Beaufort and Hilton Head are perfect for snowbirds, travel websites say. Here’s why

Beach weather on Christmas? Bring it on, say visitors to Hilton Head

Out-of-towners we spoke with Wednesday, delighting in the mild weather at Folly Field Beach, said they're perfectly fine if it's unseasonably warm for the big day on Friday.
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Out-of-towners we spoke with Wednesday, delighting in the mild weather at Folly Field Beach, said they're perfectly fine if it's unseasonably warm for the big day on Friday.

Many residents think of Hilton Head and Beaufort as hidden gems — busy, but not too busy — especially during the off-season winter months.

However, more snowbirds may find out that Beaufort County locales are a treasure, thanks to two recent listings.

Expedia’s AARP Travel Center picked Beaufort as one of its “9 Places for Snowbirds to Escape to This Winter,” and the House Method digital magazine says Hilton Head Island is among “20 Small Towns Perfect for a Winter Getaway.”

“While much of the state is occasionally subjected to conditions that closely resemble a true winter climate, Beaufort rides out the winter with ease,” the post on Expedia.com says. (Perhaps the word “usually” should be added to that sentence after last January’s Lowcountry snowstorm.)

The writers recommend snowbirds take in the antebellum architecture and specifically mention the Robert Smalls House, Tabby Manse and the John Mark Verdier House.

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The house once owned by Robert Smalls, at 511 Prince St. in Beaufort, is being featured by HGTV.

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Other attractions that get a shout-out are Hunting Island State Park and the Kazoobie Kazoo Factory and Museum.

Among the other cities Expedia and AARP touted as best for snowbirds are Mesa, Arizona; Orange Beach, Alabama; and Clearwater, Florida.

Hilton Head Island

House Method, which tests and reviews home and wellness products and also offers design and lifestyle inspiration, calls Hilton Head “the perfect winter destination for those who want to skip the summer tourist rush.”

In addition to Hilton Head, the publication also likes Charleston’s boutique hotels and restaurants and Wilmington, North Carolina’s art scene and breweries.

It recommends visitors to Hilton Head get outdoors. Among the suggestions are paddling the lagoon at Palmetto Dunes, hitting one of the island’s many world-class golf courses or birdwatching on Pinckney Island.

“We at House Method believe that, wherever you go, a beautiful and unique environment is key to the experience,” the publication says. “... Off-season visits are wonderfully peaceful, an opportunity to enjoy this quiet island for its marshy Atlantic beauty and take full advantage of killer hotel rates.”

This isn’t the first time the Beaufort County municipalities get a nod from national websites.

Earlier this year, Southern Living reported that Beaufort was among its reader-selected Best Small Towns and the South’s Friendliest Towns. CBS called it one of the most romantic getaways and TripAdvisor named the city one of the “most charming Southern vacations you need to experience.”

In October, Condé Nast Traveler announced Hilton Head earned the top spot in the 2018 Readers’ Choice “Best Islands in the U.S.” poll for the second year in a row. Earlier this year, Travel + Leisure magazine readers voted Hilton Head Island “Best Island” in the continental United States in 2018 for the third year in a row.

Lisa Wilson is a breaking news reporter for The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette. The 25-year newsroom veteran has worked for papers in Louisiana and Mississippi and is happy to call the Lowcountry home.