SOUTH CAROLINA

Bluffton - An Eclectic State of Mind

Charming, quaint and somewhat eclectic can best describe Bluffton, South Carolina. For nearly two hundred years, this town, located over the bridge from Hilton Head Island, has been a popular vacation destination.

Situated on a bluff overlooking May River, the town’s natural beauty and golf courses even caught the eye of a Hollywood movie producer, who used Colleton River Plantation to film most of the golf scenes in The Legend of Bagger Vance.

One visit and you'll know when you enter Bluffton, you're entering more than a town; you're entering a way of life and a state of mind.

Exploring the Town

Like many of its southern relatives, Bluffton played somewhat of a role in the Civil War. There is the famous Secession Oak, located on the outskirts of town. It is documented in the town’s history that a group first met here to discuss about seceding from the Union; and did sixteen years later, thus becoming the first state in the South to do so.

Unfortunately, the town wasn’t spared from the Union’s destruction. While a number of homes and businesses were burnt down, there were some left unharmed and can be seen today. Located in Old Town Bluffton, the best place to start is at the Heyward House Historic Center. As one of the eight antebellum homes left intact, it currently serves as a museum and the Welcome Center. You can take a Docent-lead tours to learn more about its history and those who have lived there. Another antebellum structure that escaped damage is the Church of the Cross. Built in 1857, the church offers a breathtaking view of the May River.

For a look into another side of Bluffton's rich history, be sure to visit Bluffton Oyster Company. Established in the 1899, it's the oldest operating oyster shucking establishment in South Carolina.

And as for that Eclectic Part

Also located along the streets of Old Town Bluffton are shops and art galleries, perfect for spotting that one-of-a-kind to take back home; and even to experience the quintessential Bluffton State of Mind.

“What you will find if you visit us is an historic riverfront village with the distinction of having most of the downtown economy driven by the arts and all those amenities that cluster around the arts,” said Jacob Preston, who refers to himself as “Bluffton’s tallest potter.”  Working with clay for about 35 years, you can visit his studio/shop to see his pieces.

It is reasonable to say that within the past sixty years, Bluffton has grown into quite the artists’ community. Just to point out a few places, there's Pluff Mudd Art which features about 20 local artists and craftsmen with showcasing paintings, carvings, jewelry and much more. The aptly-named Filling Station Art Gallery (the gallery is located in a former service bay of a gas station) also brings the works of numerous artists into one location.  If you're looking for some outsider art, consider a piece from the Gallery Without Walls, highlighting works of D. Pierce Giltner; or  piece from Amos Hummel.

The Great Outdoors

While many do flock to this area for its beaches, others are attracted to the scenic beauty of the area. From nearby hiking trails, such as Victoria Bluff Heritage Preserve and Pinckney Island Main to biking trails throughout the Old Town to the kayaking tours with Native Guide Tours of Bluffton, exploring the ecosystem of the Lowcountry, there is something for every outdoor enthusiast can be found in Bluffton. The area is also known for its top-rated golf courses, both public and private as well.  

Whether you visit Bluffton for its scenic beauty, artsy flair, or historic background – you will notice that the town will have lasting effect on you, even after you are back home.  After you experience their slow pace and easy living lifestyle, you will constantly finding yourself wanting to revisit the Bluffton's  Eclectic State of Mind over and over.

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