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coastal towns

Beaufort, SC

Bluffton, SC

Brunswick Islands, NC

Charleston & its Resort Islands, SC

Conway, SC

Currituck, NC

Edenton, NC

Edisto Island, SC

Georgetown, SC

Hardeeville, SC

Hilton Head Island, SC

Jasper County, SC

Mount Pleasant, SC

North Myrtle Beach, SC

Myrtle Beach, SC

Northeast NC: Edenton, New Bern, Elizabeth City, Hertford

Ocean Isle Beach, NC

Outer Banks, NC

Pawleys Island/Litchfield, SC

Savannah, GA

Southport, NC

Summerville, SC

Walterboro, SC

Washington, NC

Whiteville, NC

Wilmington, NC

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Center for Carolina Living Hunting Island Lighthouse almost didn’t make its 150th birthday. Encroaching water threatened this still-proud bastion of sea-faring vessels, which was moved inland for protection. Hardy souls can climb the 167 steps for a bird’s eye view of the coast.
Photo courtesy of Friends of Hunting Island, SC • www.friends-of-hunting-island-sc.org
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Beaufort
Beaufort
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Center for Carolina Living It’s all here. Take an early morning walk along the beach. Go back in time touring the ruins of Sheldon Church, a casualty of the Revolutionary War. Contemplate the day’s adventure as the sun sets. Beaufort feeds your soul.
Sheldon Church photo courtesy of Gunars Strazdins
Bottom, courtesy of Habersham


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Beaufort
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Center for Carolina Living Anticipation … He's hoping for a choice morsel for brunch. You, on the other hand, are approaching the beach, ready for a stress-free day of people watching, sand-sitting and novel reading. Here's hoping all of our wishes come true.

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Beaufort
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Center for Carolina Living Pure allure. Blue water, blue sky – what’s not to love in Beaufort? Though bustling with boutiques and restaurants, South Carolina’s second-oldest city still has room for drowsing – Waterfront Park, for example.
Photo courtesy of Greater Beaufort Chamber of Commerce
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13,000

Beaufort County Pop.: 142,045
 
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Chamber of Commerce

800.638.3525

Town of Port Royal
843.986.2200

Go into the Visitors Center, downstairs in the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce at 1106 Carteret Street at Boundary Street for information on activities and relocation packages.

For more information, call the information specialist at 843.986.5400.

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Center for Carolina Living Have some fun. Get some expert feedback. Post your  Beaufort, SC exploration questions, comments, experiences and great restaurant & inn recommendations on the "Carolinas Message Board." Center for Carolina Living
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Beaufort, SC: Historic Lowcountry Coastal Living

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Take a Road Trip to Beaufort

 
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hy
do people make the choices they do when it comes to deciding where to live? Lots of reasons come into play, of course.

Closeness of family and friends, climate, activities, environment and cost of living are the primary reasons. A final decision usually weighs on a combination of all of the above.

If you like mild, warm weather, the fresh smell of a sea breeze, historical roots, a commercially viable area and proximity to iconic Southern cities, then Beaufort and the surrounding South Carolina Lowcountry may be for you.

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Palmetto Real Estate

Beaufort (pronounced byoo-fort), the Queen of the Carolina Islands, is a wonderful tapestry of Southern history and modern adventure, spread out among a series of adjacent islands. The entire historic downtown waterfront district is located on Port Royal Island, a delightful mélange of historic mansions, art galleries, fine restaurants and hip boutiques.

Parris Island, located at the tip of the peninsula adjacent to modern-day Beaufort, was the location of France’s first colony in the New World, founded in 1562 (preceding St. Augustine by three years).

The town of Beaufort was chartered in 1711, making it the second-oldest city in South Carolina, after Charleston. The Treaty of Beaufort, signed in the city in 1787, fixed the boundary between South Carolina and Georgia.

The city’s Golden Era was in the 1800s, when Sea Island cotton became the main crop. Beaufort’s location, midway between the two fabulous seaports of Charleston and Savannah, and a stone’s throw from Hilton Head, proved convenient. Many of Beaufort’s lovely mansions were built by wealthy owners of cotton, indigo and rice plantations.

Today, Beaufort remains an attractive destination. National Geographic Magazine named Beaufort as one of the top waterfront adventure towns in the country. A kayak trip through the Lowcountry’s salt-marsh ecosystem, one of the world’s most productive, is a delightful (and tame) wilderness experience. In addition, golf, tennis, fishing and extensive bicycle and walking routes are plentiful.

Two nearby Marine bases, a naval hospital and a viable fishing industry contribute to the business vitality. Beaufort’s distinctive coupling of modern vitality and Southern charm is growing national attention. The town has been featured in books such as The 100 Best Art Towns in America, by John Villani, 1000 Places to See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz and America’s Most Charming Towns & Villages (fifth edition) by Larry Brown. In fact, it was John Villani’s book listing those best art towns that captured the attention of J.W. and Jenny Rone and brought them to Beaufort.

The Rones moved from Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, another of the 100 Best Art Towns, to Beaufort at the end of 2005. “We traded one art town for the other,” laughed Mrs. Rone.

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Center for Carolina Living Both she and her husband are passionately involved in the arts. They ran the arts center in Berkeley Springs, where she also owned a contemporary American crafts gallery and he worked in various schools using theatre to teach social studies, math and science.
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“We were done with the cold,” Mrs. Rone said. “We were ready to move and find other challenges, and we literally looked for another best small art town to call home. We used John Villani’s book as reference and searched for an area that was warmer and more tropical, with population diversity, lots of different activities and the ambience of a small town.”

Once in Beaufort, the couple started volunteering at the Arts Council of Beaufort County. By August of 2006, they were hired as the new management team. “They got two heads for the price of one,” said Mrs. Rone.

While the Rones were looking for that perfect warm environment, Mrs. Rone’s parents also were considering relocating from northern Virginia. They fell in love with Port Royal, built a house and actually moved there a year before their daughter and son-in-law.

“But we swear we picked Beaufort long before they decided to relocate,” Mrs. Rone laughed. “We were going back and forth from West Virginia to Beaufort, looking for houses and we finally got tired of driving and just decided to do it. Being in a subdivision was not at the top of our priority list, but it turns out we’ve fallen in love with Mossy Oaks, with our house and with the marsh. And it’s five minutes from the arts center. We love going out to the beach and listening to the waves or going out with friends on their boat to find dolphins.”

The water also attracted Troy and Tina Eastman, who moved to neighboring St. Helena Island four years ago. Mr. Eastman is retired military and Beaufort allowed him to combine his two passions in life – fishing and kayaking.

“I have fished in 26 countries; I’ve fly fished out West, and I knew the fishing was good in Charleston and in Savannah and it’s even better here because of the marshes,” Mr. Eastman grinned. “I love any kind of fishing. I also do a lot of kayaking, and I fish from my kayak. You just put the bait out, hook a fish and go for a ride! They call it a “Lowcountry sleigh ride.”

When the fish tires, he pulls it up to the kayak and unhooks it for release back to the wild. “I had a friend who caught a 450-pound shark from his kayak,” he explained. “His sleigh ride was an hour and a half. It’s the same fishing the Inuits and the Native Americans did. They hunted whales from their kayaks, so I guess we can catch 450-pound sharks.”

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Center for Carolina Living The Eastmans (she is originally from Sweden) have lived all over the world while in the military but both love the small town atmosphere of Beaufort. They especially applaud the noticeable lack of chain restaurants and traffic congestion, and appreciate the history, wildlife and, of course, picturesque views.
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The scenery elicits poetic praise from Bill and Roseann Zimmer, newly transplanted from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “It’s like stepping into a postcard,” Mr. Zimmer smiled. “It’s so beautiful. Pennsylvania is beautiful, but this is a different kind of beauty. The landscaping, the big oaks with Spanish moss hanging down – it’s just one postcard image after another.”

Both in their fifties, the Zimmers decided not to wait until retirement “to move to a town where you didn’t have to hibernate for six months,” as Mr. Zimmer said with a smile. Their daughter was going to school in Columbia, South Carolina, and they decided they would move down now instead of waiting until they were older.

“I’m a dentist and I started a brand new practice from scratch down here,” Mr. Zimmer explained. “We are in the town center of Habersham (a water-edged residential community just a few miles from downtown Beaufort). We live in the loft above the first floor office. We didn’t have in mind the setup they have here until we saw it. Then it really clicked for both of us.”

Mrs. Zimmer, who is the business manager of the dental practice, agreed. “The images online don’t do this design justice. My husband first saw it two years ago and I said ‘no way, I don’t want to live above the practice.’ Then we ended up coming down here and saw it and we said, ‘Where do we sign?’ We didn’t do any research to determine if there were a lot of dentists in the area. It was just where we wanted to live.”

The two-bedroom, 1,400 square foot loft required extensive downsizing. “Did we downsize? Oh yes!!” she laughed heartily. “But it’s ok; we are empty nesters. It will give me more time when I’m not working to go to the beach, shop, or play tennis. And the landscaping is taken care of – one dead plant and they pop it out and plant a new flower. It’s so meticulous.”

Mr. Zimmer is an avid golfer and has joined a group of about 25 men who play different courses in the area.

“People are so friendly here, I think because everyone is from somewhere else and we are all trying to connect,” Mrs. Zimmer observed. “It’s the most unique area in the world. I feel like I am on constant vacation. The sun shines, it’s warm, flowers bloom, the birds sing – it’s so beautiful. I’m telling you, I can’t say enough wonderful things about it.”

It’s a touch ironic that just after the Zimmers moved to Beaufort, their daughter transferred from Columbia to New York City’s Fordham University.

Is New York in their future?

“Never,” exclaimed Mrs. Zimmer. “I would never leave this area! The pace of living here is so much slower. I’ve embraced the pace.”

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What to do & What to see

The Beaufort Museum
Housed in the 1795 Beaufort Arsenal, the exhibits tell the story of cotton, rice and indigo creating plantation life and of the wars which changed the character of the area along with that of the country. Editor’s note: The museum is currently closed for repairs. Please call before visiting.
713 Craven Street
843.379.3331
www.historic-beaufort.org/beaufortmuseumpage.htm

Parris Island Museum
Located at the U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot, exhibits military history and island settlements from the 1500s.
Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island
843.228.2951
www.pimuseum.us

Penn Center, York W. Bailey Museum
This campus of the first African-American school where freed slaves were educated after the Civil War is designated as a National Historical Landmark. It includes rare artifacts and an overview of Reconstruction.
St. Helena Island
843.838.2432
www.penncenter.com

Spring Garden Walk
The Spring Garden Walk displays the explosion of color so typical to Southern tradition and Lowcountry climate.

The Spring Tour of Homes
The Spring Tour of Homes is a seasonal highlight featuring beautiful private homes open for visitors.

Art Walks
Art Walks are presented by the Guild of Beaufort Galleries in conjunction with the fall and spring home tours and the Beaufort Kaleidoscope: Film, Food & Fine Art.

The Beaufort Kaleidoscope: Film, Food & Fine Art
The festival is a spring tradition featuring a film festival, art shows and an art walk.
www.beaufortkaleidoscope.com

Soft Shell Crab Festival
This annual event is held in April in the Town of Port Royal (five minutes from Beaufort) where old fashioned fun is the style in the streets of the Old Village.
www.oldvillageportroyal.com/event-softshell.htm

A Taste of Beaufort
Held in early May, the festival features food, wine, art and music in a day-long event in the historic downtown.

Independence Day
In the Town of Port Royal, July 4th is celebrated with family activities, food, drink, entertainment and a dual fireworks display presented by Parris Island and the Town of Port Royal.

Beaufort Water Festival
Water is king during 10 days of celebration each July with a variety of concerts, water skiing, talent contests, air shows, boat races and parades. Tournaments include golf, tennis, boating and bed races. Water lovers also enjoy decorated boats and the traditional Blessing of the Fleet.
www.bftwaterfestival.com

Beaufort Shrimp Festival
This October event includes a run and walk plus a huge celebration of the shrimping industry. Enjoy local recipes and tastings or buy directly from the boats and cook your own.


Take a Little Something Home

Joli Home Interiors in Habersham
Carries everything for the home.
8B Market Street • 843.379.9191

M
Carries antiques and unique gift items.
809 Bay Street • 843.524.7465

Divine Shoes
223 Scotts Street • 843.524.4300

Beaufort Clothing
723 Bay Street • 843.524.7118


Art galleries in downtown Beaufort include:

The Gallery
802 Bay Street • 843.470.9994 •  www.thegallery-beaufort.com

The Craftseller
818 Bay Street • 843.525.6104 •  www.craftseller.com

Art and Soul
917 Bay Street # B • 843.379.9710 •  www.artandsoulbeaufort.com


Food, Glorious Food

Dockside
Another great seafood restaurant offering dishes cooked in healthy ways.
1699 11th Street West, Port Royal • 843.524.7433

Emily’s
Located in scenic downtown Beaufort. Try Shrimp and Grits. (Not your typical shrimp and grits, it’s a little on the spicy side. Winner of the 2006 Shrimp Festival (Best Dish, Best Restaurant).
906 Port Republic Street • 843.522.1866 • www.emilysrestaurant.com

Johnson Creek Tavern
Delicious baked and grilled seafood
2141 Sea Island Parkway, Harbor Island • 843.838.4166


Worth a Look ...

The Baptist Church of Beaufort
Built in 1844, this church is an excellent example of Greek Revival architecture. By 1857, the membership was 182 white and 3,317 slaves. During the Civil War and subsequent Occupation, the church was used as a Union Army Hospital.
600 Charles Street • 843.524.3197 • www.bcob.org

John Mark Verdier House
Built around 1805 for a wealthy merchant-planter, this house was beautifully restored by the Historic Beaufort Foundation. It is a fine example of Federal architecture and furnishings.
801 Bay Street
843.379.6335
www.historic-beaufort.org/verdierhouse.htm

Old Sheldon Church Ruins
These are the remains of Prince William's Parish Church, circa 1745-55. The church was burned by the British during the Revolutionary War. It was reconstructed in 1825 only to be burned again by Sherman's troops in 1865.
Off of U.S. 21  www.charmingtowns.com/dir/society/historic_sites/sheldon_church.html

Related Reading

Beaufort, SC

Beaufort, SC: A Top Favorite Town

Road Trips Directory

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Diana Hunt "Horse" was one of the first words Diana Hunt spoke as a child and it is still a big part of her vocabulary. After editing and travel writing stints in New York City and public relations jobs in Colorado, she moved to Aiken, South Carolina three years ago where she and her registered Paint have been enjoying the good life. She is a freelance photojournalist specializing in equestrian, outdoor and travel subjects.

 

Beaufort at a Glance
By Gerald Sweitzer
Listed by many sources as one of the most distinctive small towns in the US in several categories, Beaufort exudes charm. Often referred to as a smaller version of Savannah, GA (40 miles to the south) or Charleston, SC (70 miles to the north), this town of 14,000 is known for its outstanding historic district, the location for a number of well known movies such as The Big Chill, The Prince of Tides, and Forest Gump, and Lowcountry cuisine.

The Beaufort Historic District is one of South Carolina's three National Historic Landmark Districts. The grand white frame houses, wrapped with wide porches on multiple levels and adorned with widow's walks, gazebos and wisteria-draped arbors in elegant gardens, stand side by side with multicolored bungalows. Live oak trees draped with Spanish moss grace the brick walkways and narrow streets; the town commands spectacular water views in three directions.

Festivals are popular in Beaufort. The Gullah Festival takes place in May and features arts and craft exhibits, dance performances, plays, musicians, workshops and international cuisine. Shrimp, crab and fish - dietary staples for this community - are caught fresh daily and served at local restaurants.

The Henry Chambers Waterfront Park is arguably the most popular hangout in Beaufort. Facing the river, the park is backed by a row of restaurants and businesses housed in restored Bay Street buildings. The downtown shopping district consists of tastefully renovated storefronts, including antiques shops, art galleries, elegant gift shops and a variety of specialty shops.

While real estate can be a bit pricey, there are many housing options here. Beaufort is still considered affordable by some retirees and families seeking a spectacular waterfront town.

Read more about Beaufort:



The 50 Best Small Southern Towns,

by Gerald Sweitzer and Kathy Fields




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