Antebellum mansions, horse-drawn carriages and live oak trees draped in Spanish moss are all part of Savannah’s charm. If you can’t get enough of these distinctly Southern images during your trip to Savannah but have the urge to explore other areas, then a day trip to nearby Beaufort, South Carolina is in order.
A historic mansion in Beaufort. — Photo courtesy of anoldent
Beaufort (pronounced B-you-furt, an important thing to know in case you stop to ask for directions) is just over an hour from Downtown Savannah. The quaint South Carolina city is the second oldest in the state and boasts a gorgeous waterfront and stunning 18th- and 19th-century mansions. Home to celebrated author Pat Conroy, who has captured the Lowcountry’s haunting beauty in many of his novels, Beaufort features intriguing historical attractions, excellent restaurants and fabulous shops and galleries.
A walking path along the river at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. — Photo courtesy of Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park
Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, located on the banks of the Beaufort River, is the perfect starting point for your day in Beaufort. The lovely park features gorgeous views of the water and nearby islands, lush greenery and swings for taking in the scenery.
Southurn Rose Buggy Tours offers 50-minute narrated tours of the Beaufort Historic District. — Photo courtesy of Southurn Rose Buggy Tours
One of the best ways to see the city is by horse-drawn carriage, so head to the corner of Bay and Charles streets to Southurn Rose Buggy Tours' ticket office to schedule a narrated tour of Downtown Beaufort. During the 50-minute tour, you’ll learn about the city’s rich history and see some of the most beautiful sites in the Historic District.
A fried wild caught shrimp po-boy at Plums Restaurant. — Photo courtesy of Plums Restaurant
After your horse and buggy tour, treat yourself to lunch at Plums on Bay Street. The restaurant’s eclectic lunch menu is full of fresh soups, sandwiches and salads made from seasonal, local ingredients. If spending time on the Beaufort waterfront has left you with a hankering for seafood, Plums’ lunch menu also includes an oyster bar with oysters and clams on the half shell, peel-and-eat shrimp, and fried shrimp and oysters.
Fordham Market vendors such as the Blue Banjo offer a variety of eclectic merchandise. — Photo courtesy of Fordham Market/Blue Banjo
Beaufort is known for its numerous art galleries and unique shops, so once you’ve filled up at Plums, take time to explore all of the storefronts along Bay Street. You’ll want to give yourself extra time to browse the merchandise in Fordham Market. The historic market is home to several vendors who sell everything from original artwork to saltwater taffy.
National Cemetery in Beaufort. — Photo courtesy of 10best.com
When you’re all shopped out, head back to your car and travel about one mile to the historic Beaufort National Cemetery. Established by President Lincoln in 1863, the National Cemetery is a final resting place for more than 7,500 soldiers from both the Union and Confederate armies who lost their lives during the Civil War. Heroes from the Spanish-American, Korean, Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars are also buried in the peaceful cemetery.
Traditional Gullah cuisine at the Gullah Grub Restaurant on Saint Helena Island. — Photo courtesy of Brenda Ernst
You can’t leave the Beaufort area without experiencing a little bit of Gullah culture. The Gullahs, people of African descent who settled in the Lowcountry area of Georgia and South Carolina hundreds of years ago, have preserved many traditions, including their language, cultural celebrations and cuisine. Saint Helena Island, just 8 miles from the National Cemetery, is considered a center of Gullah culture. Spend some time driving around the picturesque island, then eat an early dinner at the Gullah Grub Restaurant. The casual eatery offers Gullah classics such as fish chowder and shrimp gumbo. You can even pick up a bottle of the restaurant’s famous rub and barbeque sauce to take home.