The Coastal Discovery Museum in Hilton Head Island is an art-themed museum that’s built with a mission to teach the general public about the cultural heritage and natural history of the Lowcountry. Sprawled on a 68-acre site, the museum was established in 1985 and became open to the public in 2007.
Designed to cater to families, the kid-friendly Coastal Discovery Museum offers a plethora of fun activities that make every visit truly worthwhile. Some of its popular features include gardens, pathways, a native butterfly enclosure, marsh-front boardwalks, breathtaking landscapes and historic structures.
Here are the top things to do at the Coastal Discovery Museum.
1. Explore the several exhibitions at Discovery House.
You will begin your visit at the museum’s Discovery House where you can explore the history of the Lowcountry through a number of exhibitions found in the structure. Built in 1859, the Discovery House is one of Honey Horn’s historic buildings where you can find a Kids’ Zone, a gift store, and exhibitions that are both temporary and permanent.
2. Attend lectures and discussions at the Museum.
Learn interesting information about the Lowcountry’s culture, history, and the environment by attending the lectures and discussions that are offered in the Museum throughout the year. Topics usually vary and you can expect to meet guest presenters who come from around the regions. During the Museum’s December and January programs, topics would generally cover bird biology, conservation efforts, and research.
3. Experience the island’s wide range of different habitats.
There are lagoons, salt marsh, and forest where you can do some bird watching which can vary depending on the time of the year. The local beaches are perfect not only for nature tripping but also for discovering the various creatures inhabiting the coastal line. These include sea turtles, beautiful shorebirds, and fascinating horseshoe crabs.
4. Join an educational herbarium workshop.
An herbarium is a collection of dried plant specimens that are stored, cataloged, and systematically arranged for study by both amateurs and professionals from many walks of life. When you join, you have the chance to create your own educational and decorative herbarium using various materials and mediums such as illustrations, poetic prose, hand-made paper, and locally found items.
5. Discover great finds at the Art Market.
Every year, artists from all over the country flock to the island for the annual fine art and craft show that’s happening at the Art Market at Historic Honey Horn. Find original artwork and craft on sale. There are also food and beverages available for purchase.
6. Watch the local artisans make stunning baskets.
The Sweetgrass basket is recognized as one of the best-known art forms in the Lowcountry. See how these baskets are created right before your eyes at the Coastal Discovery Museum. Unleash your creative side by trying your hand in a basket making class. Learn more about the historical roots of this unique art form that can be traced centuries ago during the island’s plantation era.
7. Go on a “Tree Appreciation” walk at Honey Horn.
The property features a number of massive live oaks wherein most have been planted since the early 1800s. It is home to the Southern Red Cedar tree, a former state champion and one of the biggest of its kind in South Carolina that has an estimated germination date of 1595. Other trees to explore include Southern Magnolias, Ginko, Dogwood, Bald Cypress, toothache trees, loblolly pines, red cedars, hackberry and more.
8. Find out what’s happening at the Mary Ann Peeples Pavilion.
Built in 2006, the Pavilion is the site of a number of Hilton Head Island activities that occur in the middle of the most majestic live oaks surrounding the property along with picnic tables to complete the set. Some of the popular activities held in the area include private parties, school and public programming, special events, and weddings.
9. Enjoy a unique water adventure.
Cruise along the waters and salt marshes of Broad Creek where you can find many interesting creatures that include blue crabs, eastern oysters, river otters and a huge species of birds. Catch the Bottlenose Dolphins, one of the most charismatic creatures, at the Salt Marsh. If you’re a sports buff, paddle through Jarvis Creek in a kayak where you can see wading birds, bottle-nosed dolphins, and other local wildlife.
10. Fulfill your search for “Instagrammable” spots at the island’s historic buildings.
Apart from the Discovery House, there are other historic buildings on the property that are well-worth a visit. These include the Supervisor’s House (the second oldest structure found on the site), the Pole Barn (built in the early 1950s), and the Horse Barn where a Marsh Tacky horse named Comet is stabled in the evening.