Just 45 minutes off of I-95 sits little Beaufort in the low country of South Carolina. This southern charmer has all the small town vibes and plenty of historical features to make a perfect weekend getaway. Beaufort is locally known for plenty of things like good food and great artists but the one fact that will put the biggest smile on your face is that many scenes from Forest Gump were filmed in the area. This includes the big bridge over to Sea Island. Read on to find out our favorite picks (among many) to build your perfect weekend getaway!
Downtown on Bay St.
Bay St. is the Main St. of this little town that is very proud to share the work of local artisans and talents of great kitchens. Park on either end and take stroll to check out great locally owned shops and galleries. Some of our favorites include:
- Beaufort River Glass Company where you can find all kinds of glass art as well as plenty of low country prints and jewelry. Take a step inside and enjoy the recycled plastic bottle installation on the ceiling.
- Rhett Gallery which has been in business and run by the same family of artists for 5 generations. This includes the man you’ll most likely find behind the counter, Thomas Rhett. If you are looking for great art representative of the local low country feel, this gallery is certainly for you! It will be hard to walk away without a little Rhett family treasure.
- Beaufort Emporium has plenty of little finds and our absolute favorite was a table toward the back with books that are wrapped up. Choose one off the table, read the little summary on the label and then have a blind date with a new book! So fun!
- McIntosh Books and Nevermore Books will both delight and inspire you to keep on reading. Featuring local celebrity author Pat Conroy of Prince of Tides fame, these book shops do a great job of keeping the good read alive.
- Bay St. Outfitters connects visitors to the outdoors and has everything that you could need to enjoy all the low country has to offer.
- Olive The Above greets you with plenty of artisanal olive oils and balsamic vinegars. With flavors like peach and balsamic and rosemary infused olive oil, there’s something for everyone from this female owned business.
- Atelier Off Bay is the local artist’s collective. With 14 artists in residence it’s hard not to find that perfect piece that speaks to you.
Please note that these areas tend to be very very busy on Fridays and Saturdays as the influx of visitors spikes significantly over each weekend.
- Q on Bay serves up plenty of main street menu items and has a back patio to enjoy the view and the live music. While the tables may need an updating but the pleasant service makes up for it.
- Saltus Grill is by far our favorite pick for upscale dining. Every seasonal thing on the menu is well worth the order! Enjoy the atmosphere inside or outside.
- Paninis in the old bank is perfect for a quick bite during the day. Look for simple lunch items and a look at the old bank building.
Look to the right as you come onto the island and check out Gay Shrimp Co. Forest Gump calls this area home. Everything from the shrimp boats to Vietnam were all done in this location. Be sure to take a walk along the pier and enjoy the nature center as well.
ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge is a great way to see some local nature and to introduce yourself to the African American history of the low country.
Spanish Moss Trail: take advantage of the sunny weather and rent a few bikes from University Bikes or Low Country Bike Rentals to enjoy this trail that starts at the train depot and takes you either north or south to see a little more of this low country land.
Coastal Expeditions will get you out on the water whether you’d like to take a sunset cruise or charter a boat for the day. Located downtown on Bay St., it’s an easy process to set up a little fun on the bay.
Rainy Day Options
Every Second Counts Escape Room has plenty of escape room fun. Choose from any of the 5 themed rooms and try your luck at finding every clue in under 60 minutes. It’s a perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon!
Beaufort History Museum learn a little about this area that was first found by old world explorers over 311 years ago. This amazing area has had its ups and downs and this little rainy day stop will tell you all about it! Check it out!
Lowcountry Produce Company
Be sure to stop in to this lovely establishment just north of town on Highway 21. It is, by far, the best breakfast in the area. While you are there check out all of the local fare ready for you to take home. It’s all canned in the back! Our fave? The sweet cucumber pickles will knock your socks off! So, go. Sit a spell! It’s totally worth it!
The Few, The Proud…
So, I can’t lie. I really never went to Beaufort because I thought it was a great travel destination. But don’t be deceived, I went there out of love! Beaufort’s next door neighbor is Parris Island. Home to the few and the proud. The United States Marines have been turning out recruits in this neck of the woods for over 100 years. And… you guessed it! My son is among their numbers.
Parris Island is open for visitors who would like to check out the museum and old fort ruins. Simply check in to the gate toward the right and ask for directions to the areas open for visiting.
Beaufort offers something for everyone and can be the perfect plan for a long lazy weekend to somewhere new! So, enjoy!