Off the Beaten Path: Bluffton

Just a quick jaunt over the Harbor River and you're in Bluffton – Hilton Head's quaint sister city that's brimming with art studios, antebellum homes and Lowcountry charm.

The natural starting point of an afternoon in Bluffton is its Heyward House Museum & Welcome Center, where guests can pick up maps and brochures and take a tour of either the house, a circa-1841, meticulously preserved example of Carolina farmhouse-style architecture, or the surrounding historic district, once a Confederate hot bed and summer retreat for plantation owners looking to escape the mosquitoes.

Artsy types will need to carve out some time to explore Calhoun St, which is lined with quirky galleries and shops, and those on the prowl for a perfect Southern meal will land well at the Cottage or Bluffton BBQ. While Bluffton is ideal for strolling on foot, it's also navigable by kayak along the May River, the source of some outrageously delicious oysters and once a trade passage between area plantations and Savannah.