Beaufort & Port Royal
Because of the deep, safe harbor, two of the first European settlements in what would become the Colony of South Carolina were established in the mid-1500s. Beaufort, and sister-city, Port Royal occupy the lower half of Port Royal Island, and offer visitors a glimpse of historic sites and homes of the antebellum South.
Beaufort and Port Royal have quiet neighborhood streets, overhung by giant live oaks and Spanish moss it is perfect for walking tours or a narrated, horse-drawn carriage ride.
If you love seafood, Beaufort and Port Royal boast some of the best seafood restaurants in the State. Several festivals and events are held during the year that celebrate the heritage, food, culture, and environment that these two communities share.
One of the area’s two public beaches is located in Port Royal, The Sands is just across the Beaufort River from Parris Island and is a favorite place to view 4th of July fireworks. The ocean beach at Hunting Island State Park is a 17 mile drive east of Beaufort.
Full service marinas assist boaters and fishermen who enjoy the protected waters of the Intracoastal Waterway, or easy access to the open ocean for deep sea fishing and diving.
From antique shops to unique gift items to hand made chocolates are found in the quaint shopping districts of the two towns, along with waterfront dining and bed & breakfast inns in lovingly restored historic homes.
Nature lovers can take kayak tours, walk the long, marsh-front board walk and climb the tower overlooking the waterfront in Port Royal, or visit the unusual Lowcountry Estuarium- A Coastal Learning Center. (For other nearby attractions, see: Sights to see in Beaufort / Port Royal; and see Tours.)
Be warned however, many visitors fall in love with our friendly towns and mild temperatures and find it hard to leave. In fact many return to make Beaufort, Port Royal and surrounding communities their new home.
Beaufort/Port Royal Area
Beaufort Arsenal Museum
(under renovation-scheduled to re-open Summer 2009) 713 Craven Street, (843)379-3331 Mon-Sat 10am-4pm, Sun.-Closed. Call in advance for holiday closings. Operated by the Historic Beaufort Foundation. Built in 1798 & expanded in 1852. As a result of the secessionist movement. Contains Civil War artifacts and exhibits on local history. Admission Free. www.historic-beaufort.org
Beaufort National Cemetery
1601 Boundary Street, (843)524-3925. One of the first cemeteries established during the Civil War, it is one of the few that contains both Confederate and Union dead.
Chapel of Ease
Land’s End Road, St. Helena’s Island
Built between 1742 and 1747 to serve the planters on St. Helena Island. In 1886, a forest fire destroyed part of the brick and tabby chapel. The ruins and a small graveyard remain.
exhibit at the Parris Island Museum. www.pimuseum.us
Fort Fremont Preserve
Land’s End Road, St. Helena Island
A unique example of a Spanish American War Endicott Era fortification built to protect the U.S. Naval Station in Port Royal. www.fortfremont.org
John Mark Verdier House
801 Bay Street, (843)379-6335. Hours of operation: 10:30am-3:30 pm, Mon-Sat. Call for holiday closings. Operated by the Historic
Beaufort Foundation. Circa 1800. Built in the Federal style by one of Beaufort’s most successful merchants, it is an excellent example of an early Lowcountry home. Museum gift shop open. www.historic-beaufort.org
A Coastal Learning Center
Corner of 14th Street & Parris Ave., Port Royal. (843)524-6600. Hours of operation: 10am-5pm. Feeding is at 11:30am & 3pm. Provides hands-on learning about the coastal environment, with a focus on salt marshes, beaches and estuaries. Admission fee. Special programs available. www.lowcountryestuarium.org.
Old Sheldon Church
Located at the junction of Highways 21 & 235.
1.7 miles north of the junction of Highways 21 & 17 near Gardens Corner. Sheldon Church has laid in ruin for more than 140 years. Its gable roof, pediment, windows & interior have disappeared, but the classic simplicity of its design still remains. Burned by Prevost’s British troops in 1779, and again during the Civil War it still serves as a religious center for special observances. Admission – Free.
Parris Island Museum
Marine Corps Recruit Depot
(843)228-2951, Daily 10am-4:30pm, 10am-7pm on Family Days (Thursdays prior to graduation). Housed in the War Memorial Building, it is devoted to the portrayal of the history & development of Parris Island and the Port Royal area along with the Marine Corps & recruit training facilities.www.pimuseum.us
Penn Center Inc.
Martin Luther King Drive, St. Helena Island, (843)838-2432. Hours of operation: 11am-4pm Mon-Sat. The 50-acre Penn School National Historic Landmark District features the York W. Bailey Museum as well as 18 other structures related to the education of African Americans, Reconstruction, and the Civil Rights Era. Enjoy a permanent exhibit, “Education for Freedom: the Penn School Experiment,” as well as temporary exhibits. The museum, housed in the newly renovated Historic Cope Industrial Building, includes four galleries and a gift shop. www.penncenter.com
Santa Elena: America’s Untold Story
Hours: The Santa Elena History Center and Museum Store are open:
Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Sundays, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Heritage Library Beaufort Branch is open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Address: 1501 Bay Street, Beaufort, SC, 29902
Telephone Number: (843) 379-1550
Parking: Parking lots are available across from the Center on North Street. Parallel parking is also available on Bladen and Bay Streets – all at no charge.
Buses: Buses may park in the parking lots across from the Center on North Street.
Accessibility: The Center is accessible for all visitors and meets ADA requirements. The ramp is located on Monson Street, and there is a doorbell to notify the docents.
Tickets: Admission to the main exhibit, “Santa Elena: America’s Untold Story”, are $10.00 for adults, $5.00 for students aged 5 to 12, and free for children under 5 years of age. Active Duty Military, police and firefighters with ID are offered admission without charge. Cash, check, and credit cards are accepted.
Docents are available during all hours of operation to guide visitors through the building and tell more about the Santa Elena story.