Why Beaufort Is the Best Small Town in South Carolina

From historic homes and churches to live oaks and Spanish moss—no wonder readers picked this Lowcountry jewel as the best in the Palmetto State.

You might think a dreamy coastal town like Beaufort, South Carolina, would happily rest on its laurels, but not so. Already loaded with accolades, Beaufort (BEW-furt) keeps raising the bar, adding new reasons to come, whether you're a visitor or a transplant.

We recently checked in with local innkeeper Amy Lesesne. She and her husband, Frank, own the historic Anchorage 1770. "Beaufort has put in a big day dock at Waterfront Park, so all of our restaurants and shops are accessible by boat now," Amy said. "Frank is in the final stages of getting his captain's license, so we'll begin doing boat tours out of the inn—anything from a 90-minute sunset cruise with cocktails and nibbles to a half-day trip to one of the nearby islands and beaches."

Also attracting travelers, Amy said, is the Reconstruction Era National Monument, just a few minutes from downtown Beaufort. And the Pat Conroy Literary Center has moved to a larger location downtown. Nature lovers will be excited to hear that Ted Turner has sold his St. Phillips Island to South Carolina State Parks, which now offers 6-hour day trips there.

Here's more news from Beaufort:

  • An extension to the Spanish Moss Trail to be completed in 2019 will connect walkers, runners, bikers, skaters, anglers—you name it—from downtown Beaufort through Port Royal to the Whale Branch River.
  • Go bi-plane. Retired marine aviator Michael Rainey will take you on a 30-minute vintage plane tour, traveling at 1500 feet over Beaufort and its Sea Islands.
  • Plans are in the works for a new waterfront park on Lady Island, across the Beaufort River from downtown. Opening date TBD.

New restaurants in the Beaufort area include Hearth Wood Fired Pizza, Mezes Mediterranean Grill, and Fishcamp on 11th, a waterfront spot in Port Royal.

WATCH: The South's Best Small Town 2018: Beaufort, SC

The popular Beaufort Inn has added the 12-room Craven Cottage, expanding accommodations for visitors. And Bay Street has a new shop, Bathe, specializing in handcrafted, locally sourced soap and bath/body products.

There you have it: Plenty of reasons to book your first trip—or plan your return—to our readers' pick for the best small town in South Carolina.

*Anchorage 1770 is a member of the Southern Living Hotel Collection.

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