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Beaufort, SC


Guide to local businesses, historic sites, attractions and entertainment in the town of Beaufort, SC.



Beaufort is a city on Port Royal Island, one of South Carolina's coastal Sea Islands. It's known for its antebellum mansions, especially in the downtown historic district. A notable example is the John Mark Verdier House Museum, an early-1800s Federal-style mansion, with period furniture and exhibits on area history. Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park overlooks the Beaufort River and the Woods Memorial Bridge.

If you get the feeling you've seen Beaufort before, you might be right. Its graceful homes, oak-canopied streets, and well-tended gardens have served as locations for films that include The Great Santini, The Big Chill, The Prince of Tides, and Forest Gump. Yet there's nothing quite like seeing this graceful ante-bellum town firsthand. A trip to the Visitors Center next to the City Marina can help you to get your bearings.

Located 30 miles north of Hilton Head, Beaufort is the second-oldest town in the state (Charleston is the oldest). In its Old Point historic district, lavish homes built during the 18th and 19th centuries hold thrall. Many of the private houses are only open to the public twice a year, during fall and spring tours. A few have been converted to museums.

Popular attractions in Beaufort include Port Royal Boardwalk and Observation Tower, Santa Elena History Center, Cypress Wetlands and Verdier House. Numerous walking and carriage tours are available to see the town at a relaxed pace. Explore the history and Southern charm that is distinctly Beaufort, South Carolina.

Among those are the George Eliot House Museum, built in 1840 and furnished with Victorian antiques. It served as a Union hospital during the Civil War. The John Mark Verdier House Museum, built in 1790, is where the Union army made its headquarters. It's been restored to circa-1825 Federal style. Exhibits at the Gothic-style Beaufort Museum range from pre-historic finds to Civil War memorabilia. Experience real Southern hospitality at lunch, dinner or an overnight stay in the antique-filled Rhett House Inn.

Outdoor attractions include Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, which has a seawall promenade, crafts market, gardens, and a marina on its seven landscaped acres. Mid-July, the Beaufort Water Festival takes place here. Hunting Island State Park boasts three miles of public beach and one of the East Coast's longest fishing piers. Its 140-foot-tall Lighthouse provides sweeping views of the area.
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Beaufort Attractions

Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park

Bay St
Beaufort, SC 29902
843.525.7011

This park is located in downtown Beaufort along the waters of the Beaufort River. View The multi-acre park provides a breathtaking view of the Beaufort River, the Woods Memorial Bridge, the western tip of Lady's Island, the eastern side of Port Royal Island and the northern tip of Parris Island. The park was constructed along the Beaufort River / Intracoastal Waterway in the middle 1970s and was renovated in 2006 to 2008.

The park is named for longtime Beaufort mayor Henry C. Chambers who gained federal funding for the park project. It includes landscaped green space, riverfront walkways, swings, a small pavilion, children's playground and access to restaurants, shops and the National Historic Landmark District. The Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park is the destination for annual events such as the Taste of Beaufort, Water Festival and the Shrimp Festival.

Sea Island Carriage Company

930 Bay St, Beaufort, SC 29902
843.476.7789

Experience Beaufort's rich history and unique charm on a 50-55 minute, fully narrated, horse drawn carriage tour. You'll slip back into Beaufort's elegant past as your carriage meanders under the moss covered Live Oaks, past breathtaking Antebellum homes, historic churches, movie sites and more.

The Kazoobie Kazoo Factory, Museum, and Gift Shop

12 John Galt Rd
Beaufort, SC 29906
843.982.6387

Visit our Kazoo Museum and Gift Shop. Fully Guided Tours are offered Monday to Friday at these hours: 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 2:00 PM and 3:00 PM. This tour includes a short video presentation, kazoo demonstrations, a walk through of the kazoo factory with explanations of how everything works, and the opportunity to make your own kazoo to take home at the end of the tour.

Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce

701 Craven St
Beaufort, SC 29902
843.525.8500

Step-on guided island coach tours, fishing charters, boat and kayak tours showcase the rich history, Gullah heritage and natural beauty of the coastal Lowcountry. Sport fishing, bike tours, horseback riding and adventure tours are popular year-round on our protected, pristine beaches and peaceful intracoastal waterways.

Tour tickets are available for purchase daily at our Visitor Center. Walking, van, boat and carriage tours are offered by certified professional guides regularly. Contact us for pricing and current scheduling information

Janet's Walking History Tour

1006 Bay St
Beaufort, SC 29907
843.226.4412

You will be swept up in the 500 year story of Beaufort "The Jewel of the South" as told by Janet Matlock, whose passion for history is equaled only by her delight in telling it to visitors to our beautiful town. You will hear of Indian wars, massacres, pirates, slaves, planters wealthy beyond belief, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, a great fire, a catastrophic hurricane, and the wonderful stories of the incredibly brave and tenacious people of Beaufort who lived through these times.

Janet's two hour Walking Tour through the National Historic District of Beaufort is a leisurely two mile stroll amidst some of the finest antebellum homes in America. The spellbinding and deeply emotional narrative begins and ends in front of the Downtown Marina Ship's Store, 1006 Bay Street, Beaufort, SC 29902.

Verdier House

801 Bay St
Beaufort, SC 29902
843.379.6335

This prominent Federal-style mansion was built circa 1804 by John Mark Verdier (1759-1827), a successful merchant and planter. Verdier had accumulated significant wealth both by trading indigo and subsequently by acquiring over 1,000 acres used for the growing of highly profitable sea island cotton. This house was a highly visible statement that reflected his rise from a merchant's status to a wealthy member of Beaufort's planter class.

Pigeon Point Park

1521 Pigeon Point Rd
Beaufort, SC 29902
843.379.7063

Located on Pigeon Point road off Boundary Street, this neighborhood favorite is an inviting and lush setting that boasts a large children's playground, picnic areas and beautiful garden spaces. This park has spaces that can be reserved for birthday parties, family & community gatherings, picnics, and small informal wedding ceremonies.

Santa Elena History Center

1501 Bay St
Beaufort, SC 29902
843.379.1550

For many years, Santa Elena's history was obscured by the French activity in the same area. The site was first excavated in the 1850s, but with no written records from Spain and relying on 16th-century French illustrations of the area, historians thought the site exclusively French. During World War I, the Marine Corps began to use Parris Island as a training site and uncovered pottery from the 16th century. In 1957, National Park Service archaeologists examined the artifacts and determined they were from Spain or made by Spaniards. Further excavations determined that both the French and Spanish had occupied the site.

Santa Elena was named a National Historic Landmark in 2001 based largely on its role in the heated competition among European powers for the New World. Now you can find the lost story of Santa Elena at the Santa Elena History Center in downtown Beaufort, where multiple videos and exhibits lead visitors through Americas First Century.

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Map of Beaufort, SC Attractions