If you were asked to describe historic Beaufort SC in single word, you would almost certainly choose “idyllic.” The picturesque city regularly sweeps awards for attractiveness, quality of life and general appeal as both a place to make a home and a vacation destination. Southern Living Magazine rated it among “The South’s Prettiest Towns,” while PureWow selected it as “Cutest Town” in South Carolina. A quick glance around is enough to see why Beaufort always tops the runnings for the best small town in South Carolina.
Rich in Lowcountry charm, the coastal city has the easy, welcoming feel and delightfully historic touches of a small town. At the same time, it has the fine restaurants, high-end hotels and beautiful beaches one would expect from larger, more recognizably competitive cities. Its convenient location, perfect for outdoor adventuring and ocean-side expeditions, and friendly populace are simply the icing on the cake.
Stay in Style
While the city has most of the major brand-name hotel chains visitors expect, downtown Beaufort SC is also host to cozy and romantic bed and breakfasts perfect for those who enjoy a little personality in their accommodations.
Antebellum mansions turned inns such as as the Beaufort Inn and the Rhett House Inn offer stunning amenities and first class service in classic coastal style. Wide verandas and lush gardens provide ideal places to rest after days spent exploring the town’s shops and attractions or sunning on the beach.
When you’re not enjoying complimentary meals and snacks at your hotel, Beaufort has dozens of restaurants to tempt your tastebuds. No visit to Beaufort SC is complete with a taste of the city’s divine Lowcounty cuisine or the unique twist its chefs put on international fusion dishes. From fresh seafood to tapas to surf and turf to quirky coffee shops, the city has all the dining options you could hope for and much more.
Things to Do in Beaufort
No matter what your tastes, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Beaufort, SC all year round. Interested parties can spend days exploring historic Beaufort architecture, replete with antebellum mansions, old ruins and local history museums. Take in the sights by foot if you want to work up an appetite, or hop on a carriage tour dedicated to local history, Beaufort sites used in the filming of iconic movies or ghostly happenings. Famous lighthouses, cemeteries, parks and churches are available to round out your expeditions, as well.
Art lovers will find their fill of museums and galleries available to browse, including but not limited to the:
- Beaufort History Museum
- Artsyletters Shop
- Atelier on Bay
- Beaufort Art Association Gallery
- Lybenson’s Gallery and Studio
- Red Piano Too Art Gallery
If you prefer a little more activity and adventure in your vacations, Beaufort has you covered there as well. Check out the Lowcountry Estuarium for a one-of-a-kind encounter with the animals the inhabit local waterways or take a biplane tour of the local area. Hit Barefoot Bubba’s Surf Shop to rent kayaks, bicycles and surf boards for a day at the beach or sign up for a River Tour and Dolphin Watch with Captain Dick. Regardless of what you choose, you’ll find yourself in for a treat.
Beaufort Beaches and Parks
Every visitor should plan time in their stay to indulge in the gorgeous Beaufort SC beaches while they are in town. Some stretches are ideal for lounging in the sun and recuperating from your busy life. Others, however, are saturated with history or full of invitation to new adventures.
- Hunting Island State Park is a barrier island complete with an 1859 lighthouse that attracts over one million visitors annually. With sandy beach front, acres of marshland and maritime forest and even a saltwater lagoon, it’s unlike anything you’ve experienced before.
- Saint Helena Island is home to the Penn Center where the Penn School, one of the earliest schools for freed slaves in America, once stood. Now considered a major historical and cultural institution, the Center is only one of St. Helena’s attractions. Others include the Chapel of Ease, Fort Fremont and the York W. Bailey Museum.
- The Spanish Moss Trail has been welcoming residents and visitors to Beaufort since 2012. The trail, also called the Lowcountry’s Rails to Trail, is 10 miles of 12-foot wide paved pathway for walking, running, biking, fishing, skating, scooting and other forms of activity and movement that offer users stunning views of coastal marshes and historical sites.
- Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park is centrally located in the city’s downtown, and provides seven acres of green space for relaxing, playing or simply enjoying the view of the water and the ships in the adjacent marina. A local staple since 1979, the park has been repeatedly expanded and now features a pavilion, an amphitheater, gardens, a playground and a regular farmers market. It is a hub of local community not to be missed by any visitor who truly wants to get a feel for the area.
- The Port Royal Sound Maritime Center is a combination museum, marina, educational center and adventure port. With no entrance fee and dozens of hands-on activities, exhibits, tours and events, it’s the perfect place to learn about Port Royal Sound and the essential role it plays in Beaufort and South Carolina at large.
Go for a Visit, Find Reasons to Stay
Given the buckets of awards Beaufort routinely collects for quality of life, atmosphere, charm and mass appeal, it only seems fair to warn visitors that once they visit, they may find themselves wishing to stay. After all, Beaufort didn’t earn the titles of the “Best Small Town in South Carolina,” “Queen of the Carolina Sea Islands,” “#1 Favorite Small Southern Town” and “#3 Best Small Town to Visit” for nothing!
Fortunately, however, the city has a strong job and housing market, which means that if you find yourself coming back to visit over and over, there are plenty of opportunities to upgrade Beaufort from “vacation spot of choice” to “home.”