Golf Carts and Maseratis: The Unlikely Melting Pot of Old Town Bluffton

There was a time, not so long ago, when Bluffton, South Carolina was a sleepy little river town, populated mostly by folks who could trace their roots to the land back generations and a tiny community of artists who had flocked here around the time of Hilton Head’s development.

For decades, this went unchanged. Hilton Head grew, its land carved away acre by acre to make way for golf courses, resorts and shopping centers. Bluffton stayed the same.

Panorama of Harbortown and lighthouse in Hilton Head, South Carolina, courtesy of BigStock.

Then one day, Hilton Head ran out of acreage, save for a few beautiful tracts wisely preserved from development by town leaders. Suddenly, there was nowhere for new golf, new resorts and new shopping centers.

It was at this point Bluffton began to change. And decades later, this sleepy little river town has almost eclipsed that tourist town over the bridge in terms of things to see and places to visit. Two Tanger malls, big box stores of every stripe and a thriving culinary scene have brought an influx of newcomers.

Perhaps the biggest place this impact is felt is at the town’s Promenade. Here, what was once the town’s main drag, Calhoun Street, terminates at a bustling downtown area created from scratch just a shade under a decade ago. At the Promenade you’ll find golf carts parked helter skelter along the village green just a few feet from the valet parking of the ultra-chic Bluffton Room, where exotic sports cars purr into town from nearby Palmetto Bluff.


Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.

And it’s in this dichotomy that you find something amazing about what Bluffton has become – all these people, no matter where they came from, they’re here now. And they’re sharing something incredible.

Wander down Calhoun Street and grab a seat at Pearl and you’ll find yourself in something unheard of just a few years ago: a fine dining restaurant in the heart of Old Town Bluffton. Or, head across the street to the Old Town Dispensary where the food is still magnificent thanks to chef Matt Jording, but it’s served with a decidedly more laid-back side of firepit camaraderie and friendships forged over beers.


"The walls between rich & poor aren’t really walls in Old Town Bluffton."

And there’s nothing stopping most folks from going back and forth between the two with ease. The walls between rich and poor aren’t really walls in Old Town Bluffton.

That’s part of the magic of this place, and it’s what makes it worth exploring whether you pull up in your Range Rover or in your golf cart. Here in Old Town, we’re all just here to have a good time.