Beaufort, South Carolina Travel Guide
July 19, 2021
Beaufort, South Carolina is known for its coastal setting, antebellum architecture, and small-town charm. Named South’s Best Small Town of 2020 by Southern Living and one of the Best Small Towns in America 2021 by Travel + Leisure, we definitely had to hit up this South Carolina gem on our summer road trip around the South.
(I’m still working on the rest of the travel guides, but you can start here with my Ultimate Charleston Travel Guide!)
I’m excited to be sharing more travel guides this summer as we bop around some new and old favorite destinations in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and more! But today, you’ll get all the best recommendations from our trip to Beaufort in this Beaufort travel guide.
Beaufort, South Carolina Travel Guide
Beaufort is located at the southern point of South Carolina on one of the state’s Sea Islands and is a true Lowcountry gem. From the classic Southern architecture and walkable downtown to the surrounding nature and beautiful beaches, Beaufort, South Carolina is the perfect coastal getaway for any Southerner looking for a more unique and home-like beach vacation. In this Beaufort travel guide, I’ll be sharing the best things to do in Beaufort, where to stay, and of course my favorite restaurants in the city. Keep reading to plan your next trip to one of our favorite towns in South Carolina!
How to Get to Beaufort
Close to the border between South Carolina and Georgia, Beaufort is incredibly easy to get to from all around the South, especially for my fellow Charleston locals at just an hour and a half drive! Beaufort is also just an hour from Savannah and the Savannah/Hilton Head International airport. The city is also easy to get to from other Southern hubs. Atlanta, Jacksonville, and Charlotte are all less than a 5-hour drive away. Wherever you’re located, Beaufort is easy to get to and easy to get around once you’re there!
Where to Stay in Beaufort
Anchorage 1770 is a boutique waterfront inn located in the historic district of Beaufort, South Carolina. Appropriately, the hotel has its own storied history, from its construction as a personal residence in 1770 to its use as a social club in the late 19th century and now to its current life as gorgeous boutique accommodations. Purchased in 2014 by owners Frank and Amy Lesesne, Anchorage 1770 has transformed into the incredible space it is now, with the kind of amenities and services you would expect from a boutique hotel. Take breakfast on the porch or rent a paddleboard to explore the surrounding waterfront. Four of the hotel’s rooms overlook the Beaufort River on the Intercoastal Waterway. To be sure, wherever you look, you’ll be reminded of the antebellum architecture for which Beaufort is so famous.
When we stayed at Anchorage 1770, we were lucky enough to meet the owners, Amy and Frank, and they were fabulous! They took us out on their boat for a sunset cruise and we had the absolute best time meeting them and a few other guests from the inn. On the cruise we watched the sunset and even spotted several dolphin. We feel so blessed to have met such wonderful people.
Address: 1103 Bay St, Beaufort, SC 29902
The Beaufort Inn
If you’re looking to take advantage of the great weather and the walkable nature of Beaufort, The Beaufort Inn is the place for you! We love The Beaufort Inn because of the insanely good location. Located in downtown Beaufort, the inn is within walking distance to Waterfront Park, all of the shops and restaurants, and the marina. It’s a charming hotel in an equally charming area! The perfect mix of modern amenities and Southern architecture, whichever of the 47 rooms you choose will have everything you could need for your trip to Beaufort. We stayed in the Craven Courtyard Queen and it was very nice and spacious. We especially loved the courtyard all lit up with twinkle lights at night.
The Beaufort Inn also has some unique amenities to help you really enjoy everything you can in Beaufort. The inn is dog friendly, with free wi-fi and parking. You can choose complimentary breakfast from any of three local restaurants – Blackstone’s, Common Ground, and Rain-N-Bagels. You can also get a pass for Hunting Island State Park Beach, which we used to go tour the lighthouse at Hunting Island. We also arrived before check-in time and they let us use a beach pass while we waited for the room to be ready! Admission to Hunting Island is normally $8 for adults and $4 for kids, so this is a great perk!
Address: 809 Port Republic St, Beaufort, SC 29902
What to Do
Emma’s Golf Cart Tour of Downtown
Beaufort, South Carolina is a city full of history and fun facts, so what better way to learn them all than by taking a guided tour through the gorgeous mansions and filming locations in the town? Emma’s Golf Cart Tour is Beaufort’s first historic golf cart tour and will take you to all the historic homes in downtown, providing you with stories about the town’s past, both real and legendary. You’ll also see filming locations for iconic films like Forrest Gump, G.I. Jane, and The Big Chill. The tour is run out of Emma’s Earth Shop in downtown Beaufort and for each ticket purchased, you’ll receive coupons for local vendors and a souvenir!
Address: 1002 Bay Street Beaufort, SC 29902
Hunting Island State Park
Hunting Island State Park attracts over a million visitors each year, and it’s easy to understand why! With pristine beaches, wild marshes filled with local wildlife, beach access, and a lighthouse, there’s plenty that makes it South Carolina’s most popular state park. The 5,000-acre barrier island stands as a nearly untouched example of the coastal Lowcountry environment for which South Carolina is so known. It’s also home to the only publically accessible lighthouse in the state. We took a tour of the lighthouse and it was fabulous! We were blessed to have Ted as our guide. He knew so much history about the lighthouse, it was incredible, and the view from the top was insane! Note that if you want to take the lighthouse tour, make sure to reserve your spot in advance as it always fills up. Even if you don’t tour the Hunting Island Lighthouse, there’s lots to explore on the island, including camp grounds and of course the beach.
Address: 2555 Sea Island Parkway St Helena Island, SC 29920
Coastal Expeditions Beaufort Dolphin & History Boat Cruise
Since Beaufort is located on one of South Carolina’s Sea Islands, it only makes sense to view the town by water! We took a Dolphin & History Boat Cruise from Coastal Expeditions while we were in Beaufort and it was such a great way to see the city in a new light, plus cool off with some sea breeze! While you boat along the waterfront of Beaufort, you’ll listen to stories about the local history. Over the 1.5 hour cruise, keep your eyes peeled for bottlenose dolphins, nesting bald eagles, and ospreys, just some of the amazing wildlife that calls Beaufort home. Even though you’re on the water, the sun is still out and about, so be sure to bring sunscreen, hats, and water!
Address: 1006 Bay St Slip #H9, Beaufort, SC 29902
Walk the Spanish Moss Trail
The Spanish Moss Trail is a 10-mile walking trail converted from an old railway line offering spectacular views of Beaufort and the waterfront. What started as the historic Magnolia Line Railroad in 1870 is now an expanding part of Beaufort’s outdoor activities. The paved walking trail has beautiful views of the coast and marshes and even has a bridge over the water, making you truly feel like you’re out exploring the nature of Beaufort.
Kazoobie Kazoo Factory Tour
Did you know that Beaufort is also the home of the Kazoobie Kazoo factory? I definitely didn’t, but I’m so glad we checked out The Kazoo Factory on our trip to Beaufort! There’s a factory, gift shop, museum, and more, all dedicated to kazoos! During the Kazoo Factory Tour, you’ll get to see how these unique musical instruments are made, and Harper even got to make his own kazoo! We had such a fun time exploring all the different kazoos and accessories in the gift shop. The museum actually has the largest collection of kazoos in the world! Totally random, but so much fun!
Address: 12 John Galt Rd, Beaufort, SC 29906
Explore Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park
While exploring downtown Beaufort, make sure to take a stroll through the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. With plenty of green space and a nice waterfront walkway, you can walk off dinner or take a picnic in the park and watch the activity on the water and at the marina.
Where to Shop
I don’t usually include a shopping section in my travel guides, but I had to include it for the Beaufort travel guide because the town just has so many charming boutiques that I wanted to mention! Downtown Beaufort is great to walk around and pop into whatever catches your eye. I think that’s one of the best ways to get to know a town, and everyone in Beaufort is so friendly, you’ll be sure to have a blast and be feeling like a local in no time!
Scout Southern Market
Scout Southern Market was one of my absolute favorite shops in town. It was actually selected by Southern Living as one of the “Best Shops of the South”! They have so many great gift options, it was hard not to walk out with the whole store. I grabbed several gorgeous Southern cookbooks, a pair of beautiful earrings, and a local sweatshirt. Named after the narrator of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout Finch, Scout Southern Market carries everything from gorgeous home decor and local specialty foods to oyster plates, local art, jewelry, and more! The store embodies the Southern lifestyle, from what they stock to the friendly atmosphere of everyone who works there.
But perhaps the most Southern touch of all is the fact that inside Scout Southern Market is a Sweet Tea Bar! Sweet tea makes up 90% of my daily beverage consumption, so this was absolute Heaven for me, and it is damn good sweet tea. To top it off, they even had sweet tea floats! At first, I didn’t know what to think about a sweet tea float, but Lord have mercy it was amazing. They use sorbet instead of ice cream, so I added strawberry and peach sorbet in my float and it was insanely delicious. Erik went with lemon sorbet and he loved it too! Y’all, if you go to Beaufort, you must stop and get a sweet tea float. Trust me on this one.
Address: 709 Bay St, Beaufort, SC 29902
Beaufort Belle Co.
Beaufort Belle Co. is a Southern apparel boutique located in downtown Beaufort, and they have the cutest selection of women’s clothes and accessories! Think all things beachy, bright colors, pineapples, and more. They even have their own signature tees, and who doesn’t love a good t-shirt? Whether you’re shopping for yourself, your mom, your daughter, or friend, there’s no shortage of amazing finds at Beaufort Belle.
Address: 809 Bay St, Beaufort, SC 29902
If you’re staying in a house in Beaufort or just want to grab some hotel room or beach snacks, Chapman’s Grocer is the perfect place to pick up your provisions! Stop here to pick up any necessities you may need: toiletries, wine, beer, bread, snacks, cheeses and meats, you name it. The owner, Kathy, even does free wine tastings on Fridays! We stopped here for snacks and it’s absolutely adorable. They have a great staff and even offer free herbs outside in a big planter pot. This locally-owned corner store brings all the charm of shopping your neighborhood shop with specialty selections. Definitely pop in, whether you’re planning to shop or just want to browse!
Address: 208 West St, Beaufort, SC 29902
Monkey’s Uncle Toy Store
Of course, we had to stop in at Monkey’s Uncle Toy Store, a locally owned toy store that’s absolutely stocked full of modern and vintage toys, games, puzzles, and more! Harper and I had such a fun time exploring everything in the Monkey’s Uncle Toy Store. Located among all the other shops on Bay Street, Monkey’s Uncle is a must-visit for anyone with kids, or even if you just want to get in touch with the child within you. Their logo was actually created from handwriting samples from their two children. The personal touches are everywhere, y’all!
Address: 909 Bay St, Beaufort, SC 29902
The Beaufort Candy Shoppe
Another great shopping option for kids and adults alike, The Beaufort Candy Shoppe is a classic candy shop located in downtown Beaufort. With barrels of old-school candies, wall displays of new sweets, and colorful walls everywhere you turn, The Beaufort Candy Shoppe is a delight for sweet-tooths everywhere. Given that Forrest Gump was filmed in Beaufort, it might be worth a stop to pick up an iconic box of chocolates. In addition to all of the candies in the store, The Beaufort Candy Shoppe also has over 40 flavors of salt water taffy, 78 flavors of Jelly Bellys and 20+ different kinds and colors of M&Ms, plus a selection of souvenirs and gifts. Can’t make up your mind? Grab one of the stores gift bags with a fun selection of sweets!
Address: 103 W Street Ext, Beaufort, SC 29902
The Tabby Shore
The Tabby Shore is the coolest gift boutique in Beaufort! They showcase the incredible talent of artists and makers all across the Lowcountry, from Charleston to Savannah, lots more in between, and of course, Beaufort itself! Definitely plan to stay in The Tabby Shore for a while as you browse all of the incredible products they have in stock. Even though they’re advertised as a gift boutique, y’all know I couldn’t resist picking up a few things for myself. There were adorable handmade works, accessories from local companies, and even home decor pieces that I loved!
Address: 101 West Street Extension, Beaufort, SC 29902
Where to Eat
Hearth Wood Fired Pizza
A good pizza restaurant always has to make it in any list of travel recommendations, so including Hearth Wood Fired Pizza in this Beaufort travel guide was no exception. Don’t let the name confuse you though, Hearth Wood Fired Pizza has a pretty extensive menu, with appetizers, salads, and pasta dishes in addition to their selection of inventive pizzas. I had a Caprese salad and the rotini marsala with chicken, and Harper had the pasta and meatballs. Everything was awesome, and the restaurant had a great ambiance. Next time we visit Beaufort though, I definitely want to try one of the pizzas. They looked fantastic!
Address: 802 Bay St, Beaufort, SC 29902
We had breakfast from Blackstone’s Cafe while we were staying at the Beaufort Inn, and it was so good! Blackstone’s Cafe is a local staple for breakfast, lunch, coffee, and more in Beaufort. Operating since 1991, the cafe has an extensive and classic breakfast menu, with some Southern staples like shrimp and grits, too. We had the omelet and grits and they were fantastic! There were lots of seating options, including two levels indoors and a pet-friendly patio outside, which was the perfect place to sit and soak up the sun and atmosphere in Beaufort!
Address: 205 Scott St, Beaufort, SC 29902
Ribaut Social Club
By far, Ribaut Social Club was one of the most recommended dinner spots in Beaufort, and it’s actually located at Anchorage 1770! Named after the social club that once operated out of the home, Ribaut Social Club serves locally inspired dishes with an undeniably upscale presentation and atmosphere. You can enjoy your dinner at one of the tables out on the front porch, with an absolutely unreal view of the marsh. I personally think Anchorage 1770 has the best views in Beaufort. It was so peaceful with the sea breeze and the swaying moss. We started with the fried green tomatoes and they were amazing. Then I had the filet, and it was outstanding! The restaurant also has a great drink and wine list, so come with your tastebuds ready.
Address: 1103 Bay St, Beaufort, SC 29902
Lowcountry Produce is a market and café stocking all the regional Lowcountry faves. From the cannery products and grab-and-go provisions to the great breakfast and lunch menus available in the café section of the store, there’s plenty to sample at Lowcountry Produce! We ate there for lunch and it was delicious. The market has all the feel of an old-timey country store with an extensive menu of Southern classics and drool-worthy dishes. From appetizers like fried green tomatoes and crab hushpuppies to burgers, sandwiches, and lots of salads, I’m sure you’ll find something to love! Try the salad trio and choose from egg, chicken, pimento cheese, potato, broccoli raisin, orzo, and lentil salad, or go with a classic twist with a pimento cheese topped Ooey Gooey burger!
Address: 302 Carteret St, Beaufort, SC 29902
Old Bull Tavern
Old Bull Tavern bills itself as your friendly neighborhood Gastropub, and they definitely deliver! If you ask any local, they will tell you Old Bull Tavern is their favorite place to eat. Featuring a menu of market-based dishes from bar snacks and appetizers to pizzas, pastas, and entrees as well as innovative cocktails and a substantial wine and beer list, Old Bull Tavern had something for everyone. With exposed brick walls and lots of leather, wood, and metal accents, Old Bull Tavern definitely gives off the pub vibe, but it’s such a homey restaurant, and the market-inspired dishes really bring the local feel into the place! The dessert was to die for. You have to try the Butterscotch Pudding with Caramel Sea Salt. I am still dreaming about it. All of their craft cocktails were phenomenal. The “Cathead Cooler” with honeysuckle vodka, St. Germaine, Cucumber, Mint, Lemon, and Ginger Beer was my personal favorite. The menu constantly changes but if there is any type of shrimp starter, get it! We had a Shrimp with garlic and amontillado sherry and it was fantastic. For your entree, I highly recommend the steak. I had the grilled Black Angus Tenderloin with Gorgonzola Butter and it was cooked to perfection. If you go to Beaufort, Old Bull Tavern MUST be on your list.
Address: 205 West St, Beaufort, SC 29902
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