Beaufort, SC—located just an hour north of Hilton Head Island and an hour east of Savannah, is the perfect seaside stopover for those traveling in the area. With gorgeous beaches and charming historic vibes, this cozy little town has plenty to offer visitors in the way of relaxation. The downtown waterfront neighborhood, in particular, is one area you won’t want to miss. Here, you can spend the day exploring beautiful parks, amazing architecture, and an array of charming, nosh-worthy restaurants.
A Local Favorite: Paninis
For a relaxed, friendly atmosphere and a cozy dining experience for lunch or dinner, head to the waterfront—Paninis on the Waterfront that is.This spacious, comfortably appointed local favorite serves fresh seafood, pasta, pizzas, and their eponymous panini in the perfect, waterfront-park- adjacent location.
Patrons love the casual, laid-back atmosphere, the gorgeous views, and perhaps most of all, the old world European menu featuring dishes like clam linguini, homemade manicotti, steak frites, brick oven pizzas, and a full-flavored lineup of sandwiches.
★★★★★ As reviewer wegl185 from TripAdvisor puts it, “Wonderful food, great ambiance, and great service. Really enjoyed our time here. Had a little band playing and they were very good, even had some folks up dancing. We tried several different items (2 different pizzas, a cheese steak sandwich and a focaccia) and all were great. The service is wonderful and we left full and completely satisfied. Great job! Can't wait to go back.”
★★★★★ Megan from Google raves, “This place was packed at lunch time, so we knew it was good before we even stepped foot in the door. Boy were we right! It was a bit of a wait, but we didn't mind. The beauty of the bay kept us happy and the food was absolutely amazing. We couldn't have gone anywhere better for lunch!”
★★★★★ Nicole from Facebook also enjoyed everything about the experience, saying “Awesome spot! Pizza is my fave, but the pear salad is pretty excellent, and the Mac & Cheese with shrimp is delicious. There's also a Bloody Mary Bar on Sunday, that's fun to create your own… and you really can't beat the view.”
Old World Charm With a Fantastic View
If the stunning brick facade and impressive marble columns at Paninis remind you of traditional bank architecture, that’s because the building was originally built for that purpose. Constructed in 1919, the building has changed hands many times but now serves as a very special and unique entrance to one of the town’s most beloved eateries.
Inside the restaurant, history and cocktail lovers unite in their affection for the wonderfully mysterious and equally striking antique canopy bar. No one really knows where this richly appointed, ornately carved piece of art came from, but it’s clearly had a long and interesting road. The dark wood beams and well- worn seats harken back to a simpler time, and make ordering your favorite cocktail an elegant affair. For a relaxing outdoor experience, continue on to the Paninis River Deck where you’ll find the beauty of Beaufort’s Waterfront Park on full display. Amazing views, an abundance of sunshine, live music, and a great selection of handmade cocktails will make you want to put up your feet and stay all day—although the good vibes have been known to get visitors up out of their seats and dancing from time to time.
Photo credit: City of Beaufort
The Perfect Afternoon Spot
After a good meal and a perhaps a digestif, take a stroll along the riverwalk, located just a few minutes from the restaurant, and take in the verdant scenery of Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.
The multi-acre recreational area is a great place to sit and people watch, take in the sailboats at the marina, or get lost in a good book. (protip: Paninis offers an online order and pick up option for a quick bite or a private picnic on the water.)
From the banks, you’ll be able to get a glimpse of Woods Memorial Bridge, the western tip of Lady's Island, the eastern side of Port Royal Island and the northern tip of Parris Island on a clear day. For history buffs or those interested in colonial American architecture, walking tours led by local Janet Matlock are a great way to spend an afternoon. Listen to fascinating stories about the Civil War, lay eyes on the famous antebellum mansions, and learn how Beaufort came to be the second city founded in South Carolina (after Charleston). Tours depart just a short walk away at the Marina Ship Store.
Whether you’re in town for a week or stopping by just for the afternoon, it’s clear the waterfront park and downtown areas of Beaufort are a must-see.With excellent dining, great views, and an abundance of historical landmarks, the city welcomes all visitors— encouraging them to slow down for the day and experience everything coastal South Carolina is known for. Be sure not to miss out on this beautiful spot next time you’re in the area.