Hilton Head Idyll: At Heritage, Real Fun Is Off the Course

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The Heritage at Harbour Town is a venerable Tour stop popular with pros and press alike for the course and the idyllic setting of Hilton Head Island. Here's a look at the sights away from the golf course. (Words and photos by Gary Bogdon.) While out for an early morning bicycle ride along the Hilton Head beach, a couple couldn't resist stopping for a moment to snap a few photographs as the sun rose from the horizon along the Atlantic.
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The moments before sunrise on the beaches of Hilton Head Island are the most beautiful and photographic, as the sky turns crimson just before the sun pops out, and the gulls and other birds flock to the shoreline in search of breakfast. Hilton Head has more than 12 miles of beautiful beaches.
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Pushing against a strong early morning wind along the beach is great exercise for cyclists and runners. Most of the hotels and a number of outfitting companies rent beach, and other, bicycles, and the beaches are hard-packed and very wide. One of the more popular outfitters is hiltonheadoutfitters.com
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The Greenery Inc. is a lovely nursery and antique business with blooming flowers and a picturesque building full of antiques. For more information visit thegreeneryinc.com
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After golf, beach-going and bicycling, the next most popular activity on Hilton Head Island is kayaking through the intracoastal waterways and marshes that border the island on the western side. Kayakers encounter everything from dolphins and turtles to numerous birds and water fowl. Complete packages for the novice, children and experienced kayakers are offered at kayakhiltonhead.com
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Lawton Stables is a very popular family spot, and no horse is more popular for the kids than Harley the Clydesdale, who came in 2008 and is of the Anheuser-Busch line of Clydesdales. Harley is a gentle giant who loves carrots and being petted and photographed. The Lawtown Stables is a full service equestrian center, with horseback riding and pony rides for kids, horse boarding and training, as well as English and Western riding lessons. This group of kids climbed up so they could get their photos taken alongside Harley. For more information visit lawtonstableshhi.com
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There is an abundance of alligators on Hilton Head, and most encounters occur between March and July, when the alligators are breeding. This gator, who lives in a pond near Lawton Stables, rose out of the water, puffed himself up, arched his back and made mating-call grunts, and I safely photographed him from the side of the pond. Two elderly women sitting on a nearby bench warned me: "Be careful. We believe he's looking for a date."
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One of the most popular forms of transportation is the bicycle. What better way to spend time than to cycle to your favorite spot and enjoy the surf?
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Family time and riding a bicycle through the 605-acre Sea Pines Forest Reserve is a very popular trip for young and old. As you ride or stroll through the preserve (Sea Pines is the golf community and home of the Heritage), keep your eyes and ears open for an abundance of wildlife, from alligators (I spotted 14 while I was there) to owls, colorful native water birds, wildflowers and a 4,000-year-old Indian Shell Ring, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Bikes are not permitted on the trails themselves, but you can ride down the rice dike and the roads leading into and out of the preserve. For more information visit exploreseapines.com
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Chef David grew up on the island and owns and operates the Roast Fish and Cornbread Restaurant, which specializes in fresh local seafood, organic hamburgers and a vegetarian selection. Chef David is holding his classic Port Royal seafood platter.
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For more information on Chef David and the Roast Fish and Cornbread restaurant visit roastfishandcornbread.com
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Shrimpburger from Chef David's Roast Fish and Cornbread Restaurant.
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Whiling away the day post-tournament with a drink, a cigar and a rocking chair is an art form at the marina village on Harbour Island.
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You can see just about anything during tournament week, including a live performance by Big B and the Stingers.
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The bigger the boat, the bigger the party in the Harbour Town marina, where crowds gather around sunset for food, drink and fun. All kinds of music blasts from the boats starting around sundown.
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More party boats.
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The big tree near the Harbour Town lighthouse is the best spot to hear live music every evening and night.
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Want to get close to the golf action? Kayakers watch from the water as the Tour pros approach the 18th green.
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This is the money shot at Harbour Town. Tour players walk up 18 and toward the iconic red-and-white lighthouse. No visit to the Heritage is complete without a climb to the top of the lighthouse, which houses a museum with Civil War artifacts.
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After the sun sets, things get a little crazy in the marina. This was the scene on Robert Allenby's boat, C'mon Aussie.
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Live music can be heard throughout the marina.
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Numerous yachts and boats line the marina at Harbour Island.
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People flock to their boats in the marina at Harbour Island to celebrate.
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The atmosphere at the Backyard Restaurant is like your favorite friend’s summer backyard party, with live music, small tables, and a fire pit.
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Southern sweet tea served in a mason jar at the Backyard Restaurant. For more information visit hhbackyard.com
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Homemade shrimp and grits at the Backyard Restaurant.
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Homemade banana pudding with real whipped cream at the Backyard Restaurant.