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Have you Visited Hilton Head, South Carolina?

Meaghan's South Carolina Getaway Guide

Traveling to South Carolina I knew I'd be stepping into a different culture rich in history and full of hospitality. But I wasn't expecting to fit so quickly into the slower pace of life.

Meaghan enjoying South CarolinaMeaghan enjoying South CarolinaMy parents have been traveling to Hilton Head, South Carolina for years and each time they visit, they stay a little longer than the last. This year my husband and I decided to see what all the fuss was about and why it was so difficult for my parents to make their way back to Ontario.  Stepping off the plane at Savannah Airport, I immediately felt it. Even though we arrived on a chilly day, we couldn't help but be wrapped into the warm, southern hospitality. 

Bluffton, South Carolina

The CottageThe CottageCharm surrounds Hilton Head, and Bluffton, one of the little towns we visited, is no exception. We visited on a Sunday and not much was open, which is common on the island. But we were hungry after church and we'd heard rave reviews from my parents about a little café called The Cottage.  The wait for a table was just under an hour but there were many little shops on the street that captivated and distracted us for the short time.

great food at the Cottagegreat food at the CottageOnce seated in the tiny café, we quickly noticed why this place was a local hot spot. The staff overflowed with kindness and the aromas wafting from the open kitchen ignited our appetites again - not to mention the window of baked goods facing our table. I chose their special of the day, chicken pot pie, and was surprised at the presentation of it but not at all disappointed in the flavors. I would've gladly eaten there every day of our trip if given the chance.

Beaufort, South Carolina

The Penn Center, South CarolinaThe Penn Center, South CarolinaWanting to learn more about the history of the South, we drove to St. Helena's Island to visit The Penn Center. This is the site of one of the country's first school for freed slaves and is known for being one of the most significant African American historical institutions. During the 1960's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used The Penn Centre as a training site with other members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

We were warmly welcomed by volunteers who directed us to the museum portion of the center. There we spent a lot of time reading so many choices ...so many choices ...the history, tragedies and triumphs of all that The Penn Center went through to continue to stand today.

The best moment for me was a conversation I had with one of the volunteers. Robert told me about his time as a student at The Penn Center and the book he wrote during his search for his birth parents. I bought his book before leaving and look forward to returning again someday to learn more about this incredible place.

Hilton Head Wine & Food Festival

Wine Festival tastingWine Festival tastingBefore leaving home for Hilton Head, I discovered the annual Wine & Food Festival. I reached out on Twitter and arranged to visit on behalf of GoGirlfriend. I'm not a huge wine drinker myself but my husband and parents are and I knew it would be a beautiful day in the sun. The festival was on the last day of our trip - a delicious way to end our vacation.

We arrived to a big, open field bathed in sunshine filled with wine tasting stations, cooking demos and an abundance of delicious food booths. As live music played we traveled around the field, our complimentary wine-tasting glasses in hand. After stopping at several wine tastings we realized that food needed to be next and quickly.

food sampling at the Wine Festivalfood sampling at the Wine FestivalAlong the outside walls of the field sat booth after booth of local yummy goodness. Though the food was an additional cost, it was worth it. We left with a long list of restaurants to dine at the next time we visit Hilton Head.

A big thank you to the Wine & Food Festival for letting my family and I attend such a delicious event.

I arrived on Hilton Head, South Carolina a visitor ready to explore and take in the sights. But I left the island with a piece of its warm, welcoming spirit in my heart. And when I visit next year, I've got my list of stops and festivals to visit. I can't wait.

Have you experienced the southern hospitality in South Carolina? We'd love to hear about it! Find us on Twitter or Facebook and let's start talking!

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