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Hilton Head Island highlights: What not to miss on your next South Carolina golf vacation

William K. WolfrumBy William K. Wolfrum,
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If you're looking to enjoy the beaches of Hilton Head, the Hilton Oceanfront Resort will put you there. (Courtesy hiltonheadisland.org)

Home to 23 golf courses, including Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head Island is a golfer's dream. Great hotels like the Crowne Plaza Hotel Resort, dining options such as CQ's and sights make Hilton Head a perfect vacation destination for the whole family.

Famed golf and vacation destination Hilton Head Island has long been ahead of its time. Hilton Head celebrated its 50th anniversary recently, and it's hard not to appreciate how leaders of the South Carolina island have stayed true to their environmental beliefs, even when such thinking was nearly unheard of for an American community.

These days, many look at Hilton Head as a dream golf destination, which is understandable and was part of the plan of the original developers, who include such luminaries as Charles Fraser. Home to 23 golf courses, including such classics as Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head is a masterpiece that combines outstanding tourist amenities to go along with environmental awareness and a sense of its own history.

Just 12 miles long, this island is just 45 miles from Savannah, Ga., and within driving distance to other classic golf resorts like Kiawah Island. More than 2 million visitors descend upon Hilton Head during a normal year, keeping more than a dozen hotels and the thousands of rentals buzzing with activity.

And while golfers are always kept busy and happy with the diverse golf the island offers, there's more than enough to keep an entire family entertained on a Hilton Head Island golf vacation.

Hilton Head resorts and hotels

Place to stay with the kids: Crowne Plaza Hotel Resort - Not only do parents have access to the hotel's vast array of amenities, but there are evening adventures for kids, as well as Camp Castaway to keep the young ones going until they drop.

Place to stay for great views of the beach: Hilton Oceanfront Resort - Located in Palmetto Dunes, just five miles from Hilton Head Airport, you get all the amenities and service you expect from a Hilton - all overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Place to stay if you're active: Sea Pines Resort - The villas earn raves, but what many guests enjoy is the activities, which include bike trails (with rentals available), hiking trails, horseback riding, golf and tennis.

Place to stay to save a few bucks: Park Lane Hotel and Suites - You won't be getting the five-star amenities, but you will get spacious rooms, good service and a central location, generally for less than half the money you'd spend at one of the bigger resorts.

Hilton Head activities

Best way to spend $1: Harbour Town Lighthouse in Sea Pines - For just a buck, you can enjoy sprawling views of Hilton Head's south end and the Harbour Town Marina. Plus, you'll be smack in the middle of myriad shopping and dining options at Sea Pines.

Best place to get in touch with nature: Coastal Discovery Museum - Flush with exhibits and island tours, this museum is the perfect place to take the kids, or for grown ups to discover more about Hilton Head.

Best place to blow your young child's mind: The Sandbox - Children will really be in their element here as they sail on Captain William Hilton's ship of discovery and enjoy numerous other activities that make learning fun.

Best place to get your game on: Adventure Cove - If video games, laser tag and batting cages don't wear you out, the 36-holes of miniature golf surely will.

Best place for the artistically inclined: Arts Center of Coastal Carolina - A full plate of visual and performing arts beckons. "The Full Monty" stage show is just finishing a run at this prestigious theater.

Hilton Head restaurants

Place for a full dining experience: CQ's - Plenty of restaurants throughout the island of Hilton Head may do one or two things better than CQ's, but from the wine list to entrees to dessert, this is the full package.

Place where locals go: Catch 22 - In the Orleans Plaza off New Orleans Blvd., Catch 22 will dazzle with a raw seafood bar, lounge and outstanding entrees.

Place to relive the 1950s: Frankie Bones - If you like your shrimp wrapped in bacon, or prefer your macaroni and cheese to come with lobster, this throwback restaurant is the place for you.

Place to get your sushi on: Hinoki - Great ambiance to go with fresh sushi and a full menu.

Place to eat overlooking the ocean: Homeport - Enjoy great views of the Atlantic while gorging on fried lobster, rack of lamb or other delicacies.

Place for a low country oyster taco: Amigos Cafe y Cantina - It tastes better than it may sound. Stuck in a shopping center, this is a place you won't want to miss if you're a fan of Mexican cuisine.

Hilton Head Nightlife

If you love a microbrewery: The Brew Pub - Outstanding beer and bar food for those who love a sports bar ambiance.

Place to take a date: The Quarterdeck - Enjoy a spectacular sunset, then dance the night away.

Jazz lovers won't want to miss: Jazz Corner - The combination of great food and live music make this a popular choice. And remember, it's Swing music night every Tuesday.

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Harbour Town Lighthouse

William K. Wolfrum keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation. You can follow him on Twitter @Wolfrum.

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