A popular filming location for Hollywood pictures, Beaufort, S.C., offers period charm that’s within reach for penny-pinching travelers. Here’s how to get a great bang for your buck when visiting this Lowcountry town.
Activities: ARTworks, a local organization that supports performing and visual arts, offers a variety of reasonably priced experiences for both vacationers and locals. For example, the black box theater boasts indie plays for less than $20 a ticket, and the annual summer concert series – Street Music on Paris Avenue – is free to all. A company called The Spirit of Old Beaufort offers two-hour walking tours throughout the downtown, led by costumed guides. For $18 per person, travelers are taken by the homes of such historic local figures as Robert Smalls, and structures that played a role in such cinematic titles as “The Prince of Tides” and “The Big Chill.”
Attractions: For a fun day trip, head to Hunting Island State Park. An entrance fee of $5 per person keeps the experience cheap, and the beach near the island’s lighthouse comes with terrain-appropriate wheelchairs that visitors can borrow for free. It’s an excellent pet-friendly spot that offers a low-traffic day at the shore during the off season. The park has eight miles of trails for hiking and biking. Birding and swimming are other popular choices. The nearby Penn Center is another day-tripping option for visitors. Located on St. Helena Island, the campus is home to a number of buildings that are historically significant to our nation’s civil rights movement, and could easily represent an entire day’s worth of educational family fun.
Walking tours with complimentary maps are a free way to enjoy the venue, and plenty of on-site locations are appropriate for enjoying a packed picnic. For those who want a more in-depth experience, the center has a museum that is accessible for $5 per adult by special appointment. History and movie buffs will want to check out the free-to-visit Beaufort National Cemetery. The graves of the recovered union soldiers from the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, made famous by the movie “Glory” starring Denzel Washington, are located there. Also on site is the grave of Col. Donald Conroy, the real-life inspiration behind the film “The Great Santini.”
Accommodations: If affordable atmosphere is part of your vacation agenda, then check out the Rhett House Inn, located in Beaufort’s national historic landmark district. Guests can perch on a porch and soak up period charm throughout the day, enjoying the venue’s complimentary afternoon lemonade and cookies, early evening champagne and happy hour treats such as artisan cheeses, crackers and olives. Additional no-charge value add-ons include a custom-cooked breakfast for two per room and a generous evening coffee and dessert buffet featuring such decadences as red velvet cake, pecan pie, cheesecake and more. Rack rates start as low as $169, roughly the same price as your average business-class hotel chain.
Food: The ultimate Beaufort bargain meal can be had at the happy hour held daily at Saltus restaurant. Featured deals include their half-price sushi and discount cocktails, which can be enjoyed al fresco on the patio overlooking the jogging trail featured in the film “Forest Gump.” Since several of their rolls are regularly priced at less than $10, this inside dining tip favored by locals lets you have a movie-themed meal for roughly $5. Other fun food finds include Breakwater’s lamb meatloaf with buttermilk mashed potatoes, the fried green tomatoes at Southern Graces Bistro and the fried oysters from the lunch menu at Plums.
A scrumptious splurge can be enjoyed at Griffin Market, which features authentic Italian cuisine in an upscale casual atmosphere. All of their antipasto offerings ring in at less than $10, and their $17 primi selections cost an average of $7 less than the second course options, while still being sized to satisfy. Their handmade chestnut tagliatelle served with a wild boar rib ragu, for example, is popular with local carnivores.
Myscha TheriaultMcClatchy-Tribune News Service