This past weekend my nephew completed Marine boot camp and we were excited to attend his graduation. While we were there we also had some time to do some exploring in and around Hilton Head and Bluffton, SC. We made the 5-ish hour drive from our home in North Carolina to attend this very important event. I relied on Waze on the way down there but, did not find it all that helpful. In fact, it had trouble getting us to our hotel! So, I switched back to Google Maps. The drive was uneventful, having just had a friend do an oil change, tire rotation, tire balance and give my Jeep Patriot a general “all clear”.
In one particular part of South Carolina there was a very strong sulfur-like smell. It was so strong it even managed to infiltrate my Jeep’s re-circulating AC system. Whatever it was, it was deadly.
It was interesting to witness the transition from mountains to sandhills to “the low country”. Changes in topography brought with them changes in architecture. Traditional shotgun style homes were replaced with a beach-side cottage aesthetic. Hilton Head was beautiful. The miles of sidewalk paths were wonderful. My wife loved it and thought it was very nice overall. One thing about Hilton Head that we noticed was that all shopping centers were set back, often behind a 10 foot or, so stand of trees and native brush. This had an interesting impact. It gave more of a natural coastal feel but, made GPS almost a necessity. What my wife and I have learned about each other is that she prefers oceanside/coastal living. It’s her Zen. Mine is the mountains. So, how do we make this work? One possibility is an eventual coastal/lake residence with mountain retreats on a regular basis. Dreams, gotta have em, right?
The weather the whole weekend was amazing. Blue skies, high temps in the upper 70’s you could not have ordered better weather!
Where We Stayed: Comfort Suites, Bluffton, SC
The hotel was great. The rooms were decent, everything was clean. There’s even a pool out back. Breakfast was about average for hotels that offer it. Coffee, juice, milk. Assorted breads, muffins, bagels, waffle station, scrambled eggs, sausage. Also, some yogurt in the mini fridge.
If you want a hotel close to Parris Island this is not it. It’s a pretty quick, 30 min drive, from the Comfort Suites in Bluffton to Parris Island. We chose this hotel, in part, due to some family flying in/out of Hilton Head Airport. Staying here also puts you in good range of Hilton Head and the beaches.
Graduation at Parris Island
I’ve never been to a Marine graduation before. But, this one was special. My nephew was graduating.
My family and I were very excited to join my extended family for my nephew’s graduation. The graduation ceremony was great to see. So much hard work and dedication to reach this milestone.
Here’s some video from the graduation ceremony.
Planning a trip for your Marine’s graduation? Here’s a few things we recommend.
- Arrive early, if you want to sit in one of the lower rows in the stands. It helps to arrive at least a hour or, more early.
- Bring a towel from the hotel to wipe down the stands. The stands are usually wet with morning dew.
- Wear sunblock, it can be brutal.
- Park by the MCX / Commissary. It will make leaving a lot easier and you can do a little shopping after graduation.
Top Family Things to Do in Bluffton & Hilton Head
Coligny Beach Park
Hands down, one of THE nicest public beaches I’ve ever stepped foot on. The amenities, facilities, proximity of parking were all spot on. It must be absolute madness during high season. And even on this day, the beach was packed with people under rented umbrellas all set up like sardines in a row (you can see them in the background).
Frozen Moo Ice Cream
Steps from Coligny Beach Park is Frozen Moo. 92 flavors of ice cream and froyo! Friendly staff, cheerfully painted interior. Just a great ice cream shop experience. If you are in the area, it’s a must stop after a day on the beach.
Pirate’s Island Mini Golf – Hilton Head Island, SC
Looking for something to do in the shade? How about a round of mini-golf? Pirate’s Island Mini Golf is that and fun.
Our foursome decided on the easy course (there are two to choose from) and it was just the right speed for our group. This is a really well laid out course and very nicely landscaped. Lots to look at while others in your group are making their shots or, as you are making your way from one hole to the next.
Main Street Cafe & Pub – Hilton Head Island, SC
On a recommendation from the helpful staff at Pirate’s Island Mini Golf Hilton Head we checked out a “locals” option for lunch the Main Street Cafe & Pub. In a word: delicious. Good service, beautiful weather for patio seating and delicious food made for a wonderful time. Photos of the grub follow…
Great to see you Mom!