Five things to love about Beaufort, South Carolina

By Charles Richardson

Beaufort. The mere mention of the name conjures up images of an idyllic harbor town, accented by picturesque marshland, moss-draped oaks, horse-drawn carriages, and stately mansions, all tied together by a rich, romantic heritage that pre-dates our country’s origin. Today, the ever-present allure of Beaufort’s storied history magically combines with modern amenities, tourist-friendly activities, and a slew of sights and sounds to entreat visitors, both young and old alike. Here’s a list (albeit, hardly exhaustive) of the qualities, characteristics, and attributes that truly make Beaufort one of America’s most charming coastal towns:

1. Rich history

Few places in the country can offer the historical charm and relevance as the “little ol’ port town.” Sometimes referred to as the Queen of the Carolinas, the Beaufort area is the site of one of the earliest European settlements—Santa Elena, founded in 1566 by the Spanish, making it one of the oldest cities in the United States. The area also served as an infirmary outpost during the Civil War for the Union Army. Many of the old antebellum mansions still serve as vivid reminders of the distant rice and indigo plantations that once dotted the marshlands. Much of the region’s history can be relived and enjoyed via city and river tours, as well as twilight cruises.

2. A natural haven

Beaufort is one of the most beautiful towns along the southern coast. In fact, it’s hard to think of many places in the country that are more picturesque and inviting. Nature rises and falls here each day with the tides as it has for a millenia. Vast, sweeping, inland marshes spread majestically toward the coast before culminating along the Beaufort River at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. Nearby Hunting Island is a treasured Lowcountry maritime forest, one of the few remaining undeveloped Sea Islands along the Carolina coast. It’s also part of the ACE Basin estuarine reserve, a pristine estuary that’s fed by the Ashepoo, Combehee, and South Edisto rivers.

3. Endless recreation

There is no shortage of activities in Beaufort. No matter what your age or interests, the quaint harbor town extends its arms in open invitation to anyone seeking adventure, sightseeing, water sports, entertainment, shopping, and dining. The nearby beaches, marinas, and attractions on Lady’s Island, just across the bridge, unveil limitless possibilities to while the time away, with friends and family, or oneself. With so much accessible marshland, some of the best fishing and scenic kayaking can be found in the intricate network of tidal creeks and streams. Just a short drive north lies an endless ribbon of coastline, offering scenic beaches and plenty of opportunities for relaxation and exploration.

4. Cultural center

South Carolinians, particularly those of a coastal persuasion, have long been faithfulstewards of the arts. Many home-grown treasures contribute to the cultural canon here. Chief among them are the literary works of the world-renowned author, and Beaufort native, Pat Conroy. But that’s just for starters. The area is teeming with creativity and inspiration—in both the visual and performance arts. Beaufort has been named among the nations Top 100 Art Towns, and features a number of burgeoning artists, craftsmen, and artisans. The local organization ARTworks offers art classes throughout the year and gives both locals and visitors easy access to a wide range of artistic mediums and practices: pottery, basket weaving, painting, and more.

5. Fabulous cuisine

When you think of the South Carolina coast, seafood invariably comes to mind. Shrimping and crabbing are a way of life here, literally. Does anyone remember Forrest Gump? For such a small coastal town, Beaufort is a culinary hotspot. Pound for pound, Beaufort packs a big punch of fresh local seafood restaurants, tempting bakeries, boutique eateries, and European-style cafes. In all, there are upwards of 130 restaurants in a town of just 13,000 permanent citizens. Suffice it to say, there is something to satisfy every palate.Considering a life in Beaufort?

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