A photo tour of Beaufort: history, art and incredible outdoors

Chartered in 1711, Beaufort is South Carolina’s second oldest town after Charleston and its best kept travel secret…not for long!

Here are some things worth shouting about this historic yet vibrant little town recently dubbed “the Newport of the South”:

  • Top 50 Waterfront Adventure Towns in the nation
  • The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America
  • The Kaleidoscope Film Festival (you remember The Patriots, Forrest Gump and Prince of Tides to name a few of the many films shot here)
  • The picturesque downtown area is on the National Register of Historic Places, with more antebellum homes per block than any other American town.
  • Check this post for fun and free things to do with kids while in the area.

    I’ll let the photos do the talking. Have a wonderful vacation in Beaufort South Carolina!


    Walterboro Artisans Center and Colleton Museum: Indulge your artistic side and love for Carolina history (free family things to do)

    Need ideas on how to spend quality family time this Memorial Day weekend or on your vacation travel to Charleston, Edisto or Hilton Head? Well make a day trip to historic Walterboro and visit the South Carolina Artisans Center and Colleton Museum. They are both FREE to attend.

    Walterboro was established as a summer colony in 1784 so rich Plantation owners could escape the dreadful Lowcountry marshes malaria. Colleton county was established around 1682 making it one the oldest counties in the country!

    Things to Know Before You Go

    Artisans Center

    Carolina Pottery

    Carolina Pottery

    The South Carolina Artisans Center is a premier family travel destination in the Lowcountry.
    Housed in a restored eight room Victorian cottage, the center showcases over 240 of the finest Carolina artists, emphasizing traditional and indigenous folk art and contemporary crafts.

    It features educational exhibits, craft demonstrations and live performances by artists.

    This is a great opportunity to introduce children to art and crafts. My 4 years old loved the funny pottery characters and wood-crafted dinosaurs toys. We spend good amount of time making up stories to interpret each exhibit.

    You’ll have some awesome standout gift options that are sure to make a lasting impression. There are so many crafts to choose from (ornaments, glass work, jewelry, sea grass baskets, paintings) ranging from few dollars to thousands. Each piece is unique!

    The Artisans Center is free to attend and is open Mon thru Sat from 10 AM to 5:30 PM and Sun 1 to 5 PM. There are signs throughout Walterboro directing you to the center; Beware the driveway is very narrow and easy to miss. Here is the Google Map to the center.

    Colleton Museum
    The Colleton Museum is housed in the “Old Jail,” a two-story castle-like neo-Gothic structure built in 1855-1856 with brick from the old Jacksonboro Courthouse. The Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Among the museum highlights:

    • A permanent artifacts collection on Colleton and the Lowcountry region from prehistoric times to the early 1900s.

    • A kid magnet “Animals of the ACE Basin” natural history exhibit of native South Carolina wildlife (watch out for the alligator standing guard by the door!)

    • An entire floor dedicated to honoring the brave Tuskegee Airmen pilots: news clips, mob stories, conquering “The Jug” articles, photos, war planes replicas – this is by far the guys favorite museum attraction.

    Colleton Museum is free to attend and is open Tue through Fri 10 AM to 5 PM and Sat Noon to 4 PM. Here is the Google Map with its location.

    Other Walterboro attractions are the Great Swamp Sanctuary and the Slave Relic Museum, and in the area, the Old Sheldon Church Ruins.

    Have a great family time this Memorial Day weekend in historic Walterboro!

    Visit Walterboro’s Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Honoring the Red Tail Angels

    The Germans called them with great respect the Black Bird Men. Legend has it the Tuskegee pilots Tuskegee Airmen Memorialnever lost an aircraft to enemy during their coverage support missions in Europe. For their bravery air-bomb crews nicknamed them the “Red Tail Angels”.

    So on your way to Hilton Head and South Carolina Sea Islands stop in historic Walterboro (exit 53 from interstate I-95) to honor the first African-American pilots in the United States. The Tuskegee Airmen Memorial is part of the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor and is located at the Lowcountry Regional Airport. Here is the Google Map. It’s inspirational, patriotic, has extreme historical significance and it is free to attend.

    Interesting facts and things to know before you go

    1. US Army Air Corp launched the first African-American pilot training program in 1941 in Tuskegee, Alabama. In August of 1942 the Walterboro Army Airfield base was activated to provide final combat training for the Tuskegee Airmen before they were sent straight into action. .The Jug!

    2. From 1942 untill its closure in 1945, 992 pilots completed the program and over 450 of them saw combat overseas. Among their missions: Rome, Southern France, Central Europe, Tunisia, Japan, China, New Guinea, Western Pacific. Air Combat support was provided from Walterboro for many important defense facilities and cities, such as Santee Cooper Dams, the Parris Island Marine Base, the Navy Yard and Charleston.

    3. The base was also the largest camouflage school in the United States. Some 600 acres were used just for bomb storage! At times it housed 6,000 military personnel and hundreds of German POWs.

    4. The Tuskegee Airmen trained for 3 months, seven days a week from dawn to dusk.They were sent as replacement pilots for the 332nd Fighter Group, an all black fighter group operating in Europe. Pilot and Trainer
    They trained on 3 types of planes the Air Cobra, the Thunderbolt and the Kittyhawk. Flying the nose-heavy Thunderbolt – “The Jug” – was very dangerous and 5 men lost their life during routine training.

    5. Go downtown to the Colleton Museum to learn more about the Tuskegee Airmen – including their ongoing struggle against discrimination – see photographs and aircraft replicas and read the news articles from the war time.

    This is another free to attend family attraction and definitely worth the time. The museum is housed in the old county jail-house and has great artifacts about the region’s history, culture and lifestyle over the last 3 centuries.

    Check this out for more fun things to do with kids in and around Beaufort.

    Come experience the rich history and honor the veterans of beautiful South Carolina!

    New life springs from ashes at Old Sheldon Church near Beaufort (historical and free things to do)

    The Old Sheldon Church Ruins and Graveyard are about half an hour drive from both Beaufort and Interstate I-95. The centuries old church is a South Carolina truly inspirational historic site attraction the whole family should enjoy.

    Here lay the remains of Prince William’s Parish, better known as Sheldon Church (named after Bull’s family ancestral home back in England). William Bull, the Commissioner for the Sheldon church construction was South Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor and he also assisted in laying out Savannah. His tombstone is currently displayed in the graveyard.

    Beaufort Old Sheldon Church ruins

    Interesting Facts
    1. The Sheldon church was built between 1745 and 1755 and it was burned twice. First by the British Army during the Revolutionary War, then by Sherman’s troupes at the end of the Civil War. Although never rebuilt the church’s pillars and outside walls remained erect withstanding the test of time.

    2. The church recently became a very popular location for wedding ceremonies. The spiritual ruins are testimony of endurance in the face of hardship. Surrounded by green lush grass and serene oak trees the Old Sheldon Church is an inspirational and unforgettable wedding setting. With each matrimonial ceremony new life springs from the fire ashes.

    3. A public service free for anyone to attend is held annually on the Second Sunday after Easter

    4. An old hand-operated water pump close to the gate is still functioning and is quite popular with kids as shown in this video with my 4 years old.

    5. There is space for only 2 two cars to park safely on the side of the road; however there is an event parking overflow across the gate. 2009 Update More pictures with the grounds I took on my return trip.

    Majestic pillars, blue skies and sweet green grass...that's a wedding site to remember!

    Majestic pillars, blue skies and sweet green grass...that's a wedding site to remember!

    The church is located on Old Sheldon Road off of highway 21 between Beaufort and Yemassee.
    Directions: After the intersection between Hwy 21 and 17, continue on Hwy 21. Turn right on Old Sheldon Road. About ¼ mile after you reach a stop sign the historical marker and gate entrance will be on your right. Here is a link to Google Map for the location.

    • While in the area visit artistic Beaufort “The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America” and historic Port Royal the first settlement in the New World!

    • For one let your spirit soar at St. Helena Church, established in 1712 is the second oldest and yet one of the most vibrant churches in South Carolina.

    • Be inspired at the Parris Island Museum showcasing hundreds of U.S. Marines memorabilia, artifacts, pictures and heroic stories from the past 4 centuries.

    • If time permits continue your historic drive up to Hunting Island State Park and see the Lighthouse, the only one open to public along the South Carolina Coast.

    • Not too far away,and just minutes from I-95, is the exotic and colorful Oyotunji African Village, an authentic and oldest Yoruba-like settlement in North America. Go in the weekends; there’s almost always a traditional celebration or a festival going on (admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids)

    Come experience the rich history and beautiful surroundings of South Carolina Lowcountry!

    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!

    Gentleman and Headless Torso ghosts, the Carriage Inn spooky residents (Charleston free and scary things to do)

    The Carriage House Inn, located on South Battery Street right across from the Battery Park, has been a Charleston darling for more than a century. Some of its guests are so enchanted they don’t want to ever leave. As people say, in Charleston “you are almost always in spitting distance of a ghost”

    Front of the Carriage House Inn There are two spirits haunting this intimate yet mysterious hotel. The Gentleman Ghost, sometimes referred to as the Gentleman Caller, usually visits room 10. “Well-dressed and groomed…he likes to lie down beside female guests. He never disturbs them knowingly.” If you scream or cry he will exit quickly through the nearest wall.

    View of Room 10 through spooky wall figureCheck out this spooky lion-figure on the wall outside room 10, it’s just asking for specter trouble.

    A lady recalls her experience “…I was restless and couldn’t fall asleep…I noticed a wispy gray apparition to be floating through the close door, and through the air, entering the room…he lay down beside me on the bed. He placed his right arm around my shoulders. I didn’t feel any pressure from his arm touching me…I wasn’t frightened because he didn’t seem threatening”.

    Room 8 Sight of the Headless Torso Ghost The Torso Ghost is not as docile; he hasn’t harmed anyone yet is a far scarier sight to see. Clothed in wool gray Confederate uniform, it is believed this is the ghost of a soldier who lost his limbs and head during an accidental munitions explosion.

    One of the less fortunate people to have seen the Headless Ghost remembers “…what I could see on my side…was this torso of a person from the waist to the neck…It was big, not necessarily tall but broad. A strong, barrel-chested man…I reached out and touched it – his overcoat was very coarse material like burlap…the breath changed into the guttural growl of an animal. He moaned, or uttered some angry sound that made it clear he didn’t want me to do what I was doing…I felt like he wanted to chase me out of there”.

    If you would like to read more about these Front Gate
    phantoms and many other specters haunting the ever mysterious South Carolina grab Terrance Zepke’s exhilarating book “Best Ghost Tales of South Carolina“.

    Take a virtual tour of Charleston’s mystery, murder and romance tales and other famous ghosts sightings.

    Eager for more Lowcountry folklore? Visit Huntington Beach State Park to learn about Brookgreen Plantation’s bloodstains of the dead and Atalaya Castle’s gold-watcher.

    Happy Ghost Hunting in Haunted South Carolina!

    Brookgreen Gardens: amazing sculptures and Lowcountry Zoo near Myrtle Beach

    Brookgreen Gardens is a National Historic Landmark with the world’s most significant collection of figurative sculptures in an outdoor setting by American artists and the only accredited zoo on the South Carolina coast.

    Brookgreen Gardens Time and Fate of Man

    Located between Myrtle Beach and Pawleys Island, SC on highway 17, with more than 300 acres of beautifully landscaped settings, the Brookgreen Gardens collection contains over 900 works of American sculpture, from the early 1800s to present.

    Founded in 1931, Brookgreen Gardens was America’s first public sculpture garden. In 2003, the sculpture garden was named the Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington Sculpture Garden in honor of the founders.

    Learn about the mysterious Brookgreen Gardens beginnings and the folklore surrounding its remarkable founders as illustrated in Nancy Rhine’s fascinating book “Tales of the South Carolina Lowcountry”.

    Travel tips to know before you go
    1. Hold on to your admission ticket; it’s good for 7 consecutive days. Trust me you will want to come back to see and enjoy it all.
    2. Plan a day for just admiring the sculpture collection, one for the zoo and occasional wildlife encounters and if time permits one to enjoy one of the many events and tours that take place throughout the week.
    Mother with child statue3. Sculpture touring is a great way to introduce kids to art. Little ones are immediately attracted to the the mother and child, mother bear with cubs, and Youth Taming the Wild sculptures.

    Kids of all ages enjoy creating crafts and watching the daily live animals show at the Lowcountry Center (free admission)

    4. Older kids can learn about wild and domestic animals rehabilitation at the Lowcountry Zoo. All animals were either born in captivity or have sustained an injury and would not survive in the wild. You can see: Alligators, Bald Eagles, Great Horned Owls, Grey and Red Foxes and River Otters. Animal feeding is at 3:00 PM. In 2003, Brookgreen Gardens opened the Domestic Animals of the Plantation Exhibit. The animals in this exhibit are considered “rare breeds”, highly specialized hybrid descendants of today: Marsh Tacky Horses, Red Devon Cattle, Tunis Sheep, Guinea Fowls and Cypress Aviary.

    On the Trail behind the Garden Wall

    5. The entire family can cool off and enjoy a ferry ride at the boat dock off the Trail Behind the Garden Wall.
    The Fountain of the Muses
    6. Biking, commercial photography, weddings, swimming, fire grill cooking are not permitted. You can bring food and beverages as long as you eat them at the designated picnic areas. There are 3 restaurants and cafes on the premises.

    1931 Brookgreen Drive, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576. Off of highway 17 between Pawleys Island and Myrtle beach and across from Huntington State Park.

    Buy Yellow Sea Prints

    Admission Tickets: Adults 13-64: $12; Seniors 65 and over: $10; Children 6-12: $5. Discount prices for groups of 15 or more.

    Visit www.brookgreen.org to learn about Broogreen Gardens calendar of events, tours and Lowcountry excursions schedules, educational programs, maps and driving directions.

    See more photos about Brookgreen Gardens here.