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7 BEST Things to do in Beaufort SC

A trip to Beaufort, South Carolina, will give you the chance to get lost in history. Between its antebellum architecture and picturesque waterfront views, you will find plenty of places to explore and things to do in Beaufort.

Things to do in Beaufort South Carolina

Things to do in Beaufort South Carolina

1. Beaufort History Museum

One of the first things to do in Beaufort is visit the history museum.

Located at the historic Arsenal in downtown Beaufort, it is a small museum but has docents there that will give you a great walkthrough of the exhibits and explain significant parts of this history.

Gullah Sweet Baskets

One of the most important parts of the history of Beaufort is the Gullah culture.

During the 18th & 19th centuries, enslaved Africans were brought to the area to work the rice, cotton and indigo plantations.

They held onto their distinct African heritage through storytelling, traditions, craftmanship and food and a trip to the museum will give you a glimpse into their history.

Robert Smalls Portrait

Part of the exhibit goes through the legacy of Robert Smalls. If you have never heard of Robert Smalls, I suggest you read up on him because he is a pretty amazing man.

The Arsenal itself is a historic landmark. It was built in 1798 for the Beaufort Volunteer Artillery as a storage facility for weapons.

The Arsenal, 713 Craven Street

Tuesday – Friday 10am – 4pm & Saturday 10am – 3pm

  • $8 for Adults / $7 for Seniors
  • Kids 18 and under are FREE
Beaufort SC Tabernacle Church

2. See the Resting Place of Robert Smalls at Tabernacle Baptist Church

After learning about Robert Smalls, it is worth checking out his final resting place.

You will find his family’s plot in the churchyard of the Tabernacle Baptist Church in downtown Beaufort.

The monument is inscribed with a statement he made to the South Carolina legislature in 1895,

“My race needs no special defense, for the past history of them in this country proves them to be the equal of any people anywhere. All they need is an equal chance in the battle of life.”

Robert Smalls, 1895
Verdier House in Beaufort

3. Visit the Verdier House

The Verdier House was built by John Mark Verdier, a French Huguenot, in 1804.

It is now a museum that will give guests a chance to see how Beaufort’s wealthiest citizens lived during the height of the pre-Civil War Antebellum period.

The house remains as it did during the time it was occupied.

While the home was the first to have an interior phone, there is no interior bathrooms or kitchen and does not have any closets.

There are three exhibits on display at the museum: one on Robert Smalls, a collection of Civil War-era photos by local Samuel Cooley, and an exhibit honoring the Beaufort Volunteer Artillery.

Open Monday-Saturday 10:30 am until 3:30 pm and charge is $5 per person which include a docent tour every half-hour.

4. See the Beautiful Historic Homes on Bay Street

One of the most popular things to do in Beaufort, SC is to enjoy the lovely architecture of the pre-civil war homes.

Beaufort is full of beautiful historic homes and a walk or drive along Bay Street will allow you to see some of the best preserved homes from the 1800’s in the area.

Robert Means House

Robert Means House: 1207 Bay Street

The Robert Means House was built around 1800 by a prominent Beaufort merchant and planter.

The house looks nearly the same as it did then minus the verandah which was added a century later.

John Cuthbert House

John A. Cuthbert House: 1203 Bay Street

This home was built around 1810, but like most, went through some remodeling during the 20th century.

The Federal-style house was updated with Victorian trim and a south porch expansion. 

If you would like to see the inside you can book a stay as it is now the Cuthbert House Bed & Breakfast.

Lewis Reeve Sams House

The Lewis Reeve Sams House: 601 Bay Street

This three-story 7,600 square foot Beaufort-style house was built in 1852.

You might remember this home from the film Prince of Tides.

5. Enjoy Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park

You will find it hard to believe that this waterfront park was once a set of dilapidated docks filled with trash!

Now, it is seven waterfront acres of landscaped greenspace enjoyed by locals and visitors.

The park is named for the former Beaufort mayor, Henry C. Chambers, who created these public parks along the riverfront.

You will find swings and benches and plenty of green space that is perfect for a family picnic! Be sure to spend a little time taking in the beautiful views!

Woods Memorial Bridge Beaufort

6. Check Out Woods Memorial Bridge

Visible from Chambers Waterfront Park is Woods Memorial Bridge. This is the bridge that connects the mainland of Beaufort to the islands.

While most bridges today open upwards, the Woods Memorial Bridge swings on its central axis sideways to open.

This allows for boats that may be too tall to clear the bridge.

It is a pretty neat feature if you get to see it open.

Forrest Gump Movie Scene with Woods Memorial Bridge

You might remember this bridge since it was featured in Forrest Gump as the bridge that crosses the Mississippi River.

Old Sheldon Church

7. Admire Old Sheldon Church (Prince William’s Parish)

Just outside of town, in Beaufort Country, is the Old Sheldon Church Ruins.

This church was built the first time in the mid-1700s (then destroyed during the Revolutionary War) and then rebuilt in the 1820s to once again fall during the Civil War.

All that remains of the structure are some of its walls, graves and the majestic oaks that surround it.

Beaufort South Carolina

A trip to Beaufort is a great way to get lost in history! This beautiful waterfront town makes a great day trip from Hilton Head and also a lovely weekend getaway. The key is to explore it slowly so that you can enjoy all it has to offer!

Have you been to Beaufort, SC? What was your favorite part of your trip?

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