Beaufort's unique culture and Southern charm has landed it on Fodor's Travel's second annual list of America's best small towns.

The town of about 13,000 is less than an hour from Hilton Head Island and Savannah, Ga., but shares many of the Lowcountry characteristics visitors look for in those larger tourist destinations, according to Michael Alan Connolly, editor of Fodor's.com.

"It offers a certain authenticity that is appealing to travelers," Connolly said.

Visitors agree. On Thursday afternoon, Ja-net and William Bishop, of Augusta, Ga., relaxed on a bench in Waterfront Park, taking in the marshland vista across Beaufort River. It was the couple's third day in town, the last stop in a coastal tour that had included the likes of Jekyll Island, St. Simons and Savannah in Georgia.

Beaufort, they said, fit right in.

"Just a beautiful, scenic town with a lot of cultural history for all communities. The food is amazing," Ja-net Bishop said. "It makes you appreciate life."

Beaufort was among 60 small towns across the country in the running for a spot on the list. The towns, all with populations under 30,000, were nominated by Fodor's editors. They were judged on their cultural offerings, outdoor activities, food and lodging options.

Beaufort offers many of the things tourists flock to Charleston and Savannah for, but at a lower price and on a smaller scale, Connolly said.

"It's just as good here as anywhere on the East Coast," William Bishop said, citing Beaufort's unique shops and handmade crafts.

Reach Amanda Coyne at 937-5592 or on Twitter at @AmandaCCoyne