Have you ever heard of Beaufort, South Carolina? If you are like me, then maybe you haven’t. I had not heard of the charming town along the coastal islands that line the eastern boarder of South Carolina before our recent trip to Hilton Head Island. We ended up booking a villa rental on the Island starting on Saturday, but we wanted our vacation to begin on Friday. So I searched for a pet-friendly hotel near Hilton Head and up popped this adorable place called the Beaufort Inn. Silly me thought it was closer to Hilton Head when I booked it and soon realized that it is about an hour away, but that was no big deal. This gave us the chance to see this historic town, get in some quaintness and visit the number one state park in SC – Hunting Island. In fact, the serendipitous mistake on my part ended up being the perfect beginning to our trip. As I said, we booked a stay at the Beaufort Inn and I must say it is the ONLY choice for accommodations in the area. Sure there are area hotels, but you cannot go to Beaufort and not stay at the Inn. Steeped in history, the beautiful pink behemoth takes up an entire city block in downtown Beaufort between the main Inn, the grounds and the cottages that dot the property. Walking through the main Inn, I felt like I was floating along in a candy-coated dream. The walls are covered in beautiful vibrant wall paper, the furnishings are exquisite, and let’s not even talk about the molding everywhere. Crown molding, wainscoting, trim – all hand-crafted and immaculate.The staff at the inn was so incredibly attentive. At breakfast, we heard other patrons commenting on how wonderful and accommodating they are and how they just love staying there because of it. Talk about sincere Southern hospitality and customer service at it’s best – the Beaufort Inn could shake a leg at the Ritz Carlton any day. As I went inside to check-in, the front desk attendant was with another guest at the time, so I waited a few moments, but the instant another staff member working guest services noticed me, she quickly came over and greeted me. She got my name, offered me complimentary afternoon snacks, and checked me in taking my card so that I did not have to wait for the other couple to finish. Then she personally took me on a quick guided tour of the main Inn showing me their restaurant – Southern Graces – where she mentioned breakfast would be served buffet style between 8:00 and 9:30 the next morning. She walked me out on the grounds and back toward our room. At the back of the main Inn is this beautiful courtyard area with a water feature, tons of plants, bistro tables and hanging lights.You can enjoy your breakfast out here or on the veranda in the morning if you wish. They will ask you if you prefer to sit inside or outside when you arrive with your breakfast ticket. Opposite the main Inn was the Garden Cottage – a four-room building with cute individual balconies overlooking the courtyard. Continuing my personally guided tour toward the back of the property, we arrived at our little slice of heaven. She let me in to look around to make sure everything was up to my standard and then she showed me where we could park our car. I have worked in the service industry in the past and know what it takes to provide excellence in customer service. To say they impressed me would be an understatement and it just proves how well they have got this service thing down. Every single time I needed anything, they made sure to ask if I was enjoying my stay.Our room was one of two in the Female Benevolent Society house – one of many historic cottages that line the block. Ours was towards the back of the property and had it’s own charming shared courtyard space draped with hanging moss and twinkling lights. Ah, I could get used to this lifestyle. You get a feel for the age of the house from the heavy doors, worn oak floors, creaking stairs, and thick molding. Nothing is built like this anymore.Stepping inside was a long hallway with stairs along one side. The above image is looking back toward the entrance pictured two images back. The photo on the right shows the door to our room in the bottom corner. Basically at the end of the hallway was a set of stairs and then two doors directly across from each other. This cottage has two very similar rooms and that’s it. So it was very private, which is a good thing when you’ve got dogs with you that might occasionally bark. While our corgis are very well-behaved travel companions, just like any dog, they can get sparked by a noise and bark – especially Dodge. And we HATE to be those people and annoy or disturb our neighbors. I was relieved to find we only had one neighbor to appease. This was the view upon entering our room. Painted a lovely, welcoming shade of canary yellow, this room felt very cozy with that giant solid mahogany bed, heavy linen drapes, creaky oak floors, and oriental rug. The welcome bottle of wine was a nice added touch too. Looking the other direction – MOAR windows and the sweetest settee covered in a vibrant red french toile pattern. All of the windows made this room feel very light and bright during the day. I loved all of the natural light! There was also a coffee station in the far left corner and a mini-fridge in the far right corner behind the door, which you cannot see in this photo. The door in the first image next to the bed leads to a large bathroom featuring a MASSIVE Kohler soaking tub and a standing tile shower. The Inn provided soaps, conditioning shampoo, lotion and a hair dryer. It was a cozy fit for two of us by the sink, but thankfully there was a full length mirror on the back of the closet door, which was lighted that I could use to put on make-up. With robes and slipper to enjoy during your stay hanging in the closet, it felt like they thought of everything. At night the property is completely lit up by hanging strands of twinkling globes and path lights. So lovely. Wouldn’t this be a great place for a wedding?
After getting checked into the Inn and getting the corgis settled, we took a stroll through downtown Beaufort to the River walk before having dinner at Old Bull Tavern with our friends. This is Old Bull Tavern – not to be missed. An excellent meal awaits you behind that unassuming facade. Saving that for it’s own post, deary, because it deserves it. Like most towns throughout coastal South Carolina and Georgia, Beaufort is home to giant live oaks heavy with hanging moss. This is Main Street. If you check the definition of quaint – you’ll see Downtown Beaufort. I love these quiet, sleepy little towns full of charm. Other than the charm, the thing we loved about the town of Beaufort was how incredibly pet friendly it was with the Inn being pet-friendly, several restaurants allowing dogs on their patios and a large grassy area by River Walk for your best friend to play. Another thing we noticed that I have to mention? Just how incredibly friendly and cheerful everyone is in this town. They stopped to say hello, have a nice day. I expected this at the Inn from the staff. It’s a quaint hotel in a historic town and their business is hospitality. But the locals on the street walking their dog stopping us to say good morning and looks like we’re getting a bit of rain? I was totally aghast. They all just seem to genuinely love it here and I can see why. See that sign that says Gelato Bar? Yep, you know I can’t pass up the word gelato. We stopped by after dinner. They were serving up Pino Gelato in a coffee shop with local musicians playing. I had Pistachio, of course, and Remington had Banana Pudding. It was good, but definitely not real gelato. I noticed a local ice cream shop – Yoyo’s – on the other side of River Walk by the playground – maybe give that a try if you have a hankering for something sweet.Along the River Walk is a great area for taking a stroll or sitting in one of a myriad of swings or enjoying dinner. There is a darling port with loads of sailboats and speedboats some of which are clearly the residence of their owners loaded down with house plants and all of their belongings. If you stroll to the end of River Walk, this is the amazing view – a perfect spot to enjoy the sun setting over the low country. A real treat. The next morning we walked the dogs through downtown to stretch their legs and to wake us up. We walked out the door to a perfectly sleepy morning with clear skies and proceeded to get caught in an 8-minute downpour. We huddled under the awning of a building to wait it out. The good thing about low country is that as quickly as storms roll in they usually roll out. But rain sure does make for great pictures.After our quick walk, we headed over to the Inn from our quaint cottage room to have breakfast at Southern Graces – the Beaufort Inn restaurant. A stay at the Inn includes complimentary breakfast, so you just hand them your ticket and they’ll hand you a Royal Albert Old Country Roses patterned plate. If you enter the Inn from the back courtyard, the beverages and buffet will be set up in the room on the left. As I mentioned earlier, you can sit inside in either room or you can sit outside in the courtyard or on the covered porch. The breakfast was pretty amazing. I mean, there’s hotel breakfasts and then there’s hotel breakfasts. They served a tray of fresh fruit, two different types of scones……some delicious Belgian waffles, two different types of frittatas, bacon and sausage. Yum! I bet dinner here is outstanding!We checked out of the Inn, met up with our friends, and headed for Hunting Island State Park – South Carolina’s number one state park. It was about a 30-minute scenic drive to the entrance of the park where it costs $5 per adult to enter. As you enter, you can drive left or right at the first sign – one way leads to the Lighthouse and north beach and the other way leads to south beach or as the ranger said “Moar Beach!” We decided to head towards the Lighthouse. You can climb to the top of the Lighthouse for $2 cash. We didn’t do it this time because we left our cash in our car, but I can imagine the views are spectacular. I noticed there was a large covered picnic area beside the lighthouse and a gift shop across the road. After snapping pictures of the lighthouse, we headed for the beach! Hunting Island is one of the few pet-friendly state parks we’ve been to that allows dogs on the beach at any time as long as they are on a leash. So off we went with corgis in tow. I’d recommend heading left off the path to the beach past the lighthouse. You’re gonna go to the left of the barrier because it’s so much more picturesque with huge driftwood trees lining the beach like a cemetery for the forest.It was like nothing I’d ever seen before.Oh hai, that’s just my adorable little family – me, Remington and the beachy Corgs. They’ve tasted the salt life, there’s no turning back now.
We hung out at Hunting Island for a couple of hours enjoying the beach and around lunchtime realized we were starving and ready to head toward our villa on Hilton Head Island. We made a stop by Alvin Ord’s in Port Royal for sandwiches hearing it was the only choice when it came to a quick bite for lunch. They serve up deli sandwiches muffaletta style on homemade bread with fresh ingredients. I was thinking it’d be a little like Schlotzsky’s. Man do I miss Schlotzsky’s. This is one of those places with a line out the door at 2:00 in the afternoon, the same ladies behind the counter taking orders and making sandwiches for 20 years, where they don’t expect you to ask any questions because the reputation of the place precedes itself. I had read that the only thing to get here was The Salvation – that it was THE specialty sandwich. Basically, you go up to the counter, place your order quickly, know what drink you want (they are listed on the bottom of the menu) and pay. Then wait for your number to be called in a very small space. You get your choice of size – small, medium, or large. This is a large that we shared and couldn’t finish after two tries. It was bigger than my head. You get to choose your bread – french or wheat. We went with the wheat and it was good, but our friends got the french and it was better. I’d recommend the french. The Salvation was their standard blend of cheddar, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses toasted up on the bun then stuffed with ham, salami, and spiced luncheon meat, lettuce, tomato, mustard, and onion. It was a good sandwich, but not the best sandwich I’ve ever had either. So a solid choice, but there might be better options for lunch in my opinion. A crime in some local’s mind? Maybe.
As we ate our giant Salvation sandwich and bid adieu to Beaufort, we promised to come back again soon. As the locals say, “It won’t be your last.” I sure hope not, Beaufort, I sure as heck hope not.