Scenic Wonders of Beaufort County
The quaint towns of Beaufort and Port Royal share a historic berth on Port Royal Island, adjacent to the deepest natural harbor on the Atlantic coast.
Traces of the area’s first inhabitants, the archaic Indians, date back 4,000 years. On this time scale, Europeans are relative newcomers, making their first appearance with Spanish galleons around 1521.
Over the next two centuries, Spanish, French, English and Scots sporadically feuded over the coastal plain, while Yemassee Indians fought to protect their claims. Of course, pirates joined the fray too.
Beaufort entered its golden era about 1800 when sea island cotton debuted and many of Beaufort’s loveliest mansions were built by the wealthy owners of cotton, indigo and rice plantations.
Today, reminders of the area’s colorful history abound. Architecture is preserved with loving care, traditional lifeways are fostered through festivals and special events.
Stroll down Port Royal’s distinctive boardwalk and view Parris Island just across the river. Visit one of the country’s only Estuariums on Port Royal’s Paris Avenue.
This rich history peacefully coexists with first-rate entertainment – from shopping and theater to charter fishing and golf – that add zest to travel plans. Our guided tours let you choose your favorite mode of transportation – walking, a romantic horse-drawn carriage, a plush seat in an air conditioned van or paddle your own kayak along the salt marsh.
Fripp Island, near Beaufort, is a family-friendly golf and beach resort.
A 30-minute drive will take you to quaint, historic Bluffton and its charming shops and galleries. Just 30 minutes more takes you to fabulous Hilton Head Island.
More than a dozen movies have been filmed in the Lowcountry, including classics like Forrest Gump. If you prefer self-guided explorations, pick up walking and driving maps for Beaufort, Port Royal and the surrounding islands at the Beaufort Visitors Center.
Outlying treasurers include lovely ruins like Sheldon Church, ravaged in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
The Lowcountry’s African-American past is being preserved and local guides offer special tours to share insights into the Gullah heritage. At Penn Center on St. Helena Island, you can immerse yourself in Gullah culture, language and folk arts. Penn Center was founded in 1862 by Northern missionaries as the first school for former slaves. It is now a National Historic District. The Center’s York W. Bailey Cultural Center welcomes visitors.