the front desk about the added charges–they removed the "upgraded room charge" but left the resort charge we had not known about) and stopped for breakfast at the Hilton Head Diner. We wish we hadn't. This place turned out to be worst meal we had on our week long trip from Charleston to Savannah through Hilton Head. This place had a fairly decent rating on Trip Adviser and was on our way out of town on our last day. Near our hotel so we thought we would try it. Food was fine but the place looks and feels dirty. The restrooms were NOT clean. The food was pretty pedestrian. There are so many better places in Hilton Head to get breakfast and this may have been a good one a while back but right now, it's pretty sad.
To sum up, we wouldn't really go back to Hilton Head other than to eat at The Lucky Rooster. It was the best part of Hilton Head. We feel like we saw the rest. On to Savannah.