Free and fun things to do and great places to see with kids in Beaufort

There is plenty of fun and free things do with your kids while visiting historic and picturesque Beaufort.

Playgrounds
For starter there are 2 playgrounds The new playground in Beaufortone on the Waterfront Park and one off of Pigeon Landing (located left off Boundary Street and opposite waterfront area). This playground opened just 2 years ago, has brand new facilities (restrooms, picnic tables, water fountains, and stations) and excellent age appropriate equipment. There is something for everyone from babies to older kids and even large swings for adults (parents need to have some fun too). :-) It’s twice as large as the playground at Waterfront Park, a lot less crowded and dogs are allowed in the park as longs as they are on leash. A great thing with this playground is the large oak trees that provide shade throughout the day.
One extra perk is the chance to see fighter jets flying by every now and then which seems quite popular with boys. While in the area you can drive to the end of Pigeon Landing to reach the boat docking and boardwalk. It’s very peaceful and the view of the marshes and Beaufort river is incredible.

The playground at the Waterfront Park is better known and quite popular with tourists. Location, location, location! Just caught a shark Main attraction for kids is watching fishermen showing their skills on the dock in front of the playground. When I visited with my daughter 2 weeks ago we saw a guy catching 3 baby-sharks in less than an hour! All the children were mesmerized. Another kid-popular activity is balancing over the raised boardwalks weaving through the park. In case you get hungry there are several restaurants and cafes only few yards away.

Ice Cream Parlor and Tin Men
After all the jumping and hopping at the playground you should take the kids to the Southern Sweets Ice Cream Parlor. It’s located downtown in Old Bay Marketplace (across the clock). Besides delicious and reasonably priced ice-cream you can get very good and hearty lunch: made-to-order yummy hot-dogs (8 styles to choose from at $3 each), and a variety of gourmet sandwiches, salads and soups. Southern Sweets Ice Cream Parlor Most lunch items are around $6. They also carry a kids menu with the usual suspects for around $2. I had the Old Bay Dog (with sauerkraut), a cheese toast sandwich and one ice-cream all for about $8.

Who knew that window shopping can be fun for little ones? Where it is…at least in Beaufort…it wasn’t voted one of America’s Best Small Arts Town for nothing! On our way to the Vernier House museum (2 blocks down from the ice-cream parlor) my 4 years old daughter stopped many times to admire the art on display and point out whatever raised her interests. She loved the wine bottle holders made of tin representing all sorts of funny characters. She definitely liked this better than all the museums we’ve visited that day.

Beaufort Must See Museums: Vernier House and the Arsenal
The Vernier House museum – headquarters for the Union troupes during the Civil War – is the only historic house in Beaufort open to public on a regular basis: Monday to Saturday from 9 AM to 4 PM. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for students. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the Marquis de Lafayette visited the house in 1825.

Beaufort Arsenal Museum The Arsenal, located at 713 Craven St., is one of the most significant historical sites in Beaufort. It was completed in 1798 to create a militia and to build a laboratory for making explosives. Currently is home to the Beaufort museum. Made out of brick and tabby and featuring a Gothic design with crenellated parapets the Arsenal has a very distinctive architecture. Hours of operations are 10 AM to 5 PM. The museum is officially closed on Wednesday and Sunday. However, I went there on a Tuesday and it was closed, so better to call ahead just to make sure: (843)-525-7077. Admission for adults and children over 6 is $3.

Scenic boat tour over Beaufort River
This is a great outdoor attraction the whole family can enjoy.
It’s very relaxing and you get up-close and personal to the beautiful Lowcountry marshes and Sea Islands wildlife. There are two boat tour opportunities: one from Beaufort Marina (located at the end of the waterfront park) and one from Port Royal Landing marina, operated by River Safari. If you go to Port Royal read this post to learn about all the fun things you can do there.

More family attractions around Beaufort:

The Lighthouse at the Hunting Island State Park, the Old Sheldon Church Ruins and Graveyard. On St. Helena Island: visit Penn Center and Bailey Museum and the Chapel of Ease (beware of Land’s End light and ghost sighting!)

• Go to fun-packed super family friendly Hilton Head island where kids rule!

• Drive down to Savannah and visit the amazing Fort Pulaski a Civil War landmark that changed military warfare for ever. You get to see live cannon and musket firing, learn about the Immortal 600 prisoners and the Waving Girl legend. Kids can become Junior Rangers.

Happy family vacation in Beaufort South Carolina!

Historic Port Royal, a free must see Beaufort attraction on your way to Hilton Head

When in Beaufort, or on your way to golf-paradise Hilton Head, make sure to stop by historic Port Royal. Port Royal was the first settlement in the New World predating Jamestown by 45 years and St. Augustine by 3 years. It is adjacent to the deepest natural harbor on the Atlantic Coast, the Port Royal Sound and it boasts the only public shrimp dock in South Carolina. Not only that, but here the memorable hurricane scene from beloved Forrest Gump movie was shot!

Best time to visit is late afternoon to catch breath-taking sunset views of the serene Carolina marshes. Better yet you can have dinner at the Dockside Restaurant located, you guessed it, at the edge of the dock :-).

Shrimp Boats in sunset

Fun thing to do with kids is visiting the Lowcountry Estuary to see and play with the interactive exhibits about the coastal environment.

Another Port Royal attraction is the Union Church museum located on 11th Street. Built in 1878 it was active until the mid-1970s and shared by Presbyterians, Baptists and Methodists, who rotated Sundays.

You can also drive up to Parris Island built as a fort by the Spaniards in 1566. They called their settlements Santa Elena and made it capital of La Florida Province but abandoned it 10 years later after Native Americans attacked it. Parris Island became a Naval Station in 1876 then a prison in 1906. In 1915 the island became a recruit training station for the U.S. Marines. On the base there is a military museum open to the public.

If time permits take the scenic drive to Hunting Island State Park for some fun at the beach. Check out the historic Lighthouse, the only one open to public along the South Carolina coast.

Here is a map on how to get to Port Royal. Below are some sunset pictures I took last week from the shrimp dock at Port Royal.

Didn’t you wish you were there?

Happy vacation on the amazing South Carolina coast!

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