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Michelle Warner

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What Not to Miss at Kiawah Island

Posted on June 22nd, 2015

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I think there is a research/journalist part of me that has been latent all these years. It comes out without fail in three situations: 1) after I watch a movie based on true events and I want to find out all the back story, 2) when I want to research a health food or situation (hence many of my past posts), and 3) when I go on vacation and I want to find all the fun places to visit. I can spend hours looking up blogs and reviews to find the best places to go because I hate feeling like I am missing out on any hidden gems.

Jared and I have talked about how fun it would be to start a blog where after a vacation we review the restaurants we ate at and the places we visited in hopes to cut people’s vacation-research-hours by doing the work for them. But alas, that has gotten sidelined due to being young parents with not much extra time. Maybe some day.

However, after our recent trip to Kiawah Island in South Carolina (near Charleston), we had such a fun time visiting different places around the island, that I thought again about how fun it would be to write a vacation review. Obviously this one would be through the lens of young parents, but I suspect there are several in our shoes who want to visit the beach and find kid-friendly things to do like we did.

We visited Kiawah on our honeymoon but didn’t leave the confines of the resort so this trip was technically our first trip to really explore the island. I am sure there are those of who have visited the island for years and have many more suggestions so please share places and things that I have overlooked! Without further ado, here are some fun things we did with our time while visiting Kiawah Island and I would definitely recommend if you are looking for a fun place to visit with your family:

Dining:

  • walked to West Village for breakfast at the Southern Kitchen. There is a place to sit outside if you have active kids like we do. (If you are going to walk there via the beach–which I wish I could do every morning!–make sure you look for beach access #5 because there are no signs for the Straw Market (where the Southern Kitchen is located).
  • ate ice cream at the Sanctuary’s Beaches and Cream, Freshfield’s Marble Slab, and Bohicket’s Marina (by Seabrook Island). We definitely recommend visiting the Marina around sunset because there are amazing views.

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  • ate at La Tela Pizzeria at Freshfields. It had wonderful pizza and salads and was loud enough that our toddler and baby were not a disruption.
  • ate at Fidlder’s Pub at the Ocean Course. Jared and I were able to eat there by ourselves because the grandparents watched the girls but it is a decent place to bring children because you can sit outside and they can wander a bit. The views of the golf course and sunset are wonderful.

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  • drank coffee on the Sanctuary’s patio. We happened to be in town on Mother’s Day so we visited the Sanctuary and then sat out on their wonderful veranda and drank coffee and soaked in the rays. They have a large green space there so it’s a perfect area for kids to play [quietly] in a pretty setting.

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[this was 7 years ago on our honeymoon - on the same lawn!]

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[this was 7 years ago on our honeymoon - on the same lawn!]

  • We cooked most of our food in our condo because with two little ones, it just felt the most manageable. But we were surprised how many kid-friendly places there were if you didn’t stay in. We will have to go back and explore more places next time. :) (On a related note, the Harris Teeter at Freshfields is a wonderful grocery store. If we would have known it was so stocked and reasonably priced, we wouldn’t have brought so much food with us and would have bought it when we arrived at the island.)

Activities:

  • played at the beach. I love beaches like Kiawah (and Fripp, where I grew up going) because they are expansive and quiet. Olivia loved jumping the waves and making sand castles for hours. And I could walk the beach for hours! :)

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  • shopped at Freshfields. As I mentioned, their Harris Teeter has everything you need (including a Starbucks) and the Toy Store also welcomes kids to play with many of their toys, including their shopping cart and lemonade stand, a perfect excuse to go shopping for a bit. :) (Freshfields is about 10 minutes from Kiawah’s welcome gate.)

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  • visited the Nature Center in Night Heron Park. There are alligators, snakes, turtles, and other creatures. Definitely worth a trip when needing a change of scenery or a break from the sun.
  • played at the park at Night Heron Park. It’s not amazing but it does the job when the kids don’t want to play in the ocean.
  • walked to Beachwalker Park. This is a state park and costs $7 to park your car. However, it is just the extension of the beach so if you park at West Village and are up for a 2+ mile walk out there on the beach, you can forgo the cost. This was the best place to go at low tide because there are some sanddollars and shells as well as dolphins. This is one of the only places in the country where dolphins “strand feed”. I had never heard of this before but we caught a glimpse of it for a few seconds and definitely whetted our appetite to see them do this again!

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  • drove to beach access #41 (off of Ocean Marsh Road on Osprey Beach) and walked to the beach. You can see the Ocean Course Clubhouse and a little of the course from this section of beach. It was a beautiful walk at sunset with hardly saw anyone. We had hoped to find shells but really didn’t have much luck. The serenity of the quiet beach made up for it though!IMG_2191

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  • searched for alligators. We visited one a couple of times off the 18th tee station at Turtle Point. There are also apparently many at Osprey Point’s retention pond behind the clubhouse but we never saw any. Obviously, we didn’t approach them too closely but it was a fun activity when needing a diversion.

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  • drove around looking for deer. We did not go looking for bobcats but maybe you would be lucky. (I would not feel very lucky if I saw one!)
  • visited horses at Seabrook island. Apparently you can ride them on the beach but we didn’t try this with our two-year-old. :)
  • got a massage at the Sanctuary. For my Mother’s Day gift, I got a massage and the best part is they have a Solarium where you can go before and/or afterwards and read and drink tea with the sound of a trickling waterfall. It’s a wonderful slice of calm and peace if you can swing it. (They also have a sauna and steam room you can use before or after you treatment as well, which made for a wonderful couple of hours away.)
  • golfed. My husband, dad, and father-in-law golfed and had wonderful things to say about their experience, including the beautiful views.
  • We did not rent bikes since we had a three-month-old but they have bike paths everywhere and we definitely would love to do this on a future trip because there is so much more to see and would be easier on a bike. They have bike rental companies there.
  • We also did not have access to a pool. If you rent through the resort, you have access to their wonderful kid pools. It may be more expensive to do this, but may be worth the next time because I can imagine the pools would have provided endless hours of fun. (And the kid pool at Night Heron Park looked amazing!)
  • They also have kayaks to rent and we heard the dolphin boat trips were amazing.

If you are going to Kiawah or know someone who is, I hope this is a helpful list for you! Listing these activities and looking at the pictures makes me want to go back and do these activities all over again. :)

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