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Southern Living says Hilton Head is South’s Best Beach Town. Here’s why voters loved it

Hilton Head Island has ranked supreme among beach-lovers and Southern travelers in a national magazine yet again.

Southern Living reviewed more than 65,000 votes (double the number from last year) to reiterate what many already know — Hilton Head is the best beach town in the South.

The town was named The South’s Best Beach Town 2019 in the magazine’s third annual crowd-sourced South’s Best awards. Hilton Head won the South’s Best Beach title in last year’s competition.

An article describing the winning town said although Hilton Head has “superb” public beaches with a vast amount of wildlife and is full of “sun-loving fun,” it’s the “richness of the town that wins the day.”

The article pin-pointed the aspects unique to Hilton Head that have won over the affection of visitors and locals alike.

First, it listed the island as being home to the Gullah community, “one of the great American cultures.”

The community evolved from beliefs and practices of enslaved Africans who were brought to the United States’ southeastern region, including to the island’s indigo and cotton plantations. The site of the first self-governing village of liberated slaves in the nation, Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park, is also on the island.

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The entrance to the Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park is photographed on Monday. Jay Karr jkarr@islandpacket.com

Secondly, it said Hilton Head “feels all grown up.”

Continuing what American real estate developer Charles Fraser first started in the mid-1900s, the island has “matured.” It’s now a collection of gated neighborhoods surrounded by beautiful trees, linked together by “neon-free boulevards” with bike paths, and clusters of markets, bars, boutiques and hundreds of restaurants.

Some of those local businesses mentioned in the article include restaurants Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks and Lucky Rooster Kitchen + Bar, both of which make “first-time visitors fall in love,” The Jazz Corner for being “one of the coolest jazz clubs on the East Coast,” and Hilton Head Social Bakery for having “the best croissants this side of the Atlantic.”

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Patrons enjoy the evening air at Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks. Mandy Matney mmatney@islandpacket.com

Lastly, the town’s “magical mix” of small-town charm, cosmopolitan pleasures and mild climate has “built a varied community of young families looking for quality of life; digital nomads who want to paddleboard before work; and creatives,” the article said.

Hilton Head’s Sea Pines Resort also made the South Carolina list for The Best Places to Stay in Every Southern State and neighboring towns Bluffton and Beaufort were ranked among the top 10 list of The South’s Best Small Towns 2019.

The April issue featuring all the South’s Best 2019 winners hits newsstands on March 22, and a full list of categories and winners can be found online.

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