Every town, every city, everywhere you go in these beautiful United States, they all have a history. They all started out small and grew to the population they are today. Those that have lived their entire lives in the same place are proud of their heritage and the history of their hometown. Those that call Hilton Head Island home are no different. We love our history and we want to share it with everyone that finds their way here, whether they’re just passing through or staying for a week-long vacation.
The next time you find yourself on Hilton Head Island, be sure to stop in and check out these amazing historic sites before you head back home.
Zion Chapel of Ease
If you really want to experience the history of Hilton Head Island, head over to the Zion Chapel of Ease. Built in 1786, the chapel was originally part of the Episcopal St. Luke’s Parish to provide a place of worship to the islanders that couldn’t travel by boat to the mainland church. All that’s left is the cemetery, but within lies the Baynard Mausoleum, the oldest remaining structure on the island. The cemetery is also the final resting place of four Revolutionary War patriots and a hauntingly beautiful piece of history you should definitely see while on the island.
Coastal Discovery Museum
Located on 68 beautiful acres of preserved forest and marsh, the Coastal Discovery Museum is an excellent place to learn about all aspects of the history of the island, both natural and cultural. There are trails and gardens to explore, butterfly enclosures and animal exhibits to enjoy, and educational workshops that will entertain and educate the whole family!
Gullah Heritage Trail Tours
Descended from the enslaved West Africans that were responsible for cultivating and harvesting Sea Island Cotton, the Gullah people were some of the original inhabitants of Hilton Head Island. They were able to preserve their African heritage through literature, folklore, food, and their dialect. Take one of the Gullah Heritage Trail Tours led by one of the Gullah descendents to learn about the history and culture before the bridges and modern resorts came in and completely changed the landscape and lifestyle of the island.
Dye’s Gullah Fixin’s
As we mentioned above, the Gullah people have long preserved their heritage and that also includes their food. Taste the history by ordering from Dye’s Gullah Fixin’s. They may have closed their restaurant, but you can still pick up or have a scratch made authentic Lowcountry dinner delivered to your doorstep.
During the Civil War, Hilton Head Island was home to four military forts. Fort Mitchel was originally built by Confederate troops to protect the waterfront borders of South Carolina. The fort was later invaded by Union troops who later freed the hundreds of slaves settled in the area. Over time, the fort has decayed into practical nothingness, but its history is still there for you to explore.
Hilton Head Island is more than just beautiful beaches, the history is what has made it the fantastical tourist spot it is today. Be sure to make your bicycle rental reservations before you arrive so you can enjoy many of these and other sights with the wind in your hair and the sun on your face, instead of cooped up in a car.