Beaufort, as in “beautiful,” is just as its name is pronounced. The Low Country, Sea Islands of South Carolina hold a rich colorful part of our nation’s past, and Beaufort is a living museum full of that history. Beaufort was founded in 1711 and is the second oldest city in South Carolina, the oldest being Charleston. It’s location on the Beaufort river, a deep navigable tributary of Port Royal Sound, has made it a valuable deep water port for over 300 years.
Beaufort had the mixed blessing of, only a few months into the Civil War, being one of the first cities in the south to be occupied by union troops. The fortunate part of that occupation is that many of the town’s houses were saved due to their value as offices and barracks for senior military staff and troops during the war. While we can be sure the local residents didn’t view that as a positive event at the time, today’s residents have made the best of it by restoring most of those historic houses into lovely homes. Due to this careful preservation, 300 acres of the city have been designated as a National Historic Landmark. This wonderful collection of antebellum architecture has drawn the attention of more than one Hollywood director, with such movies as The Great Santini, The Big Chill, The Prince of Tides, Forrest Gump and G. I. Jane having been shot on location.
Besides the many tourists that contribute to the local economy, Beaufort has a stable economy supported by the numerous military installations around the area, including the famed Marine Corp Base of Parris Island. Residents and tourists alike have been drawn to Beaufort for many reasons, some of which lie in the natural beauty of its location. The area has a wide variety of activities for the outdoor enthusiast, including; cycling, bird watching, fishing, kayaking, scuba diving and much more. But Beaufort is not just for the outdoorsman, it is also full of history, art and entertainment. It’s easy to see why Beaufort has won national awards by several leading magazines like Southern Living, Field and Stream and National Geographic Adventure.
Beaufort welcomes the visiting boater with a beautifully restored waterfront at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. The park is not only a great place to relax and take in the peaceful view of the river and surrounding islands but is used throughout the year for several cultural festivals. Some festivals this fall include the Beaufort Shrimp Festival (Oct. 2-3), Fall Pickin’ by the River (Oct. 17), and Fall Festival of Houses & Gardens (Oct. 23-25).
WHERE TO DOCK
- Downtown Marina of Beaufort – Located in the heart of downtown, offering shower & laundry facilities, courtesy transportation, wifi and ship’s store.
- Port Royal Landing Marina – Located on Beaufort River, about two nautical miles south from downtown Beaufort, accommodating vessels up to 140 feet.
WHERE TO DINE
- Plums Restaurant (904 Bay St., 843-525-1946) a local favorite for the best southern inspired dishes, offering both lunch and dinner options.
- Saltus River Grill (802 Bay St., 843-379-3474) an urban seafood grille offering a plethora of seafood, sushi and steak dishes with views along the Beaufort River.
- Wined it Up (705 Bay St., 843-379-5585) a great place for small plates, gourmet sandwiches, meats and cheeses along with 20 different wines by the glass.