It’s no secret that Beaufort, South Carolina is beautiful. Beaufort is a city with historic charm and beauty, boasting idyllic beaches and lush greenery. Located near both Charleston and Savannah, Beaufort offers a unique mix of Southern charm and natural beauty. While there are numerous things to do in Beaufort, the following list is our “13 Best Things to Do in Beaufort, SC”.
Beaufort, SC is part of the Savannah River Plantations, which are a collection of plantations that connect to the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Savannah River. They are home to nine National Register historic districts, including the famous St. James Island, which is the only National Historic Landmark on the Savannah River Plantations. In addition to the rich history, the town itself is scenic, with lush greenery, peaceful lakefront access, and gorgeous ocean views.
Whether you’re a local or a tourist, there’s something to do in Beaufort, South Carolina that will fit any interest or budget. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, there’s something to do in Beaufort, South Carolina that will fit any interest or budget. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, there’s something to do in Beaufort, South Carolina that will fit any interest or budget. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, there’s something to do in Beaufort, South Carolina that will fit any interest or budget.Dreaming of a beach holiday with southern charm? Beaufort, South Carolina could be your ideal choice. This coastal town has a wide selection of beaches, parks, hiking trails, historic homes and great restaurants. These are the 12 best things to do in Beaufort.
Not to be confused with Beaufort, North Carolina (pronounced BOH-fert), you will find this Beaufort (pronounced BEW-fert) in South Carolina. Beaufort is located in the heart of the Sea Islands and the Lowcountry of South Carolina and covers much of Port Royal Island and part of Lady Island.
Beaufort is the second oldest city in South Carolina and one of the oldest in the United States. Although the city officially opened in 1711, its history dates back to the early 1520s, when the Spanish and French explored the area. To say it’s a historic city is an understatement. Today, 304 acres of this charming coastal town have been designated a National Historic Landmark.
And with its stunning historic architecture, beautiful coastal views and nearby beaches, it’s no wonder Beaufort has been featured in many popular movies and magazines. A great refreshment. Forrest Gump. Something to say. They were all filmed here. It was named the best town in the South by Southern Living and one of the 50 best adventure towns by National Geographic Adventure for a reason!
Want to know what all the fuss is about? Click here to search for the best hotels in Beaufort.
Don’t miss what needs to be done in Beaufort, SC
Of course, the Beaufort area is a popular beach destination for its scenic beauty and southern charm. There are many beaches, parks, hiking trails, historic homes and interesting restaurants. Here are 12 destinations and attractions to consider when planning your coastal vacation.
Enjoy a day in the sun on the beaches of Beaufort
Around Beaufort, there are several beaches to choose from for the type of beach vacation you prefer. Here you will find detailed information about Beaufort’s public beaches to consider when planning your beach vacation.
1. Hunting Island Beach
Hunting Island Beach is by far the best known and most popular beach in Beaufort, South Carolina. Located in Hunting Island State Park, this beach offers five miles of oasis-like sand. Its popularity with tourists and locals alike makes it the most visited beach in the region – around one million visitors pass through its gates each year!
If you want to take a dip in the water, you should head to Hunting Island Beach. It is noted that this is the best place to swim in the area. Of course, you can also observe the local wildlife during your visit. As on Hilton Head Island, hawksbill turtles are often found in the summer months, during the nesting season. On the beach you can also see many shorebirds and seabirds – it is a popular place for them to forage, nest and rest during their migration.
Hunting Island Beach is open at the same times as the park. It is open daily from 6am to 6pm, closing at 9pm in the summer. The entrance fee to the park covers access to the beach. However, if you are traveling with a group and plan to visit the park more than a few times during your stay in Beaufort, you may want to consider an annual pass.
2. The Sands Strand
Looking for a beach near the center of Beaufort? Look at Sands. You’ll find this free public beach (and great views of the river and estuary) where Battery Creek meets the Beaufort River in Port Royal.
The Sands is a particularly beautiful place to soak up the sun, take a leisurely stroll along the coast and search for shark teeth. Don’t forget to wear shoes – there are many sharp oyster shells scattered around this beach. Visited for the view? Also check out the four-story observation tower on Henry Robinson Drive. This is the best way to see the surrounding places. The boardwalk is also a great place to fish.
Like Daytona Beach, Sands is one of the few American beaches where you can drive out and park on the beach. Don’t forget to consult the tide tables. You don’t want to be stuck out there at high tide!
3. Land’s End Beach
This beach is worth a visit if you want to spend a quiet day away from the crowds. Land’s End beach is a local favorite and is known to be hard to find! This public beach is located on the site of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard de St. Martin This is where Port Royal Strait meets the Beaufort River in St. Helena.
To call it a secluded beach would be an understatement. Access to the beach is a little difficult and there is just enough roadside parking for a small handful of cars. There is no parking here (unless you cross the Fort Fremont rock dam). Still, this hidden gem can be the perfect place to visit if you’re in the mood to spend some time on a quiet beach.
Enjoy the outdoors by using Beaufort’s parks and trails
This coastal town offers many possibilities to go out and enjoy nature. No matter what part of town you spend the day in, there are many ways to enjoy Beaufort’s spectacular views.
4. Hunting Island State Park
It is the most popular state park in South Carolina. And it’s not just tourists who enjoy it: many members of the land and sea fauna do too! Hunting Island State Park covers approximately 5,000 acres in the South Carolina Lowcountry.
In addition to Hunting Island’s beautiful beach, you’ll find many wetlands and maritime forests, as well as a saltwater lagoon and inlet. As you may have guessed, this is a great place to be if you want to be active while in Beaufort.
I took the above photo from the boardwalk above the marsh at the end of one of the trails. This is an easy walk from the parking lot, and well worth it, as you are directly above the water, right in the middle of the marsh!
The trails in this park are relatively short (the longest is 2.3 miles) and most are easily traversed, but they provide a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the surrounding nature and wildlife. Especially the holm oaks and the Spanish moss in the sea forest! Further inland, you’ll encounter a variety of native wildlife, from raccoons to alligators. And the marshes in this park are a great place if you like bird watching – everything from painted plantains to herons frequent Hunting Island.
Like Hunting Island Beach, Hunting Island State Park is open daily from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. In the summer months the park closes at 21.00 hours. Admission to the park is not free and allows access to the entire park, including the beach. If you are traveling with your dog, you can bring your furry friend to this park. You just need to pay attention to the signage, as there are some restrictions regarding pet access.
5. Hunting Island Lighthouse
Although not technically an open space, it is an ideal place to observe the coastal environment. Notice to lighthouse lovers: Hunting Island Lighthouse is one of the few lighthouses in South Carolina open to the public (it seems to be the only one, but Harbor Town Lighthouse on Hilton Head in Sea Pines is also open to the public).
Visitors to Hunting Island can climb 167 steps to the top, where they are 130 feet above the ground. Ideal for enjoying the sights of the South Carolina coast and the nearby maritime forest.
Originally built in 1859, this lighthouse was destroyed during the Civil War and completely rebuilt in 1875. A small architectural detail of this lighthouse: It is made of interchangeable cast iron parts that can be disassembled if the light needs to be moved to another location. This of course came in handy when coastal erosion necessitated a move inland a few years later!
Hunting Island Lighthouse is open for climbing most days of the year, with the exception of Christmas and occasional bad weather. You have to pay a very small fee to get to the top (in addition to the entrance fee to Hunting Island State Park), but the view is worth it. Check the timetable when you plan your visit – tour times vary slightly in high and low season.
6. Henry C. Chambers Water Park
This park is worth a visit if you plan to spend a day in downtown Beaufort. The park, which has been open for more than 40 years, was named for the Mayor of Beaufort, who spent much of his career lobbying for the creation of this public green space. The Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park now serves as both a local marina and a free place to enjoy the waterfront views in downtown Beaufort.
Today, tourists and locals alike can enjoy this picturesque, 3-hectare dog-friendly park in a variety of ways. Hiking trails allow you to admire the holm oaks and palm trees, young visitors enjoy the playground by the water, and the park provides ample space for picnics in a peaceful setting.
There are plenty of benches to rest on, drinking water and toilets. Access to the park (as well as parking) is completely free.
7. Spanish Moss Road
This great trail is located near downtown Beaufort in northern Beaufort County. With over 10 miles of 12-foot wide paved trails and six parking lots, it’s a fun and affordable way to experience the wilderness of the Lowcountry.
It is open to pedestrians and non-motorized traffic and is a great place to stop if you are on a bike, an avid runner, or for a walk with your dog on a leash. As for facilities, there are several restrooms along the way.
If you’re looking for stunning views of the marshes and coastline, not to mention the native wildlife, you’re sure to find them on this trail. You can visit the Spanish Moss Route every day for free from sunrise to sunset.
Best Beaufort Restaurants You Must Try
A holiday is only a real holiday if you have tasted the local cocktails and aperitifs. Here is a selection of restaurants in Beaufort that are worth trying. Here are the best places to visit when you’re in town – especially if you like seafood!
8. Plum Restaurant
Plums Restaurant is just steps away from Henry C. Chambers Park on Bay Street. Stop by and enjoy local, seasonal produce from area farms and seafood purveyors, served with creative Lowcountry flavor.
Seafood lovers can enjoy dishes like fresh oysters, fried oysters, a tower of shrimp and fresh oysters. You’ll also find Southern classics like the traditional Lowcountry Boil, shrimp and grits, crab cakes and gumbo. And if seafood and southern dishes aren’t your taste, Plums also offers a healthy selection of burgers and salads.
Organizing a visit to Plums also takes little effort. They are open all days of the week from 11am to 9pm. Be sure to reserve a seat outside to enjoy the view of Waterfront Park during lunch or dinner!
9. Breakwater Restaurant & Bar
Here’s another restaurant in Beaufort that uses local and seasonal ingredients in its menu. Breakwater Restaurant and Bar is committed to sourcing local produce whenever possible. You will find this gem in the heart of the Beaufort National Historic District. Expect a chic, modern approach to even the most traditional Lowcountry dishes.
You’ll find excellent seafood such as tuna crudo and spicy calamari. If you stop to eat, try the small steak or the scallop. And if you stay here for a full meal, you can choose from specialties like filet mignon, Scottish salmon or blackened mahi. Bottom line: Don’t forget to leave room for dessert – they serve their own bourbon ice cream!
Breakwater Kitchen is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and the bar is open even longer. If you are visiting Beaufort on the weekend, please note that Breakwater is closed on Sundays – plan your visit accordingly!
10. Wren Bistro & Bar
Stopping for lunch or dinner, Wren Bistro & Bar offers a casual atmosphere in the heart of the historic center. Lots of local ingredients and a great selection of microbrews and wines make it a great place to stop, whether you want to eat or just have a drink.
If you head to the restaurant at lunch, you can choose from dishes like the clam bisque, roasted pecan and cranberry chicken salad, Lowcountry Cobb salad, crispy fish sandwich, or their Southern Tier 11 dish with roasted green tomatoes. Are you a little late? Expect a variety of shareable dishes, like flatbread with wild mushrooms, as well as main courses like crispy flounder, Carolina shrimp with grits, and shrimp mahi served with crispy cereal cake.
The restaurant The Wren is open from Tuesday to Saturday and closed on Sunday and Monday. Lunch lasts from 11:00 to 15:00, between 15:00 and 17:00 and dinner lasts from 17:00 to 22:00. If you choose a particular menu, make sure you come at the right time.
Visit the beautiful historic district of Beaufort
In a town as old as Beaufort, it’s not surprising that there are many historic sites, many of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
You may find it hard to tear yourself away from the beach, but these attractions in historic Beaufort are a must-see. If you are a history buff, be sure to plan a walking tour or a carriage ride to the historic sites!
For carriage rides and other historical tours, see here.
11. Beaufort History Museum
The best place to learn more about Beaufort’s 450-year history is the Beaufort History Museum. It tells the story of the foundation of the city and its surroundings, its role in the revolutionary war, the civil war and the reconstruction.
It’s also a good first stop, as the adjacent visitor center offers maps and information on other attractions.
12. St. John’s Anglican Church Helen’s
St. John’s Day St. Helen’s Anglican Church is located in historic Beaufort, just steps from the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.
This colonial congregation was originally founded as an extension of the Church of England. The history of the parishioners dates back to 1712, and the first church was built in 1724, making it one of the oldest churches in the country. As you might expect, this church has a colorful history, including serving as a hospital for Union troops during the Civil War. The current facade of the building dates from 1824.
Churches aren’t always on the list of must-see attractions, but this one is worth a visit for lovers of history and architecture.
13. John Mark Verdier House
If you’ve been following our guides for a while, you know that I love historic house museums. And this landmark in downtown Beaufort is no exception. Built in 1804, this Federal-style mansion housed Union soldiers during the Civil War.
The John Mark Verdier House presents three main exhibitions. The first is dedicated to Beaufort resident Robert Smalls, a fugitive slave and Civil War hero who in 1875 became the first African American to take a seat in the U.S. Congress.
The second exhibit is a collection of photographs from the Civil War. The third exhibit is about Beaufort’s volunteer artillery, which fought in the American Revolution and the Civil War.
Beaufort, South Carolina, offers something for everytraveler.
Whether you’re in town for a short, minimalist weekend, a week-long beach vacation, or a day trip to the Lowcountry, these 12 local attractions will make your time in Beaufort varied and exciting!
With three different public beaches to visit, numerous historical sites and many restaurants where you can enjoy local seafood, there are many ways to enjoy your time in this quaint coastal town.
Are you ready to plan your vacation to Beaufort, South Carolina? Start your search for the best hotels here.The Beaufort area of the southeast coast of South Carolina is a quaint little town situated between the Atlantic Ocean to the north and the Savannah River to the south. With miles of beautiful beaches, historic sites, and a plethora of activities for all ages, the town has earned the nickname of “The Little America of the South.”. Read more about bay street, beaufort, sc and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is there to do in Beaufort SC?
Beaufort SC has a lot to offer. There are many things to do in Beaufort SC, including: -Beaufort SC is home to the Beaufort County Museum and the Beaufort County Library. -The city is also home to the historic St. Helena’s Episcopal Church, which was built in 1836 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. -There are many restaurants and shops in downtown Beaufort SC that offer a variety of food and goods. -Beaufort SC is also home to the Beaufort County Courthouse, which was built in 1836 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. -The city has a number of parks, including the Beaufort County Park, which offers a variety of activities for visitors. -There are many golf courses in Beaufort SC that offer scenic views and challenging courses for golfers of all skill levels. -Beaufort SC is home to the Beaufort County Museum, which is a museum that features the history of the area. -Beaufort SC is also home to the Beaufort County Library, which is a library that offers many resources for visitors. -Beaufort SC has many beaches and fishing spots for visitors to enjoy. -There are many festivals in Beaufort SC throughout the year, including: -The Beaufort County Fair -The Beaufort Arts Festival -The Beaufort County Fair -The Beaufort County Arts Festival -The Beaufort County Fair -Beaufort SC is home to the Beaufort County Museum, which is a museum that features the history of the area. -There are many festivals in Beaufort SC throughout the year, including: -The Beaufort County Fair -The Beaufort Arts Festival -The Beaufort County Fair
What is Beaufort South Carolina known for?
Beaufort is known for its beaches, historic sites, and the Beaufort National Wildlife Refuge.
Is Beaufort SC worth visiting?
Beaufort SC is a city in the state of South Carolina. Beaufort SC might be worth visiting for these attractions: – Beaufort Historic District: This historic district includes many buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. – Beaufort County Courthouse: This courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. – Beaufort Museum of Natural History: This museum has a collection of fossils, minerals, and rocks. – Beaufort County Library: This library has a collection of books, magazines, and newspapers. – Beaufort County Museum: This museum has a collection of artifacts from the area. – Beaufort SC State Park: This park has a beach, picnic areas, and hiking trails. – Beaufort SC State Historic Site: This site has a museum and a visitor center. – Beaufort SC State Park Marina: This marina has boat rentals, fishing, and kayak rentals.
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