Small Towns We Love
These small towns evoke the best of what Southerners are as a culture. They’re places with a beating heart, where tradition is the lifeblood, a helping hand is a given, and neighbors gather on front porches to watch the sun dip below the horizon.
The curving, tidal Beaufort River wraps around the 303-year-old downtown and offers up terrific scenery in most directions. And then there’s the leafy historic district itself, filled with 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century architecture, from tiny cottages and fish shacks to indigo-planters’ mansions and wide piazzas. It’s a Lowcountry town where characters abound. And the river’s pristine waters surrender such high-quality seafood that it seems folks are always gathering for a shrimp or crab boil or an oyster roast.
This isnâ€™t Savannah or Charleston, but itâ€™s close in flavor and geographyâ€”within 90 minutes of each. The smaller size and slower pace draw everyone from artists, retirees, and young families to live-aboard-sailboat types, fishermen, literati, andÂ moviemakers. And Beaufortâ€™s population skews toward the youthful sideâ€”the median age is 34.
The Perfect Day
Take a walk or carriage tour east of Carteret Street inÂ the tree-shaded Old Point and catch a glimpse of the porches of Tidalholm, akaÂ The Big Chill house, on the waterfront at Laurens Street. For lunch, order the Ooey Gooey, a pressed and toasted bacon-and-pimiento cheese sandwich at Lowcountry Produce Market & CafÃ© (lowcountryproduce.com).Â Stop in the Elena Madden studio (elenamadden.com)Â on West Street to see her contemporary paintings inspired by Beaufort-area waterways. Before sunset, hop on an evening boat tour from the Downtown Marina of Beaufort (downtownmarinabeaufort.com), and cap the day with wild-caught shrimp atop ricotta gnocchi at the understated Old Bull Tavern (843/379-2855).
Local To Know
Artist William Rhett III can paint grassy details of a wide marsh scene on the ivoryface of a single antique piano key. He can also advise on all sorts of practical local topics. â€œA johnboat is about all you need around here,â€ he says. Just 30, William works atÂ his familyâ€™s Rhett Gallery (rhettgallery.com) on Bay Street, where youâ€™ll often find him telling stories. Like the one about catching 67 crabs in just 12 hours in two pots from the dock behind his house. The young artist also sellsÂ antique guitars and guns at the gallery begun by his parents, sculptor William Rhett, Jr., and watercolor painter Nancy Ricker Rhettâ€”all of the same Rhett family who built the formidable 19th-century landmark a few blocks away thatâ€™s nowÂ home to the Rhett House Inn (rhetthouseinn.com).
Pedal or walk along the new Spanish Moss Trail (spanishmosstrail.com), which opened last year and will one day span some 14 miles. The rail-trail greenway project gives terrific water views and already connects downtown Beaufort with neighboring Port Royal.
Read more atÂ http://www.southernliving.com/travel/south-east/beaufort-south-carolina.