If you’re looking for a day trip or weekend excursion to experience the best of the South Carolina lowcountry, Downtown Bluffton, SC offers both small-town southern charm and the sophistication that comes with being close to the desirable resort destinations of Palmetto Bluff and Hilton Head. Bluffton has evolved from a quiet coastal village to a thriving cultural hub, so no matter the season, there’s always plenty to do and see. With its scenic waterfront, walkable historic downtown, a wide variety of shops and restaurants, and a popular Farmer’s Market you’ll be sure to find something that makes for a memorable trip. Popular annual events in Bluffton include Mayfest, which originally started in 1978 and unites local artisans and musicians to celebrate local culture, and the Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival, which features original art, kayak tours, a 5K run and plenty of fresh, local seafood.
Here are some of the top reasons to spend a day exploring Downtown Bluffton:
Charming Boutiques and World Class Dining
From stylish boutiques like Gigi’s, to the art galleries, quaint cafes, and upscale restaurants that line Calhoun Street, Boundary St. and Promenade St., you’ll find something for everyone in downtown Bluffton. Grab a coffee at Corner Perk, before you begin your morning stroll around the historic downtown district. Located on Church Street, the renowned Bluffton General Store offers up housewares, gifts and locally made goods. Locals and visitors alike vie for reservations at top restaurants including The Pearl Kitchen & Bar, Farm, Burnt Church Distillery. Options to experience world class cuisine in Bluffton continue to grow, with the 2023 James Beard nomination for “Emerging Chef” awarded to Chef Bernard Bennett, of Ọkàn, with a much anticipated opening for the restaurant set for March 2023.
Gullah Cultural History
Bluffton’s rich history includes origins steeped in the Gullah Culture and many of the locals have deep roots in Bluffton that go back centuries. In remote rural areas in the Lowcountry, the Gullah people continued to practice their traditional culture with little influence from the outside world well into the 20th Century. The Gullah people now organize cultural festivals every year in towns up and down the Lowcountry including the annual Gullah Celebration held every year in February.
Old Town Bluffton
Downtown Bluffton is home to some of the oldest buildings in the area, including the Old Town Bluffton Historic District. Here you will find the Heyward House, circa 1841, at 70 Boundary St. and Bluffton’s Church of the Cross, located at 110 Calhoun St., along the shores of the May River. This Carpenter Gothic-style church was built in 1857 and was added to the National Register in 1975. Today, the church is open to the public for tours and church services.
The Allure of the May River
Downtown Bluffton is situated along the May River. This incredible waterway winds through the coastal lowcountry, from the Port Royale Sound of Beaufort to the Callibogue Sound of Hilton Head. The pristine waters of the May River provide some of the best fishing in this region of coastal South Carolina, including largemouth bass, red drum, spotted sea trout, flounder, sheepshead, black drum, tarpon, jacks, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and more. A day spent on the water is a good day, and the crew at May River Excursions has an ample fleet of available fishing charters, both inshore and river, and some of the top fishing guides in Bluffton and the surrounding waterways.
Stay in Luxury
Plan to stay in luxurious comfort within the Palmetto Bluff resort where your vacation can include a fun-filled day spent exploring historic Bluffton. A stay booked in our portfolio of luxury vacation homes offers the breathtaking lowcountry backdrop of Palmetto Bluff’s centuries-old oak trees, majestic pines and vast waterways. Palmetto Bluff is a lush, lowcountry resort community nestled within 20,000 acres of Bluffton’s stunning wildlife. With its vast nature preserve and resort style amenities, Palmetto Bluff has both a quaint, small-town feel and a sense of understated luxury. Our collection of vacation rentals in Palmetto Bluff features incredible amenities and superb locations. Let our Concierge team plan a fishing charter for you and your friends, or have a private chef waiting to cook your catch-of-the-day while you sit around the fire pit with a cocktail, telling stories of the big one that got away. And, while you’re there, why not plan a southern-style happy hour on the porch, or travel by private water taxi to explore the Bluffton Farmers Market? With our Guide to Exclusive Experiences, these are just some of the ways you customize your stay for an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind vacation – and we have a team of people ready to help you plan it all.