Hilton Head is a town located on Hilton Head Island in Beaufort County, South Carolina. The town covers an area of fifty-five square miles and has a population of almost thirty-four thousand residents. The island on which its situated features twelve miles of beach front on the Atlantic Ocean and is a very popular tourist destination. In 2009, and estimated two and a half million visitors added more than a billion dollars into the local economy. During the tourist season, the population of the town can swell from fifty-five thousand residents to more than two hundred and seventy-five thousand. Over the past ten years, the town has enjoyed a population growth of more than thirty percent. Notable residents of the town include Arthur Blank, Colonel Benjamin H. Vandervoort, Duncan Sheik, Trevor Hall, Bobby Cremins, Kathryn R. Wall, Jayson Williams, Jim Ferree, Michael Jordan, John Cougar, Cartha Deloach, John V. Lindsay, Luke Kerr-Dineen, John Jakes, Darrell Hedric, Mark Messier and Patricia Cornwell.
The educational needs of Hilton Head is serviced by several schools on the island. Prominent schools in the area include Hilton Head Island Early Childhood Center, Hilton Head Island High School, International Baccalaureate Elementary School, Hilton Head Preparatory School, Hilton Head Island Middle School, Heritage Academy, Hilton Head Christian Academy, Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts, St. Francis Catholic School and Sea Pines Montessori Academy. The European’s to set foot on Hilton Head Island was the Spanish in 1521. In 1663, Captain William Hilton sailed from Barbados to explore the lands granted by King Charles II of England to the Lords Proprietor. While he was traveling, he identified the island and named it “Hiltons Head” in honor of himself. He spend a period of a week on the island and took notes of the scenery and natural fauna. Five years later, the island was given as a barony to John Bayley of Ireland. During the American Civil War, the island would become an important point of operation for the Union Navy blockade of Savannah and Charleston. It was during this time that the Union built a military hospital on the island with a floor area of over sixty thousand square feet.
Today, the entire island of Hilton Head is home to a large selection of wildlife which includes sea turtles, alligators, deer, birds and dolphins. The town is also home to several gated communities which include Hilton Head Plantation, Windmill Harbour, Sea Pines Resort, Indigo Run Plantation, Palmetto Hall
Plantation, Wexford Plantation, Port Royal Plantation, Long Cove Plantation, Shipyard Plantation and Palmetto Dunes Resort. Beaches in the area include Alder Lane Beach, Mitchelville Beach, Coligny Beach , Fish Haul Beach, Folly Field Beach, Driessen Beach, Islanders Beach and Burkes Beach. Hilton Head is
also home to a great many parks. Some of the more prominent ones in the area include Xeriscape Garden, Broad Creek, Cordillo Tennis Courts, Crossings Park, Shelter Cove Community Park, Old Schoolhouse Park* Island Recreation Center, Jarvis Creek Park, Marshland Road, Old House Creek, Chaplin Community Park, Green Shell Park, Barker Field and Hilton Head Park.
A popular attraction in Hilton Head is the Coastal Discovery Museum. This museum gets over a hundred thousand visitors each year and is situated at 100 William Hilton Parkway. The museum features a History Time Exhibit, Museum Store and Sea Island Classroom. It also overs ten different tours and special cruises around the island. Coastal Discovery Museum also leases sixty-eight acres of land called Honey Horn Plantation. It uses this plantation to showcase special exhibits which educated visitors about the culture, environment and history of Hilton Head Island. This museum is open seven days a week. Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge is another popular attraction for visitors to the town. This wildlife refuge is located halfway between the South Carolina mainland and Hilton Head Island. Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge covers four thousand acres and was established as a forest and nature preserve. Animals that can be found on the refuge include white tailed deer, shore birds, white ibis, water fowl, egrets, bald eagles, armadillos, alligators, salamanders, wood storks, herons and raptors. Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge has no visitor center, but it does contain over ten miles of trails which offer spectacular views of key features of the island. Some of these key features include White Point, Osprey Pond, Ibis Pond, Wood Stork Pond, Dick Point, Clubhouse Pond, Shell Point, Bull Point and Nini Chapin Pond.
Hilton Head also throws several annual events throughout the year. Some of the events that occur here include the Gullah Celebration, Wine Fest, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Wing Fest, Harbour Fest, Verizon Heritage Golf Tournament, Rib Burnoff & Barbecue Festival, Celebrity Golf Tournament, Drink Making
Contest, Food Festival, Chili Cookoff, Hilton Head Community Festival, Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival and the Dove Street Festival of Lights. Other attractions in the town of Hilton Head include Island Explorer, Gullah Gal Fishing, Endangered Arts, The Sandbox Interactive Children’s Museum, Arthur Hills Course at Palmetto Dunes, All About Me Spa, Bulldog Fishing Charters, Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf, Palmetto Hall Plantation Club – Arthur Hills Course, The Golf Courses of Palmetto Dunes, Baynard Plantation Ruins, Palmetto Dunes Plantation, Harbour Town Golf Links at Sea Pines, Drifter Excursions, Picture This Art Gallery, Vagabond Cruise, Oyster Reef Golf Club, Country Club of Hilton Head, Gullah Heritage Trail Tours, Cheers Charters Inc., Sea Pines Forest Preserve, Colleton River Plantation, Island Winery, Jones Course, Captain Hook Party Fishing Boat, Barony at Port Royal Golf Club, Robber’s Row at Port Royal Golf Club, Stan Smith Tennis Academy, Van Der Meer Tennis Center, Catmandoo, Newhall Audubon Nature Preserve, Shipyard Golf Club, Harbour Town Lighthouse, Golden Bear Golf Club, Robert Trent Jone Oceanfront Course, Shelter Cove Marina and George Fazio Golf Course.
Hilton Head is also home to a number of restaurants and hotels. Restaurants in the town include Hudson’s Seafood House-Docks, Crazy Crab, Alligator Grille Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar, Alexander’s Seafood Restaurant, Red Fish Restaurant and Old Oyster Factory Restaurant. Hotels in the town include Daufuskie Island Resort and Spa, Park Lane Hotel & Suites, The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa, Beachwalk Hotel and Condominiums, Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort and Holiday Inn Hilton Head Island Hotel.