South Carolina's best kept secrets: Bluffton

BLUFFTON, SC (WIS) - Old Town Bluffton is an historic town you get to just before arriving in Hilton Head.

The small town treasure is a must-visit, blending trendy with traditional. At every turn, Old Town Bluffton has a welcome waiting for you.

Stroll the historic downtown streets and find stops that are one of a kind.

"You have places here that are just to die for," said artist Joy Lillith Hermann.

Hermann moved to Bluffton six years ago and fell in love with the location. Her handmade glass jewelry is on display and for sale inside one of Bluffton's many art galleries.

Tourists say they like the little bit of hip that infuses the artsy town.

"It's an old town feeling that's comfortable, with the mossy trees coming down," said one visitor.

Those oak trees shade the downtown streets, where visitors find galleries, restaurants and shopping.  But despite the cool side of Bluffton, don't let it fool you.  The town has deep roots dating back hundreds of years.

Just off the main road, Bluffton's history comes alive. For example, The Heyward House, one of Bluffton's original homes, is now a history museum.

"Heyward House was built in 1841 by a planter whose city home was in Beaufort and this was a summer cottage built for his family," said Maureen Richards with the Bluffton Historical Preservation Society.

Richards said homes like Heyward House put Bluffton on the map in the 1800's.

The summer cottages once belonged to wealthy families who wanted to escape the heat and live near the cool winds coming off the bluffs of the May River. Those cool afternoon winds still blow today.

"The core of old town is history, arts and culture," said a visitor. "It's a great walkable community."

The visit wouldn't be complete without a bite to eat.  The Cottage offers afternoon tea on its daily menu.  It includes teas and desserts in a city that's as sweet as pie.

"It's a perfect day trip to see galleries and shops in Old Town," said Richards. "It's beautiful, charming and eccentric."

Most of the merchants have brochures. One brochure includes a 25-stop walking tour.  Just take  your appetite for good food and a heaping serving of history.

At the end of May, WIS is giving away a 2-night stay for 2 people at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa.     To enter: viewers can text "Gem" to 80310. A winner will be announced Wednesday, May 23. You can enter once a week.

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