Beaufort County

Scenic Wonders of Beaufort County

The quaint towns of Beaufort and Port Royal share a historic berth on Port Royal Island on 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. Their first appearance with Spanish galleons took place 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. Visit the John Mark Verdier House Museum or St Helena’s Episcopal Church for a step back in time.

Today, reminders of the area’s colorful history abound. Architecture is preserved with loving care, traditional ways of life are fostered through festivals and special events.

Walk or bike the Spanish Moss Trail. This 10+ mile greenway has become a must-experience activity for locals and tourists alike.

Stroll down Port Royal’s distinctive boardwalk and view Parris Island just across the river. Head over to the Cypress Wetlands Trail to view the wildlife.

This rich history peacefully coexists with first-rate entertainment from shopping and theater to charter fishing and golf. Our guided tours let you choose your favorite mode of transportation – walking, air-conditioned vans, horse-drawn carriages, kayaks, and more.

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.

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. You can also tour the Historic Churches of Beaufort.

Explore further to discover lovely ruins like Sheldon Church, ravaged in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. St Helena’s Chapel of Ease, Ft Fremont and Penn Center are other Beaufort County gems.

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. Celebrate the life of Beaufort’s Robert Smalls and Tabernacle Baptist Church.

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