Essential Lowcountry

Friday, July 25, 2014

For a unique Southeast experience take some time away from the cities and explore the Lowcountry. Hilton Head, Beaufort and Bluffton are all small towns with large appeal. World class celebrations, art, outdoor excursions and more can all be found in the towns that are found between Charleston and Savannah.

Hilton  Head

Hilton Head Island owes its name to Captain William Hilton, who, in 1663, identified a headland near the entrance to Port Royal Sound, which he named after himself. However the town itself was not incorporated as a municipality until more than 300 years later, in 1983.

The city is a magnet for people with an interest in history, nature, arts and golf. The island has been seasonally inhabited for thousands of years, and has played an important role in the history of the American South. It also has an array of wildlife that attracts visitors from around the world. It boasts world class artistic experiences, from galleries to musical and theater productions. Finally it is host to South Carolina’s only PGA tour stop when players tee-off for the Heritage Classic each April.


Beaufort is the second oldest city in South Carolina. Founded in 1711, it is named for the royal charter which honored the Duke of Beaufort. Today the city boasts a cozy population of just over 12,000, but welcomes more than 2 million visitors annually.

Despite the small size, Beaufort offers a wealth of activity. The downtown historic district contains a wealth of 18th century architecture. Museums contain information about such wide ranging topics as the history of the Gullah culture, the history of the Marine Corps, and the rise of Beaufort’s planter class. For those who like to be near the water pristine beaches and tours along the waterways are available. Finally from fine arts to fresh food, creativity shines. 20 galleries display the work of hundreds of local artisans, and the area’s restaurants often display the freshest local seafood.


Bluffton is another cozy town located in the heart of the Lowcountry. Described as “the last true coastal village of the South,” it is located on a bluff overlooking the May River.

Bluffton has a vibrant and eclectic art community, and festivals throughout the year. The Lowcountry  Arts and Seafood Festival highlights the local flavors of the town, both from the seas and from the local creative talent. Another event to look forward to is Music To Your Mouth, which pairs chefs, vintners and musicians both in a week-long festival and in smaller events throughout the year.

For more information about things to do in the Lowcountry or to visit Essential Places see the 2014 edition of The Essential Guide.

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