Close to Hilton Head, South Carolina lies the small town of Beaufort. Loved by many, Beaufort is well know for its role in literary novels and films like The Prince of Tides and Forrest Gump. While there are plenty of tourist activities that will keep you entertained and busy, I have found some local secrets I couldn't help but share. Here are four of the best kept secrets I learned from the locals in Beaufort, SC. But remember, you didn't hear them from me.
I didn't find Beaufort, South Carolina on my own. A family member moved to the small city and we decided to visit her. I quickly fell in love with the small town. Beaufort's main street is lined with great shops and restaurants. The downtown waterfront has a gorgeous walkway, swing chairs for watching the dolphins play and a great park for kids.
On our second visit, I decided to forgo the better known activities and find out what the locals do for fun. Turns out, Beaufort, SC was hiding some pretty cool secret spots and activities that will make you love the town even more.
As a solo traveling mom, I have learned that the best way to see a city without over exhausting your kids is on a set of wheels. My wheels of choice are scooters. We cover a lot more ground this way and I'm not left trying to carry two kids around in the end. While scooting around town, a local told me about the Spanish Moss Trail. I immediately googled it. The Spanish Moss Trail is 6.5 miles of pure awesomeness.
The Spanish Moss Trail is accessible from various spots in Beaufort, but I would recommend driving to the Depot Road trail head. Here you will find free parking and a cool old railroad barn. The trail is 12 feet wide and made of smooth pavement perfect for walking, running, skating, scooting and biking. What I loved most about the trail is that it crosses over marshes and provides you with spectacular views of the low country. We saw eagles, fish and met plenty of locals out for some exercise. Bring a camera and lots of water.
2. The Sands in Port Royal (The Sands, Port Royal, SC 29935, USA)
Port Royal is the local town attached to Beaufort. No more than a 5 minute drive from the centre of town, here you will find vacation rentals, local restaurants and plenty of residential homes.
The locals of Beaufort and Port Royal know that the best beach in town is The Sands. What surprised me most about the beach was watching the locals pull up their vehicles onto the sand to unpack for a day at the beach. The Sands is a mix of families picnicking out of the back of their vehicles, exploring the area looking for sharks teeth and swimming. We also saw numerous families showing up to play Pokemon Go. Within a minute's walk there is a boardwalk and observation tower perfect for spotting local dolphins at play. You won't need a stroller here but should pack water shoes for the whole family. You will want to protect your feet from the oyster shells. We met plenty of locals during our visits to the Sands and never saw another tourist.
It's hard to watch the fishing boats coming in each night and not want to head out on one yourself. While there are plenty of charters to choose from, locals suggest giving Captain Tim a call at Cast Away Fishing Charters. There are a few reasons for this. Captain Tim is known as being great with kids. He is also known as being very respectful to the environment.
We spent a day with Captain Tim. He showed us the various ways the locals fish from crabbing and shrimping to secret fishing spots where we watched sharks hunting for their next meal along the shore line. Once you return home, you'll even find a nice souvenir from Captain Tim waiting in your mailbox.
4. Fat Patties & Salt Marsh Brewing (831 Parris Island Gateway, Beaufort, SC 29906)
Locals love to eat at Fat Patties. Here you will find fresh burgers made from grass fed beef and plenty of craft beer. That's not the only reason why I love it. Fat Patties is located on Parris Island, which is about a 10 minute drive from Beaufort. Parris Island is best know as the home to a Marine Corps training facility where Marines complete boot camp. Locals know that one of the best ways to thank these men and women for their service is to head to Fat Patties where you can pre-purchase pinta of craft beer for tired Marines who stop in after a day in training. You are given a blank card to write the Marine a note and it is pinned to a board awaiting the arrival of the men and women who work hard to serve the US.
Even as a Canadian, I found this to be a lovely experience and it was a great way to show my kids that its important to think about those who work so hard to protect us.
Beaufort, SC is known for its charming downtown core where guests stay in lovely B&Bs and tour the town in horse drawn carriages. While you should try the touristy activities too, knowing these four local secrets will provide you with the chance to get a better look at why locals love living in Beaufort so much. Have a great time but remember – don't tell them I sent you.