Friday Favorites: Carolina in My Mind and on My Heart

It's Friday so I am linking up with ErikaNarci and Andrea and The Blended Blog to talk about what brings me Joy.  What brings me Joy is the beautiful Hilton Head where we spent our vacation last week. I have been wanting to do a travel post about our trip, but with the impending hurricane about to hit the area this weekend, I decided to take this Friday to talk about how special this place is. Carolina is truly in my mind and on my heart.

For about ten years, we went to Bethany Beach, DE. We really loved it and we had a lot of fun there. With a my new job, we decided to travel in August instead of July and we also decided to look to go to a different destination. Earlier this year, we started to talk about Hilton Head. Running Daddy said he didn't mind the drive, it's about 8 hours from here. I found the sweetest little house in Sea Pines that was renovated last year and we were off.

This was honestly the Best vacation that we have had as a family--probably tied with Disney and Atlantis. I was completely relaxed on day two and got a feel very quickly why Travel + Leisure named Hilton Head the Best island in the Continental U.S.  It is definitely now our favorite beach destination and Running Daddy and I are even talking about retiring there. What makes Hilton Head so special? So many things.

The Beach

The beaches are wide and the water is warm. The first night we arrived we were waiting for our table for dinner at the Beach Club and we walked down to the water. I told Hockey Guy to put his feet in the water and he couldn't believe how warm it was. The fact that the water is so warm means that you can boogie board and skim board basically all day. I may or may not have boogie boarded myself this trip.

The hard packed sand makes it possible to ride your beach cruiser on the beach at any time of the day, which is pretty darn fun. Sea Pines is a very bikeable part of the island and was pretty much our mode of transportation when we were inside the gate.

Sea Pines has a true Beach Club which is pretty hopping any time of the day. We ate there the first night and Coast is also where Hockey Guy chose to eat again the night of his birthday. If you rent beach chairs through the Beach Club, it also comes with water, towels and beach food and beverage service. It was very fun to put the flag up around 3 p.m. every day for our beach bar service for a Shirley Temple, Dark n Stormy and a Skinny Colada.

The other wonderful thing about where we were in Hilton Head is that there are very few houses and businesses that front the beach. When you look down the see beach.

The Food

In a post this week I mentioned that Low Country Cuisine is basically my favorite type of food. This is a little odd considering I grew up in New England, but if I could choose any type of food to eat, it would be Low Country. Every. Single. Time.

I would say hands down that the food in Hilton Head was probably the Best vacation food we have had as a family. Hockey Guy got to have his first hush puppies and loved them. He asked what they were like and I basically told him, seasoned corn bread that is deep fried. He is a fan. It is also the shrimp capitol of the US as far as I am concerned and the shrimp is just Better down there. There are also very accommodating for gluten free babes like me!

Here is where we ate:

Coast: We ate here twice. The first night this was a perfect choice because it was so close to our house and the hanger was setting in. Hockey Guy was super tired from the drive down but when he started eating the grilled shrimp he got a big smile on his face and started giggling because the shrimp was that Good. I also highly recommend the Beach Club tacos on the appetizer menu that are big enough for a light meal. This is a really Good restaurant and was the pick for Hockey Guy's birthday meal.

Salty Dog Cafe: No trip to Hilton Head is complete without a trip to the Salty Dog. We had a fun meal, bought our shirts, and enjoyed the view. They do indeed make a really Good Salty Dog, I think the key is the ruby red grapefruit juice.

Hudson's: Hudson's is amazing. They are the only seafood restaurant in Hilton Head that has their own fishermen. They do not use any seafood distributors, they employ a team that catches all of their fish daily. Running Daddy and Hockey Guy got the heads up on the golf cart parking shuttle that the hush puppies were amazing but not to fill up on them. They smelled so Good and I totally had food envy. Running Daddy had something called wreck fish which was the special of the day and I had the sauteed shrimp. This is a must stop if you are on the island.

The G-Free Spot: There is a gluten free bakery in Coligny Plaza called the G-Free Spot. We stopped in the last morning and I had my first piece of coffee cake in about nine years. It was so moist and yummy. Hockey Guy couldn't believe it was gluten free. This coffee cake started off the Best food of the last ten years. 

Skull Creek Dockside: This may have been one of the biggest surprises food wise of the trip. We were going to try to eat at Skull Creek but the wait was too long so I called over to their new restaurant next door Dockside. The wait was much shorter and we actually got a table in the bar in front of the windows without a wait. 

Our dinner here topped off the Best food day of the last ten years. This is not an exaggeration, this is not a drill. When I told our sweet waitress that I was gluten free, she said I should be able to eat almost anything on the menu, including their fried food.  WAIT! WHAT? Yes, their regular recipe for their fried food is cornmeal based and gluten free. Then I spied that there were fried clams on the menu, and they were clam strips. For the record, fried clam strips are my favorite food and I have not been able to eat them in over nine years. 

These were lightly fried and so yummy. I try to eat healthy but if there are gluten free fried clams on a menu, I am ordering them.

Hockey Guy also spied bacon hush puppies on the happy hour menu. We ordered them so that he could compare these to the ones at Hudson's. He felt the bacon in the ones at Dockside gave it the edge. Running Daddy thought that Hudson's were tops. I think they are going to need a rematch next year.

We really didn't have a bad meal the entire time we were in Hilton Head. The food is really a gem in the area and such a highlight of our trip. 

The Vibe

It's just so hard to describe what makes Hilton Head so special. I think it is just the vibe of island life. I have never relaxed so quickly on vacation in any other place. Running Daddy kept saying that it was almost dreamlike.

One of the very cool things in the summer is that every Wednesday there is a 5K race coordinated by Go Tri Sports. Depending on the tides, it is either held on the beach or on the road. The week we were there it was on the beach and Running Daddy and Hockey Guy had the Best time at the race. Running Daddy had never done a race on the beach. When the race was over,they jumped in the water. 

Sea Pines also has three golf courses and Hockey Guy chose to hit balls at the Sea Pines Golf Club for his birthday. The Golf Club is very family friendly and just a beautiful course. Hockey Guy would also recommend the m & ms from the men's locker room. That kid loves an amenity.

It's hard to believe that we were in South Carolina less than a month ago and they are about to be hit so hard with a big storm. I wanted to take today and just wrap South Carolina in a big hug because it is so amazing and we have all the feels about this state. This state and of course North Carolina is on my heart and in my prayers. I watch the news and just feel so worried for the entire area.

I think it is safe to say that the Carolinas are on our minds this weekend.  Stay Safe. Stay Strong. See you Soon Beautiful.


  1. Oh Patty- my mouth is watering with your delicious descriptions of your vaca meals- I am praying for those people- I hate hurricane season :( Have a great weekend

    1. We really didn't have a bad meal the entire week. Pray big and have a Good weekend!

  2. You now how to find yummy vacation eateries!! Looks lie such fun time. Happy Weekend!

    1. I am such a foodie and Hilton Head goes beyond beach food. This is a foodie paradise. Thanks for stopping by and commenting sweet lady!

  3. I have been watching the Hurricane news too and I am thinking about everyone who lives there. I love HH too...beautiful place.

    1. It is so beautiful. Pray big this weekend. Thank you for stopping by and have the Best weekend!

  4. You had a wonderful month! Stay safe as the hurricane approaches!

  5. Carolina girl right here - and happy to report HHI will be totally spared this go so you can rest easy for your favorite vacation spot!

    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting Amanda! Hope you are safe during the storms.

  6. Hilton Head looks and sounds incredible - it is up there on our US to visit list. I have to ask though - are there sharks in the waters, and is the sea warm? My son and husband would love all of that seafood. I would be all over the tacos! When someone says it is the best holiday food they've ever had that is pretty impressive! Hope you are having a great weekend - Joanne x

  7. Looks like you had a great time. I liked Hilton Head too, but I loved the Outer Banks of North Carolina - might be an idea for your next time. You know, James Taylor is North Carolina's favorite son, and he wrote it about NC - that song is an NC theme song for the public broadcast stations here.

  8. The Carolinas sure are beautiful! Looks like you had a wonderful time and I know what you mean about the food. I just can't get enough of it when I go! My inlaws used to have house near Southport, NC and we loved our visits there. It really is a wonderful place to spend a family vacation! Thanks for linking up to Take Me Away this month. Our next party starts Thursday at 7:00 pm EST and we would love for you to stop by! Enjoy your 4th of July!


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