Coastal Discovery Museum & Trails

Looking for a place to practice social distancing while enjoying the natural wonder of the South Carolina Lowcountry? The grounds of Coastal Discovery Museum are just what you’re looking for!

Photo by Louli Kourkounakis.

The Coastal Discovery Museum is located on Hilton Head Island. The museum displays permanent and travelling exhibits that focus on the Lowcountry’s natural history and cultural heritage. The museum and its grounds are a part of the Honey Horn property. Interpretive trails wind through the woods and along the marsh and Jarvis Creek.  This is a great place to spend the day while social distancing.

The Coastal Discovery Museum’s Discovery House is located along the main road into Honey Horn. Stop in the museum first to view the exhibits. Admission is free. This building dates back to 1859. It holds both temporary and permanent exhibits that focus on the Lowcountry’s natural history and cultural heritage. There’s also a Kid’s Zone to keep the little ones entertained.

The vistas seen from the trail boardwalks stretch across the marsh and tidal creek. While walking, be on the lookout for interpretive panels that explain the natural beauty of Lowcountry estuaries and marine habitat.

The property is home to several live oak trees that were planted in the early 1800s. You can also find a former state champion Southern Red Cedar tree on the property. This is one of the largest of its kind in the state. The germination date has been estimated at 1595. Bald cypress, Dogwood, Gingko, Southern Magnolia and Pecan trees can also be seen here.

Native American replica shell ring image found on Coastal Discovery Museum Facebook page.

While walking the grounds, be sure to stop at the replica shell ring. Native Americans built similar rings as far back as 4,000 years ago. The exact purpose of these rings is unknown. The Coastal Discovery replica shell ring was built with real Native American oyster, whelk and clam shells, animal bones and other historic materials.

No trip to the Coastal Discovery Museum is complete without touring the Karen Wertheimer Butterfly Habitat. This enclosed greenhouse garden is home to a number of native butterflies from May to October. Nectar plants feed the butterflies while host plants are covered in eggs and feeding caterpillars. Informative panels are placed throughout the garden to educate visitors on the life cycle of the butterfly.

There are many gardens spread across the property. The Carnivorous Plants Bog Garden is home to the Venus fly trap, pitcher plants and sundews. These are all native to South Carolina. These plants expertly trap insects with their unique adaptations. The Heritage Garden features more than 30 plant species that are historically significant to the Lowcountry. Some of these varieties were used by Native Americans, while others were grown by Gullah islanders. Many of these plants are responsible for survival on the barrier islands after the Civil War.  The Camelia Garden contains 131 different types of camellias. Some of the varieties were even developed in the Lowcountry.

Don’t forget to wander over to the barns before you leave. The pole barn was built in the 1950s to store farming and timbering equipment. Look for the 400-pound cowling of an Atlas V rocket that washed up on the beach at Hilton Head in 2010. The horse barn was added in the 1930s. It was renovated by the museum in 2008 and is now home to two Marsh Tacky horses: Comet and Hawk. The Marsh Tacky is the South Carolina State Heritage Horse.

Map from Coastal Discovery Museum website.

For more information on attractions on Hilton Head and the South Carolina Lowcountry visit  https://southcarolinalowcountry.com/sights-to-see/

Coastal Discovery Museum
70 Honey Horn Drive
Hilton Head, SC 29926
843-689-6767

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