Hilton Head has no traditional neighborhoods, per say. At just 55 square miles, it's divided into dozens of "plantations"—planned communities of vacation homes, rentals and time shares. Many of these are private, so for all practical purposes, the parts of Hilton Head you can explore are limited to the beach, a few plantations and the William Hilton Parkway. Just across the causeway, the town of Bluffton has a charming downtown and a plethora of affordable hotels.
Across the causeway from Hilton Head on the mainland, Bluffton is a charming little town with a pretty historic waterfront. The waterfront district, known as Old Town Bluffton, is a pleasant place for lunch or an afternoon stroll. Bluffton also has a number of the region's more-affordable hotels, so many Hilton Head-goers choose to stay here. It's also popular with families visiting sons and daughters at the nearby Parris Island Marine base.
Divided into "plantations"—planned subdivisions serving Hilton Head's retirees and vacation home renters, Hilton Head can have a somewhat exclusive feel. Many of the plantations are gated. Visitors must be announced, so unless you already know someone there, you won't even have access to half of the places. Some, though, have their own shopping areas and restaurants that are open to the public. Of the island's more than 25 golf courses, many are private, while others have public tee times. Prominent plantations include: Indigo Run, Palmetto Dunes, Sea Pines and Wexford. Many of the island's public amenities, like grocery stores and pharmacies, can be found along the William Hilton Parkway, also known as Highway 278.