Take a day to follow the scraggly coast of South Carolina as far as your car will take you, past marshes and swamps, down just shy of Georgia. By this time in your drive, you probably feel as though you’ve seen almost as much as the winding coast of the Carolinas will give you, but you’d be wrong about that. Way down that coast you’ll find Bluffton, what some would call the last true Southern coastal town.
One truth about the South that is known by many is that time simply moves slower, and that couldn’t be more true for Bluffton. A staple of the Carolina Lowcountry, Bluffton is perched directly above Savannah, Georgia, on the mouth of the May River. The river itself snakes through town, wiggling its way to the brackish Atlantic. On its way, it swings past groves of oaks draped in Spanish moss, listing with the breeze and characterizing a town that has a tight bond with the water, the beaches, and the way of life that comes along with it.
Bluffton has been this way for quite a long time, too. Although a recent surge in development has made it the fastest growing town in South Carolina, Bluffton still has history to show, and in spades. Old Town in particular weaves the modern face of a long standing town with the strong, weathered churches and homes that have anchored the town since the mid 1800’s.
The food of Bluffton has thankfully evolved since the the 1800’s, but still offers a taste of rural seasonality to complement its modern interpretations. FARM, on May River road offers some of the finest farm-to-table options in the area, tuning into a modern trend while embracing the agricultural foundations of Bluffton. The menu is seasonal and ever changing, but if you can, make sure not to pass up the toasted coconut pound cake on the desert menu. Pair it with the May River grapefruit shrub on the cocktail menu and you’ll get a sweet and tangy taste for Bluffton’s best.
Of course, if you’ve come as far as Bluffton and haven’t gotten a taste for the sea yet, then you’ve probably done something wrong. Fear not, however, because not far down Bruin Road you can find Red Fish. This restaurant is helmed by the creative mind of Chef Chaun Bescos, whose attentiveness to quality, organic foods and roots in Hawaiian cuisine make for a refreshing and exciting experience. The grilled sea bass is a must-have, but the Red Fish chicken is also a dependable classic.
Before you make your way out of town, be sure to stop by Palmetto Bluff on the South bank of the May River. If the views enchant you enough, you may even want to spend a night at the lovely Montage Hotel, which occupies one of the finest views of the Bluffs there is to offer. Bluffton has a little something for everybody, and no matter what brings you down, whether it be the beaches, the food, or the history, you’re welcome to stay.