Some time ago, Bluffton was known as the little town over the bridge that was hard to get to
you know, because of the traf c. Today, as the Lowcountry grows more interconnected
every day, its become more of an understood addendum to the words Hilton Head or Lowcountry.
Here are seven semi-off-the-beaten-path landmarks, locations and, well, paths that help shape
that little towns state of mind.
BY JEFF VRABEL AND ALISON GRISWOLDPHOTOGRAPHY BY BILL LITTELL / IWL PHOTOGRAPHY I OLD-TIMEY COLLAGE BY JEFF VRABEL / INSTAGRAM
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About 12 years ago some friends and I drove from the south end of Hilton Head to this pier to leap into the May River off the pilings which, in retrospect, was about half of a good idea, especially for my friend Tony, who didnt realize what barnacles could do to the human foot. And I remember thinking at the time that it seemed like we were driving a thousand miles away into a remote, barely accessible back-corner of outback sort of near Honduras.
These days, of course, the pier and Bluffton are all much closer to each other, more tied together. And though I can hardly claim that this quiet little spot on the river is a big secret or anything, I can claim that its always open, always quiet and always ready to offer a freakishly picturesque place to stop running around for 10 minutes to stare at the water and the sky. Jeff Vrabel
the calhoun st. pier
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church of the cross >A gathering place for Lowcountry worship since its consecration in 1857, Church of the Cross is a must-see for visitors to Calhoun Street (keep
going until you reach the May River). While the congregation has two campuses a newer building erected in 2005 houses a school and worship hall on Buckwalter Parkway it is the original E.B.White-designed structure thats a fi xture on Lowcountry tours and has been on the National Regis-ter of Historic Places since 1975. The pine timbers and rose windows that rise above the palmetto trees have survived much over the years, including
federal troops marching into Bluffton in 1863 and a massive hurricane in 1898. Over the years, Church of the Cross has expanded with Bluffton, offering opportunities for education, worship and service to the community. Alison Griswold
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74 hiltonheadmonthly.com74 hiltonheadmonthly.com
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33the secession oak33Among other things,
Bluffton has become known to history as the birthplace of
secessionism and the Secession Oak is known to history as where
that movement started. It was here, under the Oaks outstretched arms, that prominent citizens and
leaders would meet prior to the Civil War to discuss politics;
on July 31, 1844, a town meeting was called to fi rst discuss a
potential break from the Union.
BILL LITTELL / IWL PHOTOGRAPHY
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Most of us remember treehouses as smallish, occasion-ally rickety creations put up by dads or other well-meaning relatives in our backyards. Palmetto Bluff has one thats three stories tall and looks as though it could contain most of the Swiss Family Robinson; its built around and into the trunk of an ancient live oak. Kids can spend a surprising amount of time clamber-ing all over it, but make sure to have them step out long enough to see the zipline out back.
Theyre not often talked about, but Bluffton is pretty much covered in walking trails. The New River Linear Trail, out near Savan-nah, comprises 3.4 little-known miles of former rail line that cuts across woods and wetlands and still offers hints of its former life; to fi nd the trailhead, park between the fi rst and second entrances to the Heritage at New Riverside neighborhood.
For those who prefer pavement, there are new paths all along New Riverside Drive, which winds from the traffi c circle linking S.C. 46 and S.C. 170 all the way down to Palmetto Dunes. Its fl at, new and empty you cant beat having nearly fi ve miles of trail to yourself.
And for the plugged-in, the even newer 1.35-mile Buckwal-ter Greenway Trail, which circles Buckwalter Place, provides a QR code at that lets walkers listen to recorded information about the local environment.
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7the waddell centerA 1,200-acre fi eld experiment station of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the sprawling complex of the Waddell Mariculture Center is dedicated to researching marine life, chemistry, fi sheries management and more. Everything is studied in the centers 25 ponds bass, fl ounder, shrimp, clams, scallops, oysters with an eye on ecology, mariculture, economics and marketing. So insanely authentic and picturesque it looks
like it was handcrafted in a Disney backlot, the Oyster factory has been family-run since 1899, sits on about a centurys worth of discarded shells and is, according to its website, the last hand-shucking house in the state of South Carolina. Located at the end of Wharf Street on the banks of the May River, the company specializes, of course, in things pulled out of the river, the Port Royal Sound and the
Atlantic oysters, shrimp, clams, scallops, soft-shell and blue crabs caught and collected by a fl eet of a dozen pickers and shuckers. Theyre getting bigger, too: The Companys wares can be found at the Bluffton Farmers Market from 2-7 p.m. every Thursday, and theyve just launched the Bluffton Oyster Companys Family Seafood House on Dr. Mel-lichamp Drive in Bluffton. blufftonoyster.com
666666666the bluffton oyster co.
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