Monday, January 30, 2017

Vacation Kiawah Island Like a Local

Just 30 minutes outside of Charleston is the 10 mile stretch of Kiawah Island: Over 10,000 acres of gorgeous beaches, conservancy-protected wildlife, and so much more fun and beautiful than you can imagine. I have posted about Kiawah Island before --- okay A LOT. But it has been my family's favorite go-to destination for Thanksgivings, Christmases, and spring breaks. Even though I don't live there, it's so familiar that I feel like a local sometimes. Even though it is a small island, there is always something new to explore and do.

Most areas like this such as Hilton head are too crowded and touristy for me. Kiawah is anything but touristy. It is like you are in a whole different world. Not over commercialized, but still has all the necessary stores/things to do. If you need crazy nightlife, this is not for you. If you want to leisurely bike around and read a book/eat good food and have a laid back vacation, this place is for you.

I mean, I'm in my 20's! I should be "partying it up" and going out at nights in the hustle and bustle of a big city, but I am not like that at all. I prefer the quieter and relaxed vacations, ones where I can read, golf, and eat. I mean, it has 5 championship golf courses.... Heaven.

Kiawah provides an atmosphere of nature and relaxation that is extremely is rare these days. If you go to Kiawah, you have to know how to visit like a local in order to get the full experience:

Have a fancy dinner at THE OCEAN ROOM. Located in The Sanctuary, The Ocean Room is easily the nicest restaurant on the island. My family has been wanting to eat here every time we come to Kiawah, but you have to make reservations in advance and it books up pretty quickly. We finally got reservations for Thanksgiving dinner. It did not disappoint. Their Thanksgiving menu was absolutely perfect and service was one of the best experiences. I will post more on this dinner later, but I definitely wanted to add it to the list of things to do - especially if you are celebrating a holiday or special occasion at Kiawah.

For a good burger, go to CHERRYWOOD BBQ ALE HOUSE. It is the restaurant located at the Osprey Point Clubhouse, and every time I go there, there has been practically nobody there. There's usually no need to make a reservation if you eat an early dinner, and the food is good/inexpensive. It has a very "local" atmosphere where you can order a drink and watch some golf or football.

BEACHES AND CREAM is my go-to for sweets/coffee. If you aren't near Freshfields Village, you aren't going to find many coffee shops on the island. Took me a while to figure this one out (headaches were involved), but Beaches and Cream has the best vanilla cold-brew coffee and mango sorbet. It's located in The Sanctuary, but anyone can stop by for a quick treat.

That brings me to FRESHFIELDS VILLAGE. Basically the hub of Kiawah Island. It's located near the entrance of the island and has everything from a grocery store, coffee shop, restaurants, and even a Lilly Pulitzer store. There are usually events going on in the village; however, we usually stay further into the island so the village is around a 30-minute bike ride. I usually spend one afternoon there shopping around and drinking coffee.

While Freshfields Village is towards the entrance of Kiawah, THE OCEAN COURSE is located at the opposite side of the island. The RYDER CUP BAR is perfect for breakfast/brunch. Whereas dinner is excellent, it can usually get a little busy there. Breakfast is the best time to go because you can sit on the porch and watch golfers come in on the 18th hole. I mean just look at the view we had one morning. It almost makes waking up early worth it --- almost. I have been twice and never had to wait. The course itself is the best course on the island, but is definitely secluded. Most people go there to play golf or for a nice dinner. Only the locals know that breakfast is the most ideal time to go.

While it's a relatively small island, there is one main road running through it. Renting BICYCLES is the only way to efficiently get around. Everything is connected with bike trails, so there's really no reason to drive unless you are going out for dinner. There are many off-road bike trails that allow you to see the beauty and scenery of the island. One of my favorite things is biking on the beach. You won't find many people just laying out on the beach, especially during the off season. You will find people biking, playing Frisbee/football, dogs running around, and couples walking up and down the beach.

While biking around Kiawah I love to look at the beautiful houses on the island. Bike paths run all through neighborhoods. If you end up near Indigo Park. The 2013 HGTV Dream Home is located there, and the houses are absolutely stunning.

If you are looking for some great local seafood, BOHICKET MARINA is your place. While not officially on Kiawah, John's Island is nearby and has great seafood options. LOKAL SEA BAR is a Bohicket favorite.

There are a lot of areas that are secluded, relaxing, and full of outdoor nature activities, but in my opinion, what really makes Kiawah stand out is its location. It has the sophistication of Charleston just a 30 min drive away. If you are looking for the best of both worlds, this is it.

Because I have posted a lot about Kiawah, I have grouped all of my Kiawah Island posts below so feel free to browse through them :)

What are your favorite things to do at Kiawah Island? Have a fabulous day!