Just a short drive from Savannah, the historic riverfront community of Old Town Bluffton offers an eclectic blend of arts, culture, and natural beauty waiting to be explored. Here are our top five things to do when you visit Historic Bluffton. Each of our picks is listed with its corresponding Old Town Bluffton Map#, so you can easily find each point of interest. Maps can also be picked up at our first recommended stop - The Heyward House.
Stop at the Heyward House.
Map #60. With it’s typical, Lowcountry farmhouse-style architecture, the Hayward House may not initially stand out as a “must-see” location. Built circa 1841, the Cole family originally lived in the home from June through September for twenty years before the Civil War. When the war began, like many of the families, the Cole family fled the area. Union forces destroyed most of Bluffton by burning the town, and today just ten antebellum homes, including the Cole’s, and two churches remain.
The Heyward family acquired the home after the Civil War and lived in it for five generations, until 1997. The Bluffton Historical Preservation Society purchased the house in 1998 and opened it to the public as a house museum. Today, it serves as the official Welcome Center and is the starting point for many visitors as they discover Historic Bluffton for the first time. They offer several tours, including a Guided House Tour, a Virtual Docent Walking Tour of the town and select homes, and the Living Portrait Tour, which allows pre-marked portraits to “talk” to guests using the Zappar app.
Explore the Farmer’s Market.
Map #43. Fresh, locally grown vegetables, fruits, and flowers, honey, freshly made bread, artisan popcorn, smoothies – you can find it all at the Bluffton Farmer’s Market. The outcome of a grassroots movement that began in 2006, this vibrant market has only gotten better, and bigger, since opening in 2008. Every Thursday, Calhoun Street at the Carson Cottages is blocked off from 1 until 6 p.m. – or dusk – and filled with the sounds of live music, artisans at work, and happy shoppers.
Grab something to eat from one of the local restaurants, or have a little something for each of the vendors. Grab some fresh bread from Sprout Mommas, cool off with the King of Pops, and sweeten the day with Lee Bees Honey. With so many delicious options to choose from, your only problem will be which to try first!
Gray Line Employee Tip: Most of the vendors accept credit cards, but you may still want to bring cash, just in case.
Try the sweet and savory treats from Twisted European Bakery.
Map #38. If you think you can’t find traditional pastries in the Lowcountry, think again. This little bakery specializes in handmade traditional, old-world favorites from France, Italy, Greece, and Germany. Whether you’re looking for something to grab and go or want to sit and enjoy your pastry with coffee, they have a large selection of delicious treats to try. Try some traditional Italian desserts, like the Sfogliatella, a crispy pastry filled with sweet ricotta and a touch of lemon, or the Mediterranean treasure that is Baklava. They even have Gluten free and Vegan pastries, so no one will leave hungry.
Some items, like their Pretzel Nuggets, need to be ordered in advance, and others, like their Walnut and Pecan Danish Ring, have to be special ordered, so you may want to peruse their website and make a plan of (pastry) attack.
Visit the Bluffton Boundary Cultural Arts Center.
Map #3. Jewelry, sculptures, paintings – you’ll find that and more at the Bluffton Boundary Cultural Arts Center. Spearheaded by artist and executive Director Sonja Griffin Evans, the Center is dedicated to bringing the community together through art, education, and history. Born and raised in Beaufort, South Carolina, Evans’ work is influenced by the Lowcountry and Gullah culture. As a prolific mix media artist, she incorporates items such as tin, wood and other materials in her art.
Take in the view from the Public Dock.
Map #62. You’ll find the Public Dock at the end of Calhoun Street, across from The Church of the Cross. Not even the southern summer heat can diminish the peaceful calm that settles over you as you look out across the May River. Home to a variety of marine life, you’re sure to see an array of seabirds, and even a bottlenose dolphin or two.
Historic homes, chic boutiques, and treasure-filled antique shops are just some of what awaits you in Historic Bluffton. We hope you’ll join us for an afternoon of exploring Historic Bluffton!