With the arrival of spring, we like to plan a weekend away to get back outside. As the trees are blooming and the birds are nesting, we too embrace the change of season. This spring, we found our annual reboot in Walterboro, The Front Porch of the Lowcountry.
Located just 50 miles west of Charleston, Walterboro is a world away from the hustle of the city. With a population of just over 5,000 people, we were surprised to discover the abundance of arts, history and charms Walterboro offers for a perfect weekend getaway.
We arrived Saturday and headed straight for the Colleton Museum & Farmer’s Market complex. The market is open seasonally on Saturday mornings and Tuesday afternoons, so on this sunny day we got to explore the agricultural bounty of the area. In addition to Lowcountry produce, honey and baked goods, the market features the work of local artisans. Attached to the farmers market is the renowned Colleton Museum. So while we were there we popped in to see the exhibits and artifacts recounting the area’s ties to the Revolutionary War, Civil War and plantation life.
For our first nosh of the trip, we found our way to the adjacent Marketplace Café—open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday featuring sandwiches, salads and baked goods made at the Colleton Commercial Kitchen next door. Welcoming sauce and jam makers, bakers and food truck operators, the kitchen is available for rent so local vendors have a place to work their magic. Many of the products we tried were made in the kitchen, like Kyle & Nick’s Lowcountry Sauces and Burnt & Salty condiments. Other regional items such as Lavington Farms Charleston Gold rice and Ace Basin Milling Company grits are sold in the cafe.
With full bellies, we walked a block to the South Carolina Artisans Center to immerse ourselves in the artistic hub of the Palmetto State. Housed in an eight-room Victorian cottage, the center features more than 350 juried artists from around the state. The pottery, basketry and art there, we learned, preserved many folk art traditions of South Carolina.
We then strolled on the oyster-shell tabby sidewalk of Washington Street through the Downtown Antique District. From upscale Bachelor Hill and massive Antiques & Collectibles to charming boutiques The Painted Pineapple and Twig, we could have spent the entire day shopping.
But the sun began to set so we headed to our home away from home for the night. The Hampton House Bed & Breakfast is a charming 1912 mansion in the heart of downtown. We were welcomed by the proprietors and shown to our lovely guestroom, complete with canopy bed and period furnishings. After getting settled, we were back on our feet for a stroll to Carmine’s Trattoria. All this exploration works up an appetite!
After a hearty breakfast and a tour of the B&B’s vintage dollhouse collection, we were eager to get back outside to the stunning spring morning and get to the place we had come here to see. Just on the edge of downtown—and only three minutes from I-95—we arrived at Walterboro Wildlife Sanctuary.
Part of the ACE River Basin made up by the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto Rivers, the sanctuary features a hardwood swamp flat surrounded by a network of braided creek swamps accessible to the public. Outdoor activities abound on boardwalks, bridges and more than four miles of trails, as well as canoe and kayak exploration along the meandering creek.
We started out at the new Walterboro Wildlife Center for an introduction to the outdoor wonderland with interpretive exhibits explaining the importance of swamps and native habitats in the Lowcountry, along with displays of the many species of plants and animals that we would see just outside.
We wandered the trails of the Sanctuary, exploring the Spanish moss-draped live oaks, cypress knees, wildflowers and other Lowcountry phenomena that made us fall in love with this part of the country years ago. We walked along segments of the old Charleston-to-Savannah Stagecoach route, our eyes peeled for wild turkey, deer, beaver, mink and fox. We spotted many of the 80 species of birds that make their home in the sanctuary, along with ducks in the duck pond and butterflies in the butterfly garden.
Feeling renewed and excited for the short-sleeves weather on its way, it was time to head back home. But not before we checked two more bucket-list items off the list. One: a photo opp at the giant red rocking chair, Walterboro’s “front porch” signature. And two: a barbecue buffet lunch at Dukes. Great food, friendly locals and sweet tea was the perfect Southern way to conclude our getaway to The Front Porch of the Lowcountry.Plan your getway to Walterboro