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
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").
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another revitalizing treat on a hot day arrives in the form of a downtown smoothie shop and juice bar.
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.
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.
Sundaes and shakes and salads and soups are offered at this ice cream and sandwich shop with a retro interior.
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.
This nonprofit organization includes a gallery featuring exhibiting artists, satellite locations, events and educational classes.
This gallery features local artists who work in everything from watercolors to quilling to photography.
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.
You can purchase art supplies and peruse creations at this shop and 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.
You'll find more than just art at this gallery. There are also guns, guitars and antiques.
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.
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.
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.
Get women's clothing and accessories, like scarves, purses and jewelry, here.
The name says it all. If you're headed to Beaufort to shop, then this is one boutique you need to visit.
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.
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.
The foodies might want to stop by this shop for all their kitchen essentials.
You can get Salt Life, Guy Harvey and Simply Southern merchandise here.
Handcrafted soaps and bath and body products are for sale at Bathe. There are locally sourced and vegan options.
Get your yarn here. You also can take knitting classes.
This sustainable women's clothing boutique features fashionable, ethically sourced apparel.
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.
Sift through home decor and gifts at this Bay Street shop.
This doggie boutique located in the Old Bay Marketplace offers biscuits, toys, collars and other treats for your four-legged friend.
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.
Kids (of all ages) will love this store filled with toys, games, puzzles and books.
This eclectic gift shop has a variety of uniquely Beaufort finds, including postcards to send back home, artwork, T-shirts and shot glasses.
This family-owned and operated shop features clothes, jewelry, gifts and decor.
This sporting outfitter offers all your outdoor needs, from fishing equipment to Yeti coolers.
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 offers "all things Southern girl," from beachwear to pastel tees.
If you love old movies, classic TV shows, comic book artwork and Funko toys, then this shop is for you.
Shop for the kids at this children's clothing store.
This surf shop offers boogie and skim boards, swimsuits and beach gear along with kayak, bicycle, surfboard and jet ski rentals.
... Losers weepers. The winners can find gifts, souvenirs, year-round Christmas decorations and collectibles at this local shop.
Antique chic finds await at this furniture boutique.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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, bit.ly/2XtAOni.