Summer is here, which means sunny weather and road trips with the kids, family or friends. If you're looking to take a weekend road trip out of Charleston, consider beautiful Beaufort, which lies just an hour and a half south.

The coastal town radiates a similar historic charm to the Holy City with waterfront views, a quaint downtown strip and plenty of sites to explore from Uptown to the Old Commons to the Sea Island Parkway.

For our purposes, we're sticking to the historic downtown Beaufort area. We also have some info on a few sites nearby to explore.

From a central park to carriage and walking tours, here are the things to do and places to see during a day or weekend road trip to Beaufort. 

Nature & adventure

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The Woods Memorial Bridge in downtown Beaufort is famously known for the appearance of Tom Hank's character Forrest Gump running across the bridge in the movie. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

Beaufort Tours

This tour company offers walking history and movie tours, as well as van tours, of Beaufort. Some celebrities who have stayed at local houses while filming movies include Demi Moore ("GI Jane"), Nick Nolte ("The Prince of Tides") and Sally Field ("Forrest Gump"). 

Beaufort History Museum

If you're looking to dive into local history during your visit, check out the Beaufort History Museum and its collection of artifacts, documents and photos that explore the stories of the area.

Spirit of Old Beaufort Tours and Gifts

The Spirit of Old Beaufort features a gift shop as well as a home for Gullah, van, walking and ghost tours. The two-hour Whispers from the Grave Lantern Tour explores the supposedly haunted graveyards in the Beaufort National Historic Landmark District. 

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A horse-drawn carriage rides down the moss-draped block of Craven Street in Beaufort. Wade Spees/Staff

Sea Island Carriage Company

Charleston isn't the only place in South Carolina you can take a carriage ride. In Beaufort, look for the red rocking chairs at the waterfront park for tickets, which are $23 for adults, $22 for military, $10 for kids 4-12 and free for those 3 and younger.

Southern Rose Carriage Tours

Another option is Southern Rose Carriage Tours, which also leave from the waterfront park. They're the same price as their competitor and will meander past antebellum homes, historic churches and movie sites. 

Spanish Moss Trail

The Spanish Moss Trail, which is known as the Lowcountry's Rails to Trail, is a 10-mile greenway located in Northern Beaufort County. There's a 12-foot wide paved path dedicated to walkers, runners, bikers, fishers, skaters and scooters with views of the marsh, coastal wildlife and Spanish moss-draped oak trees. Get to exploring!

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Neecey Bester and her daughter Paris Bester, 3, play at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in downtown Beaufort on Friday, June 14, 2019. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park

This waterfront park is one of the highlights of downtown Beaufort, featuring beautiful views of the Woods Memorial Bridge and marina along with monuments, walking paths and swings.

Downtown Marina

If you're traveling to Beaufort by boat, you can moor your vessel at the marina located by the waterfront park. It's within easy walking distance of restaurants and shops. 

Pat Conroy Literary Center

Port Republic Square hosts the Pat Conroy Literary Center, which honors the teacher and author from Beaufort. The literary center details Conroy's history and story and also hosts book clubs, writing groups and poetry classes. 

Coffee, sweets & quick bites

City Java

City Java & News has the caffeine pick-me-up you might need for a day exploring Beaufort. Provided

City Java and News

This espresso bar is an easy quick stop for a caffeine rush or quick bite to eat for breakfast or lunch with street-facing portrait windows for people watching.

Beaufort Bread Company

This artisan bakery and cafe has selections of bread, pastries, breakfast and lunch items. Try the rosemary olive or cinnamon rum raisin bread for some delicious flavors or get coconut macaroons and a cup of coffee to go. If you'd like to stay and eat, try the tortilla salad, bahn mi or fried chicken sandwich for lunch.


This locally owned and operated bagel emporium offers a pizza bagel and omelette bagel, along with sandwiches, soups and salads. 

Common Ground Coffeehouse & Market Cafe 

For a small town cozy feel and some coffee, fresh pastries and desserts or gelato, stop at Common Ground with a view of the waterfront park.

Lowcountry Produce

The Lowcountry Produce Market and Cafe includes fresh pastries, canned goods and kitchen wares. Provided

Lowcountry Produce Market and Cafe

Featuring fresh baked goods like tomato pie, a cannery, sundries and kitchen and home goods, this pantry is a must-stop shop to at least browse and maybe find an ideal gift during your Beaufort adventure.

Sunset Slush Italian Ice

On a hot day, nothing seems more refreshing than an Italian ice cart in the park. Sunset Slush is there, slinging cold cones to cool you down. 

Coastal Smoothie

Another revitalizing treat on a hot day arrives in the form of a downtown smoothie shop and juice bar.

The Lollipop Shop

The Lollipop Shop in Beaufort can satisfy your sweet tooth. Provided

The Lollipop Shop

It's vacation, which means it's only fair to let the kids enjoy a sugar rush. The Lollipop Shop can help provide that with a fun, inviting candy store full of sweet treats. 

The Chocolate Tree

Sweet tooth? The Chocolate Tree, which opened in 1980, will satisfy your cravings with more than 60 specialty chocolates and confections made on the premises.

Southern Sweets

Sundaes and shakes and salads and soups are offered at this ice cream and sandwich shop with a retro interior. 

Yo-yo's Ice Cream

This fro-yo shop lets you serve your own flavors (sea salt caramel and pink lemonade sorbet are on the list) and layer on the toppings (think cookie dough and fresh strawberries) for a cold snack.


Beaufort Art Association

This nonprofit organization includes a gallery featuring exhibiting artists, satellite locations, events and educational classes. 

Art of Beaufort

This gallery features local artists who work in everything from watercolors to quilling to photography.

LyBensons' Gallery and Studio

The Gullah Geechee Visitor's Center is located at this gallery, which was established in 1977 and specializes in artwork and collectibles that depict the African, Gullah and African-American link. 

Coastal Art Supply and Gallery

You can purchase art supplies and peruse creations at this shop and gallery. 

I. Pinkney Simons Gallery

Featuring more than 25 Southeast artists and original art collected from clients around the world, this gallery has been around for over 36 years.

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A gallery in downtown Beaufort on Friday, June 14, 2019. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

Rhett Gallery

You'll find more than just art at this gallery. There are also guns, guitars and antiques. 

Thibault Gallery

This gallery features "art by Southern hands" in a variety of media, from oil to acrylics to ceramics. There are on-site artists at work, as well as the opportunity to commission a one-of-a-kind piece. 

Atelier on Bay

There's an Atelier Gallery in Charleston as well as Beaufort, where this branch is named Atelier on Bay (Street). The working collective art studio located in the historic Lipsitz building constructed in 1883 houses 14 studios of working Lowcountry artists. You can see the magic unfold right before your eyes.


Nevermore Books

Look for the "Raven on Craven (Street)" to find this locally owned and operated bookshop that also houses art and photography. There's also a large selection of first editions.

Her Favorite Store

Get women's clothing and accessories, like scarves, purses and jewelry, here. 

It's Retail Therapy

The name says it all. If you're headed to Beaufort to shop, then this is one boutique you need to visit. 

Island Lavender Co.

For the soothing smell of lavender in a variety of forms, visit this shop. Soap, bath salts and oils, sachets and more are for sale.

Sweet Tea Float

One shop in Beaufort offers sweet tea floats at its sweet tea bar. Provided

Scout Southern Market

This refined store embodies the Southern lifestyle and aesthetic with eclectic furniture and decor. It's also a sweet tea bar, y'all. Yes, you can get a sweet tea float (!!!) here. 

Cook on Bay

The foodies might want to stop by this shop for all their kitchen essentials. 

Carolina Me Crazy

You can get Salt Life, Guy Harvey and Simply Southern merchandise here. 

Bathe in Beaufort

Handcrafted soaps and bath and body products are for sale at Bathe. There are locally sourced and vegan options.

Coastal Knitting

Get your yarn here. You also can take knitting classes. 

Good Aura

This sustainable women's clothing boutique features fashionable, ethically sourced apparel. 

The Oyster Cay Collection

Home decor is available here, from furniture to accessories. 


Another home goods store is Wishlist, which is operated by a mother and son duo and features home decor and gifts. 

Sweet Bay

Sift through home decor and gifts at this Bay Street shop. 

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Old Bay Marketplace in downtown Beaufort on Friday, June 14, 2019. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

The Rustic Pup

This doggie boutique located in the Old Bay Marketplace offers biscuits, toys, collars and other treats for your four-legged friend. 

McIntosh Book Shoppe

Also located in the Old Bay Marketplace, a little covered alleyway of shops off the main boulevard, is this book store with a variety of rare and used paperbacks and hardbacks. Find yourself a vacation read that you can take to the park here. 

Monkey's Uncle

Kids (of all ages) will love this store filled with toys, games, puzzles and books. 

Beaufort Emporium

This eclectic gift shop has a variety of uniquely Beaufort finds, including postcards to send back home, artwork, T-shirts and shot glasses. 

Hollyhocks Gifts

This family-owned and operated shop features clothes, jewelry, gifts and decor. 

Bay Street Outfitters

This sporting outfitter offers all your outdoor needs, from fishing equipment to Yeti coolers. 

Olive the Above

Olive oils and balsamic vinegars imported from around the world are for sale at this Beaufort store. 


You can get stationery in addition to clothing, jewelry and gifts at this shop. 

Beaufort Belle Company

Beaufort Belle offers "all things Southern girl," from beachwear to pastel tees.


Flashback Gear is for the comic book and old movie lovers. Provided

Flashback Gear

If you love old movies, classic TV shows, comic book artwork and Funko toys, then this shop is for you. 

Down By the Bay Children's Boutique

Shop for the kids at this children's clothing store. 

Barefoot Bubbas

This surf shop offers boogie and skim boards, swimsuits and beach gear along with kayak, bicycle, surfboard and jet ski rentals.

Finders Keepers

... Losers weepers. The winners can find gifts, souvenirs, year-round Christmas decorations and collectibles at this local shop. 

Bay Street Treasures

Antique chic finds await at this furniture boutique. 

Nearby sites

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Caroline Heck (center), 6, hums with her kazoo she made after touring The Kazoobie Kazoo Factory on Friday, June 14, 2019 in Beaufort. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

Kazoobie Kazoos

Though it's off the beaten path a little, Kazoobie Kazoos is worth a visit during your trip to Beaufort. It's a kazoo factory and museum that makes around 1 million kazoos every year. There are tours during the day, which are $7 for adults, $5 for kids 4-11 and free for kids 3 and younger. And, of course, there's a gift shop featuring kazoos and kazoo accessories.  

Port Royal Sound Foundation Maritime Center

This maritime center is a good place to bring the kids to learn more about Beaufort's wildlife and ecosystem. There are exhibits, classrooms and hands-on learning experiences among more information about the area and its history. 

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A view looking up from the base of the Hunting Island Lighthouse with a total of 167 steps at 132.5 feet high. The lighthouse is open to the public for a $2 dollar fee from 10 a.m. until 4:45 p.m. daily. Andrew J. Whitaker/ Staff

Hunting Island State Park

It's worth driving the extra half-hour from Beaufort out to the Hunting Island State Park, where there are five miles of beaches, thousands of acres of marsh and maritime forest, campsites and a lighthouse that is open to the public for $2 tours. 

The Sands at Port Royal

Port Royal is just 10 minutes outside of Beaufort and offers some unique wildlife of its own. It's prime for boating, bird watching and exploring nature trails. The Sands Boardwalk and Observation Tower offers waterfront views of Battery Creek. You can also hunt for shark teeth on the nearby shore. 

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The Old Sheldon Church Ruins in Yemassee near Beaufort is a popular place for photographers. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

Old Sheldon Church Ruins

The Old Sheldon Church Ruins are located in northern Beaufort County and a good pit stop on your way to the downtown district, about 30 minutes away. The church was built in the mid-1700s and was supposedly burned by the British in the Revolutionary War before being rebuilt and burned again during the Civil War. Today, the ruins still stand, underneath majestic oak trees. A fence recently was built around them as a preservation tactic, but you can still wander around the outskirts. 

The Shrimp Shack

The locals know about this little dive eatery on St. Helena Island that's been open since 1979 and offers shrimp burgers, fried flounder, crab cakes and other classic seafood plates. There's outdoor picnic seating with a view of the shrimp boats. 

Highway 21 Drive-In Theater 

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The Highway 21 Drive In Movie Theater in Beaufort is one of three drive-ins in the state of South Carolina. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

If you're staying overnight in Beaufort, then you can't miss your opportunity to go see a movie at the drive-in theater. Highway 21 was featured on the Travel Channel as one of 10 featured retro drive-ins around America, and it lives up to the hype with two big screens and some delicious (and cheap) food to snack on during your flick, from popcorn to hot dogs. 


In the mood for a full meal? Check out Hanna Raskin's Beaufort restaurant recommendations online,

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Reach Kalyn Oyer at 843-371-4469. Follow her on Twitter @sound_wavves.

Kalyn Oyer is a Charleston native who covers arts and entertainment for The Post and Courier's Thursday edition, Charleston Scene. She used to write about music for the Charleston City Paper and Scene SC.