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Your socially-distant #RoadTrip guide to Beaufort, SC

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henry c waterfront park

Views from the Henry C. Waterfront in Beaufort, SC | Photo by Shawn Hill Photography

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If you’re a traveler at heart, the pandemic has undoubtedly caused some heartache + major wanderlust – and we’re right there with you. For those ready to travel, one of the safest ways to get away while following social distancing protocols is a weekend road trip to a nearby destination.

One such destination is Beaufort, SC, the second oldest city in SC (just a ~1.5 hour drive away). Beaufort was recently named one of the 11 Best Small Towns in Americaby Travel + Leisure and has been voted the “South’s Best Small Town” by Southern Living, and for good reason — the historic downtown is coastal, scenic, and easily walkable, ft. small streets lined with oak trees dripping in Spanish Moss. (Read: Your Instagram aesthetic will thank you.) 📸

Check out these 13 socially-distant activities in Beaufort to start planning your next road trip:

Outdoor activities:

child on driftwood

Explore Hunting Island, South Carolina’s No. 1 visited state park | Photo provided by Visit Beaufort

○ Cool off at Hunting Island State Park, a pristine sandy beach with 5+ miles of uncrowded beaches, nature trails, access to the state’s only public lighthouse + more.

○ If having a picnic in the car is more of your idea of “outdoorsy,” see what’s playing at the Highway 21 Drive-in Theater

○ Walk along Henry C. Chamber Waterfront parka.k.a. Beaufort’s front porch – and enjoy the city’s beautiful views while watching boats sail by.

spanish moss waterfront

Explore Hunting Island, South Carolina’s No. 1 visited state park | Photo provided by Visit Beaufort

○ Bike the Spanish Moss Trail, a 10-mile paved greenway that was once the Magnolia Rail Line, ft. Lowcountry water + marsh views, coastal wildlife viewing + historic points of interest.

○ Drive to Sands Beach at the southern tip of Port Royal to catch the sunset, plus views of the river + estuaries. (If you go during the day, keep your eyes peeled for shark teeth.)

Dining + shopping:

cocktail mixed drink

Grab a signature cocktail in the outdoor seating at Old Bull Tavern | Photo provided by Visit Beaufort

Downtown Beaufort has tons of unique, locally-owned businesses for any kind of shopper – from the antique-hunter to the sweet tooth. Plus, all of Beaufort’s restaurants and businesses have taken a local Safe Commitment Pledge during the pandemic.

Some top local spots for outdoor dining (with waterfront views):

Plum’s | Oyster bar that serves breakfast + lunch daily

Saltus River Grill | Urban seafood grill + bar

Panini’s on the Waterfront | Paninis, hoagies, pastas, and stone-baked pizza with a Mediterranean flare

Q on Bay | Slow-smoked lowcountry BBQ

A few other outdoor dining spots: Old Bull Tavern, Hearth Wood Fired Pizza, and Breakwater Restaurant & Bar.

fried shrimp on a plate

Stop by the Shrimp Shack on your way to Hunting Island and try their famous shrimp burger | Photo provided by Visit Beaufort

Sightseeing + history:

blue house and palmetto tree

Beaufort has plenty of historic architecture + unique homes to sightsee | Photo provided by Visit Beaufort

○ Stop at the Visitors Center + The Beaufort Arsenal Museum on your way into town.

○ Sign up for one of the many guided tour options in Beaufort. Learn about the local ecology or history on a walking tour, zip around the city on a golf cart tour, or relax on the water on a kayak tour.

○ Tour the Reconstruction Era National Monument.

pink house street view

The Point in historic downtown Beaufort, SC | Photo provided by Visit Beaufort

Where to stay:

If you’re staying for the weekend, rest your head at one of Beaufort’s historic downtown accommodations, like:

The Beaufort Inn

Anchorage 1770

City Loft Hotel

Cuthbert House Inn

The Rhett House Inn

Best Western Sea Island Inn

bikes on a trail

Biking is an easy way to get around Beaufort, SC | Photo provided by Visit Beaufort

Bonus: Most of the hotels offer complimentary bike access to help you explore the city.


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