Welcome to the LOWCOUNTRY
For thousands of years, travelers have made their way to an unmistakable paradise on the South Carolina coast, discovering a more soothing lifestyle amidst scenic views of some of the greatest natural beauty found anywhere. With its impressive golf courses and tennis courts, incredible spas, tranquil beaches and pristine waterways – ideal for kayaking and boating, residents and visitors to the area enjoy endless and varied opportunities for relaxation and recreation. This paradise is part of an amazing community where diverse dining and shopping abound and world-class entertainment and events dot the calendar, but that feeling of closeness you get from a small town never goes away.
What is this paradise? It’s closer than you think. It’s the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Each day, more and more people are discovering how sweet life can truly be along its sandy beaches, tidal rivers, lush forests and serene marshes. While Hilton Head Island attracts millions to its shores, decades of well planned development have influenced existing and new resort towns around the globe. With every breath of invigorating salt air, newcomers and residents experience the results of combining natural beauty with laws that promote smart, strategic growth.
And, they’re finding a true slice of Southern grandeur in Beaufort, where notable dining and a thriving arts scene stand side-by-side with history in a graceful tribute to all that makes the South, and the Lowcountry, such an amazing area to call home. Once they’ve discovered all the amazing sights and sounds the Lowcountry has to offer, they’ll find one more thing: they’ll find that they never want to leave.
In Bluffton, a hidden Southern gem, they’re finding a quirky arts community with more shopping and dining than ever before on the bustling streets off 278, while also enjoying the feeling of simpler times along the May River. Surrounded by old fishing cabins, antebellum mansions and historic churches, newcomers will meet unique characters who embrace the belief that “Bluffton is a state of mind.”
Hilton Head Island has always been synonymous with good times thanks to the popularity of events, such as the Verizon Heritage and the many arts, food and community festivals enjoyed by visitors and locals. Home to a rich community of artists and performers, Hilton Head offers numerous cultural experiences, from musical events to stage performances and everything in between. And those artists aren’t the only masters who have made the island their home. World-class chefs of every stripe have found themselves drawn here, creating a variety of restaurants, from gourmet to casual, that you won’t find anywhere else. And, of course, the year-round comfort of the island’s climate has drawn in those seeking outdoor pursuits, creating a wealth of opportunities for tennis players, golfers and thrill seekers. And while many visit Hilton Head Island seeking a relaxed, yet exuberant resort, many also end up calling it home.
Some 4,000 years ago, Woodlands Indians made a summer home on the island, leaving behind shell rings, which are still visible today. Later years would bring the sea island cotton boom, filling the island with wealthy planters. One occupation by the Union Army later, and the island was home to a new culture created by freed slaves, known as the Gullah. These descendants of freed African slaves still call the island home, and their unique culture can be seen at various celebrations, art galleries and musical performances.
The modern era of Hilton Head’s history began in the early 1950s, when a man named Charles Fraser changed the world with his vision of a master-planned community. Fraser first came to the island to survey it for his family’s logging company, but in her fertile shores and deep forests, Fraser saw something more. Disgusted by the neon-drenched resorts that dotted the coast, Fraser began plans for an eco-conscious resort that would embrace the surrounding nature, instead of doing its best to stand out from it.
The immediate result of this experiment was The Sea Pines Resort, but the effects of its success changed everything for resort development. The old rules were thrown out, and a new era of responsible development, where a resort’s environment became just as important as its amenities, began.
The rest of the world would get its first formal introduction to the little island in 1969 when Arnold “King of Golf” Palmer would drive to victory in the first-ever “Heritage Classic” at Sea Pines’ Harbour Town Golf Links.
This cemented Hilton Head’s reputation as a golf hot spot in the South, and also enticed an entire country eager for a vacation and entranced by the beautiful island scenery.
Each year, 2.5 million visitors come to Hilton Head to enjoy all that this island paradise has to offer, and to mingle with some 30,000 locals. They come from around the globe to enjoy world-class beaches, golf courses, tennis courts, dining, shopping, hospitality and more.
The community, once anchored entirely by tourism, has now begun to step out as a bonafide hometown. No longer does the island greet the off-season with closed doors and empty roads; today, the fall is filled with great events from the Concours d’Elegance to FoodFest, and beyond.
Nearly 25 years ago, The Town of Hilton Head Island incorporated, marking a turning point in the island’s history as it began the transformation from sleepy resort town to thriving community, with the rallying cry of home rule allowing Hilton Head Island to finally determine its own destiny as it continued to grow.