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Bluffton, South Carolina - An Eclectic Little Lowcountry Town!

Updated on March 14, 2016
Glenda Motsavage profile image

Glenda has been a Florida Resident for 17 years and delights in publishing travel articles from her journeys throughout the South.

An Outdoor Gift Shop - Bluffton, SC
An Outdoor Gift Shop - Bluffton, SC | Source

Bluffton - A Back-road Beauty!

I was fondly familiar with Hilton Head Island and Savannah, Georgia but somehow my southern travels had always eluded this little lowcountry gem right in the middle of the two.

We were celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary, and day eight of our 6-city southern trek brought more back-road sightseeing and shopping. Oh sure, I visit the 'Big Three' (Charleston, Hilton Head, and Savannah) every chance I get; but who knew about Bluffton, the beauty from the brochure I was reading from my balcony? Sometimes, you just need to take a detour from the ordinary, in order to experience the extraordinary little things in life! Read on to see what makes Bluffton, South Carolina so remarkable.

(Image Credit: All photos in this article taken myself with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX150)

Bluffton, South Carolina is Located Right Between Hilton Head Island and Savannah, Georgia!

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A markerFrom the ordinary... -
Hilton Head Island
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B markerTo the extraordinary! -
Bluffton, South Carolina
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BLUFFTON, SOUTH CAROLINA

The last true coastal village of the South!

National Register of Historic Places

Patz Brothers House - Calhoun St
Patz Brothers House - Calhoun St | Source

A Lot of History… For a Little Town!

Welcome to Bluffton, South Carolina - the fastest growing town in Beaufort County. From our villa on Hilton Head Island, we took a leisurely 12-mile journey on U.S.Route 278, and within 25 minutes we were in Old Town Bluffton.

Situated on a bluff along the May River, this was the town's original one square mile area. According to the 2010 census, the population was 12,530. Bluffton is known for its eclectic Old Town district. Rooted in more than two-hundred years of history and culture, it has been dubbed 'the last true coastal village of the south!'

Bluffton was officially incorporated in 1852, and became a popular destination for wealthy Savannah merchants and rice and cotton plantation owners. The first homes were constructed in the early 1800's. In 1996 Bluffton was designated a National Historic District with 46 contributing buildings and 2 contributing sites. In 2005, Bluffton was recognized as a Preserve America Community, a federal program that encourages community efforts to preserve our nation's cultural and historical assets.

(I would encourage you to check out the Preserve America Community website to see which towns/cities in your State have received this prestigious Presidential award. They are historical places worth visiting. In my home State of Florida there are 24 recipients, including my town of Kissimmee.)


Memory is reality. It is better to recycle what exists, to avoid mortgaging a workable past to a non-existent future, and to think small. In the life of cities, only conservation is sanity.

— Robert Hughes

May River Public Dock in Bluffton, South Carolina

Source

Have You Been To Beautiful Bluffton?

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Bluffton - The Food, Folklore, & Art!

Even now, weeks after my return, my concentration gets challenged with all the mental interruptions from that wonderful day. I'm certain I could get use to the lowcountry lifestyle! I have a fetish for quaint, charming, Southern towns. Among other things, I loved the antebellum homes and historic churches in Bluffton. We spent the afternoon shopping in the unique boutiques that lined the moss-draped streets of historic "Old Town."

As a 'foodie' with a fondness for fabulous gourmet fare, choices were everywhere. We chose 'The Cottage Cafe, Bakery & Tea Room' on historic Calhoun Street. I mean, come on… any chef who serves calves liver with scrambled eggs for breakfast has already captured my husband's attention! We had a late lunch there and with so many eclectic menu items it was difficult choosing only one. The atmosphere was fun and the food five-star. Right now my heart is doing cartwheels just thinking about that scrumptious place! For me, Bluffton was a perfect day from start to finish that will be forever in my mind!

One of Bluffton's Many Eclectic Restaurants

The Cottage Cafe, Bakery & Tea Room
The Cottage Cafe, Bakery & Tea Room | Source

Old Town Bluffton Photos - A Sampling of Southern Hospitality

Click thumbnail to view full-size
May River - Bluffton South CarolinaA Boutique Shop in BlufftonUnique Boutique in Bluffton,SCOne Of Many Art Galleries in BlufftonThis Bluffton Art Gallery Features All Local ArtistsBluffton Farmer's MarketBluffton Farmer's MarketBluffton Farmer's MarketGift Shop on Calhoun StreetOutdoor Art Gallery on Calhoun StreetMay River Public DockArt Gallery on Calhoun StreetWelcome to Bluffton
May River - Bluffton South Carolina
May River - Bluffton South Carolina | Source
A Boutique Shop in Bluffton
A Boutique Shop in Bluffton | Source
Unique Boutique in Bluffton,SC
Unique Boutique in Bluffton,SC | Source
One Of Many Art Galleries in Bluffton
One Of Many Art Galleries in Bluffton | Source
This Bluffton Art Gallery Features All Local Artists
This Bluffton Art Gallery Features All Local Artists | Source
Bluffton Farmer's Market
Bluffton Farmer's Market | Source
Bluffton Farmer's Market
Bluffton Farmer's Market | Source
Bluffton Farmer's Market
Bluffton Farmer's Market | Source
Gift Shop on Calhoun Street
Gift Shop on Calhoun Street | Source
Outdoor Art Gallery on Calhoun Street
Outdoor Art Gallery on Calhoun Street | Source
May River Public Dock
May River Public Dock | Source
Art Gallery on Calhoun Street
Art Gallery on Calhoun Street | Source
Welcome to Bluffton
Welcome to Bluffton | Source

Bluffton Arts and Seafood Festival - Iron Chef Challenge

My Favorite Lowcountry Dish Is...

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Frogmore Stew
Frogmore Stew | Source

Frogmore Stew - A Lowcountry Favorite!

Despite its name, no… there's not one ounce of frog in this stew! The name originates from a small fishing community near Beaufort, SC called Frogmore, and though the town has since been re-named, the stew still carries the Frogmore name and the great tradition that was started there! This fantastic seafood dish has also been called Beaufort Stew, Beaufort Boil, or Lowcountry Boil, but the recipes are all basically the same.

Frogmore Stew is a great dish to share with family and friends because it only requires one pot to prepare and the cleanup is super easy. The Marriott villa we were staying at made the Lowcountry Boil one evening outside over an open fire in large kettles. So yummy, hubby and I had to have seconds!

This likable lowcountry dish has also been featured on The Food Network. The show I watched was called 'FoodNation With Bobby Flay,' and the episode was: Charleston, SC.

Below is the recipe that received rave reviews.


  • Prep time: 25 min
  • Cook time: 18 min
  • Ready in: 43 min
  • Yields: 8

Frogmore Stew Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons shrimp and crab boil
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 1 1/2 gallons water
  • 2 pounds hot smoked link sausage
  • (cut into 2-inch pieces)
  • 12 ears freshly shucked corn
  • (broken into 3 to 4-inch pieces)
  • 4 pounds fresh shrimp

Frogmore Stew Instructions

  1. In a large stockpot, add the shrimp boil and salt to the water and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the sausage and boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the corn and count 5 minutes.
  4. Add the shrimp and count 3 minutes.
  5. Do not wait for the liquid to come to a boil when timing the corn and shrimp. Drain immediately and serve.
  6. *This is an easy way to feed a crowd, and it's absolutely delicious if you have fresh shrimp and corn and don't overcook them. If they don't make spicy smoked sausages in your neck of the woods, use any smoked sausage such as kielbasa and add some crushed red pepper to the recipe.
  7. Recipe courtesy of John Martin Taylor, author of Hoppin' John's Charleston, Beaufort & Savannah
Cast your vote for Frogmore Stew Recipe
Hoppin' John's Charleston, Beaufort & Savannah: Dining at Home in the Lowcountry
Hoppin' John's Charleston, Beaufort & Savannah: Dining at Home in the Lowcountry

Here's a great book for anyone desiring to experiment with authentic lowcountry recipes. Lowcountry cuisine is a cooking style distinctive from the rest of the South. Their access to fresh shrimp, crab and oysters produce amazing and mouth-watering seafood dishes. The book, however, isn't exclusively seafood. It includes other lowcountry favorites like cornbread, black-eyed pea cakes, and lemonade.

The beauty of this book is that it isn't only a cookbook, but provides historical information regarding the South, and includes excellent photography of Southern homes - which makes it a great addition to anyone's coffee table!

 

The Church of the Cross - A Living Legacy

Source

A Fabulous Specimen of US History

Before we left town, The Church of the Cross was a must-see site. That was according to the Southern gal who waited on us in the gift shop. She said it was a historic Episcopal Church on Calhoun Street that was built in 1857 and added to the National Register in 1975. Her advice was spot-on, and yielded this beautiful photo of a living legacy right along the banks of the May River.

After reading it's history, I'm amazed that it's still standing. In 1863, Federal troops marched into Bluffton burning most of the town. Its congregation fled, but the church stood. It was one of only a handful of buildings in the town that remained. And although it suffered great damage from the deadly hurricane of 1898, the church still stood. Two years later it was totally repaired.

Today, it is home to a beautiful English pipe organ, and a devoted fellowship of Christians that are growing even more rapidly than Bluffton itself! My husband and I were in no hurry to leave its awe-inspiring architecture and impeccable manicured grounds. What a fabulous specimen of U.S. history.

Vintage Postcard - The Church of the Cross

The Church Of The Cross Bluffton Beaufort Country, South Carolina Original Vintage Postcard
The Church Of The Cross Bluffton Beaufort Country, South Carolina Original Vintage Postcard

Here's a great item for Collectors of American History or those who love American church architecture - A collectible vintage postcard of The Church of the Cross that still remains in beautiful Bluffton, South Carolina.

 

The Burning of Bluffton

The Bluffton Expedition: The Burning of Bluffton, South Carolina, During the Civil War
The Bluffton Expedition: The Burning of Bluffton, South Carolina, During the Civil War

A fantastic book for anyone interested in American History, specifically the Civil War era. Did you know that Bluffton, South Carolina was literally the site of the inception of the Civil War? Perhaps you're familiar with the Burning of Bluffton but have never read about the activity surrounding the event. This a a well-researched and well-written book worth reading!

 

Bluffton, S.C. by Erik Hastings with Hastings Travel - A Brief Tour!

South Carolina's Only 5-Star Resort is in Bluffton!

The Inn At Palmetto Bluff Resort ~ Bluffton

For the ultimate pleasure seeker, South Carolina's only 5-star resort - The Inn At Palmetto Bluff, is located in Bluffton, South Carolina. It's a southern sanctuary of unparalleled luxury, sophistication, and relaxation. Accommodations consist of 50 waterfront cottage and cottage suites, all appointed with residential touches like vaulted ceilings, pine floors, cozy fireplaces, and screened-in porch.

The list of awards and accolades is a mile long. Well-respected publications like Travel & Leisure, Conde Nast, US News and World Report, Andrew Harper's Hidaway, etc. have all given The Inn At Palmetto Bluff top honors and the highest ratings in the travel business.

Since we only did a day-trip to Bluffton, we did not stay here, but it's certainly on my bucket list and one of the best reasons to return in the very near future!


© 2012 Glenda Motsavage

Did You Know Bluffton Played A Part In The Civil War? Please Share Your Thoughts Regarding Historic Bluffton, South Carolina!

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    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @LiteraryMind: Yes, true Southern hospitality! Thanks for taking my virtual tour!

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      This looks like a great little town. A nice place to spend a quiet vacation.

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @InfoCoop: Yes, I'm not sure how we missed Bluffton all these years. It's worth a drive-thru just to have lunch at "The Cottage" restaurant! Thank you for stopping by, and I do hope you can visit Bluffton in the future!

    • InfoCoop profile image

      InfoCoop 4 years ago

      Love the Carolina Low Country but it's been years since I've traveled there. Used to live in Augusta, Ga and made it to Hilton Head, Beaufort, and Charleston quite often. I remembering hearing about Bluffton. Now I wish I'd taken the opportunity to check it out when I had the chance. Thanks for the virtual tour!

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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @CamelliaPenny: Ahhh...a true GRIT (Girls Raised IN The South!) Yes, we know Summerville from our excursions to Charleston - "Small town, Big charm!" Thanks for visiting and the SquidAngel blessing was sweeter than my favorite southern tea!

    • CamelliaPenny profile image

      Perrin 4 years ago from South Carolina

      I'm a Lowcountry gal myself . . . from Summerville. I love Bluffton - what a delight. Very nice lens!! Blessed. :)

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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @ManfromModesto LM: Yes, understated beauty! Thanks for visiting and spending part of your day with me here in the low-country!

    • ManfromModesto LM profile image

      ManfromModesto LM 4 years ago

      South Carolina is a beautiful state. Visited a few times.

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @KimGiancaterino: Thanks Kim for stopping by. And the Angel blessing was sweeter than southern hospitality!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 4 years ago

      Thanks ... this was really fun!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 4 years ago from USA

      Seems if you added the time I've traveled I-95 it would add up to a year. Even so, never found this little gem.

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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @ajgodinho: Thank you AJ for visiting this tiny little town. And...the SquidLike and Angel Blessing meant so very much to me. May you continue "to prosper in all things and be in health even as your soul prospers" (3 John 2).

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks for the virtual tour of Bluffton, South Carolina. These little towns always have something unique to offer. The Frogmore looked delicious to me 'cos I love seafood, but have also tasted frog legs before. Glad you finally got a chance to visit this little low-country gem. Stay blessed!

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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @rawwwwwws lm: Thanks for taking my virtual tour of this little lowcountry town, and the kind words and squidlike were extra-special!

    • rawwwwwws lm profile image

      rawwwwwws lm 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed my time passing through!

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @aesta1: Thanks for taking my virtual tour of this tiny town! And...your kind words and Angel blessing had my heart doing cartwheels!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This lens made me want to visit the place. I have a very good picture in my mind of the things you enjoy there.

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @takkhisa: Thanks so much for taking the tour of my little lowcountry town! And, above all else, I appreciate your very kind words!

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      This is absolutely a great lens. Almost all in one! Here i see history, food etc.

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @anonymous: Charleston is one of my favorite US cities! And...I think I have seen that same woman on my back-road travels! I am not an official GRIT (Girls Raised in the South)...but I think I should have been! Thanks so much Dave for stopping by.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Twenty-three years ago, I lived in Myrtle Beach for two years and tried to visit the lowcountry as often as possible. I remember enjoying Pawley's Island. I remember the women who sat by the side of the road weaving and selling straw hats just north of Charleston. And did I love Charleston! Unfortunately, I never made it to Bluffton. I'd love to visit Bluffton one day and maybe stay at The Inn at Palmetto Bluff.

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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @anonymous: Thank you Tipi as well for visiting and squidliking my lens. And...the SquidAngel Blessing was a wonderful way to begin my New Year!!! All the best to you in 2013!!!

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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @getmoreinfo: Thanks so much for visiting. Really appreciate the squidlike, and the Angel Blessing was my first in this New Year - so very, very grateful!

    • Johnny0 profile image

      Johnny0 4 years ago

      Some civil war history there also.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      What a lovely place, lens, interesting information, fun photos. I sure did enjoying this, thank you! :)

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      getmoreinfo 4 years ago

      This looks like such a lovely place, I would like to visit one day. Great information and photos.

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @Johnny0: Absolutely! The history is bigger than the town! LOL Thanks for visiting!

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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @captainj88: Peaceful, relaxing, everything at a slow pace, and...the residents are all soooooo creative! I do hope you can pass through there sometime! Thanks for visiting, and I was blessed by the squidlike!

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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @Cari Kay 11: Thanks so much for visiting, and the SquidAngel blessing was like a newly found present under my tree! And, I do hope you can explore this quaint little lowcountry gem sometime!

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 4 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      That stew looks delicious. I have traveled only twice through that part of the country and never into this quaint town. It looks like a beautiful place!

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 4 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      That stew looks delicious. I have traveled only twice through that part of the country and never into this quaint town. It looks like a beautiful place!

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Kay 4 years ago

      Your photos are absolutely beautiful! I've been to South Carolina a few times but never even heard of Bluffton. Just have to bless!

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @Linda BookLady: Thanks Linda for visiting, and...the SquidAngel blessing was like a belated Christmas gift! Happy New Year to you and yours!

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 4 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      Maybe someday I'll get to the east coast, but only because my daughter lives there. It looks like a lovely place to visit.

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      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @oldguysrule: I'm already planning my next visit! Thanks for stopping by and for the squidlike!

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      oldguysrule 4 years ago

      My wife and I loved this little town - can't wait to go back!