The South's Best Small Town 2017: Beaufort, South Carolina
Even the name is pretty: Beaufort. Contrary to the spelling, it's pronounced "BEW-fert," with the lips pursed as though blowing a kiss. Just hearing it, you can picture the quaint little town that's been racking up accolades in recent years. It just sounds nice. Beww-fert, beckoning you to come hither, and see what all the fuss is about.
And because of those accolades, you know what to expect from the Lowcountry gem: a storied history and rich heritage, splendid mansions framed by moss-hung oaks, and stunning views of rivers and marshes. Locals are much too polite to brag, but we've made a lot of "pretty places" lists, even in The New York Times.
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We've become a tourist destination, a must-see spot on any trip to the Coastal South. Set foot here, and you'll see why. This place lives up to its billing. Everything about Beaufort is flat-out charming. As a matter of fact, you can't turn a corner without swooning. Enchantment is in the air, along with the intoxicating perfume of Confederate jasmine.
It could be said that Beaufort has it all. Beauty, check; scenery, check; heritage/history, check; charm, check and double-check. There are some bonus points, too cultural events, water activities, unique festivals, and fine eating joints featuring local seafood.
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All well and good, but the question remains: What about Beaufort makes it so irresistible? Besides the obvious, why do we continue to make the lists of great little towns year after year? Is there, perhaps, something in the water that casts a spell on the list makers? One visit to Beaufort, and zap—you're in love. It's such a great place that you'll want everyone to know about it. You'll want to spread the love.
Beaufort is more than a vacation spot or a photo op. It's literally and figuratively halfway between Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia—not as grand as Charleston or as funky as Savannah but a homey, comfortable in-between. More than anything else, Beaufort is a way of life. Ask anyone who lives here about the Beaufort state of mind. It messes with your psyche; it spoils you for anyplace else.
Come for the scenery, and you'll start looking at real estate before the tour bus even pulls up to the curb. Walking down Bay Street, with the Beaufort River on your left and a row of historic houses on the right, you won't be able to resist— you'll pause and picture yourself on one of those charming verandas.
You'll see yourself in a rocker, lulled by sweet salt breezes as you watch all the tourists walk by. That was you, when you first came. Now you're here on your front porch. And that's when you know. No matter where you're from, where you've been, or where you're going, Beaufort feels like home.