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Brad Benedict’s Guide to Hilton Head, South Carolina

The star of Tyler Perry’s hit TLC drama, “Too Close to Home,” on making time to reflect, and to get away

When Brad Benedict graduated college, the actor says he had two paths laid out in front of him: to continue on his finance track toward a job in banking, or to move to Los Angeles to pursue acting. As Benedict—who stars in Tyler Perry’s hit TV drama, “Too Close to Home,” which returned to TLC in January—would go on to find out, one’s choices, as the saying goes, can either make him or break him.

If you haven’t guessed, the 31 year-old chose to chase the bright lights of Hollywood, and moved from his hometown of Atlanta to Los Angeles, in 2008. In addition to kickstarting his acting career, Benedict says his move swiftly proved the importance of broadening one’s horizons. Reflecting on his role as the show’s resident bad boy, J.B., Benedict sees just how important his awakening has been. “If you haven’t been outside of your bubble, then yeah, it’s tough to have acceptance and understanding,” he says. “Even if you’re a great human.” When Benedict learned he was up for the part of show’s villain—a far cry from his character in real life—he was down for the challenge, if not slightly intimidated. “I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it because you always want to get to be the hero and that’s certainly something that I’m not.” 

You’d think that portraying an antagonist as unruly as J.B. in front of the camera would mean the actor spends his time offset chasing far less disruptive pursuits. Not so, according to Benedict. The ability to get introspective and analyze his character’s thoughts—not his actions—after each scene wraps is actually what makes the role so rewarding. “I struggle with my character, kind of just coming to terms with the decisions he’s made,” Benedict says. “It’s always easy to immediately judge a person and their actions and choices, but this story, and the way it unfolds, are a reminder that humans are complex and deep.” And as anyone who’s watched the series can attest, one’s actions don’t necessarily always reflect his true colors.

The new year hasn’t only brought Benedict the next season of the show that catapulted his career, it’s also given him a fresh take on how to continue his time in Hollywood. The actor says he’s starting to worry less about the opinions of others and more about what makes him happy, like finding time for personal hobbies such as scuba diving, leading fitness classes, or playing guitar. In addition, Benedict recognizes the importance of time away. Particularly time spent in Hilton Head, South Carolina, a safe haven he and his family have visited ever since he can remember that he makes a point to return to each year.

While many may enjoy a vacation filled with sleeping-in and lounging around, the Benedict family—a group that recently grew to 20 and includes the actor’s three siblings—prefers a more active itinerary. Each day usually begins at sunrise with a cup of coffee on the shore. Anything from bike rides to beach days can follow, and it all typically ends with a homemade meal of “anything that can be put on the grill,” especially if it’s Benedict’s night to cook. Below, a Benedict-approved guide to the destination that holds a special place in his and his nearest and dearests’ hearts. 

Cup of Joe: “I love taking an early morning bike ride to the Harbour Town Bakery and Cafe to pick up a cup of coffee. Then, with it in hand, I’ll stroll the adjacent marina docks to check out the beautiful yachts.”

Power Lunch: “The last time I went for lunch at The Salty Dog Café was this past summer. I ordered the Grouper Dog, or ‘grouper fried to a golden brown and smothered with Swiss cheese [that’s] served on a toasted hoagie roll with a side of Captain John’s tartar sauce.’ I’d go back for seconds. And thirds. No shame with this guilty pleasure.”

Cocktail Hour: Harbourside Burgers and Brews is an outdoor cafe with great live music and a sea breeze. The appeal for me is less about the specific drinks and more about the amazing environment. I’m happy with a cold draft beer and some good company.”

Retail Therapy: “Each time I visit Hilton Head, I inevitably make a trip to the Blue Water Tackle Shop at South Beach Marina. I’ve always loved to go surf fishing, so naturally I am a sucker for bait and tackle shops. I always find a way to buy way more gear than necessary. My tackle box is my treasure chest.”

Field Trip: “If you ever visit during the summer months, you must go see Gregg Russell perform under the old Liberty tree in Harbour Town. He puts on a musical comedy show with help from young children in the audience. It makes for tons of laughs and is a perfect family affair.”

Date Night: Aunt Chiladas Easy Street Café for all-you-can-eat crab legs. Enough said! I discovered this gluttonous menu option about ten years ago, and have made it an annual tradition ever since. I leave never wanting to eat crab again, but my appetite always recovers by the time I return for a visit the following summer.”

Don’t Miss: “Climbing to the top of the iconic, red and white striped Harbourtown Lighthouse. The aerial views of the surrounding marina and intracoastal waterway are gorgeous.”

Hidden Gem: “Bike paths abound, all over the island. They’re one of my all-time favorite features of Hilton Head. We take a group bike ride every morning on my family vacations. It is definitely a unique amenity that draws me back year after year.”