The 9 Best South Carolina Family Resorts of 2020

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The Rundown

Best Overall: Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island – See Rates at TripAdvisor

  • "Use it as a base for exploring the community’s tennis courts and golf courses, or spend lazy summer days frolicking in the zero-entry lagoon pool."

Best Runner-Up: Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort – See Rates at TripAdvisor

  • "Explore the island on a guided nature walk or dolphin-watching tour or spend idyllic days relaxing on 12 miles of white sand beaches."

Best Budget: Avista Resort – See Rates at TripAdvisor

  • "The whole family will enjoy the lazy river, while smaller kids can play safely in the kiddie splash pool."

Best Luxury: The Sanctuary Hotel at Kiawah Island Golf Resort – See Rates at TripAdvisor

  • "It exudes classic Southern charm and offers generously sized rooms with one king or two queen beds."

Best Cultural: The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina – See Rates at TripAdvisor

  • "It boasts a private beach with firepits for s’mores, multiple swimming pools, a seaside bocce court, and a life-size outdoor chessboard."

Best for Nature Lovers: Montage Palmetto Bluff – See Rates at TripAdvisor

  • "The perfect setting for outdoorsy families, with activities ranging from water sports and dolphin tours to riding lessons and fishing trips."

Best for Water Babies: Dunes Village Resort – See Rates at TripAdvisor

  • "No matter the weather, you and your children can spend hours of fun exploring the water slides and whirlpools or floating down the lazy river."

Best All-Suite: Ocean Oak Resort by Hilton Grand Vacations – See Rates at TripAdvisor

  • "All guests have full access to the resort’s communal spaces, including an oceanfront pool with fountains and a lagoon pool for kids."

Best Camping: Travelers Rest / N Greenville KOA – See Rates at TripAdvisor

  • "When you’re not exploring the surrounding countryside, gather up the family for a swim in the campground pool or a basketball tournament."
01 of 09

Best Overall: Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island

Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island

  Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island

One of the most popular hotels in the Hilton Head resort community, this Sonesta Resort is located steps from the beach amidst lushly landscaped tropical gardens. Use it as a base for exploring the community’s tennis courts and golf courses, or spend lazy summer days frolicking in the zero-entry lagoon pool.

The resort’s kids club, Just Us Kids, offers supervised beach adventures, swimming, and arts and crafts for children aged 3 to 12. Meanwhile, parents can enjoy side-by-side massages at Arum Spa. 

There are six on-site restaurants offering indoor and outdoor dining for all tastes. Enjoy a family night out at the famous Friday Night Seafood Buffet, or treat the kids to build-your-own sundaes at Sonesta Scoops Ice Cream Shoppe.

Rooms accommodate families with two queen beds or one king bed and a double sofa bed. For added privacy, upgrade to a suite with a queen sofa bed in the separate living room. All accommodation options include a private balcony or patio, a smart TV, and high-speed Wi-Fi. 

02 of 09

Best Runner-Up: Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort

Disney's Hilton Head Resort
Courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort

Also part of the Hilton Head resort community, this Disney Resort—one of many in the area—is synonymous with family fun. Designed to resemble a 1940s hunting and fishing lodge, it boasts three swimming pools including one with a water slide and a shallow play area for smaller kids.

Explore the island on a guided nature walk or dolphin-watching tour, or spend idyllic days relaxing on 12 miles of white sand beaches. Sign your kids up for the daily activity program and afterward, listen to their tales of kayaking adventures and campfire sing-alongs.

On rare bad weather days, the Beach House offers a large-screen TV and indoor game tables. Wind and Waves Grill serves home-style Carolina cooking and seafood, while Signals is a pitstop open for quick-serve lunches like sandwiches and salads in season.

The resort has a selection of affordable studio apartments, but it's best known for its one and two-bedroom villas. These offer all of the expected modern conveniences, such as a fully equipped kitchen, a spacious living room, a dining area, and a washer/dryer. Pack n’ Plays for toddlers are available upon request and will help the apartment feel like a home away from home. 

03 of 09

Best Budget: Avista Resort

Avista Resort

Avista Resort

Specifically geared towards families, Avista Resort offers oceanfront condo rentals in North Myrtle Beach, right next door to the area’s shops, beaches, and golf courses.

Here, you and your kids can enjoy warm summer days lounging by the resort’s indoor and outdoor pools. The whole family will enjoy the lazy river, while smaller kids can play safely in the kiddie splash pool. Throughout the summer, the Kids Zone offers a range of free activities, such as hula hoop contests, scavenger hunts, and ice cream socials. 

When you're feeling famished, the resort’s Just Off Main restaurant serves up local cuisine all day, focusing on family favorites like Southern fried fish and peach cobbler.

When choosing a condo, you can rent up to three bedrooms. All units have a spacious separate living room, a fully equipped kitchen, high-speed Wi-Fi, and a private balcony. Save money by self-catering, and split the costs even further by inviting your extended family to join you in a condo big enough for 12 guests. 

04 of 09

Best Luxury: The Sanctuary Hotel at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Resort
Courtesy of Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Resort 

Located on the exclusive barrier island of Kiawah, The Sanctuary Hotel is Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s most luxurious accommodation option. It exudes classic Southern charm and offers generously sized rooms with one king or two queen beds. The most decadent choice is the 3,000 square-foot Presidential Suite, which houses an exquisite living room, dining space for 12, and a furnished sea-view balcony. It can also be connected to a room with two queen beds for larger families. 

Guests of The Sanctuary enjoy full access to resort facilities, including 10 miles of private beaches, five championship golf courses, and 22 tennis courts (which come with family and junior coaching programs). Take part in Sand Castle Wars, attend the Mermaid Academy, or sign your little ones up for one of three fun kids' camps.

While your children are having the time of their lives with their peers, you can check out the spa or the collection of boutique shops for some relaxation or shopping.

The resort also offers a dedicated family pool and more than a dozen restaurants and cafés to suit all tastes. Head to the resorts premier steakhouse, The Ocean Room, for dishes like surf and turf or sirloin, or dine at a more laidback joint like the Player's Pub, where you can get classic American pub food like a burger and fries.

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05 of 09

Best Cultural: The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina

The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina

The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina

If you’d like to introduce your kids to the rich culture and history of 17th-century Charleston, The Beach Club is a great home-base to explore from. Located next door to the Patriots Point maritime museum, the resort offers fun water taxi transfers to the city’s historic downtown area.

You may have difficulties getting your kids to leave the property, though, as it boasts a private beach with fire pits for making s’mores, multiple swimming pools, a seaside bocce court, and even a life-size outdoor chessboard. That's not the only fun for kids, though: Through the Mini Mariners Camp, kids aged 5 to 11 can go on crabbing trips and museum outings, while sailing lessons are offered for children of all ages.

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the complimentary Treat of the Day is a highlight for younger guests, giving them a taste of local and delicious Southern cuisine. The resort’s 33-seat theater is the perfect venue for family movie nights, and you can choose a movie from the hotel's wide selection of films.

All rooms and suites offer an elegant coastal palette and an oversized patio or balcony. Choose the Family Parlor Room for the privacy afforded by two separate bedrooms.

06 of 09

Best for Nature Lovers: Montage Palmetto Bluff

Montage Palmetto Bluff

Montage Palmetto Bluff

Located half an hour’s drive from Hilton Head and thirty minutes from Savannah, Montage Palmetto Bluff sits within a pristine nature reserve on the banks of the beautiful May River.

Palmetto Bluff is the perfect setting for outdoorsy families, with activities ranging from water sports and dolphin tours to riding lessons and fishing trips. You can also go exploring in search of alligators, deer, and bald eagles on a guided tour of the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy.

Paintbox, the hotel's kids’ program, takes children on interactive nature hikes in between lawn games and craft sessions to teach them about local ecology in an engaging way. 

While the kids are busy, you can enjoy a well-deserved break in the spa or on the Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course. Later, share tales of your adventures over a family meal at one of nine on-site restaurants. For laid-back Southern comfort food like barbecue, choose Cole’s, or head to Buffalo’s for casual Italian cuisine like pasta and pizza.

Accommodation is divided between two picturesque villages and includes a selection of beautifully appointed rooms, cottages, and homes. The latter offers multiple bedrooms and full kitchens for ultimate family convenience. Decorated in stately decor with antique touches, the rooms all feel authentically Southern.

07 of 09

Best for Water Babies: Dunes Village Resort

Dunes Village Resort

Dunes Village Resort

Located on the Myrtle Beach oceanfront, Dunes Village Resort is loved by families as the home of the community’s only indoor waterpark. No matter the weather, you and your children can spend hours of fun exploring the water slides and whirlpools or floating down the lazy river. There’s a shallow kiddies’ splash pool for the little ones, and a Silly Submarine for underwater adventures.

The Dunes Village Kids Club organizes pool games as well as treasure hunts and fun arts and crafts so you can relax poolside if you need a moment to yourself. Parents can also take it in turns to look after the kids and spend your time off in the spa for hot stone facials and massages, or in the fitness center.

There are also several restaurants on-site, most with a casual vibe and dedicated children’s menus. Enjoy the generous breakfast buffet at the Admiral’s Room, then spend lunchtimes eating al fresco at the poolside Cabana Tiki Bar.

In terms of accommodation, the resort offers a choice of studio apartments, suites, and condos. All rooms come with self-catering facilities and beautiful sea views. The largest has four bedrooms and can sleep up to 12 people, while smaller families can opt for a smaller suite. 

08 of 09

Best All-Suite: Ocean Oak Resort by Hilton Grand Vacations

Ocean Oak Resort by Hilton Grand Vacations

Ocean Oak Resort by Hilton Grand Vacations

Ocean Oak Resort enjoys a prime location on the Hilton Head coastline, less than a mile from Coligny Beach Park. An all-suite vacation club, it’s designed to give families the sense of having found a home-away-from-home.

All accommodations offer two bedrooms and two bathrooms, perfect for parents that want a little extra space and privacy. A full kitchen allows you to save costs by self-catering, while meals can be enjoyed in the dining room or out on the sea-view balcony. Your own en-suite washer/dryer is another major perk. 

All guests have full access to the resort’s communal spaces, including an oceanfront pool with fun spray features and a beach-entry zone for kids. At the seasonal beachside hospitality center, you can pick up chairs and umbrellas for a fun day spent enjoying the sand and sun. If the weather is down one day, a kid's activity room and unlimited movie rentals come in handy.

Stock up on takeaway meals like sandwiches and salads at The Marketplace, or sit down to family lunches and dinners at Oceanside Bar & Grille, where you can grab a Po'Boy sandwich or a chicken caesar wrap. 

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09 of 09

Best Camping: Travelers Rest / N Greenville KOA

Travelers Rest / N Greenville KOA

Travelers Rest / N Greenville KOA

This family-owned and operated KOA camping resort is located 20 minutes from Greenville in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, making it the ideal base for hiking, biking, rafting, and other adventurous pursuits.

Set up your tent in a campsite with its own picnic table and charcoal grill or park your RV in a back-in site with a furnished patio and fire pit. All sites come with hookups for water, electricity, and cable. If you don’t want to camp, you can rent a self-catering cabin with space for up to six people. 

When you’re not exploring the surrounding countryside, gather up the family for a swim in the campground pool or a hoop-shooting tournament on the basketball court. Games range from ping-pong to outdoor checkers and Connect Four, while the children’s playground has a sandbox with hidden coins that can be redeemed for free popsicles. Furry family members are also welcome to join the party.

You can purchase firewood and propane from the campground shop, while Wi-Fi is available throughout. 

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