Five things to do in the pretty town on the May River
Bluffton is picture-perfect. If you’re looking for a fun getaway with a park-once-never-need-your-car-again vibe, then plan a trip to this enchanting Lowcountry town on the May River. Its motto, “Bluffton is a state of mind,” is something you’ll take to heart. The ease of what to do and how to get there feels like its own vacation perk. Locals are friendly and helpful, and there is something to pique every interest in the downtown district.
A stay at Old Town Bluffton Inn is a real treat. Innkeepers Danielle and Vince Harrison built the 14-room inn on May River Road in 2019 and welcome guests to the boutique hotel like it’s their second home. There’s a European-style breakfast and wine in the afternoons. The lobby is large, comfortable, and replete with custom furnishings by French Heritage Bluffton Inn Furniture. There’s a great farm table and other spots ideal for a snack or to set up a mobile office for a bit. Parking in the back abuts a shopping district with galleries, boutiques, and some of Bluffton’s best restaurants.
Three days in Bluffton will have you planning a return trip to amble its streets, lined by trees dripping with Spanish moss. It’s a place that feels uniquely Lowcountry.
Don’t Miss These Five Bluffton Stops
The Bermuda-style home, built as a summer residence in 1841, pulls double duty as Bluffton’s Welcome Center. It’s one of just eight buildings in town to survive the Civil War, and a guided tour of the property is offered daily to walk-ins. An original cabin for enslaved people sits just behind the house, as does a reconstructed summer kitchen. While you’re here, consider making a reservation for the 90-minute walking tour of Historic Bluffton.
70 Boundary St., Bluffton | historicblufftonsc.com
Farmers Market of Bluffton
Encompassing a dedicated bread stand, French pastries, chocolates, herbs and fresh vegetables, seafood and meats, and even knife sharpening, this day market is a must-go. But what takes it over the top are the prepared foods, including a James Beard semifinalist-nominated food truck, Okan. Chef Bernard Bennett’s West African menu includes a delicious curried snapper. Other vendors offer barbecue, paella, crabcakes, and she-crab soup—all made on-site. It happens on Thursdays from noon to 5pm.
68 Boundary St., Bluffton | farmersmarketbluffton.org
Church of the Cross
The belfry at the exquisite Church of the Cross is full of bees and its golden byproduct makes the perfect souvenir, aptly named Holy Honey. Nearly fifty colonies were relocated, but each summer, the honeybees return to take up residence between the plaster walls. They add a merry hum to the Carpenter Gothic church, notable for its lattice shutters and board-and-batten facade. You can visit the church (and buy honey) on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday between 11am and 2pm.
May River Excursions
Head to the public dock at Waterfront Park to embark on a tour with May River Excursions. The saltwater river with its significant bluffs offers views of sandbars, natural oyster beds, and abundant wildlife. You’ll enjoy navigating around sea islands looking for dolphins, egrets, anhingas, and loons. Along the way, Captain Freddy and Captain Chris will share Bluffton’s water-centric history, from the 1700s to Justin Bieber’s wedding at Montage Palmetto Bluff Resort. Pre-booking is required.
Burnt Church Distillery
The 7,000-square-foot tasting room is a gorgeous place to sample the spirits produced at Burnt Church Distillery. Their Bluffton Whiskey, which uses Carolina Gold rice as one of its three grains, is a good souvenir to bring home. Notably, the lobby will soon house a massive limb of the Secession Oak topped with reverse-etched glass and inscribed with a Gullah narrative. The 300-year-old tree, which recently fell, was where local planters met to discuss seceding from the Union more than a decade before the Civil War. Burnt Church is open every day.
Half the fun of traveling is eating out, and Bluffton is home to some notable spots. Reservations are recommended for dinner, a result of Hilton Head locals driving the quick 20 minutes off-island to dine in Bluffton.
Seek out casual Corner Perk for a great coffee shop experience.
1297 May River Rd., Bluffton. Open daily 7am–3pm (counter service). cornerperk.com
A fun cafe, bakery, and tearoom.
38 Calhoun St., Bluffton. Open daily 9am–3pm. thecottagebluffton.com
Bluffton Oyster Company
A must for fresh local seafood.
27 Dr. Mellichamp Dr., Bluffton. Open Tuesday–Saturday 11am–9pm. blufftonoyster.com
A go-to for tacos and margaritas.
13 State of Mind St., Bluffton. Open daily at 11am. agavebluffton.com
Chef Brandon Carter sources ingredients from local farms.
1301 May River Rd. Bluffton. Dinner daily and Sunday brunch. farmbluffton.com
The Bluffton Room
Head here for fine dining and a crafted cocktail.
15 Promenade St., Bluffton. Dinner Tuesday–Saturday and lunch Friday. theblufftonroom.com