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Arts and History Come Together in Bluffton

Marie McAden Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.
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The May River and its vast expanses of salt marsh may be Bluffton’s marquee attraction, but it’s the town’s rich history and arts scene that reveal the quirky personality that has come to be known as the Bluffton “State of Mind.”

Here are some of the ways to experience Bluffton’s unconventional charm:

Heyward House – As Bluffton’s official Welcome Center, this should be the first stop on your discovery tour. Here you can pick up maps, brochures and even menus for local restaurants. You can also take a tour of the house, built in 1841 in the Carolina Farmhouse style brought to North America by planters from the West Indies. During the tour, you’ll learn about the history of Bluffton and the artifacts displayed in four interior rooms and two outbuildings. Other tours include a guided walk through the Nationally Registered Historic District and the Garvin-Garvey Freedman’s cottage located on the high bluff at Oyster Factory Park.

Historic Walking Tour – If you prefer to set out on your own, pick up a tour map of the historic district, featuring 27 points of interest, including several 19th- and early 20th-century homes, the Bluffton Oyster Factory and two of its oldest churches—Campbell Chapel A.M.E. Church and The Church of the Cross.

Calhoun Street Arts District – Over the years, an eclectic group of maverick artists have set up shop in town, lured by Old Town Bluffton’s live-and-let-live reputation. Calhoun Street and the area surrounding it is home to a growing number of art galleries and studios, including the Maye River Gallery, The Red Piano Art Gallery, La Petite Gallerie, Camellia Art Gallery and Framing, Pluff Mudd Art, Four Corners Fine Art & Framing and Preston Studio, home of Bluffton’s tallest potter, Jacob Preston, known for his signature glazed bowls. You’ll also find the Society of Bluffton Artists’ (SOBA) Center for Creative Arts, offering art classes, workshops and a gallery showcasing the work of local artists.

May River Theatre – This well-respected local theater company presents four productions a year in its venue at 20 Bridge St. The lineup has included classics like The Music Man, Cabaret and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum to more contemporary works like Steel Magnolias, Young Frankenstein and You Haven’t Changed a Bit (and other lies).

Music to Your Mouth – Bluffton is known for its fun, if not-slightly-kooky festivals, featuring music, arts, crafts and an array of coastal cuisine. Music to Your Mouth takes the standard festival to another level with haute cuisine prepared by nationally acclaimed chefs, fabulous wines, music, art, chocolate and champagne served up in one of coastal Carolina’s most beautiful settings. Each year, the epicurean celebration includes an extravagant lineup of mouthwatering events to please every palette and pleasure.

Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.