Beaufort, South Carolina, often referred to as the “Queen of the Carolina Sea Islands,” is a charming coastal town known for its historic charm, beautiful architecture, and scenic landscapes. Nestled between Charleston and Savannah, Beaufort offers a perfect blend of Southern hospitality, natural beauty, and rich history. Here are some of the best places to visit and things to do in Beaufort.
1. Hunting Island State Park
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunting_Island_State_Park
Just a short drive from Beaufort, Hunting Island State Park is a must-visit destination. This stunning barrier island features a beautiful sandy beach, a historic lighthouse, nature trails, and a saltwater lagoon. Enjoy swimming, sunbathing, fishing, hiking, bird-watching, and camping amidst the park’s natural beauty. Don’t forget to climb to the top of the lighthouse for panoramic views of the coast.
2. Pat Conroy Literary Center
At the Pat Conroy Literary Center, visitors can explore exhibits that delve into the life and literary legacy of Pat Conroy. You’ll find displays of personal artifacts, original manuscripts, photographs, and memorabilia related to Conroy’s life and writing career. The center also hosts special events, book signings, and lectures by renowned authors, making it a hub for literary discussions and community engagement.
3. Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park
Take a leisurely stroll along the park’s waterfront promenade and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Beaufort River. Admire the sailboats, shrimp boats, and yachts passing by, and marvel at the natural beauty of the surrounding marshes and wildlife. If you’re visiting with children, they can have a blast at the park’s playground. The playground features swings, slides, climbing structures, and other fun elements that will keep kids entertained and active.
4. St. Helena’s Anglican Church
St. Helena’s Anglican Church has a rich history that dates back more than three centuries. It was initially established as a parish church for the local Anglican community and served as a place of worship for planters, enslaved Africans, and their descendants. The church played a vital role in the religious and social life of the area and has witnessed significant historical events.
5. Spanish Moss Trail
Image Source: https://www.traillink.com/trail/spanish-moss-trail/
The Spanish Moss Trail spans approximately 10 miles, stretching from the heart of Beaufort to the town of Port Royal. The trail is built on a former railroad bed, offering a flat and well-maintained surface that is ideal for walking, jogging, biking, and rollerblading. It is wheelchair-friendly and suitable for all fitness levels. As you traverse the Spanish Moss Trail, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the region’s natural landscapes. The trail winds through marshes, woodlands, and open fields, providing an opportunity to observe the local flora and fauna. The name “Spanish Moss” comes from the ethereal gray-green strands of moss that hang from the trees, creating a picturesque and quintessentially Southern atmosphere.
6. Port Royal Sound Foundation Maritime Center
The Maritime Center features a range of exhibits and interactive displays that provide insight into the natural wonders of the Port Royal Sound and its surrounding ecosystems. Learn about the diverse marine life, including fish, dolphins, crabs, and other creatures that call the sound home. Discover the importance of salt marshes, oyster reefs, and other habitats in maintaining the sound’s delicate balance.
7. Beaufort History Museum
Discover the rich history of Beaufort at the Beaufort History Museum. Housed in the historic Arsenal building, the museum showcases exhibits on the area’s Native American culture, the Civil War, the Gullah community, and other significant events. It’s a great place to learn about the town’s past and its impact on the region.
8. John Mark Verdier House
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Mark_Verdier_House
Constructed in 1804, the John Mark Verdier House is one of the most notable examples of Federal-style architecture in the region. The house was originally built for John Mark Verdier, a wealthy French Huguenot merchant who played a significant role in the economic development of Beaufort during the early 19th century. The John Mark Verdier House is a remarkable architectural gem, showcasing the elegance and craftsmanship of its time. The house features symmetrical design, refined proportions, and ornate details, including intricate moldings, decorative plasterwork, and grand staircases. Its iconic portico with fluted columns and a pediment adds to the visual appeal of the building.
9. Reconstruction Era National Monument
The Reconstruction Era National Monument is a significant historical site located in Beaufort, South Carolina. Established in 2017, this national monument commemorates the period of American history known as the Reconstruction Era (1865-1877), which followed the Civil War and sought to address the aftermath of slavery and bring about political and social change.
10. Saint Peter’s Catholic Church
Saint Peter’s Catholic Church was established in 1826, making it the oldest Catholic church in South Carolina. The church has witnessed the growth and changes in Beaufort over the years and has played an important role in the spiritual and social life of the Catholic community.
11. Robert Smalls Monument
Robert Smalls was born into slavery in Beaufort in 1839 and became known for his daring escape from enslavement during the Civil War. In 1862, he commandeered a Confederate ship, the CSS Planter, and successfully delivered it to Union forces, along with its valuable cargo and enslaved crew members seeking freedom. Smalls’ courageous act attracted national attention and served as a symbol of the fight against slavery and the struggle for civil rights.
12. Thomas Hepworth House
The house is a Colonial two-story cottage with a side porch. Its roof lines are simple gables broken by side dormer windows. A local tradition that ventilation piercings on the north side of the tabby foundation were intended as rifle slots for defense against Indian attack is without documented basis.
13. Tabernacle Baptist Church
Tabernacle Baptist Church has a deep historical significance in Beaufort. It was founded by Reverend Abraham Murchison during the Civil War era as a place of worship for African Americans. The church served as a sanctuary and spiritual haven during a time of great turmoil and social change. Tabernacle Baptist Church continues to serve as a spiritual center for its congregation and the wider community. It provides regular worship services, prayer gatherings, and religious education programs to foster spiritual growth and strengthen the faith of its members.
14. Santa Elena Monument
The Santa Elena Monument honors the legacy of the Santa Elena settlement, which was established in 1566 as the first European colonial capital in present-day United States territory. The settlement, located on Port Royal Sound, served as a Spanish outpost and played a crucial role in the exploration and colonization of the southeastern region of North America.
15. Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Beaufort
Image Source: https://uubeaufort.org/
The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Beaufort values inclusivity and welcomes individuals of all backgrounds, beliefs, and identities. It celebrates diversity and encourages its members to explore their own spiritual paths. Unitarian Universalism encompasses a wide range of beliefs, drawing inspiration from various religious and philosophical traditions. The fellowship holds regular worship services that incorporate elements from different religious traditions, including music, meditation, inspirational readings, and thought-provoking sermons. These services provide a supportive and nurturing space for spiritual growth, reflection, and community connection.
16. Robert Smalls House
Image Source: https://www.nps.gov/places/the-robert-smalls-house.htm
The Robert Smalls House holds great historical significance as the residence of Robert Smalls, who was born into slavery in 1839. Smalls later became famous for his daring escape from slavery during the Civil War and his subsequent political career as a United States Congressman. The house itself is an example of the classic antebellum style architecture that was prevalent in the area during the 19th century. It reflects the design and construction of the era and provides a glimpse into the living conditions and lifestyle of the time. Efforts have been made to preserve and restore the house to its original state.
Beaufort, South Carolina offers a delightful blend of history, natural beauty, and Southern hospitality. Whether you’re interested in exploring its rich history, enjoying outdoor activities, or simply taking in the picturesque scenery, Beaufort has something to offer every visitor.
Places and Things To Do