Southern Living magazine recently announced The South’s Best 2019 awards and Beaufort County scored big time! After reviewing more than 65,000 votes from Southern Living readers, multiple areas and businesses within the county were recognized in several categories. The Montage Palmetto Bluff was named one of the Best Places to Stay in Every Southern State, and we wholeheartedly concur with the designation! In addition, Bluffton and Beaufort both secured a top-10 spot in The South’s Best Small Towns 2019.
The rest of the country is starting to pick up on what local residents have known all along: the Lowcountry really is a little piece of heaven on earth! If you’ve booked a vacation in the area, don’t limit yourself to one locale. Plan a day trip or two and explore all the Lowcountry has to offer! Here are our top recommendations.
A Day in Old Downtown Bluffton
Southern Living ranked the town of Bluffton #8 in The South’s Best Small Towns category, and it’s definitely day trip worthy! We propose starting your morning with a hand-crafted beverage from Corner Perk Cafe, where people-watching is at a premium on a beautiful day. Then, mosey on down to the shops and art galleries located on Calhoun Street to discover a plethora of unique Southern sundries. Strolling further down Calhoun Street, you’ll arrive at the picturesque Church of the Cross. Located on the banks of the beautiful May River, Church of the Cross is an Anglican church that has been in existence since the 1770s. It’s a wonderful spot to rest, take in the view, or take advantage of a quick family photo op!
If you decide to take a day trip to Old Downtown Bluffton on a Thursday, even better! The Bluffton Farmers Market sets up shop each Thursday from 1-6 pm on Calhoun Street. There you’ll find a vast array of farm fresh produce as well as local honey, fresh baked breads, kettle corn, and more. An assortment of delicious locally-prepared foods ranging from crepes to crab soup are also available. As tempting as it may be, don’t load up too much on all of the eats and treats at the market before dinner time. If you wander back down Calhoun Street toward Dr Mellichamp Drive, you’ll find Toomer’s Family Seafood House. Trust us: you’ll be glad you made room for their fresh caught shrimp and oyster platters, not to mention the golden fried hush puppies, generous homemade sides and delicious sweet tea!
A Day in Palmetto Bluff
As we mentioned, Southern Living recognized the Montage Palmetto Bluff as one of The Best Places to Stay in Every Southern State—and did they ever nail this award! This gem is located just a few miles down the road from Old Downtown Bluffton. Palmetto Bluff is a beautifully planned and designed community tucked away in the lush countryside of the Lowcountry that offers a variety of fun activities for a day trip. Visit the charming Waterside Chapel located on the village square, play bocce ball, enjoy lunch and Southern hospitality at The Octagon Porch or Buffalo’s restaurant, and check out the ruins of a mansion built as a retreat for a wealthy family at the close of the Gilded Age. Or, just load up your bikes and drink in all of the natural beauty that Palmetto Bluff has to offer!
Note: A $5.00 fee is charged per bike at the gate.
A Day in Beaufort
The charming coastal town of Beaufort, South Carolina is packed with scenery, history, dining, shopping, and photo ops galore—the stuff day trip dreams are made of! The beautifully-landscaped Henry C. Chambers waterfront park is the perfect place to begin your tour. With a front row view of the Beaufort River (and we mean that literally…there are several swinging benches bordering the marina) it’s the perfect spot to watch assorted vessels traveling up and down the waterways or to catch a gorgeous Lowcountry sunset. Be sure to check online for local events and festivals which are held at the park on a regular basis.
Up next, a little walking! Amble down the historic house district where the streets are lined with centuries-old live oaks, then stroll toward Bay Street. Here you’ll find unique boutiques such as Scout Southern Market (be sure to try their tasty Sweet Tea float), Olive the Above (an aromatic specialty oils and balsamic vinegars shop), and Bathe (offering handcrafted natural soap and beauty products made locally in Beaufort). Wandering in and around the many amazing galleries, which feature one-of-a-kind pieces from local artists, is always a treat. Dining establishments on Bay Street range from uber casual to upscale fine dining. One of our favorite places for good Lowcountry cuisine and an amazing water view is Plums on Bay Street. The Old Bull Tavern offers an eclectic market-based menu that’s sure to surprise and delight. Go for the pork belly steamed buns as an appetizer and, if it’s in season, the soft shell crab entree. You won’t regret it!
A Day in Hilton Head
Last but never least, Hilton Head Island is an ideal choice for a day trip! Given the highest award in its category by Southern Living readers, HHI was voted #1 among The South’s Best Beach Town 2019 selections. Hilton Head was also recently named the #1 island in the U.S. courtesy of the Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards! Boasting 12 miles of beautiful public beach property, the designation comes as no surprise! Several local establishments were also recognized as the best on the island. Included were Hudson’s Seafood on the Docks, Lucky Rooster Kitchen + Bar, Hilton Head Social Bakery, and The Jazz Corner. Sea Pines Resort also made the 2019 list for South Carolina, earning a spot in The Best Places to Stay in Every Southern State category. Other can’t-miss activity options for a Hilton Head Island day trip include the Gullah Heritage Trail tour, Harbour Town lighthouse and marina, and the Coastal Discovery Museum.
Whether you’re a long-time local or a visitor to the area, we think you’ll agree—you just can’t beat Lowcountry living for a day, or for a lifetime!
Planning an Extended Stay? Bonus Suggestions!
Savannah, Tybee Island, and St. Simons Island are also worthy of day trip! And, of course, we highly suggest taking the scenic drive to Charleston—one of the South’s favorite foodie towns. Known as the Holy City, Charleston offers Southern charm and gracious hospitality in spades. It’s no surprise that the town was voted The South’s Best City by Southern Living readers for the third year in a row! For overnight lodgings, consider a stay at The Grand Bohemian Hotel or one of the many historic bed and breakfast establishments such as The Belvedere or Two Meeting Street. Fig, Glass Onions, and The Rooftop at the Vendue are all spectacular choices when it’s time to dine, and Fort Sumter, Waterfront Park, Battery Park, Rainbow Row, and Magnolia Plantation all deserve a spot on your list of must-see attractions.
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