Blake Walsh

25 Best Things to Do in Beaufort, SC

  • Published 2022/11/09

Beaufort, South Carolina is famously known for its historical structures, some well-preserved and some in ruins—although that doesn’t make it an ideal destination for history buffs alone.

It can also be a romantic getaway for couples to relax at the beach and families to educate their kids on provincial history through various museums.

It offers a range of attractions ranging from wetlands for birdwatchers, ancient ruins for photographers, wildlife parks for nature lovers, and places offering kayaking and paddleboarding for adventurers.

If you plan to visit, these are the best things to do in Beaufort, South Carolina:

Make Memories at Parris Island

Oak trees in Parris Island, SC

Tanell Nedd /

Parris Island is home to one of the oldest structures in Beaufort and was a filming location for the famous film Forrest Gump.

It’s famous for its legendary golf course, where you spend time golfing or stroll along the planes watching others play.

The place is also known for housing the oldest structure in Beaufort: the Parris Island Lighthouse.

Parade at Parris Island

Christopher Forker /

Before modern technology took over, the old structure was used to guide ships away from the harbor and forward on their journeys.

The local military base also uses Parris Island to train the recruits on a daily basis.

You can watch them going through their routines here.

It makes for an interesting spectacle that most people go their entire life without encountering.

Pay Your Respects to the Martyrs at Beaufort National Cemetery

Perfectly alligned tomb stones at Beaufort National Cemetery

Denton Rumsey /

Beaufort National Cemetery is the burial ground of more than 18,500 soldiers and their families, both servicewomen and men.

It is a resting place of both confederate and union soldiers that passed away during the Civil War.

Closeup of tombstone and an american flag at Beaufort National Cemetery

Buckeye Sailboat /

Some commanders and majors of legendary popularity are also buried in these grounds.

This place is famous among tourists who value the historical significance behind the attractions they visit.

Go Paddleboating Along Beaufort River

Why not explore the Beaufort River on a paddleboard or kayak?

There is nothing quite like paddleboarding and observing the natural sights, the local ecosystem consisting of birds and critters around you as you make your way through the serpentine wetlands.

It’s a great choice to try kayaking for birdwatchers and wildlife encounter enthusiasts alike.

Along the way, there are hotspots of animal activity that you’ll get to observe more up close than ever been before.

Get Educated About Provincial History at the Beaufort History Museum

Exterior view of Beaufort History Museum

Deborah McCague /

Built in 1937, the Beaufort History Museum is focused on collecting and preserving historical artifacts and documenting information about the Beaufort area.

Its exhibits detail the region’s history, dating back from the first Aboriginal American settlers to the Antebellum, Civil War, and Revolutionary eras.

Flag and cannon at Beaufort History Museum

EWY Media /

There is a permanent primary collection and a temporary secondary collection that changes throughout the display.

The museum holds various events and guided tours throughout the year.

So, if you plan a trip here, you should certainly check out whether or not there are any significant events taking place during that time.

Take a Walk Through the Spanish Moss Trail

Although it’s called the Spanish Moss Trail, the “moss” under discussion is actually bromeliad.

Unlike moss, bromeliad makes its food from light, dust, fog, and rain elements.

If you’re craving an adventure, you can choose between hiking, walking, jogging, or just slowly biking through national trails.

This is a place of such scenic beauty that it will surely capture anyone’s interest.

You can rent a bike from nearby services or take a stroll along through the winding trails to enjoy beautiful sights.

Don’t forget to take your cameras with you; it would be a pity not to get any photos along this breathtaking route!

Go on a River Cruise and See the Dolphins

How about taking a relaxing tour by way of a cruise ship or boat for hire?

One of the best things to do in Beaufort is enjoying the sunset view from the luxury of a cruise ship along with your partner, friends, or family—or even alone.

A nature excursion certainly doesn’t disappoint in shifting one’s mood for the better.

You can observe the well-known Morgan Island from your boat.

The area is restricted to everyone to preserve its primate colony, although you can still observe the monkey herds from afar.

The attraction that draws most tourists to this area is the beautiful bottlenose dolphins.

You might get to observe their hunting strategies or perhaps enjoy them playing around in groups.

They can be quite interactive, as dolphins are known for their intelligence.

Experience Birdwatching at Cypress Wetlands

Are you a birdwatcher?

Or perhaps you’re simply interested in encountering local and rare critters?

Watching exotic birds is one of the best things to do in Beaufort.

Home to falcons, hawks, herons, and owls, it’s a swarming zone for birdwatchers.

Observe the hunting strategies of cunning white egrets, stroll along the half-mile-long walking trail, be on the lookout for snakes and alligators—make it an exciting adventure.

Take a self-guided tour around one of the most visited places in Beaufort.

Get a Hole-in-One at The Legends Golf Course

Beaufort offers one of the best golf courses in the province, known as The Legends Golf Course.

It’s located on Parris Island.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for various challenging courses, from easy to high difficulties, consider visiting the golf clubs in Lady’s Island.

Eat at the Best Restaurants in Beaufort

If you’re craving seafood, then Lady’s Island Dockside is a popular choice.

With outdoor seating arrangements, mouth-watering seafood specialties, and delectable desserts, this place is always buzzing with activity.

Best known for its solo dining, variety of tea and coffee selections, and breakfast menu, Blackstone’s Cafe is a low-budget, high-quality service experience.

Hearth Wood Fired Pizza is designed in a historical setting and is famous for its wood-fired pies, a great range of authentic Italian dishes, and original crafts beers.

Take a Ferry Ride to St. Phillips Island

Get on the ferry from Hunting Island State Park for a trip to St. Phillips Island.

Sometimes the journey is just as fun as the destination.

Mingle among the tourists and get to know the recreation activities you could join.

Grab a beer and relax at the beach, walk along its beautiful shores listening to music, or join in on the fun activities that other tourists are enjoying.

It is one of the most popular beach retreats in the province.

The beach is family-friendly and a great attraction for couples as well.

It can be a romantic date with your special someone or a vacation getaway with colleagues and friends for residents and tourists alike.

Tour the Ancient Ruins at Old Sheldon Church

Picturesque view of the remains of the Old sheldon church

Cvandyke /

Old Sheldon Church is one of Beaufort’s most well-loved sites among tourists.

It’s not only popular among history lovers but also loved by photographers.

Close up of the brick pillars at Old Sheldon Church

Natalia Bratslavsky /

This place was built back in the 1700s, and only a few stone edifices foundation pillars with engravings remain.

Tourists visit pretty often because it is historically very significant.

Beautiful Old Sheldon Church

Denton Rumsey /

Even if you are not that much interested in knowing history, but are interested in taking unique pictures for either your social media or your private collection, then visiting an ancient ruin is a sure way to create a great memory.

Join a Walking Tour of Beaufort Historic District

Cuthbert mansion in Beaufort

Deborah McCague /

If you’re thinking about the best things to do in Beaufort, then your research will tell you that it’s a place filled with well-preserved historical sites.

Ask around or check online for guided walking tours to these structures of ancient origin.

Street view of Beaufort Historic District

Francisco Blanco /

Or perhaps you might prefer a self-guided walking tour—in that case, surf through the government sites and local blogs for the location of these structures.

It’s the best way to get there and nearby hidden gems.

One of the examples of a historic building in the Beaufort district is Cuthbert Mansion.

It was built back in 1811 and was later turned into a bed and breakfast lodging.

Shops and restaurants at Beaufort Historic District

Francisco Blanco /

There are other examples of similar structures, such as Gibbs House and Jacob Henry House.

Going through Antebellum-era mansions will help you truly understand Beaufort’s rich history.

Explore the Kazoo Museum, one of Beaufort’s Hidden Gems

A display inside Kazoo Museum

bobistraveling, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you are o the lookout for unique sights in Beaufort, then you’ll be pleased to find that it’s home to several hidden gems.

For instance, you might know many musical instruments, some regal, some noble, some trendy and modern—but have you heard of the “Kazoo”?

The Kazoo Museum in Beaufort is a tribute to the “Down-South Submarine.”

It has noble roots, dating back to the ancient African tribal music plays that led up to the Kazoo of today.

It was modified in 1804 by African-American clock artist Thaddeus Von Clegg.

The museum is a great place for music enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Watch a Classic Outdoor Movie at the Highway 21 Drive-In

At the Highway 21 Drive-In in Beaufort, you can enjoy the nostalgia that comes with watching a classic outdoor movie with your family and friends under the stars.

This Beaufort landmark is still going strong after more than 35 years.

The first indoor movie theater in town only lasted a few years, but this didn’t deter the drive-in from continuing to provide unforgettable experiences for its patrons over the decades.

The Highway 21 Drive-in is one of South Carolina’s largest outdoor theaters with a 400-car capacity, so rest assured you will be able to park your car.

Arriving early is advised for those who want the best viewing spot.

This Beaufort attraction features two 80-foot projection screens, so you don’t have to worry about finding a good view.

The concession stands nearby offer a variety of food and drinks from pulled pork, popcorn, root beer floats, funnel cakes, hamburger baskets, and more.

Play Golf in a Glow-in-the-Dark Indoor Mini-Golf Course

Glowcountry Mini Golf is not a huge course, but it can be quite creative and fun for people of all ages.

You will never find a scene more beautiful than a golf course glowing in the dark—the lighting effects give you an entirely new perspective on the place and make it perfect for families or couples.

Every hole here is brilliantly done and especially fun for kids, but still challenging enough to be exciting for adults.

This glow-filled indoor mini-golf course is gorgeous and comes more alive with color, thanks to the paintings on all the walls.

You don’t have to break the bank to play a round, either.

It’s also worth noting that the cute little golf balls are available for you to buy, as well.

Admire the Life of a Legend at the Robert Smalls House

Landscape in front of Robert Smalls House

Elisa.rolle, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Constructed in 1843, the historic home of Robert Smalls at Beaufort’s 511 Prince Street in South Carolina went through several renovations and changes.

Robert Smalls, a legend in the industry, was born into slavery.

Yet somehow, he managed to commandeer the CSS Planter and sail her to freedom during the American Civil War while serving as an enslaved seaman on South Carolina’s Planter plantation.

History marker of Robert Smalls House

Elisa.rolle, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Afterward, he was elected as one of the United States House of Representatives during Reconstruction and became a symbol for overcoming adversity among African Americans.

Robert Smalls was also one of the United States Navy’s first African American pilots after the Civil War.

This historic house garnered its National Historic Landmark status in 1974 thanks to its significant ties with Robert Smalls.

Take a Walk along the Pier at Curtis Perry Public Park

At the edge of Front Street and Lexonville Road, there are plenty of ways to entertain yourself with nature by your side.

Curtis Perry Public Park, also known as Taylor’s Creek Boat Ramp, is one of these outdoor recreation spots you don’t want to miss.

This public park is a summer paradise for those who prefer a bit of water to their usual hang-out spot.

Walk around the piers and see what the hype over Taylor Creek is.

There are also picnic areas all over so you can lay out your snacks and get together with the whole family for an afternoon of good conversation and company.

Watch the Sunset at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park

Promenade at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park

Stephen B. Goodwin /

Beaufort never runs out of open spaces near stunning water views.

And if you’re one of those travelers that would like to rest near aquatic areas, Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park is your best bet.

Serving as both a relaxation corner and a marina area, this park provides a variety of amenities open for everyone who chooses to visit.

View from the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park

George Howard Jr /

For couples, the great waterfront horizon at sunset is the perfect setting for a cute date.

Families may also find themselves enjoying the picnic areas and expansive walking trails onsite.

And for the children, there are swing sets and playground equipment they can lose themselves in.

Established in 1979, Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park on Bay Street is your quick break spot from the stresses of daily life.

Palm trees at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park

Stephen B. Goodwin /

Gather at the Fire Pit at The Beaufort Inn

On Port Republic Street, The Beaufort Inn invites you to a charming and relaxing stay.

This 3-star inn, officially built in 1897, is a great epitome of historic establishments.

On Port Republic Street, this inn also houses various historic facilities that are older than most of the establishments in downtown Beaufort.

Its astounding private porches and courtyards are ideal places to lounge around and feel the airy breeze.

Got a pet traveling with you?

The Beaufort Inn is a pet-friendly establishment, too!

And if you’ve got upcoming events you want to celebrate while in the city, you can do it at The Beaufort Inn!

Sign up for a Workshop at USCB Center for the Arts

Looking for a more educational experience while at Beaufort?

USCB Center for the Arts may help provide you with that immersive entertainment-and-knowledge center experience in one.

Situated on Carteret Street, this art center hosts various workshops, seminars, and exhibits for everyone.

Priding itself on showcasing the best Lowcountry performing arts pieces, it also hosts movie nights to celebrate emerging films.

There’s always something to watch and comprehend at USCB Center for the Arts, so be sure to visit!

Join Open Mic Nights at Pat Conroy Literary Center

Pat Conroy Literary Center on Bladen Street is one of Beaufort’s hidden art and history gems.

This non-profit organization takes inspiration from the man of the same name who died in 2016.

Pat Conroy was a remarkable man who helped change the trajectory of writers who had the opportunity to benefit from his generosity and kindness.

And now, at this outstanding venue, you have much to learn about writing and related themes.

Some of its well-known events include writing workshops and open mic nights.

Join the community at Pat Conroy Literary Center and see the writer in you bloom to lovely heights.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Learn About the Maritime Fauna at the Port Royal Sound Foundation Maritime Center

If you’re curious about maritime diversity, visit this attraction to learn and know more about the local marine fauna.

Additionally, you can also inquire about the prehistoric megalodon jaws.

To conclude your visit to the Port Royal Sound Foundation Maritime Center, check out the gift shop, where you can buy maritime-themed souvenirs.

Enjoy the Higher Perspective at the Hunting Island Lighthouse

Palm trees near the Hunting Island Lighthouse

NewNomads /

Everyone enjoys observing the scenery from a higher perspective.

If you are looking for some adventure, going up the staircase to the top of this old lighthouse and enjoying beautiful views of the coastal region is a great way to spend your trip.

Far exterior view of Hunting Island Lighthouse

Denton Rumsey /

Situated north of Tybee island and south of Charleston, the lighthouse was built using iron plates that make it easier for the structure to be hauled elsewhere to protect it from corrosion.

The area used to be tough to travel around at night, and the presence of an official structure—namely, the lighthouse—in 1859 alleviated these concerns.

Closer view of Hunting Island Lighthouse

lumachina_99 /

Residents and tourists alike flock to this place on the weekends to enjoy the scenery offered from the top.

You can spend the day enjoying recreational activities around the area as well.

Final Thoughts

Beaufort truly embodies everything that is fun and romantic.

The city overflows with Southern charm that can’t be replicated anywhere else in the state.

Beaufort offers visitors upscale boutique shops and plenty of specialty restaurants and breweries to enjoy.

It’s also home to many wildlife and nature activities as well as historical attractions!

No matter who you visit Beaufort with, there are many fun things to do in this charming city.

Give your trip to this scenic jewel an extra boost of fun and pizazz with this list of things to do in Beaufort, South Carolina!

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