History and Heritage

Hilton Head Island History

Although the town of Hilton Head Island was founded in 1983, the rich history of the island dates back more than 10,000 years ago. A shell ring made of oyster shells and fish bones from over 4,000 years ago is just one archaeological site that gives a glimpse into the past. The island itself is named after explorer William Hilton, an English Captain that first visited the Lowcountry in 1663. Hilton Head Island was also one of the sites of the Battle of Port Royal during the Civil War in 1861. Almost 100 years later, the first resort was built on the island when Charles Fraser started building The Sea Pines Resort. Now a destination for vacations and island getaways, visit Hilton Head Island to see what makes this place so special.

Arts Center of Coastal Carolina


Hilton Head has a network of art galleries, featuring artists from the Lowcountry and around the world. It’s also home to The Art Center of Coastal Carolina, offering locals and visitors the perfect venue to enjoy captivating musicals and plays.

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The Gullah Museum of Hilton Head Island


Discover the Gullah traditions, language, and culture that existed on Hilton Head Island before the bridge was built to the mainland in 1956.

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The Coastal Discovery Museum


The Coastal Discovery Museum is full of interesting and valuable information on the natural history of Hilton Head Island, along with the cultural heritage of the Lowcountry. An educational and fun-filled experience for the whole family.

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The Sandbox


The Sandbox is a hands-on interactive museum that makes learning fun for the whole family. Filled with entertaining and educational play areas to explore, this is an incredible place to interact and let your imagination run wild.

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Gullah Heritage Trail Tours


Explore Hilton Head Island on a two-hour narrated bus tour through Gullah communities.

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The Heritage Library Foundation


A non-profit libary with artifacts and information, specializing in ancestry research and owners of two historic sites. 

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