About Beaufort, South Carolina
Scout Southern Market is proud to call Beaufort, South Carolina, its home. Consistently named one of the best small towns in the South by Southern Living, everything from Beaufort’s natural charm to historic architecture makes it the perfect location. Keep reading to learn more about the history of Beaufort and why we love it so much!
The Sea Islands
Beaufort, SC is actually located on Port Royal Island, one of the largest Sea Islands on the southeastern coast. All this waterfront makes for beautiful beaches and vistas, as well as natural habitat full of native wildlife. Beaufort is surrounded by other towns and islands, with over 200 miles of waterfront. No matter which direction you head out from downtown, you’re sure to stumble across another beautiful corner of South Carolina. Here are just a few of the other areas you should be sure to check out during your time in Beaufort:
- Hunting Island – With its nearly unspoiled coastline, enjoy a deep breath of fresh air and try to spot any of the dozens of local species that call the Lowcountry home. Hunting Island State Park is a top recommendation for visitors to Beaufort, and for good reason. The 5,000-acre park has 8 miles of trails, a pristine beach, and plenty of opportunities for the whole family.
- Lady’s Island – Golfers will love the challenge at the Olde Beaufort Golf Club, and seafood enthusiasts will love trying many of the waterfront seafood restaurants.
- St. Helena Island – Travel back in time and get a glimpse of what rural life was like for Lowcountry residents with many historic farms and shrimp docks. St. Helena Island is also a great place to learn about the Gullah community and their history in Beaufort.
- Parris – Understand the military influence in the Beaufort area with a trip to the Parris Island Museum to learn about the lasting influence of the United States Marine Corps.
- Fripp Island – The most seaward of South Carolina’s barrier islands, Fripp Island is home to the Gripp Island Golf & Beach Resort, perfect for a relaxing or romantic getaway!
The History of Beaufort
The town of Beaufort was founded in 1711, but the area had hosted a variety of early settlers dating back to the 1500s. The Port Royal area was first named by French Captain Jean Ribaut in the mid-sixteenth century. After the city was established, it contented with the Spanish empire to the south, but slowly grew in stature, becoming a prime destination for shipbuilding and eventually as one of the best planting locations in the Lowcountry. Beaufort and the surrounding areas also played a role in the Civil War. The Battle of Port Royal was one of the first amphibious skirmishes of the war, and the Union occupied the area early in the war. Most of the historic architecture and monuments throughout Beaufort are from this time period in the town’s history, as concerted efforts were made to preserve and revitalize this history. After the Civil War, Beaufort faced significant difficulties in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In 1893, a Category 3 hurricane slammed into the Sea Islands, resulting in devastating destruction and the loss of over 2,000 residents in the area. The 1893 Sea Islands Hurricane is one of the most deadly hurricanes in the United States to this day. Less than two decades later, a fire in 1907 decimated a large portion of downtown Beaufort. All of these events resulted in a 40% population loss by 1910. Despite this series of unfortunate events, the town of Beaufort has more than recovered, as it now tops the charts of some of the best small towns and most livable cities in the United States. This recovery is due largely to the growth and investment of the military, the resort and tourism industry, and the revitalization of Beaufort’s historic downtown, all of which are still prominent parts of our culture and community.
The Historic District
Beaufort’s Historic District was first recognized in 1969 and covers 5 distinct neighborhoods, each demonstrating beautifully preserved antebellum architecture and historically significant locations from the town’s storied culture. Here’s an overview of the five neighborhoods, although we recommend strolling through each of them to get the full historic Beaufort experience!
- Downtown – Abutting the Beaufort River and stretching along Bay Street is the Downtown Historic District, where you can find many restaurants, boutiques, and the Henry Chambers Waterfront Park.
- Old Point – Architecture lovers rejoice! Impressive mansions in Victorian and Queen Anne styles are around every corner in the area from Carteret Street to the Beaufort River. Don’t forget to look up and admire the gorgeous live oak!
- The Bluff – The Bluff is west of Downtown and features more picturesque antebellum homes, as well as the art deco style U.S. District Courthouse
- The Old Commons – While you’re less likely to find grand mansions in this Northeast Quadrant of Beaufort’s historic district, the homes here are still wonderful examples of Southern style and living.
- The Northwest Quadrant – Long the center of Beaufort’s African-American history, the Northwest Quadrant features many homes in the historic “shotgun” style and is currently undergoing restoration efforts.
A great option to get a quick overview of all of Beaufort’s historic district and to learn more about the history behind these beautiful locations, check out one of the many tours available, from walking tours and carriage tours to golf cart tours about the many movies that filmed in Beaufort.
Centered along Bay Street, where you can find Scout Southern Market, Downtown Beaufort is part of Beaufort’s large historic district, and is one of only a few towns in the United States that have their entire downtown as a designated historic district. Beaufort’s downtown area is the hub of most commercial activity for both locals and tourists. Strolling down Bay Street, you’ll be delighted to find plenty of shopping and dining opportunities, as well as galleries of local artists. Slow living and exploration is at the heart of Beaufort’s culture, so take your time to meander down the many side streets and alleys that pique your interest. You never know what you’ll find! In addition to all of the shops and local businesses you can find in Downtown Beaufort, downtown is also where most of our events and festivals are hosted, of which there are many! Every month, the Downtown Merchants Association hosts First Fridays, where the downtown shops on Bay Street open late on the first Friday of every month. Other festivals and events include:
- Beaufort International Film Festival
- Bands, Brews & BBQ
- Spring Art Walk
- Soft Shell Crab Fest
- The Original Gullah Festival
- Annual Beaufort Water Festival
- Tour of Gardens; Oyster Festival
- Beaufort Shrimp Festival
- October Fest
- Homes for the Holidays
- Hunting Island Paddlefest
- Downtown Beaufort Holiday Weekend
Anyone who visits Beaufort knows that it’s not a town that leaves your soul quickly. There are many reasons why Beaufort, SC is such a wonderful town to visit and to live in, but perhaps the most important of all is the overall charm and hospitality that exudes from the entire town, from everyone you interact with to the Spanish moss drooping over the live oaks. We’d love to invite you to visit Beaufort, learn more about our special town, and step inside Scout Southern Market, where we embody the best qualities of the Southern lifestyle and aesthetic that is so prevalent in Beaufort.