- Grand Strand Weekend
- South Carolina for Kids
- South Carolina Bar-B-Que
- A Midlands Weekend
- Civil War Adventures
- South Carolina Waterways
- Three Days in Horse Country
- South Carolina for Seafoodies
- South Carolina Kitsch
- Gullah and African American History
- Upstate Weekend
- South Carolina’s Top Ten for Golfers
- South Carolina’s Offbeat Festivals
- Southern Comforts
- Lowcountry Romance
Sandwiched halfway between the prouder, louder cities of Charleston and Savannah, Beaufort is in many ways a more authentic slice of life from the past than either of those two. Long a staple of movie crews seeking to portray some archetypal aspect of the old South (Prince of Tides, The Great Santini, Forrest Gump) or just to film beautiful scenery for its own sake (Jungle Book, Last Dance), Beaufort—pronounced “Byoofert,” by the way, not “Bo-fort”—features many well-preserved examples of Southern architecture, most all of them in idyllic, family-friendly neighborhoods.
The pace in Beaufort is languid, slower even than the waving Spanish moss in the massive old live oak trees. The line between business and pleasure is a blurry one here. As you can tell from the signs you see on storefront doors saying things like “Back in an hour or so,” time is an entirely negotiable commodity.
The architecture combines the relaxed Caribbean flavor of Charleston with the Anglophilic dignity of Savannah. In fact, plenty of people prefer the well-kept, highly individualistic old homes of Beaufort, seemingly tailor-made for the exact spot on which they sit, to the historic districts of either Charleston or Savannah in terms of sheer architectural delight.
While you’ll run into plenty of charming and gracious locals during your time here, you might be surprised at the amount of transplanted Northerners. That’s due not only to the high volume of retirees who’ve moved to the area, but the active presence of three major U.S. Navy facilities, the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, the Marine Corps Recruit Depot on nearby Parris Island, and the Beaufort Naval Hospital.
Many’s the time a former sailor or Marine has decided to put down roots in the area after being stationed here, the most famous example being author Pat Conroy’s father, a.k.a. “The Great Santini.”
Getting to Beaufort
While the Marines can fly their F-18s directly into Beaufort Naval Air Station, you won’t have that luxury. The closest major airport to Beaufort is the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (400 Airways Ave., 912/964-0514, www.savannahairport.com, airport code SAV) off I-95 outside Savannah. If you’re not going into Savannah for any reason, the easiest route to the Beaufort area from the airport is to take exit 8 off I-95, and from there to take U.S. 278 east to U.S. 170.
Conversely, you could fly into the Charleston International Airport (5500 International Blvd., www.chs-airport.com, airport code CHS), but because that facility is on the far north side of Charleston it actually might take you longer to get to Beaufort. From the Charleston Airport the best route south to Beaufort is U.S. 17 south, exiting at U.S. 21 at Gardens Corner and then into Beaufort.
If you’re coming into the region by car, I-95 will be your likely primary route, with your main point of entry being exit 8 off I-95 connecting to U.S. 278.
There’s no public transportation to speak of in Beaufort, but that’s OK—the historic section is quite small and can be traversed in an afternoon. A favorite mode of transport is by bicycle.
© Jim Morekis from Moon South Carolina, 4th Edition