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Just minutes from the beaches of Hilton Head and Hunting Island and smack in the middle of hundreds of holes of world-class championship golf, Beaufort, SC is a smaller town that really seems to have it all.

Beaufort SC History

Incorporated over 300 years ago in 1711, the second-oldest city in South Carolina is a history lover's paradise that has a story dating back over 500 years.

It all started with the discovery of the area by Spanish explorers in 1514. With this discovery, Beaufort County was the site of the second landing on the North American continent by Europeans.

In the mid-1500s, Spain and France competed for control of the new found land. The Spanish government believed it had exclusive rights to the continent. To protect its Atlantic shipping route, Spain colonized several points along the Southeastern coast, including the Carolinas.

Spain's King Phillip ordered the establishment of military bases on the mainland. St. Augustine, Florida is the oldest continuously occupied European city in the continental United States. But the first colonial capital was Santa Elena, right here in Beaufort SC.

Spanish colonists founded Santa Elena in 1566 on Parris Island in Port Royal Sound in present-day Beaufort, just a short 10-minute drive from downtown today.

Beaufort had been subject to numerous European explorations and failed attempts at colonization before the British officially founded the city of Beaufort in 1711.

The city initially grew slowly. It was a center for shipbuilding and later when SC became established, Beaufort was the elite center for the Lowcountry planters through the Civil War.

Just after the Civil War started, Beaufort fell early and was occupied by Union forces following the Battle of Port Royal in 1861. Due in part to its early occupation, the city was saved from destruction and the burning of General Sherman, and with many of the town's landowners fleeing the area, slaves were left behind.  The Union forces declared the slaves emancipated and started its efforts at education while also creating regiments of African-American soldiers to fight against the South.

Beaufort SC has recently been recognized and has seen the establishment of the National Reconstruction Era Park by the National Park Service due to the area being the home of the beginning of the reconstruction of America after the Civil War, including the home of the first school for freed slaves at Penn Center on St. Helena Island.

In fast forwarding to the 20th Century, the Beaufort area has grown quite a bit.

Mining for phosphates, farming and fishing were the primary industries early in the century, and the area became well known as a supplier of local seafood and tomatoes. Tomatoes grown on our sea islands of Beaufort SC have been shipped all over the U.S., and today an estimated 25 million pounds of them come from St. Helena Island every year to stores across the country.

Beaufort SC Economy

In 1915, Parris Island was created as a Marine Corps Recruit Depot, and training has continued there ever since. The Beaufort SC area is home to 3 military installations today, including the Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, and the Beaufort Veteran's Administration Naval Hospital.

The military is the most significant economic driver in Beaufort SC, providing a whopping $2.2 billion to the area every year.  Beaufort's military bases use thousands of local workers.  As a result, a down economy is not as big as a factor in the Beaufort SC community as it would be in others.

Things To Do In Beaufort

Today, there is a variety of things to do in the Beaufort area. Downtown Beaufort is home to a wealth of retail stores, art galleries and several local restaurants offering menus to delight you with fresh local seafood and other local fares.

The museum and art scenes are thriving all over the Beaufort area. Beaufort SC is home to 5 museums that house a lot of its history. From the beginnings of America to the beginning of the USMC, you can see and learn so much about Beaufort’s and America’s past by visiting these houses of history.

Downtown is home to numerous art galleries with both a local and an international appeal. Beaufort SC has been named as one of "America's Best Art Towns," including being ranked the No. 14 Small City Arts Destination by American Style Magazine and one of America's top 100 art towns in the book The 100 Best Art Towns in America.

For fishermen, whether you're looking for a quiet day fishing off of the dock, casting or fly fishing in the tidal flats of our marshes or going offshore to catch something bigger, there’s no shortage of spots to put your line in the water in Beaufort. Field & Stream magazine has even named Beaufort SC one of the Top 20 Fishing Towns in America.

And, In an area surrounded by water, boating is very popular in Beaufort. Fortunately, there are lots of spots to drop your boat in the water all over the area.

If you like the beach, without all of the build-up of a resort area, then Beaufort SC definitely fits your style.  Hunting Island is South Carolina’s single most popular state park, attracting more than a million visitors a year, as well as being home to a vast array of wildlife. Nearly five miles of all-natural South Carolina beaches, thousands of acres of marsh and maritime forest, a peaceful lagoon, and an ocean inlet are all part of Hunting Island State Park's allure.

The Hunting Island Lighthouse is the only lighthouse in the state of South Carolina that is publicly accessible. Visitors can climb 167 steps and stand at the top to take in the breathtaking, panoramic view of the Atlantic Coast and surrounding maritime forest and the Hunting Island State Park campground has camping available at 100 campsites right along the ocean.

Community events are also an integral part of the fabric of Beaufort SC. Each year, the town is home to the Beaufort Shrimp Festival, the Beaufort International Film Festival, the Soft Shell Crab Festival and for over 60 years festival-goers have enjoyed the annual Beaufort Water Festival. With so much history, culture, and tradition here in Beaufort SC, we have lots of reasons to celebrate!

Beaufort SC Demographics

According to recent statistics and the 2010 census, the population in the city of Beaufort SC was 12,361. The population density was 447.9 per square mile. The racial makeup of the city was 67.1% White, 25.7% African American, and the other 7% comprised of Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Hispanic/Latino.

According to the census, there were 4,901 households with a 56% owner-occupant rate. Of which 31.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.6% were married couples living together. The average household size was 2.5 persons.

For every 100 females, there were 114.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 117.6 males. The average household income was $36,532, and the median family income was $42,894. Males had a median income of $22,465 versus $23,474 for females.


Beaufort has become the retirement haven for many people from all over the globe and has recently been named the #4 Best Place to Retire in the South.


The average home price is around $175,000, while home prices range from $100,000 to $6,000,000, and condo prices range from $80,000 to $500,000.  Housing types available include single-family Homes, residential, commercial, lots & land, investment properties, waterfront, townhomes, and condominiums.


If you have questions for our real estate team, give Century 21 - Carolina Realty a call today. We love living in Beaufort SC and would be honored to show you why you'll fall in love with the area, too!

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