The Lowcountry of South Carolina is a magnet for vacationing families, with natural beauty all around. Typically, it is Charleston or Hilton Head Island getting most of the attention — and with good reason. There’s plenty to see and do in those two towns, but there’s a fast-growing community on the mainland just before the bridges to Hilton Head that has a wealth of fun places for families to visit: Bluffton, South Carolina.
Bluffton used to be a small, quirky town nestled between Hilton Head and Savannah, Georgia. It’s still kind of quirky — which is why folks like it so much — but it’s not small anymore. The secret’s out on Bluffton these days, and families are flocking there to visit and stay.
It’s not just a great location — quick trips to Savannah, Hilton Head and Beaufort, SC — but it has plenty to do, too. At the top of the list are Bluffton’s great spots to enjoy the weather and surroundings — and keep your kids entertained in the process!
Here are some of our favorite Bluffton parks and play areas:
DuBois Park, aka the Shrimp Boat Park
Located in the heart of Old Town Bluffton’s quaint shopping district, this park is perfect for the young ones (ages 10 and under). Surrounded by grand live oak trees, the park has a shrimp boat play structure as its focal point. There are swings and slides for the tots, and several swinging benches for the adults to relax on while the kids burn off some energy. The park also has a covered structure with picnic benches, water fountains and bathrooms. The town has added Martin Family Park, a large green space (hello, dog owners!) across the street, with more parking and bathrooms. Super convenient in the center of all the action.
Down at the end of Calhoun Street in Old Town, across the street from the historic Church of the Cross, is one of Bluffton’s newest parks. This one is more of a family break area than it is a playground, but it is absolutely beautiful. A large green space and walking path lead to docks on a bluff overlooking the May River. Sit on a bench and enjoy the peaceful sights and sounds of the Lowcountry. Walk down to the dock to get a closer look at the boats coming and going to the Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean. Your older kids and teenagers will want to take turns on the giant rope swing at the park’s southeast corner. (And you might, too!) Nice bathrooms offer convenience, but the parking spaces can be limited. You might need to walk a couple of blocks, but it’s worth it.
Palmetto Bluff’s Treehouse
There are two treehouses in the exclusive community of Palmetto Bluff on the southern edge of greater Bluffton, but the one you should take the kids to is in Wilson Village. You will need to drive a bit to get there, and you will need to tell the folks at the security gate what you’re doing there. If they let you in (chances are good), you’re in for a treat. The road winds slowly for a couple of miles through a canopy of amazing trees and marshland. Park the van at RT’s Market, grab some local gourmet snacks and drinks, and walk over to the treehouse. There are some swings on site, but the treehouse is the main attraction. A hidden gem that your family will never forget.
Oscar Frazier Park
Just a few blocks northwest of Old Town is the Oscar Frazier sports complex. This park has the best array of playground equipment in town and is always buzzing with children, which is great if your kid is in need of some peer time and socialization. The Oscar Frazier complex has restrooms, a large open area, a pavilion and a couple of fenced-in dog parks as well. Parking is plentiful, but not if there are a bunch of baseball/softball games going on at the time. In that case, you might need to park on one of the surrounding streets and walk over. (Or go to one of the other parks on this list!)
Buckwalter Recreation Center skate park
If your kids are daredevils or X-Games hopefuls, this is where you should take them. Bring the skateboard, Razor or BMX bike — and appropriate helmet & pads — and let them join in the fun. It’s a good time, even if you’re just there to watch. There’s a small, covered seating area and a drinking fountain. However, if you’re there during Rec league soccer or basketball season, parking can be scarce. The no-see-ums will not be scarce, so bring the bug repellant.