Bluffton - The Last True Coastal Village of the South

Bluffton SC Crab Shack


Baby Boomers on the hunt for the finest coastal retirement communities in the south should start by exploring Bluffton South Carolina real estate developments.  Known for its eclectic Old Town district and serene views of the May River, Bluffton is often referred to as “the last true coastal village of the South”.  Endless fresh seafood, majestic Angel Oak trees and gracious southern hospitality add to the ‘happiness factor’ when living in Bluffton.

Located in Beaufort County, Bluffton is the fastest growing city in South Carolina growing 882.7% between the 2000 and 2010 census. In 1844 as a protest against federal taxes the Bluffton Movement led South Carolina to be the first state to leave the Union.  Bluffton then became a popular location for wealthy merchants and plantation owners growing indigo, rice and cotton.  Today, tourism dominates the economy with Hilton Head Island being a top travel destination. Bluffton SC real estate is in high demand due to the fact that the region has so much to offer including great weather.

Bluffton is considered the heart of the Lowcounty and is truly captivating.  One of the most distinctive components of the Lowcountry is the architecture that was developed in the 1700’s and is still constructed today due to the efficiency in this hot subtropical climate.  Historically, buildings have been constructed of timber and set on pilings or have an elevated first floor due to the often “swampy conditions” inherent to the region.  Typically homes have broad hipped roofs with large covered front porches generally accented by columns or pillars that provide a shady sitting area.  Most modern homes feature an open breezeway throughout that allows a cool breeze to move freely through the structure. During the Civil War two-thirds of the town was destroyed by fire during the Union's Bluffton Expedition on June 4, 1863 and today Bluffton is thriving as one of the top places to live in South Carolina.

Tourism dominates the local economy with world class golf, tennis and beach activities on Hilton Head Island, Fripp Island, Seabrook Island, Kiawah Island and the Wild Dunes portion of the Isle of Palms.  In the 1950’s, Hilton Head’s Sea Pines Plantation became a destination resort and America’s first official master planned community. Bluffton SC real estate developments continued to follow suit building clubhouses, golf courses and sports amenities within their neighborhoods. Comprehensive gated communities include Hampton Lake, Palmetto Bluff, Spring Island and Oldfield. Buyers can find new starter home neighborhoods with homes priced under $200k to super-sized waterfront mansions priced over $5 million. 

Culturally, Bluffton is enriched with history and an appreciation for its roots. The African-American Gullah culture prevalent since the 1800’s reflects the Island history and residents preserve and revere this colorful culture with food, crafts and religious events.  The Gullah people of the Lowcountry evolved with the African slaves who worked on the Southern Plantations.  The annual Gullah Celebration takes place during the month of February with arts, crafts, music and food of the Gullah people. Year round folks can enjoy the Gullah-N-Gechee Heritage Tours and Gullah Heritage Trail Tours. 

Additionally Bluffton has a thriving arts community with a multi-million-dollar Arts Center of Coastal Carolina which showcases some of the country’s most renowned artists throughout the year.  There is also the Elizabeth Wallace Theatre which houses regional and Broadway style theatre, concerts, children’s events and gallery exhibits.  The Art League of Hilton Head has over 500 members and supports two centers; the Walter Greer Gallery and the Art Academy on Cordillo Parkway which host art classes, 2 annual art shows and a gallery with works of 160 local artists.  The Society of Bluffton represents about 175 artists and displays their works in the Gallery Row District of Old Town.  There are also musical events provided by the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra and the Hilton Head Choral Society.  The May River Theatre is yet another venue which hosts performances at the Ulmer Auditorium in downtown Bluffton. 

Bluffton hosts several free festivals and fun events throughout the year.  Here's a few to check out:

Bluffton Village Festival - Also known as "Mayfest", the Bluffton Village Festival is an annual event that started in the spring of 1978. It gathers local artisans and musicians to showcase a variety of goods as a "celebration of Bluffton life" and local culture.

Christmas Parade - An annual parade that takes place at the beginning of December and features a wide variety of unique parade floats both local and regional.

Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival - A fall festival that consists of many events and activities including an art show, kayak tours, a 5K run, and sampling of locally harvested seafood.

Shag & Drag - Classic car show and live entertainment, held in June.

May River Cleanup - Every year hundreds of volunteers organize to help remove trash and waste from nearly 12 miles of river and to help raise awareness of the challenges facing the May River

History abounds in the region and there are many museums, historical sites and other attractions to visit:

  • The Church of the Cross
  • The Heyward House and Historical Center
  • The Squire Pope Carriage House
  • The Allen-Lockwood House
  • The Huger-Gordon House
  • Seven Oaks, Bluffton, SC
  • The Fripp-Lowden House
  • The Store, Bluffton, SC
  • The Carson Cottage
  • The D. Hasell Heyward House
  • The Patz Brothers House
  • The Planters Mercantile
  • The Cordray House

While exploring coastal retirement communities, active Boomers on a budget will enjoy the fact that Bluffton has many parks with walking paths and recreational activities.  For cyclers, Bluffton Parkway and Buckwalter Parkway have bicycle paths on both sides of the road.  Here are some of the parks found here:

  • Buckwalter Trail
  • Beaufort County Parks and Recreation – Bluffton Pool
  • Buckwalter Regional Park for the kids with soccer fields and skateboard park
  • DuBois Park is also kid friendly with a playground and swings
  • New River Trailhead Park is a nature trail
  • MC Riley Sports Complex is great for teens with basketball and baseball 
  • Oscar Frazier Park provides a playground, soccer fields and baseball parks
  • Oyster Factory Park
  • Pritchard Park
  • Bluffton Recreation Center – tennis, soccer, youth football and playground

For boating enthusiasts, there are several public boat landings found in Bluffton:

  • Oyster Factory Boat Landing - Access to the May River
  • H.E. Trask Boat Landing - Access to the Colleton River
  • Calhoun St. Boat Dock - Access to the May River
  • Alljoy Boat Landing - Access to the May River

For food enthusiasts and seafood lovers, Lowcountry cuisine is traditional in Bluffton due to its rich diversity of seafood and vibrant Caribbean and African influence that has a strong parallel to New Orleans and Cajun style of cooking. Here you'll enjoy the best oyster roasts on the planet! Folks looking for the finest coastal retirement communities would be wise to begin by exploring Bluffton SC real estate in one of top places to live in South Carolina. If you'd like some assistance, reach out and say hello. It's our pleasure to help.


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