Located along the coast of South Carolina, the Lowcountry boasts a history, culture and cuisine all its own. With the unique combination of a slower pace of life with plenty to do, this corner of the southeast is a great vacation destination for Chicago families.
Bluffton, S.C., located between Hilton Head and Savannah, is a great home base for exploring all that the region has to offer.
Where to stay
Montage Palmetto Bluff is located within 20,000 acres of nature preserve in Bluffton that offers Lowcountry luxury and activities for all ages. In addition to the rooms within the new inn (with stand-alone tubs that will delight bath aficionados of any age), it also offers cottages and guest houses.
Surrounded by the May, Cooper and New rivers, the property is home to canine ambassadors named after each river. Adorable labs greet guests in the Inn’s lobby and are a huge hit with kids!
The resort features Paintbox, which offers children’s programming for kids 5-12 with a focus on creativity. With the kids in good hands, parents can enjoy tennis or golf at the May River Golf Course designed by Jack Nicklaus, relax and recharge at the spa that feels like a sanctuary, or enjoy authentic Southern cuisine at one of the seven dining options.
Don’t miss “porching,” which is a verb that describes the enjoyment of lemonade, tea and cookies in the afternoon and also a reason to love Lowcountry life. Another must-do is the s’mores bar offered nightly at the River House featuring homemade marshmallows.
What to do
There’s plenty of fun to be had together as a family. You don’t even have to stay on the property to take advantage of many of the activities, restaurants and trails.
Take a bike ride (bikes are available to rent) on trails that weave through coastal pines. At Palmetto Bluff, stop to explore the two wondrous tree houses nestled among the pines and the live oak dripping with Spanish moss.
The water is the star of the show Mother Nature puts on here, and a great way to see it is riding on the Grace, a recently restored 60-foot yacht built in 1913. It cruises the May River from Wilson’s Landing to Calhoun Street in Bluffton. Along the way, it’s not unusual to spot dolphins. Once there, check out the Bluffton Oyster Company, take a Bluffton Bike Taxi historic tour around town and wander the shops along Calhoun Street.
There are dozens of different kinds of birds in the Lowcountry, and kayaking is a great way to see egrets and herons up close. If you’re up for casting a line, saltwater and freshwater fishing is available. Visit Longfield Stables for horseback riding, with Winter the Wonder Pony.
Older kids will love exploring via paddleboard, kayak or canoe. There’s also the Palmetto Bluff Shooting Club, where the staff is happy to teach those trying out sport clay shooting for the first time.
Beyond Bluffton, you can find lots to keep you busy in both Hilton Head and Savannah. Hilton Head is known for its beaches and lighthouse, and in Savannah, your favorites scouts may enjoy seeing the home of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts. Dine at The Pirates’ House, which opened in 1753 and served as a haven for real pirates.
What to eat
You are in the perfect place for enjoying delicious southern cuisine. For breakfast, Buffalo’s is on the Montage Palmetto Bluff property. It has river views and a biscuit bar at breakfast that’s a hit with kids and adults because, well, biscuit bar. Sweet and savory options are available.
Seafood, of course, is a star here. The shrimp and grits will blow your mind. If you’re along Calhoun Street in Bluffton, try The Pearl for fresh seafood or FARM, which shines a light on local produce. When in season, oysters are popular here and they are delicious. May River oysters are unique and rather like the area–interesting, satisfying and memorable.
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This article originally published in 2018.