Last week, my husband and I took a short trip to Beaufort, South Carolina with the primary goal being to take the Pat Conroy tour. I’ve read all his books and had the pleasure of meeting him a few times before he passed away. Visiting special landmarks in his life has been on my bucket list for years.
The day we took the tour it was close to 100 degrees and extremely humid, but the tour is in an air-conditioned van, so other than a bottle of water, you don’t need anything but your camera.
The tour was booked through Beaufort Tours and the cost was $33 per person. Tours are offered at 2:00 p.m. Monday through Sunday as long as you purchase tickets in advance. There were only 3 people in our group, so we received plenty of personal attention and were able to ask questions.
The van was equipped with a ceiling-mounted television which enabled the tour guide to show us short television interviews, scenes from “The Great Santini” and “The Prince of Tides”, and relevant video clips as she drove to each location.
Tour stops included:
- Conroy’s home in Beaufort as a single man and teacher, and homes in the historic Point with his first wife Barbara
- Beaufort High School where he attended the last two years of high school and where he taught two years
- Locations connected to the filming of The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini
- Gravesites of his parents at Beaufort National Cemetery
- Conroy’s gravesite on St. Helena
- The Penn Center, which was started in 1862 to educate newly freed slaves
- St. Peters Catholic Church where Conroy’s funeral took place
- PC Literary Center is where the tour ends but isn’t open every day so check first
After the tour, we window-shopped along Bay Street which has many great shops and restaurants. I couldn’t resist McIntosh Book Shoppe where Cam bought me “My Exaggerated Life” Conroy’s biography by Katherine Clark. (Click here to read my review.) They specialize in SC history, southern writers, fine sporting books, rare/out of print titles from all genres.
Staying at City Loft Hotel was the key! We literally drove into town around noon, parked our car at the hotel (with permission) since it was too early to check-in, and after grabbing a quick bite to eat at Wren, we walked a few blocks to our tour.
This property is an old motel that’s been completely restored and renovated into a cool, urban boutique hotel. It is incredible what they have done with this unique property and no expense has been spared to modernize it. Connected to the hotel is City Java and News, an espresso bar where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch, wine & beer, print materials, and free wifi.
After checking into our hotel, we walked a few blocks to Bay Street and enjoyed dinner at Saltus with a beautiful view of the Beaufort River and an amazing seafood dinner. I ordered the Norwegian Salmon and Bacon Roasted Okra with Tomatoes for my side. Cam ordered the Sea Island Shrimp & Creamy Stone Ground Grits. It was outstanding and I’d highly recommend it for the excellent food, historic downtown location, and atmosphere.
Within walking distance are lots of unique shops, restaurants, and beautiful old homes. We visited Nevermore Books, Beaufort Public Library, Scout, and Lowcountry Produce. I have to say, the “Friends Shop” within the library was seriously impressive and I did not leave empty-handed. (I only paid $3 for the hardback 2018 blockbuster bestseller, A Place For Us.)
Fantastic lunch at Wren, which was across the street from our hotel.
Overall, it was a great getaway and every place was in walking distance. We can’t wait to go back to Beaufort and already have a few new restaurants we want to try, as well as a kayak tour on the river.
Betsy, thank you so much for writing about our “Pat Conroy’s Beaufort” tour! We have modified the tour for COVID, so we now give the tour by golf cart and show videos on laptop. But we have worked with the Pat Conroy Literary Center to include more downtown spots connected to Pat and give directions to his gravesite on St. Helena. If you love Pat Conroy and his books, you will love this tour.