After Dark

July 26, 2023

Hilton Head Island’s relationship with nightlife has always been somewhat odd by vacation destination standards. After all, this was a place geared toward daytime delights — golf, tennis, boating and sunbathing are noticeably less fun under the stars. And yes, the island more or less goes dark when the sun goes down, partially to preserve a sense of rusticism and partially to avoid endangering sea turtles.

But that devotion to the daytime doesn’t mean the fun has to end when the moon comes out. Far from it. In fact, even in its earliest days the island was known for its thriving nightlife. At tiny clubs like The Old Post Office, for example, visitors could rub elbows with celebrities while hearing some of the world’s biggest musical acts before they hit it big.

Today, that spirit of nocturnal adventure remains with clubs and nightlife dedicated to keeping the party going long after the lights go down.

Of course, one of the best ways to spend a night out is with a soundtrack of live, local music. And for a town as small as Hilton Head Island, it enjoys an outsized musical scene with a variety of sounds that could make any big city jealous. At The Jazz Corner, you can swing to the sultry sounds of jazz, blues, soul and R&B from some of the biggest names in the world. Consistently ranked as one of the best places in the country to catch a jazz show, The Jazz Corner is Hilton Head’s capital for cool.

For a night out that’s a little on the rowdier side, the Rooftop Bar at Poseidon has made its mark as a musical Mecca, with a rotating lineup of local and regional touring acts that run the gamut from rock and hip-hop to techno and salsa.

A more soulful night of live music awaits at Kind of Blue, one of the island’s newest stages. Here you can experience the live shows that have made musicians like Reggie Deas, Sterlin Colvin and Bobby Ryder legends of the island’s music scene.

A little closer to the beach, The Big Bamboo made its name as an incubator for the island’s up-and-coming artists and a home stage for the long-time local mainstays. On any given night you can tap your toes to rock, reggae and more from a kaleidoscope of area acts.

And right on the water, the stage at The Tiki Hut plays host to a slew of the island’s most celebrated local acts like La Bodega, Shakey Bones, Groove Town Assault and JoJo Squirrell and the Home Pickles. If there’s anything that makes live music better, it’s a drink in your hand and your toes in the sand.

And if live music isn’t your thing, we can recommend a great spot for jaw-dropping magic and side-splitting laughter at Hilton Head Comedy Magic Cabaret. Owner and entertainer Kerry Pollock prides himself on the cabaret’s “funny not filthy” vibe, one that creates a night out for couples and families alike. Joining him on stage is a rotating lineup of nationally touring comedians ready to tickle your funny bone.

If your idea of a night out is showing your friends how smart you are, then you need to head to Cool Cats Lounge where “Man of the People” Matt Stock puts your brain to the test with his signature blend of challenging trivia and belly laughs.