“Best Small Southern Town” – Southern Living
“Top 50 Adventure Town” – National Geographic Adventure
“A Top 25 Small City Arts Destination” – American Style
Beaufort was chartered in 1711, making it the second-oldest city in South Carolina. Serving as the county seat for Beaufort County, the downtown area is located on Port Royal Island. The beauty of Beaufort and the surrounding area has been a popular filming location for many Hollywood films, including The Big Chill, Forrest Gump, The Prince of Tides, G.I. Jane, and The Great Santini. Long-time resident and local author Pat Conroy has found the area to be inspirational for many of his works as well.
Beaufort’s entire historic district, flush with carefully restored antebellum houses, has been preserved through recognition as a National Historic Landmark. Another highlight from the long list of local spots on the National Register of Historic Places is the ever-popular Hunting Island State Park Lighthouse.
While Beaufort’s popular Waterfront Park hosts festivals and community gatherings year-round, two of the year’s biggest events include the Water Festival and the Shrimp Festival. The Beaufort Water Festival runs for two weeks mid-July each year, and pulls visitors from all over the Southeast. The Shrimp Festival is in the fall each year, and celebrates the locally caught shrimp as well as the local gourmet restaurants – a tasty and fun combination for all in attendance.
Named after the Port Royal Sound, the town of Port Royal was officially incorporated in 1874, 300 years after it was first settled. Located less than ten minutes from Beaufort, Port Royal shares a similar small town, Lowcountry charm, but has even more public water access. The Beaufort River and Battery Creek serve as boundaries for the town.
While street music events and smaller festivals are held year round, the two most popular Port Royal events are the annual Soft Shell Crab Festival and the St. Peter’s Oyster Roast and Microbrew Festival.
There’s an abundance of unique historic areas in Port Royal – the Camp Saxton Site, Laurel Bay Plantation, Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve, Hasell Point Site, Little Barnwell Island, F.W. Scheper Store, and Union Church of Port Royal are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In terms of modern history, Port Royal was also a filming location for the movie Forrest Gump – the famous hurricane scene was filmed in the dock area.