After a long year and a half at home – and what felt like an even longer Winter, we were looking forward to getting away together as a family as soon as it felt safe enough to travel. Our South Carolina family vacation ended up being just the thing we needed to ease back into traveling. Since I’m writing this as the Covid pandemic is beginning to hopefully wind down, I will add that we discussed traveling with an unvaccinated child with our pediatrician before making the decision to do it as it was important to us to keep her safe even though we’re both now fully vaccinated. We decided the benefits outweighed the risks and off we went!
Why We Chose South Carolina for Our Family Vacation
We knew we wanted our first trip to be 1) somewhere in the US, 2) warm, 3) beach-y, and 4) a short flight from New York. We had ruled out South Florida since we go there often and decided to try somewhere new to us which had us considering the Carolinas. We decided on Hilton Head, but while we were researching resorts we were reminded of Palmetto Bluff – not exactly Hilton Head, but close to it.
Where We Stayed
Since we wanted to experience Palmetto Bluff, we decided to divide the trip into two parts. We would stay beachfront on Hilton Head at the Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort which would give us a beach vibe but would also be family-friendly with a zero-entry pool, splash pad and kids playground.
Truthfully, we didn’t spend as much time on the beach as we thought we would. It was beautiful and spacious, but the day we ventured down there, there were lots of washed-up jellyfish scattered all over. Apparently it’s common this time of year, but it was off-putting enough that we didn’t really want to hang out there. However, the sand itself was hard-packed which made for an ideal beach run.
After a few days at the Omni, we drove about 40 minutes inland to Lowcountry where we stayed in a cottage at the Montage Palmetto Bluff. This was a completely different experience and my preference of the two. No beach, but also very family-friendly with a kiddie pool, wide open spaces and playgrounds or swing sets all around the grounds. Palmetto Bluff is a quaint village with a rich history. Everything from restaurants to shops is on the property. Like the Omni, the restaurants were also very accommodating to our toddler and all had outdoor seating available (our preference at the moment).
What We Did
On our South Carolina family vacation, we did a lot of pool time.
Shop Valentina’s swim look here.
We tried to limit indoor activities, but we did walk around Shelter Cove – an upscale, outdoor shopping mall – where we stopped by the Palmetto Running Store which has the latest and greatest in running gear. It’s beautifully merchandised and is basically a runner’s dream.
Once we arrived in Palmetto Bluff, we took advantage of the complementary bikes that came with our room and enjoyed touring around the property. They attached a buggy to the back of David’s bike especially for Valentina and she loved riding around inside. Though we didn’t take advantage of everything it had to offer on this trip, there’s also plenty of hiking, boating, SUP, tennis and golfing.
We did make sure to experience the Veuve Cliquot Picnic + Pedal which was amazing in theory, but throwing a toddler into the mix made it less enjoyable. That said, the provisions were out of this world which made it totally worth it!
Where We Ate
In Hilton Head we opted for room service on our first night, ate at the steak house on property the second night and at Jane’s Bistro at Shelter Cove on the last night. Everywhere had high chairs, crayons and kid’s menus if you need them. We had wonderful service at the Omni and Jane’s had a really cute wine bar vibe that I would definitely recommend.
At Palmetto Bluff, we ate at some of the many restaurants on the property: Cole’s (barbecue), The Canoe Club, Fore + Aft (poolside for the yummy fish tacos, guac and skinny margs), Octagon (the best breakfast – order the French Toast) and Buffalo’s. Not only was every restaurant great about toddlers offering high chairs, crayons and kids menus, they also went above and beyond to accommodate Valentina’s sesame allergy.
COVID-19 Mask Policies
I was a little nervous about how things would feel coming from New York City where mask policies are more strict. At the resorts, all employees wore masks and many even wore gloves. Masks were optional for guests and most did not wear them. In area stores, there is no more mask policy so both employees and shoppers weren’t wearing them. We were one of the few who chose to stay masked and for the most part kept Valentina out of any indoor areas. Because we limited/avoided indoor activities, from a Covid perspective, I felt very comfortable and safe.
Vacations certainly look different with a toddler, but we loved our South Carolina family vacation in Hilton Head and Palmetto Bluff! Check out my Instagram for more photos from our trip.
Looking for some of my past travel guides? Here are a few of my favorites: