Are you planning a trip to Hilton Head Island over the 4th of July? My parents have owned a condo there for more than 20 years, so I've been spending summers in Hilton Head since my early teens. It's a very family friendly vacation destination, so I wanted to share a couple things you can do in the area that are specific to the 4th of July weekend.
1. Grab a picnic blanket, head down to the beach, and check out the 6th annual Salute from the Shore. This is a unique way to show respect for veterans and those currently serving in the military! Kids will love watching F-16s and vintage WWII aircraft flying low over the coastline. The planes depart from Shaw Air Force Base and are scheduled to buzz the beaches of Hilton Head Island between 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. on the 4th of July. The planes fly by in batches, so you may see the F-16s first and then the slow lunkers (my personal favorites!) will bring up the rear. 🙂
Click on this link to enter the info (name, photo, and details) of your own personal military hero so the rest of the world will know who you're saluting that day. Take a flag to wave so the veterans inside each plane can see your support from the air! How cool would it be if they looked out over a sea of red, white, and blue flags?! Just remember to be respectful and use proper flag etiquette. (And, speaking of being respectful, please don't take a Confederate flag. Ugh.)
Check out this video to learn more:
SCE&G is the main sponsor for this event. My dad worked for them for approximately 30 years, so that's how I first came to hear about it. We watched it together from the balcony of our condo last year. I'm sad I'll miss it this year (I'm traveling to HH later in the summer), but I hope it will draw a big crowd!
2. Cruise with wild Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin in their natural habitat. This is such fun for the whole family, and is a relaxing way to view Hilton Head from the water. There are numerous tour guides, so if you can't find a ticket on July 4th for one, just search a different company. The sunset dolphin tours are my favorite! Not only do you get to see a beautiful sunset over the water, but it's also much cooler than cruising mid-afternoon. You may even get lucky and see some fireworks on your way in! The last tour I went on was with Vagabond Cruises and they did a great job, but I've also gone out on smaller boats where you can actually lean over and touch the dolphin if they swim close enough to the boat. Search Groupon or LivingSocial before buying, because they often have great coupons for these cruises.
My dad and Daisy on the lookout for dolphin!
3. Watch the fireworks from Shelter Cove Harbour. I did this with my family in 2014, and the fireworks were spectacular! This event is really crowded, but they have shuttles and do a good job of managing the traffic. Read about the official parking plan at this link. Plan on arriving early in the day, wear your walking shoes, have dinner at one of the many restaurants in the cove (make those reservations ASAP), and then stake out a good spot where you can watch the fireworks.
The most popular spots are claimed early in the day, so be diligent if you want a really good view! Try to sit with a body of water directly in front of you so you'll see the fireworks in the air above and reflected in the water below. If you sit near the marshes closer to the parking lot, you can do so redneck-style and bring a lawn chair and a cooler. The fireworks originate from the river behind the Disney Resort, so I prefer to be out in that direction and much closer to the action.
Shelter Cove has a fireworks show every Tuesday night during the summer, so don't worry if you happen to miss it on the 4th. Two other great places to watch the fireworks shows are from Skull Creek Boathouse (Souls Harbor Acoustic will be playing there this year) and Sea Pines Resort. Sea Pines has the famous red and white lighthouse that's so synonymous with HHI.
4. Argh Matey! What kid wouldn't love to be on a pirate boat for the holidays?! Sound off with your own (water) cannons and go on a hunt for missing treasure with real pirates. The tour begins on land, where kids will learn “pirate speak”, have their faces painted, and receive their official pirate names. Don't forget the tattoo! Once they're in their pirate gear, they'll head off on the Black Dagger to defeat Stinky Pete the Pirate and locate his sunken treasure. I just noticed most of the evening tours are already sold out on the actual 4th of July, but the 9 & 11 a.m. cruises still have tickets available if you move fast! FYI, the boat departs out of Sea Pines, so there's a $5 per car fee to enter the gates, in addition to the cost of the pirate tickets.
The Black Dagger pirate ship, docked in Sea Pines Harbor.
5. For the more adventuresome, grab your GoPro and take a jetpack over the water to see just how high you can fly! This option isn't cheap, but it is unique and is great for teens. Prior to leaving solid ground, a certified master trainer will walk you through all of the important jetpack maneuverability steps. While you're in flight, the same trainer will be available to guide you through an audio controlled helmet. The trainer is able to control the water flow in order to maintain safety, and an additional trainer will be on a jet ski alongside you as a backup safety measure. That trainer will take video so you can prove to your buddies back home that you actually walked on water and then took flight!
I hope this post helps anyone who is planning a vacation to Hilton Head this summer and is looking for unique things to do with their family. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments. I also suggest signing up here to become a Hilton Head Insider. Since you're going to be in the area, you may want to check out my guide to River Street in Savannah, too!
If you like these ideas, please pin and share with others!