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Beaufort, South Carolina City Info
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Some 30 miles north of Hilton Head Island, Beaufort (Low Country pronunciation byoo-fort) is an old seaport with narrow streets shaded by huge moss-draped live oaks and lined with pre-Revolutionary and antebellum homes. It is located on Port Royal Island, one of the large Sea Islands along the southeast Atlantic coast.

 

A center of luxury homes prior to the Civil War, Beaufort was one of a few southern cities spared from fire in the war’s aftermath, making it an architectural treasure. The oldest house (at Port Republic and New Streets) was built in 1717, before the birth of George Washington. Beaufort is one of the few towns in the United States whose entire downtown has been designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as an historic district. Nearly 200 restored buildings can be seen in the city's historic district.

 

More than 50 historic buildings have been identified and include lovely private homes beautifully restored. Start your visit to Beaufort with a walk along the peaceful harbor at Waterfront Park. The park is a pleasant place to linger for a while, and several restaurants are nearby. Boat and horse-drawn carriage tours also start from the park.

 

The Low country’s salt-marsh ecosystem, one of the world’s most productive and unspoiled, is remarkably easy to explore from a Beaufort base. The A.C.E. Basin is the vast wilderness created at the juncture of the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto Rivers. Guided boat and kayak tours allow visitors to photograph hundreds of species of birds while exploring the coast, and boat rentals enable adventurers to explore on their own. Given the abundance of water, it’s no wonder that fishing, sailing, shrimping and crabbing are popular activities for visitors. Port Royal’s boardwalk and Hunting Island State Park’s pier are among the ideal fishing venues as well as being popular for sightseeing and leisurely strolls.

 

A five-mile leisure trail winds through Port Royal for jogging and bicycling and includes an observation deck.

Beaufort and Port Royal are proud to host three military bases. The military is an integral part of Beaufort, with the Marine Corps Air Station to the north, Parris Island Recruit Depot on Port Royal Sound, and the Naval Hospital at the heart of the community. The Marines take an active role in community life. They assist in emergencies, entertain at air shows and volunteer at community events.

Art galleries, antique shops and modern boutiques are within the downtown walking area, not to mention fine dining and quick eateries. Museums are a beginning for an educational and interesting look at the history of the area.

The Beaufort Museum includes artifacts from throughout the city's history, including Native American relics and Revolutionary and Civil War items. The Federal-style John Mark Verdier House was built in 1790, and St. Helena's Episcopal Church dates to 1724. Of special interest—although it's not open to the public—is the Milton Maxey House, traditionally claimed as the site where South Carolina's secession documents were drafted.

 

Filmmakers have discovered that Beaufort locations make convincing movie settings, whether they’re looking to portray the Old South or the jungles and beaches of Vietnam. Some 20 movies have had scenes shot in the area, but Beaufort’s fondest memories are of Tom Hanks and the film Forrest Gump. For the most part, local residents take film making in stride. They’ve seen a lot of excitement in films such as The Big Chill, The Prince of Tides, Forces of Nature, Rules of Engagement, Jungle Book, White Squall, Something to Talk About, The Legend of Bagger Vance, GI Jane, The Last Dance and the TV series Gullah. Gullah Island was filmed on location in Beaufort. It seems as if almost everyone has at least one, really good, first-hand filmmaking story to share.

 

In the Low country, a festival or celebration is almost always underway. Locals and visitors regularly take to the streets, parks and waterways to enjoy life with the special varieties of cuisine, entertainment, crafts and activities, which define the friendly communities and their customs. Among Beaufort's notable annual events are the yearly Plantation Tour and Tour of Historic Homes in March and the Beaufort Water Festival in late July.



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