We’ve been traveling to Charleston for decades now, but it was only in recent years that we came upon the lesser-known gem that is Bluffton, South Carolina. Spring in the Lowcountry is one of the prettiest times to go: It’s not yet as hot and humid as summer will be, but everything is lush, green, and flower-covered, and the water is perfect.
The charming small town of Bluffton is only about a two hour drive (scenic, no less) from Charleston, so we recommend you make it a long weekend and get some R&R in both of these waterfront hubs.
Bluffton – Montage Palmetto Bluff
Genuinely one of the most impressive resorts we’ve ever visited, Montage Palmetto Bluff is a must-see. The main property is a stately building that sits on a sweeping 20,000 acres. The property is all old-school elegance alongside the natural beauty that defines the Lowcountry: lush greenery, palmetto trees, sea islands, and easy May River access.
The Bluffton community’s four-diamond resort is characterized by its perfectly executed attention to detail. The bar done in buffed mahogany, the gourmet smores (yes, there are house-made marshmallows) offered as you sit around open fire pits to stargaze, the Master Sommelier serving wine tableside, the Labrador puppies posted to greet visitors, the luxe rooms with attached porches overlooking the lawn, the wide variety of dining offered between the six on-site eateries… the list just goes on. Every time we stay, we’re all the more certain this is the closest thing to perfection you’ll find.
Charleston – Zero George
Constructed in 1804 in Charleston, South Carolina, the Zero George Street hotel is a bright, quaint community of sixteen studios and suites enclaved together throughout five historical residential buildings in a lush private landscaped area. The hotel’s effortless blend of European chic with Southern charm provides the perfect aesthetic to accentuate the gentle Charlestonian breezes, vintage settings, and overall easy air of the nook in which the hotel is nestled.
It’s easy access to the rest of the Holy City, and the award-winning Zero George Restaurant + Bar is right onsite.
Bluffton – FARM
The Montage itself has so many great restuarants that it can be hard to convince yourself to leave. When you do wander off-property, FARM is one of your best bets. This cozy little restaurant on the main street in downtown Bluffton is farm-to-table seasonal with an emphasis on chef-driven cuisine. Every bite we’ve had is phenomenal, but we especially recommend the housemade cocktails and the octopus.
Charleston – Leon’s
Charleston is the place to eat on the East Coast right now, so we won’t pretend for a second that there aren’t a gajillion places to get a great bite. Rather, we’d like to submit Leon’s as one of the most reliable spots for the freshest oyster you can find. If not seafood in the Lowcountry, then what?
Bluffton – The Octagon Bar
This is a central gathering point at the Inn that manages to be cozy and lively. A namesake to the “Octagon House,” one of the first plantation homes that stood on the Bluff in years prior to the Wilson era, Octagon Bar is a beautiful hangout spot. There’s often live music, and always shareable bites, classic cocktails with a creative twist, and an extensive list of wines and locally crafted beers.
Charleston – The Belmont
This quiet, intimate King Street cocktail bar is all classy ambiance: It seats just forty people at a time, shows black and white films on mute, and has a crazy-good cocktail list of inventive drinks and classics.
Bluffton – The May River
The May is one of the best ways to pass a day during your Lowcountry weekend. You can do everything from kayak to fish, swim, paddleboard, dolphin watch, sail… it’s picture-perfect on the water.
Charleston – Waterfront Park
Waterfront Park is an eight-acre park that sits along a half mile of the Cooper River. It’s typically lively and buzzing with people strolling, lounging, and simply taking in the Holy City sights.