“B” is for butterfly! Enjoy Hilton Head’s newest free family attraction at Coastal Discovery Museum

Hurray 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 chrysalises.

The outdoor garden is a shutterbugs and green thumbs mecca. There are so many beautiful flowers, plants and trees butterfly love to visit.

Entrance to the Butterfly exhibit at Coastal Discovery Museum

Entrance to the Butterfly exhibit at Coastal Discovery Museum

You can tour the habitat for free at your own pace every day from 9AM to 4:30PM (11-3 on Sunday).

Through September the museum offers guided tours on Mondays at 10AM and Wednesdays at 3PM for $10 adults and $5 children 4-12 years old.

Amazing escape artists butterflies resort to all sorts of tricks to survive. Some, like the Monarch, parade bright color wings to advertise their are toxic to eat. Others, like the Viceroy, take the shortcut and just mimic butterflies who are toxic.

Most butterflies learn to blend in the surroundings resembling leaves, sticks and even bird droppings! My favorite is the Buckeye that has owl-like patterns to scare off small birds.

Butterfly Insights

The Black Swallowtail is very common in South Carolina. The large yellow striped caterpillars

Black Beauty Swalowtail, most common butterfly in the Lowcountry

Black Beauty Swalowtail, most common butterfly in the Lowcountry

are a common sight to herb gardeners, easily devouring entire plants once they start eating!

The Black Swallowtail is one of the earliest butterflies to hatch (mid-March), after spending the winter as chrysalises.

Host plants: Water Hemlock, Queen Anne’s Lace, cumin, parsley, carrot, cilantro and celery.

The Giant Swallowtail when disturbed it ejects stinking chemicals to repel small predators like ants and spiders.

Host plants: Toothache and Citrus family trees.

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail winters on Hilton Head as a pupa. Males often patrol the treetops and swoop down to intercept females for mating. The caterpillars change their appearance with each molt: first looking like bird droppings, then turning green and showing two large eye spots, and finally, changing brown as they start to pupate.

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is the state butterfly for Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, South Carolina and Virgina.

The Zebra Longwing males are attracted to both adult females and those still in their chrysalis, mating with them before they emerge.

Zebra Longwing warrior

Zebra Longwing warrior

Afterward they’ll deposit chemicals on the female abdomen that will repel other males!

Power in the numbers! The Zebra Longwing engage in communal night roosting when you can see up to 25 individuals hanging from a tree brunch.

Unlike other butterflies, the Longwing specie can also digest pollen from flowers. The amino-acids allow them to live much longer than the average 2-3 weeks butterfly life span.

Host plants: Maypop and Yellow Passionflower.

The Gulf Fritillary – Although the larvae are solitary feeders once in adult stage they can be seen congregating in large numbers, enough to completely defoliate a plant.

Stay Out! The larvae displays bright colors to advertise its toxicity to potential predators, thus it is mainly left alone.

Host plants: Maypop and Yellow Passionflower.

The Monarch is legendary due to its North American migration that takes five

The Mighty Monarch takes 5 generations to complete the annual North American migration

The Mighty Monarch takes 5 generations to complete the annual North American migration

generations to complete.

During the northward migration females deposit eggs for the next generation.

The 3rd and 4th generation will reach Canada by the late spring and in fall the last generation enters a non-reproductive stage lasting several months. They will migrate south and winter in California and Mexico.

Host plants: Milkweeds.

The Butterfly Life cycle (data from exhibits)

The adult butterfly lives around 2-3 weeks although there are few like the Monarch and Zebra Longwing that live for months. Butterflies spend their time eating, looking for mates, reproducing and in the case of females, laying eggs. At this point their life cycle is complete.

Butterfly eggs are about 2 mm in size and usually hatch out within a week, although for some species it happens the next spring.

Live metarmorphosis, see caterpillars and chrysalises develop before your eyes!

Live metarmorphosis, see caterpillars and chrysalises develop before your eyes!

Most butterflies lay about 100 to 300 eggs, yet the number varies wildly with each specie, from dozens to several thousands eggs.

The caterpillar is the only stage the butterfly grows in size. Most caterpillars grow for 2 to 4 weeks, yet some species will winter as caterpillars. Some even develop false eye spots to fend off potential predators!

The chrysalis stage can last from couple weeks to months. During metamorphosis tissues liquefy and change into the structure of an adult butterfly.

Amazing Butterfly Trivia

• A caterpillar grows 27 times larger than its original form. In human terms a 9 pound baby will end up weighing about 243 tons!
• Out of each 100 eggs laid only 2 will survive to become adult butterflies.
• Some male butterflies can detect a female up to a mile away based on pheromones emitted by her body.
• A butterfly can fly with half a wing.
• There are about 700 butterfly species in North America and about 28 thousands worldwide.
• Butterflies can see in all directions up, down, left, right, front and back all at once! They can also see in ultraviolet range light that’s invisible to humans.
• Some butterflies can drink fluids from tree sap, rotting fruit, bird droppings and even animal carcasses!

Now that you fell in love with butterflies drive to Columbia and visit Edventure children museum. It has a bigger facility featuring up to 10 species and over 200 butterflies.

Check out this list with my favorite things to do with young kids in and around Hilton Head.


Shelter Cove Marina a Mediterranean like waterfront extravaganza fun for the whole family

Water sports rule at the picturesque Shelter Cove Marina! This Mediterranean style marina features Hilton Head’s largest deep-water yacht basin with 170 boat slips for boats up to 135 feet in length. Here you can enjoy deep-sea and inshore fishing, sport crabbing, nature excursions and dinner cruises. During the summer months there is a spectacular and FREE to attend fireworks show.

What’s fun to do around Shelter Cove Marina:
• Dolphin and wildlife watch cruise go either with Adventure or the very kids-friendly Captain Hook)
• Shop at the nearby Mall or the marina mini-shops.
• Relax on the rocking chair watching the boats come and go, drinking a cup of coffee, surfing the net (FREE Wi-Fi at Shelter Cove Marina).
• Go to Shelter Cove Park – every Tuesday during summer months there are free concerts, fun kids programs and breath-taking fireworks. Make sure to bring a chair or blanket.
• Visit the Palmetto Dunes Resort to see the mysterious and ghost haunted Skeleton Tower Lighthouse and enjoy miles of pristine biking trails.
• Take your children to Adventure Cove that features two mini golf courses ($12 per game) and Hilton Head’s largest arcade. You can print a $1 off coupon from their website.

Where to eat:
Kingfisher – picturesque dinning (steaks, pasta, seafood), spacious decks and live entertainment. One of the best Happy Hour on the island.
Old Oyster Factory – an island landmark built on an original oyster cannery. Claims to have the best seafood and steaks in Hilton Head.

Here is my Top 5 Fun Things to Do with Kids on the island that are free or very affordable.

Enjoy your family vacation to the fullest on Hilton Head island!

Fun packed family day trip at Sea Pines, a magical world to enjoy the Harbour Town lighthouse, alligators, horseback riding, kayaking and even ghosts!

Visit the 90 feet tall candy striped Harbour Town Lighthouse open daily from 10 AM to sundown. Admission is $3 (kids under 5 years of age get in for FREE) but you can get free passes from the Harbour Town concierge desk. If interested to see more of the legendary Sea Islands lighthouses read this post.

The Marina is the place for adrenaline water activities: parasailing, jet skiing, even shark fishing. Or you can hop on one of the dolphin watch cruises: Vagabond and Spirit of the Harbour.
Harbour Town Marina parasailing

The main kid attraction is the playground behind the Harbour Town Marina. Best of all is FREE (don’t you love when that happens? 🙂 ). Children go crazy about the tire swing and will rub elbows to climb the odd shaped oak tree next to the bicycles rack. Let them do it. It burns energy and you get a cute photo once they’re up.
Sea Pines playground

Say Hello! to Sea Pines’ “Odd Couple”, the baby alligator and turtle at the Nature Center located across from the playground. If you ask nicely the lady inside the Center may let you pet the snakes! Admission is FREE yet be prepared to spend a few bucks on the souvenirs.

Sea Pines resort Nature Center
Here you can also sign up for Eco-Tours around the island. Reservations required you can call (843)-842-1979.

• The one hour Alligator Boat Tours run every hour 8 – 11 AM and 5 – 8 PM Mon through Fri, 9, 10 AM and 5 and 6 PM in the weekends. Cost is $21 for adults and $17 for children (12 and under). $2 discount for Sea Pines Resort guests.
• Two-hours guided kayak tours through salt marshes on single or double kayaks. Cost is $30 for adults and $20 for children (5-12 years). $2 discount for Sea Pines Resort guests.
• Guided kayak fishing expedition, $220.
• You can rent kayaks ($20/hour for double, $10/hour for single) and go on your own.
Harbour Town Marina kayaking

You can enjoy some yummy cookies and lunch at the Bakery Cafe next to the Center. This is a historic building: an 1880 Leamington House Lightkeeper Cottage brought to Palmetto Dunes during WII to monitor German submarines activities.

Treat your kids to a horseback and pony rides or a fun petting zoo at the Lawton Stables. One hour western style horse back rides through Sea Pines Forest Reserve are offered daily at 9:30, 11:30, 2 and 4 PM for $60 per person. Must be 8 years or older. Call (843) 671-2586 for reservations.
Horseback riding at Sea Pines Resort

There are several places to eat at the Harbour Town Marina. By far the most popular and very family friendly is the Crazy Crab. Steamed shellfish, Sandwiches, burgers, soups and salads are ~$8.95. Fish plate ~$12.50 (includes French fires and coleslaw). Seafood pot $15.95. Boiled crab legs at market price. Crazy Crab also serves late lunch (mostly fried stuff) from 3 to 4 PM.
Crazy Crab restaurant at the Harbour Town Marina

Enjoy a self-guided walk through the Stoney-Baynard Ruins. The mansion house, built in 1790s, had a colorful history: lost at a poker game only to have its owner’s William Baynard die from yellow fever, then burned down during Civil War. Currently the ruins are believed to be haunted by William Baynard’s ghost!

Interesting Facts about Sea Pines Resort and Forest Preserve

• 50 years ago, an oceanfront lot in Sea Pines could be purchased for $7,500. Today this will go for 3-4 millions!
• In 1959 the Fraser family set aside 572 acres for the Sea Pines Preserve. First trails were built in the early 1970s, followed by four lakes – Joe, Thomas, Mary and Chapin – the largest open freshwater ponds on the island.

Beautiful Anhinga inside the Forest Preserve

Beautiful Anhinga inside the Forest Preserve

You can get a fishing permit at no charge from the CSA Security Office located at 175 Greenwood Drive. Swimming is not allowed.

• The Verizon Heritage is the South Carolina’s only PGA Tour event

The Indian Shell Ring inside the Sea Pines Forest Preserve is the site of a 4,000 years old nomadic Indians village.

Here you can see an elliptical mound of shells and materials used around their huts.

• Over 200 species of birds have been spotted in the Preserve and the area has been recognized as an “Important Bird Area” by the National Audubon Society.

Check out this bike trail map with most of the attractions inside Sea Pines Resort:

More fun things to do at Sea Pines and Hilton Head

Here are more ideas of affordable things to do with kids while on vacation in beautiful Hilton Head, “the Gem of the Lowcountry”:

• Go to the Public Library. It’s FREE and kids will have a blast reading with you.

• Be a pilot, a movie director, a ship captain or a painter at The Sandbox Interactive Children’s Museum ($6)

• Visit Fort Pulaski near Savannah to see live cannons and musket firing, learn about Immortal 600 tragedy and the Waving Girl legend, and become a Junior Ranger ($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 $5-$30)

• Visit Beaufort an art, architecture and movie-making heaven and historic Port Royal home of the first settlement in the New World.

Soak in the sun, play, learn and always have fun at the serene Hilton Head island beaches!

Got young kids? Take them to Sandbox, Hilton Head’s fun-packed children museum

Escape the heat and join in the fun at Sandbox, Hilton Head’s awesome interactive children museum. Some of the things kids can do at Sandbox:

• Be a captain or a pirate on The Adventure ship
Pilot a real airplane or direct a puppet show
• Build like Bob the Builder at the Loggerhead Castle
• Shop at the International Bazaar
• Fight dragons while rock-climbing
• Play with Thomas the train engine…and much more

Charlie's Playouse - dedicated room for babies and toddlers

Charlie's Playouse - dedicated room for babies and toddlers

Things to know before you go
1. Admission is only $6. Sandbox is open Mon to Sat 10 AM – 5 PM (till end of August, May and September is Tue to Sat) and is located on Pope Avenue behind the St. Andrew Methodist Church (off the Sea Pines roundabout).

2. Best time to go is early morning or after 3 PM where is not so crowded. Sandbox is not very big (2 stories with 4 rooms). If more than 15 kids and parents are around you’ll start rubbing elbows looking for places to sit down.

3. There is a dedicated room Charlie’s Perfect Playhouse for babies and toddlers. It’s relatively big and has rocking chairs! The next best thing for little ones is upstairs: Thomas train set for boys, crafts, puppet theater, doctor and tea party stations for girls.

4. For older kids the most fun thing to do playing in the airplane station equipped with real flight piloting instruments and controls.

5. There is no food served on the premises and I don’t think you can bring your own. So plan your lunch time accordinlgy.

Need more ideas on what to do with kids while vacationing at Hilton Head?

• Go to the Public Library. It’s FREE and kids will have a blast reading with you.

• Watch dolphins swim along as you cruise around the island ($20-$30)

• Visit Fort Pulaski near Savannah to see live cannons and musket firing, learn about Immortal 600 tragedy and the Waving Girl legend, and become a Junior Ranger ($3).

• Spend a magical day inside Sea Pines resort to horseback riding, eco kayak tours, water skiing, parasailing and biking. Visit the 4000 years old Indian Village, the ghost haunted Baynard Ruins and the Harbour Town Lighthouse.

• 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 $5-$30)

Of course nothing can beat having good old fun at the beach! You get free entertainment watching brown pelicans free fall diving, seagulls chasing shrimp boats, happy dolphins swimming in the ocean and proud boys catching a baby shark!

Keep kids curious at the Hilton Head Public Library (fun and free things to do on the island)

While vacationing at Hilton Head make sure to stop by the awesome Public Library, located on 11 Beach City Road near the Business Hwy 278 mile marker 4. It’s educational, fun, free, air-conditioned, and most important kids love it! The library it’s very modern. It has a huge children room equipped with cozy reading couch, baby corner, computer stations and even a theater area. I was surprised to see some interesting art pieces displayed on the hallways.

The library it’s opened daily except Sunday. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 9AM to 8PM, Friday and Saturday till 5PM.

Mom and daughter entering the Hilton Head Library

Lana’s excited to enter the Children Room at the library

Excited to enter the children room at the Library

So she can read with her friends Winnie and Piglet

Reading on the couch with Winnie

Or have a laugh putting on a silly puppet show

Fun playing puppets at the library

Babies always have fun playing at the library

Baby corner at HH Library

Nothing like the mother-daughter bond reading together

Fun reading with her mother

Bigger kids enjoy the computer games and video books
Boy enjoying the video programs
In the end it’s all about having fun!

Nothing like being curious at the Library

Here are more ideas on how to keep kids entertained without spending a ton of money:

Be a pilot, a puppet show director, a ship captain, a chef, an artist or train conductor at Sandbox Interactive Children Museum ($6 admission)

• 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 $5-$30)

• Visit the Harbour Town Lighthouse ($3 admission), the Nature Center (free) and the 4,000 years old Indian Village inside Sea Pines Resort and Forest Preserve ($5 to enter the plantation)

Staying curious forever? Priceless!

Fort Pulaski awesome cannon firing and its fascinating history (memorable weekend things to do around Savannah and Hilton Head)

On April 11, 1862 Union troops struck with fury. 30 hours and 1,142 shells later the “indestructible” Fort Pulaski surrendered. The damage was so deep it will take 1,000 Union troops 6 weeks to repair it.

Facts and Trivia

The breached wall and broken Confederate cannon at Fort Pulaski

The breached wall and broken Confederate cannon at Fort Pulaski

• In 1837 with its 8 foot thick brick walls the fort was considered invincible. No cannon could inflict significant damage from more than a mile away (the closest spot where you could fire at it). New technology proved them wrong.
• The battle at Fort Pulaski marked a new warfare milestone: the end of masonry style fortifications.
• Germans volunteers of the 46 N.Y, Regiment manned the parrot riffles shooting from the batteries along Tybee and McQueens islands. Following the war the guns were taken to Cockspur Island. In mid-1960s the guns were recovered and brought to Fort Pulaski.
• The Demilune was added in 1872 to protect the fort entrance. During the Civil War the area was flat covered with gun platforms, a mess room, storage area and a guard house.
• When the Confederates seized Fort Pulaski from the US forces (in anticipation of Civil War hostilities) only 2 persons where guarding it.

Learn more about the Fort Pulaski history like the Immortal 600, the Waving Girl, and John Wesley (Founder of Methodist Church) and the awesome kids activities you can enjoy there.

Critical steps to fire the Confederates cannons
There were 5 to 9 men on the cannon fire crew, one of the earliest examples of team-work. Each person performed a specific task yet all men were cross-trained on all operations. If needed just 2 persons can safely fire the cannon.

1. Sponge the barrel and clean any leftovers (this was most important safety procedure)
2. Cover the air hole with the thumb to prevent air going inside the barrel – stumping
3. Put the projectile inside the barrel. The old cannon used by Confederates had a ball-like shell that didn’t fit tightly inside the barrel. It wiggled when it came out thus being less accurate and damaging.
4. Point the gun (during those time you didn’t “aim” another hint about the target firing guessing game) then put your arms up to signal the gun is pointed.
5. Insert the friction primer (piece of wire) to seal in the gunpowder. The primer and the projectile were poor quality and main culprit for the lame results defending the fort.
6. Fire! It was very loud. There were no ear plugs and most of the crewmen couldn’t cover their ears….you can image over time most of them were deaf.

New shells still stuck in the wall hundreds of years later!

New shells still stuck in the wall hundreds of years later!

Firing the new cannons (Parrot Riffles) required identical steps. It took a little longer because the cannon and all instruments were much bigger and heavier. The new aerodynamic projectile was longer and fitted perfectly inside the barrel. The shots were extremely powerful and very accurate even from over a mile away.

Fort Pulaski Admission and Cannon Firing Schedule
There is only $3 fee to get inside the park (children under 15 get in for free). The firing demos are held in the weekend as following:
• Sunday: noon, 1:30 and 3:30 PM
• Saturday: 11, noon, 2 and 3:30 PM

Bring your family to Fort Pulaski for an inspirational family experience!