A three and a half hour drive will drop you into my favorite little place in the world, Beaufort, South Carolina and the Sea Islands. Now if you’re looking for glitz, nightlife, and high rise hotels this is not your destination. However if you’re looking for the ultimate in “low country” charm, you have arrived. From carriage rides along moss draped live oak-lined streets and quaint shops to great restaurants and the beach, there is a lot to do.
When you arrive in Beaufort, via Bay Street, you will start the historic part of your trip by passing beautiful mansions. One in particular is the historic Civil War “Session House” on Craven Street. Continue into downtown overlooking the Beaufort River–the boats bobbing in the harbor are gorgeous. You can stay in Beaufort and fill your weekend without ever getting in your car. There are several Inns and restaurants, shops, art galleries and historic sites that are within walking distance of each other. Should you want to venture out to the Sea Islands and the beach, another adventure awaits you!
As you leave the Town of Beaufort you’ll cross the Woods Memorial Bridge and approach Lady’s Island, the first of the Sea Islands. You can venture around and go down many of its meandering roads that all seem to lead to the water. As you travel on the Sea Island Parkway you cross a non-discreet bridge onto historic St Helena Island. History abounds here: from the days of Sea Island long staple cotton, to the Penn Center where the first African American School for freed slaves is found.
With all this sight seeing going on you may be working up an appetite. Let me recommend a stop at the famousShrimp Shack. It’s across from the Gay Shrimp Company which was in Forrest Gump. The Shrimp Shack…this is one of those places that once you taste anything on the menu you will be hooked.
Well, we need to leave St Helena Island and our next stop is Harbor Island. It’s small… some condos, beach shops, and a good tavern called Johnson Creek, where you can grab lunch on the way to the beach!
Hunting Island draws over one million tourists a year. As you stroll along the miles of beach, all you see is the maritime forest and water…no condos, no buildings, nothing but beach. Since Hunting Island is a barrier island, it takes a beating from the surf. At the north end is the Hunting Island light house. It has been moved inland, been restored where the views from the top are great.
The last island left in the chain is Fripp Island. You have arrived at civilization when you come here. It is a major resort with golf, rental properties, restaurants and homes. It is also the home to famous author Pat Conroy, whose works include:The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini, and Beach Music to name a few. Don’t expect to just drive onto Fripp. You will need to have a destination such as staying at the resort, golfing or going to one of the restaurants.
So there it is… fun, food and a little history all wrapped up in three days! I just hit the tip of the iceberg and there’s more to do depending on your interests. Golf, kayaking, hiking, biking and boating are other activities that abound in that area. Have fun and don’t forget the sun screen!
By Mike LaRuffa (President, Builders Services, Inc.)