Beaufort, SC, is one of the prettiest towns in America, full of beauty, history and whimsy. It was founded in 1711, making it the second-oldest city in the state. There's something to discover around every corner, and here's a way to make it fun and interesting for your kids. Print out our clues and take the kids on a fun scavenger hunt through town.
Start your scavenger hunt at the Beaufort Visitors Center at 713 Craven St. You can't miss it: It looks like a giant orange castle. It's actually the old Beaufort Arsenal, built in 1798. Make a left as you walk out of the courtyard of the arsenal and walk toward Carteret Street.
1. Who is the most lovely Miss Beaufort of them all?
It's a beauty queen mermaid, of course. The whimsical sculpture was created by sisters Lee Perry and Charlene Perry-Dohmann.
Now cross Carteret Street to Morrall Park.
2. Can you find the No. 1 tree in Beaufort? What about the No. 5 tree?
No, the trees aren't in a beauty contest like the mermaids. Instead, this little pocket arboretum numbers the trees of the Beaufort Tree Walk. The No. 1 tree is a sycamore, and the No. 5 is the sugarberry. The Tree Walk is it's own fun trek through town, too. Find more information here.
At the end of the tree walk, turn right onto New Street and walk all the way to the end, to the water.
3. Can you spot something that would have helped you climb up in the world?
It's a mounting block at the curb, in front of the Lewis Reeve Sams House at 601 Bay St. The granite blocks were used as steppingstones to climb into carriages in the days before automobiles.
Cross the street to the beautiful little park. Isn't that an amazing view? Now walk to the edge of the water.
4. What sea creature did the people of Beaufort use to hold back the water?
Look closely at the sea wall you're standing on. Can you tell what it's made of? It's oyster shells. This rather rare material is called tabby. It's a type of concrete used by the earliest European settlers in this area as a building material. Very little tabby is left in the world, but Beaufort is just about ground zero of tabby architecture. This tabby sea wall, built between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, is a remarkable example of the material.
Now walk down Bay Street and cross over Carteret Street. Turn left at the first little alley you come to.
5. What magical place do you spy at the end of the alley?
Oh, this is an easy one. It's a playground, and possibly the prettiest playground in the world. It's in Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, which stretches along the Beaufort River. When you're finally able to pull your kids from the playground, walk to the circle of palmetto trees.
6. For how long was Beaufort the capital of South Carolina?
For two whole days. The granite blocks encircling the trees tell the history of this beautiful area, including the fact that Beaufort was the official capitol for a remarkably short time.
Now walk along the waterfront promenade.
7. What makes these benches and paving stones extra-special? Look carefully.
It's sea shells. They are decorated with all types of sea shells. Now this isn't tabby, like the sea wall. This concrete is just modern material with pretty sea shells making a pretty walk even prettier.
Keep walking and turn right at the marina. Walk toward the buildings, but turn right again to stay in the park.
8. Now don't lose your head over this one. Can you discover which Beaufort patriot signed the Declaration of Independence?
It's Thomas Heyward Jr. A bronze bust on the brick walkway commemorates his life.
Walk down the brick path. Turn left at the flagpole and walk back to Bay Street.
9. Who's got the time?
Look up. The Peoples Bank does. This vintage clock from the 1920s stands high on the sidewalk, a beautiful reminder of a time when people looked up and out at the world when they needed to know the time, rather than down into their phones.
Now cross Bay Street and walk down West Street.
10. What highly unusual police tactic did Sheriff J.E. McTeer once use to keep the law in Beaufort?
Bet you never saw this coming: It's voodoo. It's a belief and practice more commonly known as hoodoo in Beaufort and the surrounding islands. A historical marker on a building on the left side of West Street tells the tale of this well-regarded and beloved sheriff who served Beaufort from the 1920s through the 1960s.
Now walk to the corner.
11. Still craving more information?
Look up. You're on Craven Street near the Beaufort Arsenal, where you started out. Now you might think it odd that the Arsenal was built on Craven Street (craven means cowardly), but the street is actually named for Lord Proprietor William Craven II, the Earl of Craven, who was one of eight men given ownership and control of the Carolina colony by King Charles II in 1665.
And if you're craving something else (lunch anyone?), you've just walked past downtown's great restaurants. Pick one and enjoy!