Early summer 2020 left us craving another daytrip and we chose a lowcountry adventure to Beaufort, SC. The overwhelming charm of the huge oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, creating a canopy across the road are the signals you have made it to the lowcountry of South Carolina.
Beaufort is an adorable coastal town near the southernmost tip of South Carolina. The oak trees dangling with Spanish moss line the streets filled with quaint shops and restaurants. You can feel the water surroundings wherever you are. Beaufort is located among the coastal sea islands of South Carolina. It has its own pace and feel, very different from Charleston, SC, and very worth a separate visit.
Things to Do in Beaufort SC
Stop by the Beaufort visitors center for loads of information on activities, restaurants, shopping and local fun. Historical tours in and around downtown are a great way to get your bearings, but I would be remiss if I didn’t emphasize getting out on the water. You can do this by kayak, paddle board, or boat. Check out Beaufort Lands Paddling company for excellent tours.
Bike in Beaufort
We strapped our bikes onto the back of the car before we took off down the road and boy are we glad we did. Beaufort boasts a beautiful and well-maintained 10 mile paved path called The Spanish Moss Trail. It follows what used to be the Port Royal Railroad and traverses around the downtown area, across marshes and through the oak canopies. You can do as much or as little as you prefer, of course. There is a parking area at the end of Depot Road with enough spaces for roughly 15 cars. We were there on a weekday so there was plenty of space, but I suspect it’s crowded on weekends and when the weather is spot on. Pets on a leash and babies in strollers were utilizing the trail as well by the locals.
The City of Beaufort
We chose to continue on our bikes into downtown Beaufort for a mid-day break and lunch. Let me be honest and tell you the ONLY reason we decided to do this is because we were there during a pandemic. The town was bustling, but not busting at the seams per usual this time of year. Riding your bikes in downtown Beaufort SC proper is not recommended. We rode around sticking mostly to the edge of town near the water and then ordered an incredible take out lunch with curbside pick up from Lowcountry Produce Market. We each ordered a different salad: The Cobb, The Caesar, and the French and oh my heart were they delicious and robust. There are many shops to peruse and give you an incredible taste of lowcountry style and life.
Hunting Island State Park
Don’t miss a visit to one of the islands in South Carolina, easily accessible from Beaufort. We still had plenty of afternoon left on our lowcountry adventure so we decided to cross the bridge and head over to one of South Carolina’s most incredible state parks. Hunting Island State Park completely knocked our socks off with its well maintained roads and pristine beaches. We suspect that on weekends and sunny summer days this place fills up quickly. In 2020 the park was limiting entrance on a first come basis. The park does offer 100 campsites and a cabin rental via reservation, but those typically book up in January and are highly coveted. We totally understand why now that we’ve been there! Entrance fees are collected at a manned booth upon arrival ($8/adult,$5/seniors,$4/children 6-15).
Hunting Island Beach
The islands of South Carolina offer some of the most gorgeous east coast beaches you can find. There are small parking areas spread out that can accept about 7-8 cars at a time. Just remember which beach access you walked in on so you can get back to your car! Know before you go. The North Beach has rougher waters and less swimming options due to currents, but South Beach is busier and has the lighthouse you can climb for views. There are facilities with bathrooms available at two different parts of the beach. The park also offers 10 short trails throughout as well as an incredible nature center. If you have young children, teenagers, or are visiting solo you will not be disappointed.
Historical Stop: Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Before our lowcountry adventure ended we stopped at the Old Sheldon Church Ruins located off two lane highway 21 between Beaufort, SC & Yemassee, SC. There is no official parking lot and the ruins are on private land so be both careful and respectful. The church was burned during the Revolutionary War and then again by General Sherman’s troops during the Civil War (although some believe it was just ransacked beyond repair). We were there as the light began to fade from the day and it was empty so we stopped to wander and photograph. For all of about 7 minutes we took in the wonder of history right before our eyes. I love how history comes alive for teenagers as you visit the actual locations. They can tap into it without being forced to memorize it for a school exam.
The Perfect Day Trip for Teens
As far as day trips go, this one was perfect. It’s no wonder Beaufort is a South Carolina tourism hot spot. We had a mix of active fun, excellent food, relaxing beach time and a smidge of history. Teens will love the different aspects and not get bored to quickly. Next time you are in South Carolina, don’t hesitate to head to the very lowcountry part of the state where we can show off a bit and charm you for good. Beaufort, SC and Hunting Island State Park make the perfect lowcountry adventure! This Beaufort SC map will give you a start to your planning.
Where to Stay in Beaufort SC
There are quite a few inns and bed and breakfast options that are wonderful for couples or solo travelers. However, if you are traveling with your teens you may want to choose a more traditional option. We like the Home2Suites by Hilton located away from the immediate downtown area. They offer free parking and suites with a kitchenette for spreading out. The Hilton Garden Inn is closer to downtown also with free parking. If you are looking for a quintessential boutique inn experience, you should absolutely splurge on The Beaufort Inn, Beaufort SC set in the historic town center.
If you would rather do a home rental in the South Carolina islands, you could easily make a day trip to Beaufort to enjoy a non-beach day. Consider Fripp Island, Dafuskie Island, and even Hilton Head Island where loads of vacation rentals can be found.