This fall, gather your girlfriends, polish your tiara and explore beautiful Beaufort, “Queen of the Carolina Sea Islands.”
Receive the royal treatment while reconnecting with your girlfriends. Recharge and make memories to last a lifetime while exploring this coastal city steeped in history, Southern charm, sea island culture, natural wonders, delightful dining, a thriving arts scene, serene spas and modern amenities.
From the moss-draped streets and waterfront vistas of the historic downtown district to the wild, pristine beaches of Hunting Island State Park and beyond, Beaufort and the surrounding sea islands offer countless opportunities to indulge your inner diva. Here’s a guide to the best Beaufort has to offer with tips on planning the ultimate Southern Girlfriends’ Getaway:
First things first.
To stay and play, you need just the right accommodations. Luckily, lodging options in Beaufort range from historic B&Bs, boutique inns and luxury hotels to waterfront rental homes, well-appointed condos with golf course views and campgrounds.
Stay in a restored antebellum mansion in the National Historic Landmark District. Many are just steps from the cozy cafes, art galleries, boutiques and upscale eateries lining Bay Street and beyond or head out to the sea islands to get in touch with your wild side with beachfront accommodations on Harbor Island or Fripp Island.
Pitch a tent or rent a cabin with your girlfriends to experience the true essence of the “Slowcountry.”
Start the day off right with a hot cup of freshly roasted coffee and hearty breakfast at any of the restaurants around town—many offering locally sourced menu items—before heading out to explore South Carolina’s second oldest city by foot, bike or horse-drawn carriage.
Owned and operated by a native Beaufortonian, the award-winning Sea Island Carriage Company offers a 50-minute narrated tour through time in the 304-acre National Landmark Historic District with its high concentration of 18th and 19th century homes in an unusual variety of Federal, Early Classical Revival and Greek Revival architectural styles. These former in-town plantation estates of wealthy Lowcountry planters were spared destruction following the Civil War’s Battle of Port Royal Sound in 1861 and many were used as hospitals by the occupying Union forces.
After a friendly introduction to the ex-Amish Draft Horse pulling the carriage, city-certified guides take passengers clip-clopping under live oaks dripping with Spanish moss and cloaked in resurrection fern and past the Parish Church of St. Helena.
Established in 1712, the Parish Church is one of the oldest churches in North America served as a horse stable during the American Revolution. A little further along, view the Milton Maxcy House, a.k.a. “Secession House,” where the town’s founding fathers met and eventually drafted the Ordinance of Secession, making South Carolina the first state to secede from the Union prior to the Civil War.
The charming carriage then passes The Arsenal, erected in 1798 and the original home of the Beaufort Volunteer Artillery, a citizen militia officially recognized in 1776 and dedicated to protecting the town in times of war. The Arsenal now serves as the Beaufort Visitors Center and the Beaufort Museum. In this coastal city, a proud military past meets the present, so be sure to thank the U.S. Marines you’re sure to encounter from Parris Island and the Air Station for their service.
The tour with your girlfriends continues crossing over Boundary Street to The Point neighborhood and its treasure trove of Victorian-era homes.
Get the camera ready to snap a picture of “The Castle,” go under “The Hanging Tree” and see The Green (a city park featured in The Big Chill and The Great Santini). Movie buffs will jostle for position to view the various historic homes where notable celebrities have resided, including Lowcountry literary icon Pat Conroy and movie stars Sally Field (in town for Forrest Gump) and Barbara Streisand (while filming The Prince of Tides).
Sufficiently awed and impressed after nearly an hour of surveying Beaufort’s historical sites and fabulous architecture, it’s time for a leisurely lunch while deciding on the next adventure—shopping, pampering or launching out on the water from the Downtown Marina.
It’s now mid-afternoon, and adventure lurks around every corner, but the sun is getting a little too hot to bear!
An oasis of serenity awaits at one of Beaufort’s lovely spas, set against the charm of the Old South, where hospitality is the order of the day. Enjoy the tranquility of the enchanting surroundings, de-stress in a relaxing, aroma-laden room and anticipate a massage or facial, manicure or pedicure, or any number of soothing skin treatments.
Thus refreshed, next on the agenda is a walking tour of downtown’s acclaimed art galleries, amazing jewelry stores and the mouthwatering chocolate shop spotted earlier.
Then it’s rushing and giggling back to your charming accommodations to shower and change. Once everyone has wiggled into their cute dresses and strappy sandals, it’s time for a cocktail! After a quick rundown of local seafood restaurants, BBQ joints, international fare, Gullah cuisine, American classics and pub grub, it’s off to the perfect Happy Hour spot overlooking the water and a royal sunset celebration.