The Best of Beaufort South Carolina Festivals, Food, Arts and Culture

There is something for everyone in Beaufort. Whether you’re a theater lover, painter, writer, reader, history buff, foodie, or art collector, Beaufort offers unlimited opportunities for enjoyment.

Explore our “Best Of” Guide and find out more about where to learn, read, discover, and eat!

Arts and Cultural Coolness

A thriving arts culture and community are high on the list of “must haves’ for people relocating to enjoy life after 55. If you are an art lover and considering putting down roots in Beaufort, South Carolina, you are on the right track. 

In 2005, writer John Villani recognized Beaufort as a cultural center in his book, The 100 Best Art Towns in America. The National Arts Administration, in its introduction of Villani’s book, wrote:


Small art towns have come to epitomize rural cultural coolness because who wouldn’t want to visit a lively, open-minded town. In this book, you’ll find communities across the United States and Canada that are attracting a new wave of cultural tourists, immigrant artists, culturally minded retirees, art gallery owners, musicians, mobile career professionals, theater directors, restaurateurs, arts festival promoters, and coffee bar entrepreneurs.

Beaufort SC has much to offer those who love visual arts. Paintings, sculpture, pottery, textiles, and art glass are just a few of the gorgeous mediums that inspire artists to create. 

There are various independent art galleries in Beaufort where you can enjoy viewings and openings. 

Find your inner artist!

If you’ve wished for time to dust off your watercolor paints and pull out your easel and Kolinsky brushes, that time is now – the coastal waters, picturesque Beaufort streets, and colorful markets offer themselves as subjects to both painters and photographers.

You’ll undoubtedly be inspired by the art on view at numerous galleries in Beaufort and the surrounding Sea Islands. The Beaufort Cultural District is a walkable downtown area where you can see a full array of arts, cultural venues, organizations, and special events.

Enjoy strolling musicians and delicious refreshments at Beaufort’s ArtWalk! This popular event occurs in the spring and fall each year, with visits to over a dozen galleries in the Beaufort Cultural District. Participating galleries typically include Atelier Off Bay, LyBensons’ Gallery and Studio, and Thibault Gallery

Beaufort has three major art organizations that invite you to act, perform, buy or sell art, compete in art contests, and attend events.

Contact any of these organizations and find out how to cultivate your inner artist:

Beaufort Art Association Bay Street – Since its inception in 1957, the Beaufort Art Association (BAA) has contributed to the visual arts in Beaufort County, South Carolina. As Beaufort developed into one of the most charming artistic communities on the east coast of the United States, the BAA became a regional centerpiece for local artists, art lovers, and artisans to support, exhibit, and grow their talents. Instrumental in offering art classes, workshops, and exhibitions, BAA welcomes the public to these presentations. 

USCB Centre For the Arts on the historic Beaufort campus holds a 460-person auditorium, two public art galleries, a ceramics studio, a drawing and painting studio, and a 3D design studio.

As the cultural hub for Beaufort County for over thirty years, the USCB CFA has a long-standing tradition of endorsing and supporting the arts, including the following: 

  • The Chamber Music Series.
  • The Beaufort Theater Company, and countless performances of internationally acclaimed performing artists. 
  • Beaufort Children’s Theater.  
  • The Met Opera Live in HD.
  • Movie Night featuring independent films and documentaries.
  • The Pat Conroy Literary Festival. 

The event schedule is available at the USCB Centre For the Arts.

ARTworks Community Art Centeris a 12,000-square-foot community arts center, theater, and gallery in the Beaufort Town Center located in the heart of historic downtown Beaufort. The Council provides opportunities for artists to create, display, learn, and perform art in all of its cultural and historical diversity.

Explore downtown and see all the galleries

The Beaufort Cultural District is an easy-to-navigate section of downtown where you can enjoy a full array of arts, cultural venues, organizations, and special events.

Libraries – the heart of cultural preservation:

The rich culture of the south is exemplified in its literature. Beaufort’s libraries house a trove of books and films where bookworms and movie buffs can while away the hours.

  1. Downtown Beaufort Library has an online catalog of talking books, a cloud library, a digital library, and more.
  2. University of South Carolina Beaufort Library offers books, movies, ebooks, journals and newspapers, and other materials.
  3. MCCS Library has a full range of library offerings that military families can access.

History and Architecture:

Beaufort’s Historic District was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1973.

The area is divided into five unique and distinct neighborhoods. Rich with post-civil war history and graced with massive antebellum mansions, the town of Beaufort offers hours of viewing pleasure and learning for history buffs – both residents and visitors!

Guides host walking history lessons throughout the Beaufort area. For those preferring the comfort of wheels, some guides ride along in horse-drawn carriages or an air-conditioned van, stopping to discuss the history and architecture of the graceful Lowcountry mansions and other architectural treasures.

Life-long learning.

Lectures, courses, and educational travel offer Beaufort residents the opportunity to stimulate their minds and continue to develop intellectually. The most notable venue for life-long learning in Beaufort is the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of South Carolina.

Membership in OLLI comes with many benefits, some of which include discounted tickets for events at the USCB Centre For the Arts. Their website has a wealth of information and will likely inspire you to sign on for a course or lecture.

Enjoy music, live theatre, and literature here in Beaufort!

Beaufort music lovers revel in the broad choice of opera, chamber music, country, or good old blues and jazz. The University of Beaufort’s Centre For the Arts, local pubs, nightclubs, restaurants, and churches offer everything from organ concerts, choirs, and dueling banjos to symphonies, comedy skits, and literary lectures. 

Eat!

Everyone loves food, especially delicious homestyle Southern food – and that includes shrimp!

Shrimp is so delicious here that Beaufort residents hold an entire Festival to celebrate the tasty little morsels.

Make sure you put the Beaufort Annual Shrimp Festival into your calendar. It happens every year, usually in early October, and you sure don’t want to miss out on some of the most delicious shrimp dishes you will ever taste. Local restaurants offer a variety of traditional southern shrimp dishes for your feasting pleasure.

During the Shrimp Festival, there is typically a Friday evening concert, a Saturday 5k “Run Forrest Run” (or you can walk) event, activities for kids, arts and crafts fair. In the evening, you can enjoy the sparkling lights of brightly decorated shrimp boats on the water. 

Oyster Festival 

Tides to Table Restaurant Week coincides with the Oyster Festival held in Greater Beaufort each January. The festival website tells us: 

Beaufort welcomes back “Tides to Table,” a special event in the seaside town of Beaufort to celebrate the “Queen of the Sea Islands,” the elegant oyster. With some of the freshest and highly sought-after oysters coming straight out of our local waters, it only makes sense to collect all of the oyster fanatics in this idyllic town for a week of seafood bliss.

Steamed open, dipped in melted butter or cocktail sauce, or eaten straight from the shell au naturel, oysters are delicious and nutritious.

Soft Shell Crab

While we’re on a seafood roll (see what we did there?), we can’t forget the delectable soft-shell crab. 

The soft-shell season is traditionally marked by the first full moon in May when the blue crab begins its molting season to accommodate summer growth. May through September are the most productive months for live softies.

Crunchy, briny, and salty-sweet, this delicacy is delicious breaded and fried in butter. A little lemon or tartar sauce is all you need. Oh, and that roll too.

Seafood with fins?

Whether you are craving Mahi Mahi Tacos from The Mac at Celadon, or fresh wild-caught grilled salmon at one of Beaufort’s fine seafood restaurants, you won’t be disappointed. This town is teeming with choices of perfectly prepared fresh-off-the-dock seafood.

Beyond seafood?

Tomato pie, collards, barbecued ribs, fried chicken, ham and grits, biscuits, and mac and cheese are just a few of our ever-popular Southern treats. Rich, filling, and oh so comforting, these traditional dishes grace many holiday tables. Home cooks and restaurants may also offer “lighter versions” of Southern favorites that are definitely worth a taste, especially for the health-conscious.

There is so much to experience in Beaufort that best way to enjoy it all is to live here! 

Why not start by visiting us here at Celadon? 

We’ve made it easy for you to come to Beaufort for a few days with our special Discovery Visit. You’ll stay at your choice of three fine hotels or inns and tour the neo-traditional community of Celadon, an award-winning planned community just minutes from downtown Beaufort.

To find out more about this $299 per couple opportunity and explore what Celadon has to offer, go to our website.

We sincerely look forward to seeing you soon and showing you around this beautiful coastal town and Beaufort’s premier address – Celadon!

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