Two charming SC towns climbed their way to the top of a travel guide list. Here’s why.

·3 min read

The typical big names — Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head Island — didn’t make TheTravel’s list of South Carolina’s charming destinations.

Instead, smaller locales topped the chart.

TheTravel, a website that tells 4 million readers where to go, eat and sleep, honed in on quaint South Carolina spots teeming with history, architecture and nature.

Bluffton earned the No. 1 spot, toppling Anderson and Clemson. And Beaufort came in eighth for its vibrant downtown and rich history.

Sunset on the May River near Church of the Cross in Bluffton
Sunset on the May River near Church of the Cross in Bluffton

The site lauded Bluffton, often deemed “the South’s last true coastal village,” for the May River’s beauty and utility, and the town’s restaurants and artisan shops.

TheTravel suggested a stay at the Montage Palmetto Bluff, a sprawling 20,000-acre community on the May River. Or, conversely, a spot on the Stoney Crest Plantation Campground, a year-round campsite 10 miles from Hilton Head Island.

In the heart of the Lowcountry, Bluffton has been described as “eclectic,” as it’s full of artists, art galleries, festivals and parades, according to the town’s website. Bluffton’s history dates back to its 1852 incorporation as a 1-square-mile river town, but it began booming and expanding in 1998. But in 2019, it grew to 54 square miles and now has more than 20,000 residents.

History buffs can’t miss the Heyward House & Museum, the Garvin-Garvey House and The Church of the Cross. Nature lovers can head to the May River to see expansive marshes, dolphins and birds while taking out a boat or kayak.

The town is chock-full of restaurants offering fresh seafood and produce, and it’s almost certain there’s some kind of event to attend each weekend. Check the town’s website when heading to Bluffton to see what all it has to offer that week.

Bluffton Oyster Co. on Wharf Street is one of the town’s many restaurants that offer fresh seafood.
Bluffton Oyster Co. on Wharf Street is one of the town’s many restaurants that offer fresh seafood.

While it didn’t beat out Bluffton for top title, the city of Beaufort has won numerous awards for architecture, beauty and friendliness, being called the nation’s Happiest Seaside Town in 2013 by Coastal Living magazine.

Beaufort’s enrapture comes from its centuries-old history, dating back to 1500s. The state’s second-oldest city, it’s located on Port Royal Island and is one of only a handful of towns that’s had its entire downtown designated as a historic district by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, according to the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism website.

TheTravel suggested either a stay at the Beaufort Inn or the Landmark Historic District or Best Western Sea Island Inn, both located in the heart of the historic district.

The Maxcy-Rhett House, also known as Secession House, at 1113 Craven St. is in downtown Beaufort.
The Maxcy-Rhett House, also known as Secession House, at 1113 Craven St. is in downtown Beaufort.

Pastel antebellum homes dot the city’s downtown area, which is filled with local vendors and restaurants serving Southern cuisine. Visitors can sit by the downtown marina near the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park or take a carriage tour through the city.

History lovers can spend the day in the historic district where they can see the Robert Smalls House, the Succession House, the Lewis Reeves Sams House the Verdier House, among many other well-known properties. The Reconstruction Era National Historical Park and the Beaufort History Museum are also must-visits.

There’s no shortage of art, culture and history, and there’s lots to be eaten in the city of Beaufort. And of course, this is not an exhaustive list the city has to offer.

A variety of boats are tied at Beaufort Downtown Marina. The city is looking at finding a new operator for the marina and at potential improvements to continue to draw visitors and increase public access.
A variety of boats are tied at Beaufort Downtown Marina. The city is looking at finding a new operator for the marina and at potential improvements to continue to draw visitors and increase public access.