Hunting Island State Park is the perfect get away from the everyday. No matter if you go there to camp, stay in their cabin, or visit for a day. All your cares will disappear.
I recently did just that! I spent an afternoon walking a small portion of their Little Hunting Island and it did not disappoint!
As I trekked this amazing landscape, I found myself not knowing where to look.
I was dropped off by boat from Fripp inlet and started my expedition. Immediately, I was astonished by the sand rippling over the beach and it abruptly transported me to another realm. Watching the wind and sand renewed my spirit and made me think “What else does this island have in store for me?”
I looked up from the sandy phenomenon and spotted a Loggerhead sea turtle nest. I slowly meandered over and marveled at the care that is taken to protect our state reptile. Precautions were put in place in 1978 as Loggerhead sea turtles became classified as threatened, and thus were protected under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
Continuing my expedition, I headed north. In the distance I could see the “Boneyard”. The once mighty but now sun and wind bleached trees stand as sentinels of times long ago.
I looked around as Mother Ocean nonchalantly creeped in to reclaim what is hers.
The mighty sentinels standing in her way entertained a waltz as her waves crash into them.
I walked a little further and heard a chirping melody. As I looked up I spotted, in a lonely tree, a distinctive stick nest being tended by a mating pair of Ospreys.
I turned and spied a squadron of pelicans flying in formation like the Marine Corps Air Station pilots of nearby Beaufort.
I started walking back and was surprised even more by the setting sun over the lagoon and the maze of trees I had to traverse.
Again, Mother Ocean dazzled me as she continued her leisurely traipse inland.
Another sea turtle nest caught my eye.
Alas, my boat awaits.
Little Hunting Island was created naturally by hurricanes Matthew and Irma. The breach of the ocean caused this section to be cut off from the main island. It is accessible by the Nature Center Scenic Trail (0.7 miles) that connects with the Little Hunting Island Loop Trail (0.5 miles) or Breach Trail (0.2 miles).
This Lowcountry island’s beauty and serenity is NATURALLY AMAZING.
What is the meaning of Lowcountry? Merriam Webster defines it as “: a low-lying country or region especially: the part of a southern state extending from the seacoast inland to the fall line.” South Carolinians define it as a geographical location and cultural mindset. But for me… It is more than that!
It’s Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton, and Jasper, the four counties that make up the SC Lowcountry Tourism area. These four counties offer a myriad of unbelievable experiences for all.
On any given day in lowcountry you can:
Take a walk under the old oak trees covered in Spanish moss.
Feel the sand between your toes as you enjoy our gorgeous beaches.
Pedal your way around our lush naturescapes.
Soak up some history at one of our many museums, former plantations, or historical churches and structures.
Become one with nature as you spy an alligator, deer, or Great Blue Heron paddling down a lazy Lowcountry river.
Stroll along our beaches as you scavenge for shark teeth.
Immerse yourself in the hunt for the next big fish.
Step off the beaten path to find our numerous hidden gems.
Window shop our local boutiques and stores.
Spy an array of birds in our Wildlife Refuges and Wildlife Management Areas
Meander along our waterfront parks.
Savor a bounty of renowned local cuisine fresh from the sea and our nearby farms.
Unwind and relax as you revel in a lowcountry sunset.
Welcome our lowcountry culture into your heart and mind as you are transported back in time.
Come along and we’ll explore this region, south of Charleston and north of Savannah, to find what makes the SC Lowcountry NATURALLY AMAZING!
Did you know Beaufort was home to the Reconstruction Era National Historical Park? It is only fitting that it is found in Beaufort, because that is where freedom from slavery began in the south! The Emancipation Proclamation was first read in the South on January 1, 1863, at Camp Saxton, just a stone’s throw away from Beaufort in Port Royal. During the Civil War the US military occupied Beaufort as a command center for east coast operations. Many of the historic homes and churches were used as offices, hospitals, and quarters. Many churches were converted into schools for the newly freed. Some of these homes were bought by former slaves at tax auctions.
The Reconstruction Era lasted from 1861 to 1877. During this important time four million newly freed African Americans sought to integrate themselves into a free society. They contributed to the educational, economic, and political life of Beaufort. This process began as the Port Royal Experiment. After the Battle of Port Royal more than 10,000 slaves were left behind when the white population fled the area. Schools were established to teach reading, writing, and other life skills. Many joined the US Army and trained at Camp Saxton, the very place where they heard the Emancipation Proclamation.
The Reconstruction Era National Historical Park is comprised of three main locations, along with three park partners that aid in telling the story of the Port Royal Experiment, which helped formerly enslaved people become self-sufficient. In addition to being a group of historic sites in and around Beaufort, it tells the story of what happened after the Civil War as newly freed African Americans and the nation struggled toward reconciliation. The park consists of historic sites that were instrumental in the Reconstruction Era of Beaufort. Penn Center’s Darrah Hall and Brick Baptist Church on St. Helena Island, Camp Saxton and the Pinckney-Porters Chapel in Port Royal join the Old Beaufort Firehouse to tell the story of Reconstruction.
The Reconstruction Era National Historical Park Visitor Center can be found in the Old Beaufort Firehouse, 706 Craven Street. The visitor center contains displays and artwork that depict the struggle of the formerly enslaved people and their ascension to citizenship. The center also houses information about the other sites and their importance in the history.
Darrah Hall and the Brick Baptist Church can be found on the grounds of St. Helena Island’s Penn Center. The Penn School was established in 1862 as the first school in the south for former slaves. Quaker and Unitarian missionaries from Pennsylvania founded the school and taught classes. Early classes were held in the Brick Baptist Church, which was built in 1855 by the very slaves that would later learn to read and write within its walls. Careful examination of the bricks reveals handprints from the enslaved artists who formed the bricks from clay.
Darrah Hall is the oldest building on the campus of the Penn Center. It was built by Penn School specifically for community use. It has been a gathering place for the community for over 100 years. This building, along with others on the property represents the development of the center through the 19th and 20th centuries. The hall is used for interpretive purposes by the park, as well as for community events.
Camp Saxton was founded on the site of Fort Frederick, a pre-Revolutionary War fort that was abandoned and absorbed into Smith Plantation. On New Year’s Day in 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was read aloud here to 10,000 former slaves. After the Proclamation was read, the 1st South Carolina Volunteers was formed. This all-black regiment trained at Camp Saxton from 1862 to 1863. The site is preserved as the Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve. The tabby fort was originally built by the British in the 1730s. During the Civil War a bridge was built across its walls to serve as a dock to welcome former slaves to the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Pinckney Porter Chapel is a Reconstruction-Era Freedman’s Chapel that was restored and moved to Port Royal’s Naval Heritage Park. The chapel houses temporary exhibits and Camp Saxton programs begin at the site. The chapel is, in part, named for Senator Clemente Pinckney who served as pastor to the church from 1996-1998. Senator Pinckney was gunned down while serving as a pastor for Charleston’s Mother Emanuel AME Church in 2015. Pinckney was a beloved native of Ridgeland and served as a South Carolina state senator for Beaufort County. The chapel is open on Saturday mornings and park rangers are available to answer questions.
Reconstruction Era National Historical Park Visitor Center – 706 Craven Street, Beaufort Brick Baptist Church – 85 Martin Luther King Drive, St Helena Island Darrah Hall & Penn Center – 16 Penn Center Cir E, St Helena Island Camp Saxton – 601 Old Fort Road, Port Royal Pinckney-Porters Chapel – Naval Heritage Park, Pinckney Street, Port Royal
Come over to beautiful Beaufort, SC to shop, dine, dance, play and socialize.
The historic town of Beaufort is big on tradition and social gathering. This Lowcountry town has dedicated a special day each month for just such occasions. Come over to Beaufort on the First Friday of every month. Bay Street will be closed to traffic in the evening so people can gather and have a good time. The shops are unique, the food is divine and the people are one-of-a-kind! Experience southern hospitality in the heart of the Lowcountry!
First Friday is a celebration of Downtown shops, restaurants, cultural venues, and community. It’s a fun night for the downtown businesses and for locals! Come explore downtown galleries, shopping, and eateries throughout the evening. Bay Street is closed to vehicle traffic from 5-8 p.m. Enjoy entertainment and live demonstrations too! The event is free and open to all ages.
December’s First Friday kicks off Beaufort’s Holiday Weekend. This fun three-day event includes Night on the Town, a lighted boat parade and Christmas parade. Be sure to add this to your calendar of events.
The Port Royal Farmers Market sets up in the Naval Heritage Park every Saturday, from 9-12. You will find a vast selection of fresh, local and seasonal produce, along with shrimp, oysters, poultry, beef, pork, eggs, bread and cheese.
If you’re lucky Carolina Kidz will be there with a Nigerian Dwarf Goat to pet. They provide a wonderful selection of raw goat’s milk, drinkable yogurt, goat cheese; chevre, ricotta & feta and goat cheese cheesecake.
Daise Produce, along with many other produce vendors will be on hand with a large selection of farm fresh goodies. Come early for the best selections.
Shoppers will also find plants, ferns, camellias, azaleas, citrus trees, and beautiful, fresh cut flower bouquets.
Check out the prepared food vendors serving; BBQ, dumplings, she crab soup, crab cakes, paella, coffee, baked goods, bagels and breakfast sandwiches.
Come hungry and have coffee and a breakfast sandwich while you peruse the vendors. Make sure to bring your market basket so you can fill it with local goodies. For a list of vendors and a description of their products visit the Port Royal Farmers Market Website. For a complete list of Lowcountry farmers markets and the days they are open, visit SouthCarolinaLowcountry.com/farmersmarkets.
Port Royal Farmers Market at Naval Heritage Park Ribault Road and Pinckney Street. Open every Saturday from 9 to 12.
If you are in the vicinity of Bluffton on any given Thursday afternoon, you should find your way to the Bluffton Farmers Market. Located in the heart of Old Town Bluffton, the market has something for everyone. The market is teaming with fresh produce, sweets, prepared foods, fresh pasta, dog treats and much, much more.
Park the car and have lunch at one of the many restaurants that are just steps away. Lunch can also be purchased at the market and taken to the Heyward House where tables are set up around a backyard fire pit.
Don’t miss the opportunity to browse the many unique stores in the area after visiting the market booths. Most shops are housed in restored structures along Calhoun Street and its intersections. Converse with shop owners and view their one-of-a-kind items.
The Bluffton Farmers Market is open every Thursday from, 12-5 p.m. – Year-Round. Farm Fresh Produce to includes strawberries, carrots, onions, spinach, varieties of lettuce, broccoli, mushrooms, beets, potatoes, just to name a few… and honey, eggs, cheese, herbs, plants, flowers, seafood, and anything else in season. Prepared foods include BBQ, crepes, empanadas, gumbo, fried oysters & shrimp, she crab soup, crab cakes, fresh baked pastries & breads, sweets, coffee, kettle corn, chocolates, and much more…
Don’t forget your furry friends. Dogs are welcome at the farmers market and in most of the stores and restaurants in the area. Bring Fido for lunch and if he behaves, stop by the doggie booth and pick up some treats!
Bluffton Farmers Market Martin Family Park 68 Boundary Street at the intersection of Green St. Bluffton, SC 29910 843-415-2447
March is upon us and so are all the festivities that come with it! The Lowcountry is busy with festivals and activities to keep us entertained all month.
Bluffton will be starting off the month’s festivities with the inaugural Bluffton Night Bazaar held under the twinkling lights of the Burnt Church Distillery courtyard. This new monthly event features local artisans, live music, food & drink.
The Beaufort Charities Oyster Roast is just a few days away, on March 5th at Live Oaks Park in Port Royal. In its 17th year, the Oyster Roast features all you can eat Beaufort oysters from 1-8 pm. Entertainment will be provided by local bands The Entertainers and Steel Rail Express. The event also includes premium micro-brews, a full day children’s program, live auctions, and local vendors offering varied fairs.
Walterboro is excited to announce the return of the Walterboro History, Arts & Music Festival. This festival celebrates local history along with visual and performing arts added into the mix. Artists, performers, reenactors, storytellers, musicians and more entertain the crowds that come from near and far. The festival will be held in various locations throughout Walterboro, March 7-12.
The Beaufort History Museum will host two Revolutionary War events March 11-12, 2022, as part of its anticipation of the 250th anniversary of the war in 2026. On Friday, March 11, 2:00-3:00 p.m., at the St. Helena Island Public Library, 6355 Jonathan Francis Sr. Rd., Rita Elliott will discuss the Battle of Purrysburg, S.C., and later archaeological dig discoveries made at the battle site. On Saturday, March 12, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., at the Beaufort History Museum, 713 Craven St., re-enactors from the 5th Company, 4th South Carolina Regiment will conduct a live-fire demonstration with period artillery. The team will be set up in the walled Arsenal Courtyard and provide a unique educational opportunity for visitors of all ages. Live cannon demonstrations are planned at 30-minute intervals throughout the day starting at 10:30 AM. Both events are free and open to the public.
Dust off your green because the Hilton Head Island St. Patrick’s Day Celebration is BACK!! It’s time to turn out for South Carolina’s oldest St Patrick’s Day Parade. Kick off your St. Patrick’s Day Celebration on Hilton Head Island during the 27th Annual Pinnacle Bank Hilton Head Shamrock 5K. Hilton Head’s Annual “Running of the Green” will be held on Saturday morning March 12th at 7:30am.
Next on the agenda is the Hilton Head St. Patrick’s Day Weekend. Come view the 2nd Annual Boat Parade as it cruises down Broad Creek, followed by an Irish concert at Lowcountry Celebration Park. The parade is the grand finale! It will proudly march down Pope Avenue Sunday, March 13th at 3pm.
Join Beaufort March 12th in historic downtown as they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a fun way! The Sham Rocked Sip & Stroll 2022 offers several ticket options from 10am – 2pm. Each attendee receives a Sip & Stroll t-shirt, swag bag, and access to all the goodie stations spread throughout downtown Beaufort. Goodie stations will feature either a cocktail, something yummy or something swag for you to have during your stroll. Downtown merchants will be open for shopping during or after the stroll. Restaurants will be featuring lunch and dinner specials as well! So grab your gal pals, friends, family, or significant other for a fun filled day in downtown Beaufort during the Sip & Stroll!
Soak up some local culture at Hardeeville’s Lowcountry Pow Wow and Cultural Festival March 12-13th. Millstone Landing is the backdrop for this festival that sets out to educate the public about Native Americans. It also creates a gathering place for Native people to celebrate their culture. The event features Aztec dancing, drumming, arts & crafts, native campsites, demonstrations, food and much more.
Beaufort’s Town Center will be the site for their Annual St. Patrick’s Day Festival. This outdoor event will showcase a variety of wholesome activities for people of all ages. The 4th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Festival at Beaufort Town Center is a free, family-fun celebration benefiting the Beaufort Area Hospitality Association. The event will take place on Saturday, March 19 from 12-4pm. Area restaurants and food trucks will be selling food and drinks and there will be live entertainment including a bagpipe player, local music, and much more! This family-fun event will have activities for all ages! We will also have festive drinks available for the adults!
The Hilton Head Wine & Food Festival takes place the last week of March. This week-long celebration combines the fruits of global wine partnerships, signature Lowcountry cuisine, grassroots cultural happenings, and the authentic fabric of a unique community. Join us as we celebrate the 36th anniversary of this annual Hilton Head Island rite of passage. Experience for yourself this year’s schedule of events including spectacular celebrity chef showcases, intriguing wine education sessions, live entertainment and of course the famed Grand and Public Tasting events.
Hunting Island State Park’s historic lighthouse is closed to the public as repairs are made to the 147-year-old structure. The lighthouse can still be viewed from the grounds and docents will be on hand to interpret and give more information about the lighthouse. And thanks to modern technology, you can experience views form the top of the lighthouse in the park’s visitors center.
The lighthouse will be closed to the public until further notice so repairs can be made to the stairs and railings. Public safety was a major priority when deciding to close the structure and make repairs. Visitors can still tour the lighthouse grounds and speak with docents about the history of the area. Visitors – have no fear. You can experience high tech views from this iconic tower. The visitors center, located just inside the park entrance has two different lighthouse experiences.
The visitors center now houses an 8-by-13-foot virtual lighthouse. This is a scaled-down model that visitors can enter to get a complete view from the top of the lighthouse. TV monitors provide images of the view that are especially important for people who are not capable of climbing 167 steps to the top of the actual lighthouse. Also, children under 44” are not permitted to climb the lighthouse, so they can get the experience of climbing to the top. There is also a virtual reality option. Visitors can wear a headset and get the complete sensation of walking around the lighthouse, climbing 136 feet to the top, and experiencing the 360-degree views.
According to the park’s website, “The original structure was built in 1859 and rebuilt in 1875 after it was destroyed during the Civil War. A unique feature of the lighthouse is that it was constructed of interchangeable cast-iron sections so it could be dismantled should it ever need to be moved. Severe beach erosion made it necessary to relocate the lighthouse 1.3 miles inland in 1889.”
SC Lowcountry Visitors Guide – 33rd Annual All Saints Garden Tour We’re back- the 33rd Annual All Saints Garden Tour on Saturday, May 21, 2022, has something for everyone: gardens of various sizes; most are located on the water; designed and maintained by professional landscapers while others were lovingly created by the owners; newly created or nurtured for many years; and stunning views! This self-guided tour from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.(note we are starting and ending earlier) includes six distinctive gardens, all of which are new to the Tour, located in four different gated communities on Hilton Head Island and in Bluffton. Your $35 ticket includes the Tour and in view of the uncertainties Covid has created, there will be no lunch, boutique, or bake sale at All Saints Episcopal Church this year. A Master Gardener to answer questions will be located in one of the gardens! In 2019 the tickets sold out, so get them early! Tickets are available on line at www.allsaintsgardentour.com and are available at garden centers and other businesses in Hilton Head and Bluffton- hope you have been seeing the Garden Tour poster with the colorful red geraniums. All net proceeds are given to smaller, 501c3 charities that focus on hunger, homelessness, literacy and/or aging.
Blue Heron Sanctuary Moss Creek A new garden professionally designed and installed in 2017 has been added to by the plant collector owner. It focuses on the natural beauty of Blue Heron Sanctuary and Rookery. The backyard beds were created to enhance the view of the Sanctuary and include a unique assortment of plants which provides year round interest with multiple blooming plants each season.
Oh, the stories it could tell Moss Creek A recently renovated home has an expansive marsh view and holds a surprise behind the home. The Angel Oak may be between 300-400 years old, measured 92 inches in diameter last year. On the list of 150 largest and oldest trees in Beaufort County, it creates a sanctuary for the owners.
Serendipity Port Royal An esteemed garden design of LAISSEZ FAIRE certainly had no grand master plan here where frivolity rules! This plot of vegetative eccentricity is entirely maintained by the owners with some assistance from Mother Nature’s landscape architects. Reflective of the owners’ travels and whimsical natures, these gardens can be described as Unique! Eclectic! Quirky!
Ocean Breeze Gardens Port Royal Professionally designed, stunning, structured beachfront property with multiple outdoor living areas describes this garden. Accented with pops of seasonal color, an assortment of lush greenery defines various settings for relaxing, enjoying the ocean, contemplating nature and recreation activities including a basketball court, swimming pool, bocce ball court and a putting green.
DIY Gardens Indigo Run Do-it-yourself gardeners created a charming, relaxing environment by installing flagstone and paver paths, patios, fences, raised beds, fountains, pots (they really like pots), benches, a large pergola! These handsome hardscapes enhance a shimmering lagoon view of herons, ducks, turtles and, of course, alligators and are complimented by a charming assortment of Low Country plants .
Tranquility Gardens Hilton Head Plantation Low country surroundings inspired a newly renovated landscape with four distinct design styles including an expansive walkway with a fountain, a perennial flower cutting garden, a formal boxwood hedge in a Charleston Garden which transitions to a poolside tropical oasis with tons of annual color! There’s a layered living screen designed for its beauty and privacy.
Over the years, more than $500,000 has been given to local charities from this annual event bringing validation to our logo “Through the Beauty of a Garden ….. A Gift to the Community”. All who attend the 2022 Garden Tour add to this legacy. For tickets and updated information please visit our website allsaintsgardentour.com or call (843)681-8333.
Sidebar – How to go to the Tour: Tickets are available on line at www.allsaintsgardentour.com and if ordered by May 6, they will be mailed to you. Tickets ordered on line after May 6 through midnight Thursday, May 19 need to be picked up from All Saints Episcopal Church between 10-3:30 Monday -Thursday or on May 20 or the day of the Tour. Tickets can be purchased at All Saints Episcopal Church, and garden centers and other businesses in Hilton Head and Bluffton for cash or check through 10 am Friday, May 20. If tickets remain, they can be purchased the day of the Tour at All Saints Episcopal Church at 3001 Meeting Street from 8:30-noon. For tickets and updated information, please visit our website or call (843)681-8333. Tickets not picked up by noon on May 21, 2022 are forfeited. Participants need to be able to safely walk on flagstone pathways and through gardens.
Save the date for June 20-25, 2022! The state’s oldest festival with the longest parade is coming back in a big way! Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Watermelon Festival has taken a two-year break, but officials are anxious to bring the event back to the public! This marks the third time in history that the festival has been interrupted since its inception in 1931. The only events to cancel festival plans have been World War II, the Korean War, and COVID-19.
The six-day event will be held June 20-25th. Most events will be held outdoors, amid the fresh air and Hampton sunshine. Plans are also underway to televise the parade for those that want to watch from home.
-The festival will kick off with a Youth Parade and Opening Ceremonies on Monday, June 20th. Head over to Varnville to see this spectacular event that stretches from the Varnville Baptist Church to the Varnville Gazebo. The Hampton County youth look forward to this event every year. Golf carts, strollers, wagons are decorated in the festival theme and paraded along the route. Opening ceremonies are celebrated with hot dogs, drinks, and of course – watermelon slices. Stick around to watch the watermelon eating contest.
-Typically, Tuesday would bring the Taste of Hampton. This year an outdoor Food Truck Event is scheduled. Food trucks from across the county will be serving up their favorite recipes. This is a great night of fantastic food and fellowship. Children’s Day in the Park is two fun-filled hours of entertainment for the younger crowd. Bring the little ones for face painting, sidewalk chalk, games, water slide, and bounce house. Entertainment will be provided by local talent.
-A Fishing Contest will be held on Wednesday, June 22nd at Lake Warren State Park, along with a music event. The fishing contest is the oldest event in the festival’s history. All ages are invited to come out to Lake Warren State Park and compete for one of the many prizes. Bring the whole family for a day of fun!
-Thursday, June 23rd is the day for the Pet Show at Varnville Rec. Center, followed by the Battle of the Towns. Wade Hampton football field is the scene for this silly competition. Teams participate in wacky races and competitions for bragging rights and a trophy. Bring the whole family to see the competition and indulge in concessions.
-Friday is the day to come out for Arts & Crafts, Food Vendors, T-shirt sales and a free Street Dance. The street dance is the second largest event of the festival and held outdoors on Lee Avenue. The night is filled with music and old-fashioned family fun.Two different bands will play on opposite ends of the street, so there’s something for all tastes.Food vendors and arts & crafts will be available during the night’s festivities.
-And Saturday is the big day, starting with a 5K run, followed by the longest parade in the state. The route is 3.2 miles long, stretching from Varnville to Hampton! Pick your spot early and be ready at 10 am for queens, floats, state and local dignitaries, bands, and horses.
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SOUTH CAROLINA LOWCOUNTRY
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The Lowcountry & Resort Islands Region of South Carolina includes the four, southern-most counties in the state, Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, and Colleton, which are bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and on the west by the Savannah River and the state of Georgia.