Bluffton, South Carolina - An Eclectic Little Lowcountry Town!
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!
BLUFFTON, SOUTH CAROLINA
The last true coastal village of the South!
National Register of Historic Places
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.)
Preserve America Communities and Neighborhoods - Does Your Town Have this Special White House Designation?
- Preserve America Communities and Neighborhoods
Since the program began in 2003, more than 800 communities have been designated as Preserve America Communities from throughout the country. Participants come from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. Newly designated commun
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
Have You Been To Beautiful Bluffton?
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 Restaurant - Official Website
Check out the history and eclectic menu on the official website for The Cottage Cafe, Bakery & Tea Room.
Old Town Bluffton Photos - A Sampling of Southern HospitalityClick thumbnail to view full-size
Bluffton Arts and Seafood Festival - Iron Chef Challenge
My Favorite Lowcountry Dish Is...
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.
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
- In a large stockpot, add the shrimp boil and salt to the water and bring to a boil.
- Add the sausage and boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
- Add the corn and count 5 minutes.
- Add the shrimp and count 3 minutes.
- Do not wait for the liquid to come to a boil when timing the corn and shrimp. Drain immediately and serve.
- *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.
- Recipe courtesy of John Martin Taylor, author of Hoppin' John's Charleston, Beaufort & Savannah
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
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.
The Burning of Bluffton
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