Hilton Head Island, South Carolina has been a family-friendly destination for generations, and many visitors who now have children remember visiting the island as children themselves, spending afternoons on the docks with their grandparents or unfettered playtime at the old tree house playground in Sea Pines. This year, as they return, they'll realize that Hilton Head Island has completed a playground present of a project that welcomes the next generation to make memories of their own.
Lowcountry Celebration Park, a 10-acre site off Pope Avenue near the Coligny Beach parking lot, was completed in December of 2020 and features a playground, as well as an open pavilion and lawn, walkways that welcome after dusk with their subtly lit details, and even a Children's Sandbox Museum, which offers learning and interactive fun even on a rainy day.
The centerpiece of this park is the Adventure Playground, and it includes a reimagined design of The Adventure (the ship from which Captain William Hilton first spotted the island), surrounded by a poured-in-place safety rubber surface and equipped with "cannons'' that spray a light mist if a child hits a button. There's also other play equipment, and a wading pool that mimics the rise and fall of the island's tides.
The focus on the island itself as inspiration continues throughout the park with a nod to island architecture in the pavilion, oyster shell paths, and an art piece in a flood-control lagoon called "Setting Sun."
The entire park site was dormant for years and originally planned as a hotel, though no building was ever constructed. When the town acquired the land 20 years ago, there was, however, a swimming pool and some storm drains, which were removed during construction. Design ideas and implementation bubbled for years in the interim, and eventually the lead designer for the park, Kyle Theordore at Wood + Partners, not only brought the ideas together to make it Hilton Head Island-centric, but planned for its multi-use future, from uplighting on trees to electric outlets near the lawn that would easily accommodate a future festival and individual booths.
"It is uniquely Hilton Head," Chris Darnell, Town of Hilton Head Island urban designer, said. "A lot of parks I see could be picked up and plopped down anywhere in the USA, but not this one. It was built specifically for this space, place, and environment." And it's open and ready for many seasons full of safe outdoor fun.
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