This South Carolina island is one of the most visited vacation destinations in the country. Luckily, it’s blessed with wide stretches of sand and a low-rise ceanfront, so beachgoers never feel packed in like sardines. In town, bikes rule the streets, which are lined with shops, art galleries and more than 150 restaurants.
Seafood, of course, is the thing to order. Devoted customers of the unassuming Sea Shack insist that no one does fresh fish, oysters and clams better. The question “Fried, grilled or blackened?” applies to everything from shrimp po’boys and crab cakes to locally caught wahoo and triggerfish. Meals are served on plastic blue-checked tablecloths in a kitschy dining space dominated by a mural of a jaunty shrimp relaxing with a cocktail in a hammock—seemingly unaware of its fried, grilled or blackened fate.
While restaurants in Hilton Head cater to varied taste buds—sushi bars and pizza joints stand side by side—travelers committed to a Low Country food pilgrimage should book one of the front-room tables at Red Fish. The menu isn’t strictly South Carolina–inspired, but some of the best dishes on it are. Try the seared scallops with lobster mac-and-cheese, the Low Country shrimp and grits, or the Berkshire pork chop served over grits and kale. The space also doubles as a wine store, so you can buy a bottle, open it to drink with your dinner and cork the rest for later.
Sea Shack: 6 Executive Park Dr.; 1.843.785.2464
Red Fish: 8 Archer Rd.; 1.843.686.3388
NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.