White sand beaches and cool ocean breezes make Beaufort, South Carolina one of the Low Country's most popular tourist destinations.
Beaufort,s climate is temperate to semi-tropical. Winters are moderate, summers hot. Snowfall is rare, but electrical storms are common, particularly in summer months. Average annual rainfall is 47.9 inches. The average annual humidity is 75%. Beaufort's annual mean high temperature is 76.5 degrees F, and the annual mean low temperature is 57.2 degrees F. Prevailing gulf breezes temper the summer's heat.
Some 30 miles north of
Hilton Head Island, Beaufort (Low Country pronunciation byoo-fort) is an old
seaport with narrow streets shaded by huge moss-draped live oaks and lined with
pre-Revolutionary and antebellum homes. It is located on Port Royal Island, one
of the large Sea Islands along the southeast Atlantic coast.
A center of luxury homes
prior to the Civil War, Beaufort was one of a few southern cities spared from
fire in the war’s aftermath, making it an architectural treasure. The oldest
house (at Port Republic and New Streets) was built in 1717, before the birth of
George Washington. Beaufort is one of the few towns in the United States whose
entire downtown has been designated by the National Trust for Historic
Preservation as an historic district.
Nearly 200 restored buildings can be seen in the
city's historic district.
More than 50 historic
buildings have been identified and include lovely private homes beautifully
restored. Start your visit to Beaufort with a
walk along the peaceful harbor at Waterfront Park. The park is a pleasant place
to linger for a while, and several restaurants are nearby. Boat and horse-drawn
carriage tours also start from the park.
The Low country’s salt-marsh ecosystem, one of
the world’s most productive and unspoiled, is remarkably easy to explore from a
Beaufort base. The A.C.E. Basin is the vast wilderness created at the juncture
of the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto Rivers. Guided boat and kayak tours allow
visitors to photograph hundreds of species of birds while exploring the coast,
and boat rentals enable adventurers to explore on their own. Given the
abundance of water, it’s no wonder that fishing, sailing, shrimping and crabbing
are popular activities for visitors. Port Royal’s boardwalk and Hunting Island
State Park’s pier are among the ideal fishing venues as well as being popular
for sightseeing and leisurely strolls.
A five-mile leisure trail winds through
Port Royal for jogging and bicycling and includes an observation deck.
Beaufort and Port Royal are
proud to host three military bases. The military is an integral part of
Beaufort, with the Marine Corps Air Station to the north, Parris Island Recruit
Depot on Port Royal Sound, and the Naval Hospital at the heart of the community.
The Marines take an active role in community life. They assist in emergencies,
entertain at air shows and volunteer at community events.
Art galleries, antique
shops and modern boutiques are within the downtown walking area, not to mention
fine dining and quick eateries. Museums are a beginning for an educational and
interesting look at the history of the area.
The Beaufort Museum
includes artifacts from throughout the city's history, including Native American
relics and Revolutionary and Civil War items. The Federal-style John Mark
Verdier House was built in 1790, and St. Helena's Episcopal Church dates to
1724. Of special interest—although it's not open to the public—is the Milton
Maxey House, traditionally claimed as the site where South Carolina's secession
documents were drafted.
Filmmakers have discovered
that Beaufort locations make convincing movie settings, whether they’re looking
to portray the Old South or the jungles and beaches of Vietnam. Some 20 movies
have had scenes shot in the area, but Beaufort’s fondest memories are of Tom
Hanks and the film Forrest Gump. For the most part, local residents take
film making in stride. They’ve seen a lot of excitement in films such as The
Big Chill, The Prince of Tides, Forces of Nature, Rules of Engagement, Jungle
Book, White Squall, Something to Talk About, The Legend of Bagger Vance, GI
Jane, The Last Dance and the TV series Gullah. Gullah Island was
filmed on location in Beaufort. It seems as if almost everyone has at least one,
really good, first-hand filmmaking story to share.
In the Low country, a
festival or celebration is almost always underway. Locals and visitors regularly
take to the streets, parks and waterways to enjoy life with the special
varieties of cuisine, entertainment, crafts and activities, which define the
friendly communities and their customs. Among Beaufort's notable annual events
are the yearly Plantation Tour and Tour of Historic Homes in March and the
Beaufort Water Festival in late July.
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