If you’re looking for the best things to do in Beaufort South Carolina, you have come to the right place! We have carefully curated a list of the best attractions in this lovely city for your vacation bucket list. From bars and restaurants to parks and trails and everything in between, there’s something on our list for everyone!
Did you know that in 2022, an informal sister city arrangement was established with Ostrah in Ukraine. The residents of Beaufort SC raised funds to support Ostrah during the Russian invasion. How beautiful is that?
Beaufort SC is also the hometown of author Patrick Conroy, and, if you’re a film buff, you’ll love knowing that Beaufort SC was a filming location for Forrest Gump! Everyone loves Forrest Gump! Speaking of great films, Beaufort SC hosts the annual Beaufort International Film Festival every year in February.
Beaufort SC has even made our list of the best weekend getaways in South Carolina! But whether you’re there for a day, a long weekend or more, check out our list of fun things to do in Beaufort SC for some great ways to fill your time in this city.
15 Best Things to do in Beaufort SC You Shouldn’t Miss
Henry C Chambers Waterfront Park
Henry C Chambers Waterfront Park is the absolute jewel in the crown of Beaufort, South Carolina. It ticks so many boxes, including best Beaufort activities, and of course, best things to do in Beaufort with kids.
Overlooking the stunning bay, the Henry C Chambers Waterfront Park is brimming with shops, galleries and amazing food options. This delightful spot plays host to festivals and concert year-round, so definitely check ahead of time so you know exactly what’s on while you’re there! Our favourites are the Beaufort Shrimp Festival and the music, arts and seafood festival A Taste of Beaufort, but there is something here for everyone!
Loved by tourists and locals alike, the Henry C Chambers Waterfront Park is named after a beloved Beaufort SC mayor. Definitely one for the top of your bucket list, the Henry C Chambers Waterfront Park definitely one of the top attractions in Beaufort SC – you will love it!
Bricks on Boundary
Bricks on Boundary is one of our favourite bars and one of the best things to do in Beaufort SC for adults. Located in the heart of Beaufort SC, Bricks on Boundary is renowned for cracking food, decadent desserts and a drinks menu to rival any bar in New York City.
We love their beer battered flounder! Choose three or six pieces of Guinness battered Carolina flounder fillets served with tartare sauce, cocktail sauce, and your choice of side. They also do an amazing spicy flounder sandwich. You could say we are pretty keen on flounder. So local and fresh! If you’re more in the mood for dessert, Aunt Edith’s Home Made Southern Pecan Pie, served with a scoop of ice cream, will not disappoint!
And for drinks, we can’t go past the classic cocktails on offer here, but they also have a great range of craft beer and a ripper wine list. For great things to do in Beaufort SC at night, round off your evening at Bricks on Boundary!
Center for the Arts at the University of South Carolina Beaufort
The Center for the Arts at the University of South Carolina Beaufort offers rich cultural opportunities for everyone, making it one of the best things to do in Beaufort SC.
From concerts of all kinds – chamber music to tribute shows, to community engagement and family-friendly entertainment such as live theatre – the Performing Arts Center has a packed schedule. We love Monday night movies, a weekly opportunity to kick back with your friends, kids, or significant other and relax at the movies.
They also offer regular Lunch with Authors opportunities, where you can have the chance to meet a published writer.
Definitely check ahead of your visit to see what’s on, you will not regret it! We love the Centre for the Arts at the University South Carolina Beaufort, and you will too! With something for everyone, it truly offers the best activities in Beaufort SC, all year round!
Beaufort International Film Festival
The annual Beaufort International Film Festival is a great event to time your visit for! We love it, it’s definitely one of the best activities in Beaufort South Carolina!
Held every year in February at the Center for the Arts at the University of South Carolina, the Beaufort International Film Festival showcases the very best in cinema from around the world. From short films to features and documentaries, there’s something here for everyone.
There’s also an opening night and closing awards ceremony that you could be lucky enough to score a ticket to and rub shoulders with the who’s who of Beaufort cinema.
If you’re planning your trip to Beaufort SC, definitely check to see if you’ll be there during the Beaufort International Film Festival It’s truly a great highlight on the calendar and one of the best things to do in Beaufort SC. You won’t regret it!
Bay Street is the vibrant heart of downtown Beaufort South Carolina. It’s one of the best free things to do in Beaufort SC, as it’s always free to look! But if you’re keen to do more than people watching and soaking in the great atmosphere, there’s also some great shops, restaurants and galleries for you to drop your hard earned coin into as well!
Join a walking tour or hop on a horse-drawn carriage in the sunshine. If you’re looking for souvenirs, Bay Street will serve you well, with hand made sand globes, oyster shell trinkets and sweetgrass baskets.
Bay Street is also home to some of the greatest bars in Beaufort SC. We highly recommend checking out Plum’s, Hearth and Saltus, and Hemingway’s. For restaurants, drop into Q on the Bay or Panini’s on the Waterfront. Anywhere you go will be a treat! Bay Street is one of the best places to visit in Beaufort SC – you will not be disappointed.
Kazoobie Kazoo Factory
The Kazoobie Kazoo Factory is, hands down, one of the most unique things to do in Beaufort South Carolina. With a kazoo museum on the site, you can tour one of the biggest publicly available kazoo collections! Buy a kazoo in your favorite colour at the gift shop, and while you’re there, buy one for your friend as well! What a great souvenir of your vacation!
They also offer a fun factory tour where you can see how kazoos are made, and, best of all, you can even make your own kazoo! The build your own kazoo station is a family friendly activity with a huge range of colours to choose from! The kids will love it but so will you!
Discover the story of America’s most novel musical instrument! For cool things to do in Beaufort SC, you’ll definitely want to visit the Kazoobie Kazoo Factory.
Committed to seasonal menus and sourcing ingredients from local providers, Plums markets itself on being a local favourite since 1986 and they are not kidding – it even made our list of the best restaurants in Beaufort SC you must try!
With a riverfront kitchen and oyster bar, Plums is a great place to eat at any time of the day or night. It’s one of our favourite things to do in Beaufort South Carolina. Plums is owned by Lantz Price, who also owns the outstanding Saltus River Grill in downtown Beaufort SC.
As for the food, we love their Shrimp Salad BLT – shrimp salad on toasted, buttered brioche bread with applewood smoked bacon, lettuce and tomato. Incredible! Their smoked gouda mac n cheese (topped with bacon, of course!) is also high recommended, as is their lowcountry gumbo – a house specialty with chicken, andouille sausage, tasso, peppers, okra and tomatoes.
Plums is truly a treat, we stop in every time we’re in Beaufort SC. It is truly one of the best places to visit in Beaufort SC.
Hunting Island State Park
Hunting Island State Park is the most popular state park in South Carolina and one of our favourite things to do near Beaufort SC!
Hunting Island State Parks attracts more than one million visitors every year, and has something to offer everyone. It features five miles of beaches, and thousands of acres of forest and marshes. There’s even a saltwater lagoon!
One of our favourite things about Hunting Island State Parks is that it has its very own lighthouse! So cool! Climb the 167 steps to the top and check out the stunning views of the park. It’s the only publicly accessible lighthouse in South Carolina, so definitely worth a look.
With camping options including 100 spots that have electricity, you can extend your stay (noting a two night camping minimum is required). There’s also a cabin near the lighthouse, if that’s your jam! For more information on great cozy cabins in South Carolina, check out our great list!
Definitely add Hunting Island State Park to your vacation bucket list, it is one of the best things to do near Beaufort SC and you will love it!
Reconstruction Era National Historical Park
The Reconstruction Era National Historical Park is one of the most interesting places in Beaufort South Carolina.
Comprising four sites that are scattered throughout Beaufort Country, the Reconstruction Era National Historical Park is a site of massive significance. Pay your respects at the Darrah Hall and brick Baptist Church within the Penn School National Historic Landmark District on St Helena Island.
This is the site of one of the country’s first schools for freed enslaved people, as well as a church built by enslaved people in 1855 and then handed over to freed enslaved people in 1862
There’s also the Old Beaufort Firehouse which serves as the Park’s visitor’s centre, and the Camp Saxton Site, the place where ceremonies were held on New Year’s Day 1863 to announce, and commemorate, the Emancipation Proclamation. As the Camp Saxton Site is on US Navy property, it may not be public accessible, so definitely check before you go.
It’s a sobering thing to absorb, but you won’t regret checking out the Reconstruction Era National Historical Park, if you’re looking for what to do in Beaufort, don’t miss this.
Saltus River Grill
Saltus River Grill is one of the top things to do in Beaufort South Carolina. Sit on the beautiful outside deck under the delightful shady trees, or in the lovely dining room, and enjoy some of the best food in Beaufort SC.
We love the Sea Island Shrimp and Stone Ground Grits, served with roasted mushrooms, scallions, smoked bacon, confit garlic and jus. Yum! Or there’s the BBQ Pork Belly, with cabbage and red bell pepper slaw, house sauce, and roasted peach chutney.
We pair anything here with their applewood smoked bacon and cheddar mash, it is literally to die for. They also have a great wine list with some of the best offerings in the area.
For an indulgent night out we highly recommend a visit to Saltus River Grill. The views are spectacular, the food is incredible, it is one of the best things to do in Beaufort SC for adults. Let them know we sent you!
Just 14 miles from Beaufort South Carolina is Harbor Island, a 1400 acre barrier island and one of the best things to do near Beaufort SC.
With a range of accommodation options to suit families, friends and couples, this delightful gated community makes for a wonderful vacation. With three outdoor pools, tennis courts, a golf course, and – oh wait for it – three miles of white sandy beach to explore, Harbor Island is next level.
The gorgeous beach features wildlife including pelicans, terns, egrets, herons and horseshoe crabs. Watch dolphins frolicking in the sea or explore the nearby marshes. Jump in a fishing boat or hire a kayak or paddleboarding to continue exploring from the water.
For things to do in Beaufort SC for couples, families or even a getaway with your friends, you won’t want to miss a stay at Harbor Island. By the way, check out our list of the best beach towns in South Carolina for more great beachy getaways!
Beaufort National Cemetery
Beaufort National Cemetery is one of six cemeteries across the United States established in 1863 to honour and reinter Union soldiers and sailors who had died in the region during the Civil War. More than 14,000 soldiers are laid to rest here.
It’s a sobering place to visit, but super peaceful, and one of our favourite free things to do in Beaufort SC. The cemetery’s design is unique, even among other national cemeteries, because of its hub and spoke layout. It was commissioned by Abraham Lincoln!
If you’re looking for things to do in Beaufort SC at night, let’s be honest, this is probably not it. But at any other time of the day, we highly recommend a visit to the Beaufort National Cemetery. It’s open from 8am to sunset every day except for select public holidays, so do check before you visit to make sure it’s open.
Spanish Moss Trail
The Spanish Moss Trail is one of the most fun things to do near Beaufort South Carolina, you’ll want to add it to your bucket list for sure!
This delightful trail is a partially-completed multi-purpose ten-mile trail in the north of Beaufort County. Connecting the city of Beaufort and the town of Port Royal, the 12 foot wide trail is open for anyone who wants to walk, run, buke, scoot or skate. It’s for everyone!
The trail offers spectacular scenery with water and marsh views, intriguing flora and fauna, oh and of course – the Spanish moss covered neighbourhoods you’ll meander through on the way. When it’s completed, the full trail will be 16 miles long.
Trail funding is made through donations and public funding, so if you have a chance to and you can spare it, please lob a few dollars their way! Whether or not you’re a keen nature lover, you’ll enjoy the Spanish Moss Trail, it’s one the absolute highlights of Beaufort SC.
Fat Patties is an absolute must for your Beaufort South Carolina food bucket list. It’s seriously one of the best things to do in Beaufort SC.
Offering burgers, bratwurst, ice cream and local craft beer, Fat Patties pride themselves on ‘creative burger concoctions’ in your choice of six different patties (beef, half beef half bacon, shrimp, turkey, chicken, or black bean.
If you’re more of a sausage person, you’ll be intrigued to know that their bratwursts are simmered slowly in ale to create a mouth-watering sensation leaving you wanting more.
Their delicious homemade buns are light and fluffy, and their fillings are decadent and moreish. Our favourites are the Beef and Bacon Virginia V, with a half and half pattie, pimento cheese, slaw, fried green tomato, and garlic mayonnaise. Served with rosemary fries!
They also make their own ice cream in delightful flavours like burnt marshmallow and bourbon pecan pie.
Parris Island Museum
The Parris Island Museum is one of the best attractions in Beaufort South Carolina. Celebrating United States military history, you can learn what it takes to become a Marine. It’s also free! Making it one of our favourite free things to do in Beaufort SC!
But beyond that, the timeline features exhibit that cover fascinated swathes of local history. You can learn about the local first nations people, to the European colonisers and explorers. They will tell you there’s something here for everyone!
Of course, no museum would be complete without a cracking gift shop to support and buy a souvenir from!
The museum is closed on Sundays and select public holidays, so definitely double check before you go. If you enjoy military history, or you’re looking to learn more about the past, definitely add the Parris Island Museum to your list, it’s one of the top things to do in Beaufort SC.