At Coastal Discovery Museum kids explore the marshes, learn about Hilton Head history and meet gators and turtles

Coastal Discovery Museum is the place to learn about Hilton Head history and lifestyle in the Sea Islands, the Gullah culture and to explore the incredible flora and fauna of the Coastal Carolina.

Kids on guided walk at Coastal Discovery Museum

Kids on guided walk at Coastal Discovery Museum

Admission to the museum is FREE.
Inside there are excellent exhibits, interactive stations, art objects and a children specific Discovery Room.

Outside enjoy a peaceful self-guided walking tour of the former Honey Horn plantation.

Museum highlights and family fun things to do:

Just for Kids Programs (here is a detailed monthly schedule)

2009 Update: The Karen Wertheimer Butterfly Habitat is now open for your outdoor delight! Roam among free flying butterflies and see hungry caterpillars undergo the most amazing metamorphosis on earth. Explore the exhibit on your own for free or sign up for a guided tour (Mondays and Wednesdays through September).

Guided Beach Turtle Talk and Walk – Special tour offered in the summer where you can examine loggerhead turtles nests on the Hilton Head beaches.

Loggerhead turtle skeleton

Loggerhead turtle skeleton

Learn about the Sea Turtle Protection Project
and Keiki Makai, a “child by the ocean” golden-retriever trained to find turtle eggs.

Daytime tour (no turtles will be seen): Tuesday 10 AM Cost: $12 adult / $7 child (ages 4-12).
Evening tour: Tuesday and Thursday 8 – 10 PM.Cost: $20 adult / $15 child (ages 4 and over).

Get to know a Gator – Gator land program featuring a live alligator at the Honey Horn Campus. Learn about the gator habits and myths and take a photo with it. Thursday August 28 at 9:30, 11:30 and 2 PM. Cost: $12 adult / $7 child (ages 4-12).

The Gullah Culture

The Lowcountry is defined by the rich African American Gullah culture.

Gullah arts and crafts

Gullah arts and crafts

The museum has photos, art objects, examples of Gullah traditions and stories about the islanders.

The Gullah dialect is a combination of many different African languages with almost no English words in it.

It is passed from generation to generation orally and has undergone many changes over the years.

You can even learn a few Gullah words:
Comya – one who comes from another place
Binya – a native of the island
Fa good – permanent
How oonah da du? How are you all doing?

Trees to enjoy at Honey Horn

Kissing moss covered live oak tree

Kissing moss covered live oak tree

• Live Oak – the most majestic tree on the coast is highly resistant to decay, disease and even hurricanes.
• Cabbage Palmetto trees – the revered State Symbol is now a popular landscaping tree because of its tolerance of salt spray and cold.
• Loblolly Pine – the most important source of timber in the southern United States. Honey Horn proudly displays a 180 years old loblolly pine tree.
• Pecan – common lawn and shade tree in the South can grow up to 150 feet.
• Red Cedar – extensively used in chests, closets and fence posts. Its cones are used to flavor gin. Honey Horn features one of the biggest red cedar trees in the South.

Off-site Guided Tours and Cruises
Check out the monthly calendar of events to best plan your time and budget. Strongly advise to call ahead (843)-689-6767 for reservations, departure details and special assistance needs. You can also make reservations online.

Forts of Port Royal – Visit the Forts of Port Royal (not open to the general public). Learn about the early island explorers, the Civil War and Mitchellville (the Nation’s First Freedman’s Community), and the Steam Cannon. Tour leaves from Westin Resort. Cost: $12 adult / $7 child (ages 4-12).

Dolphin and Nature Cruise – View the habits and learn more about the bottlenose dolphin and variety of wading birds in a relaxing cruise on the Broad Creek toward Calibogue Sound. Departs from the Broad Creek Marina. Cost: $19 adult/ $13 child (ages 1-12).

Jarvis Creek salt marshes

Jarvis Creek salt marshes

Get an idea on what to expect on this kind of cruise from my previous post.

Kayak Nature Tour – Guided trip into the calm and secluded Jarvis Creek salt marshes. Observe oysters, otter, and egrets and learn about the area’s rich history and culture. Jarvis Creek has little to no boat traffic and includes State Shellfish oysters grounds. Departure sites vary; call the museum for more info (843) 689 – 6767. Cost $27 adult / $25 child (ages 5-12)

Pickney Island Walking Tour – View National Wildlife Refuge maritime forest, salt marsh and fresh water pond ecosystems and the wildlife associated with each area. Cost: $12 adult / $7 child (ages 4-12).

Honey Horn Guided Walks($10 adult / $5 child starts at 10 AM at the Discovery House) and Terrace History Talks ($5 per person, 3 PM)

Honey Horn History Walk – Travel back in time with the stories of Honey Horn’s past 200 years.
A Walk in the Woods – Enjoy Honey Horn’s beautiful setting, and learn how Native Americans used Yaupon holly in their cleansing rituals.

Pretty whelk shell

Pretty whelk shell

Salt Marsh Discovery – See an oyster bed up close, learn how to harvest crabs and throw a cast net from the deck.

Lowcountry Nature A-Z – From alligators to no-see-ums, learn about some of the area’s most intriguing residents and the habitats they call home.
The Civil War Era – During the Civil War Hilton Head was home to thousands of Union soldiers. Historic photographs, maps and artifacts tell the story of Hilton Head from 1861-1865.

The Early Years – Find out how the island got its name and learn about pre Civil War plantation lifestyle.


The Coastal Discovery Museum is located at 70 Honey Horn Drive (or 100 William Hilton Parkway near the Cross Island Parkway and Hwy 278 Business intersection). Open year round, Monday-Saturday 9 AM – 4:30 PM and Sunday 11 AM – 3PM.

Check out this custom Google Map with fun places to take your kids in Hilton Head.

If it helps here are my favorite places to enjoy with my daughter while vacationing on the island.


9 Responses

  1. Thank you very much for your entry about the Coastal Discovery Museum. I have a small request. The photograph that you took of the Gullah Baptism was given to the museum exclusively for our exhibits. It is NOT to be reproduced in any other form – and the photographer is very serious about this. Can you please remove that photo from your summary? I really would appreciate it.

    I hope that you’ll come back and see us again soon. Our exhibits will change 4-5 times a year – so there’s always something new to see.

  2. […] Learn about the Hilton Head island history, the rich Gullah culture and sign up for some fun family programs at the Coastal Discovery Museum (free museum admission; guided tours, cruises and beach walks are […]

  3. […] Learn about the Hilton Head island history, the rich Gullah culture and sign up for some fun family programs at the Coastal Discovery Museum (free museum admission; guided tours, cruises and beach walks are […]

  4. […] Coastal Discovery Museum – touch dolphin and turtle skulls, explore the marshes, cast a fishing net, wonder among live oak, palmetto, and loblolly pine trees and hear some amazing stories from the […]

  5. […] the Coastal Discovery Museum in Hilton Head you can see delicate butterflies undergo an incredible metamorphosis from caterpillar to chrysalis […]

  6. […] sure to also visit the rewarding Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn plantation for nature and turtle walks, exclusive history tours and beautiful […]

  7. […] Buzz Take the easygoing salt marsh boardwalk at Coastal Discovery Museum to learn about one of the most fertile environments on the planet. Witness first hand the circle of […]

  8. […] All roads lead to Fort Walker? The Port Royal Battle, the Blockade, the Charleston Siege, and the first Gullah town (Hilton Head historic tour) Posted on February 23, 2010 by shoutabout The Hilton Head Island history is rich and powerful, with the Civil War period as its most fascinating and nation-impacting act. We were lucky to experience it last summer, during the “Forts of Port Royal” tour provided by the Coastal Discovery Museum. […]

  9. […] for the new butterfly exhibit at the Coastal Discovery Museum on the Honey Horn plantation. Children of all ages will be delighted to walk around jolly butterflies and see them emerge from […]

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