Travel+Leisure. February 2021.
Whether you’re planning your first multi-generational trip or Hilton Head Island is your longtime family vacation tradition, here’s where to stay to keep everyone happy.
A summer vacation on Hilton Head Island is an annual tradition for many families. Pristine white sand beaches, miles of bike paths, and endless outdoor activities make a trip to the largest barrier island on the southern Atlantic seacoast an ideal destination for all ages. Hilton Head has a number of beachfront resorts that offer enough amenities to keep the entire family entertained. There are conference centers, spas, multiple pools, kids clubs, and a variety of dining outlets. Wherever you stay, you’re sure to create happy memories and return to vacation with another generation.
The Westin Hilton Head Resort and Spa
From private cabanas by the pool to family portraits on the beach, The Westin offers a personalized experience for those looking to stay within their pods and celebrate special occasions. ADVERTISING
Don’t leave Fido behind — dogs are welcome here too and there is a dedicated dog park on property.
As a wellness-focused brand, The Westin Hilton Head Resort and Spa offers families a variety of ways to stay active, eat healthy, and learn about the environment. The concierge can tailor runs, walks, and yoga for the entire family, as well as arrange for discounted golf, tennis, pickleball, golf, and foot golf at the Port Royal Plantation. Outside Hilton Head’s kiosk at the hotel rents out bikes and electric bikes to ride on the island’s 60 miles of bike paths. The Westin also offers room packages that extend a visit to the remote Daufuskie Island, only accessible by ferry, where you can horseback ride on the beach.
Marriott Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa
At Marriott Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa, kids have their own hotel check-in area complete with step stool to reach the counter. The largest resort on the island, Marriott boasts 513 guest rooms, an 18,000-square-foot ballroom, an Olympic-size pool, and a 10,000-square-foot spa with 16 treatment rooms.
Arts and craft activities center around the expansive pool deck that has closer beach access than any other resort on the island. With the backdrop of a DJ spinning live music, kids can engage in hands-on interests such as sand castle building, shark tooth necklace making, life-size chess, basketball, pickleball, and more. Every July, renowned master sand sculptor John Gowdy conducts sand sculpture seminars where he trains young people in building artistic sand castles. You can also see his extensive sand castle displayed in the Marriott’s lobby.
The hotel is located on seemingly endless Palmetto Dunes, which has 11 miles of lagoon system and over 100 miles of bike trails. It is common to see families riding tandem bikes, kayaking, and canoeing, unless they are teeing off on one of the area’s three PGA golf courses. If the weather is bad, walk over to the On The Mark indoor archery center that caters to families and kids, helping them build confidence and promoting mental and physical health.
Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island
Located in the gated Shipyard community, Sonesta Resort on Hilton Head has a great program for toddlers and young families to safely enjoy a beach vacation. From its swimming pool, water fountains, and pool toys to its extensive Kids Club, there are nonstop events listed on the activity board each day. During the summer, there are half- and full-day kids camps that include outdoor sports and arts and crafts as well as meals and snacks. Plus, there’s a make-your-own ice cream bar and a snow cone happy hour to look forward to.
You can also see some of the island’s wildlife at Sonesta’s lush lagoon. Kids can check off a punch card and win a t-shirt when they spot the local wildlife, such as sand dollars, jellyfish, horseshoe crabs, egrets, and cormorants. They can also observe resident turtles sunbathing by “turtle beach.”
In the evening, families can watch a dive-in movie on the big screen, or gather around the firepit for s’mores. And when parents need a night out on the town, the concierge at Sonesta can arrange for a private nanny service to watch the little ones in the comfort of their hotel room.
Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort
The Omni Oceanfront Resort is located in the quiet Palmetto Dunes area and offers classic and modern oceanfront suites with private balconies fitted with a living room area, spacious bedrooms, kitchenettes, and connecting doors. Boasting the largest resort rooms on Hilton Head Island, all guestrooms have a mini-kitchen with a microwave, refrigerator, and dining table.
A live DJ keeps the resort-style atmosphere lively throughout the day, while vocalists entertain dinner guests on the outdoor patio. Kids camps run from Memorial to Labor day, packing the days with leisure activities such as tie-dye, turtle hunts, biking, and paddle boarding. The open outdoor areas serve as a common ground to play pickleball, corn hole, life-size chess, and ping pong.
The Sea Pines Resort
Located along 5,000 oceanfront acres, Sea Pines is one of the most upscale family-friendly resorts on Hilton Head. A broad range of accommodation options include spacious vacation homes and villas and a romantic inn. Lowcountry adventures offered at the resort include tennis, horseback riding, boating, volleyball, and unique eco-adventures such as geocaching, dolphin watching, and alligator wine and cheese boat tours. There are also scheduled golf championships, culinary festivals, arts workshops, and ghost crabs hunts on full moon nights at this notable resort.
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