I first visited Bluffton in 2009 during a stop between St. Simon’s Island and my then home of Charleston. It was a small town without much to see, but it still charmed me: the oaks draped in Spanish moss, the historic homes you could still purchase for a reasonable price and the friendly people willing to give directions to me when I was lost.
With a population of less than 15,000 people, Bluffton is located between Savannah and Charleston, inland from nearby Hilton Head Island. The historic Old Town is one of the last remaining coastal villages in the South, whereas formerly small similar towns have expanded in recent years. It was also here that the Secession Movement began in South Carolina, which led to the burning of many properties by Union soldiers in the Civil War. All that remains of that time period is two churches and eight homes.
Today, Bluffton is home to historic homes, shops and restaurants, not to mention the award-winning luxury resort The Inn at Palmetto Bluff. Native American artifacts have been discovered onsite and in 1902, the property was turned into a lavish mansion. It later burned down before the resort was built. It has four restaurants onsite, including R T’s Market, Buffalo’s, Canoe Club and River House. The inn has many types of accommodations, from cottages to rooms, and activities like bike rentals.
Head over to the Visitor’s Center for a map of the historic locations around town you can visit, like the Heyward House Historic Center, the Gothic style The Church of the Cross and The Store, pictured below.
Bluffton holds a weekly farmer’s market on Calhoun Street, where you can purchase fresh produce and seafood along with folk art. Along the main drag, shops offers something unique, including furniture, artwork and gifts. Eggs N Tricities is an old filling station full of vintage clothing and items you won’t find anywhere else.
And while there aren’t many big name industries here, I was impressed at The Bluffton Room, a restaurant that combines fine dining with local favorites. Salt Marsh Brewing is set to open in the coming months. Corner Perk Cafe seemed to have plenty of aspiring entrepreneurs working over caffeine. At its core, Bluffton is still a small town. Just be sure to visit before it becomes something bigger.